Need to know how to get the best sound out of an EQ pedal? Today we’ll talk about how to use an EQ pedal, what it does for you, and valuable tricks.
The word “EQ” gets bandied around in musical circles, often leaving bystanders scratching their heads. It’s not particularly complicated, but mastering it will open up a world of tonal possibilities for your guitar and, by implication, your musical imagination. One example of a “utility” footswitch is equalization.
You can use it to define, shape, and sculpt your sound to achieve the precise effects you’re going for. Knowing a little bit more makes everything easier. For instance, the guitar tone may use equalization work in a live band setting. You have a lot of control over the sound of your guitar, so let’s see what kind of EQ pedals are available.
We should start by defining “EQ” so that we are all on the same page. You may track down tones and frequencies of interest on a worldwide scale with the help of this technique. You’re undoubtedly already familiar with the three central terms in equalization: Bass, Mids, and Treble.
Equalizers, linear filters, are widely used in the music business to alter the frequency response of an audio system. Despite their apparent simplicity, these filters can significantly impact the overall sound of a song or, in this case, your guitar. Try playing a song you’re familiar with to get a feel for how your audio or car radio operates.
Changing the bass or treble immediately reveals these filters’ effects on the song. This fundamental notion applies equally well to playing guitar by yourself. Remember that each signal or sound leaves behind a distinct frequency signature. To others, the concept that the frequency of a sound may be plotted on a graph is incredibly complex. Let’s look at how to use an EQ pedal and what it’s suitable for.
How To Use EQ Pedal?
You could play guitar solos with the pedal depressed to zero, and the gain turned eleven or use it to imitate a radio signal or the pronounced midrange scooping of Pantera recordings. Modify your sound by boosting or cutting frequencies with the Equalizer Pedal.
For example, EQing your guitar tone in a band mix may produce a sound that differs from the one you would choose if you were playing solo. The best option is the one that gives you a good enough sound quality to enjoy the band’s performance.
First, we need to figure out how to power the pedal so you can use it. Some can be powered by either batteries or an AC converter, while others can only be used with an AC power source. If the pedal accepts an adapter, you’ll see two types available: those that provide 18 volts DC and those that provide 9 volts.
A guitar plugged into an 18-volt converter will receive all the power it can handle from the power source, allowing for the most robust sound. However, there is a minor problem; many guitarists prefer to connect their pedals via 9V because some produce a lot of noise when connected via 18V.
Add Pedal To Signal Chain
We have to figure out how to include the pedal into the signal chain after we have linked it to electricity. We can link it into the signal chain in one of two primary ways: directly, by connecting the guitar to the pedal’s input and the amp to its output, or indirectly, by connecting the pedal to the amp’s FX Loop.
Positioning in front of delay and reverb is preferred by some guitarists because it allows them to form the guitar’s primary tonal character before other effects process it; however, for those who like to alter the EQ of the completed sound, positioning behind these effects is ideal.
Maybe the bass or treble on your distortion pedal’s EQ knobs isn’t right, and you need to adjust it a little. If you have an equalization pedal, experiment with where you put it to hear how it sounds best.
After determining how the pedal will be powered and where to place it in the signal chain, you can activate it with the footswitch and begin adjusting the tone with the knobs and switches. In the following sections, we will discuss in depth the various features and applications of equalization pedals.
Uses & Tricks How To Use EQ Pedal
After a brief introduction to equalization pedals, we may move on to the exciting part. Below, you’ll find several ingenious strategies for maximizing the effectiveness of your EQ pedal.
The equalizer pedal’s primary function is to modify the sound of your guitar, pedals, and amplifier. Add bass or mids to your amp or guitar if you feel they lack “body” or low or high frequencies, respectively. If you wish for additional clarity or volume, an equalizer pedal is a simple way to get it. You can change any of the frequencies simultaneously and in any way you like.
Where in your audio chain you put will determine how it affects your sound. Your guitar is to your satisfaction when placed in front of the pedal chain or right after the instrument. When placed after a tone-altering pedal like an overdrive, it can also help mold that pedal’s sound.
One example is the Gibson Les Paul, which has such a full range of tones that it can be challenging to hear the individual notes, even while playing clean. However, by decreasing the midrange and, optionally, the bass and increasing the treble, a vintage Gibson Les Paul-like percussive is defined, and you can achieve dynamic sound. By doing this, it’ll get that Scooped quality, resembling the sound of a Fender Telecaster.
When using a Fender Stratocaster, the sound is typically fairly scooped; therefore, adding drive helps compensate for the tone’s lack of body. Then, you can supplement it with means and seriousness if you feel the need to. This will make up for the instrument’s weaker midrange or bass, producing a sound well-suited to heavy saturation.
Tips When Shaping The Tone
- Pickups Simulator
For electric guitars, you can find pickup simulators in multi-effects stompboxes. To do this, they use equalizers to adjust the music’s frequency response and the output’s volume. This is precisely what “Level” controls on EQ pedals allow you to achieve.
Humbuckers can be used to simulate Singlecoil pickups by, for instance, decreasing the “Level,” midrange, and bass while increasing the treble. The result is an EQ and singles output. Humbucking pickup emulation with single coils, on the other hand, boosts the output level and adds bass and midrange. A single guitar may play two different sounds by switching out the pickups.
- Special Effects
When playing solo guitar intros, you can use the equalizer pedal to create a “strange,” “clipped” electric guitar sound that you can resolve by turning the pedal off. When everyone in the band plays at once, producing an Explosion. The primary goal is to provide an effect akin to a “vintage” or medieval guitar. This method involves turning up the bass and treble while decreasing the mids to an absolute minimum.
As a result of the mids being shaved, you may use a lot of reverb to create a more exciting atmosphere that will get people talking without getting muddy or confusing.
The second is to use an electric guitar to imitate the “telephone” effect, a midrange, nasal sound. The low, high, and mid/low frequencies are lowered, while the mid and high frequencies are left at their original levels. Suitable for reducing background noise and honing in on specific sounds. When you remove the pedal, your guitar’s tone will be full, rich, and powerful.
Boost or Overdrive
Level or Volume controls are standard on most pedals and equalizers. As a result, you can boost the pedal’s volume without affecting the signal’s frequency balance. You can employ it as a Booster in this fashion. Classic overdrives like the Ibanez Tube Screamer allow you to simultaneously boost the loudness and the gain of the midrange frequencies.
Since these Overdrives emphasize midrange frequencies over others, they help the guitar cut through the mix. You may prefer maintaining consistent energy and focus regardless of the guitar you’re playing.
As a result, switching from a guitar with humbuckers to one with single coils doesn’t necessitate adjusting the volume of the instrument, the gain, or the volume of the amp and pedals, because the Equalizer Pedal will automatically adapt to the change in output. There are amplifiers where the power amp’s response to an increased signal is not to increase the volume but to increase the distortion instead.
The audio output from the amplifier can be used as the “Boost” in such situations. But conversely, the pedal can bring the “Level” down to zero or flatten the EQ curve. So we’ve arranged things to avoid “boosted” audio using the pedal. But, when the pedal is engaged, we get the “Base” sound, and when it is disengaged, we get the “Lead” sound.
The EQ pedal can improve the acoustics of your playing space. A new area or location you’re playing in may react differently to the various frequencies responsible for the feedback. Some frequency ranges will be filtered out entirely, while others will be absorbed. As such, you might need to change your preferences. Try an equalization pedal to adjust your sound without fiddling with your amplifier, effects, or guitar.
You can get the most out of your Set with the help of the equalizer pedal, as you can see. You can use it as a surgical device to correct an excess or defect of frequencies by signal shaping, as a pickup simulator to give your guitar a wide range of tones, as a programmable amplifier or distortion effect, and as a global audio adjustment tool to compensate for differences in the pickup or microphone gains of the instruments you play.
EQ Pedals For Acoustic Guitars
Everything discussed here also applies to an acoustic guitar. The guitar is typically quiet in a band mix, so getting the EQ right can be more of a challenge when solo or in a duo. If you’re in a band, you can cut through the mix more effectively if you reduce the amount of bass in your performance.
The drums and bass will compete with them and sound terrible. Frequencies often associated with the nasal cavity should be lowered to zero, as they are located in the upper midrange. The lower mids referred to as “cut the muck,” can be adjusted downward to improve the clarity of the sound. Improve the acoustic’s top-end clarity to make the music glitter and pop.
EQ Pedals For Bass
The bass guitar’s EQ can dramatically improve the instrument’s overall tone. This is why many of today’s basses are equipped with an active preamp and EQ so that you can tailor your tone to the context of your band. Even with a passive bass, an EQ pedal can help you get the most out of your deep bass sound.
It’s a handy tool for sculpting the desired tone, as you can dial back the rumbling bass or crank up the snarling highs. In addition, turn down the mids to improve the slap sound. Since most Bass DI boxes already include a strong EQ, using a separate EQ pedal is usually unnecessary.
Why You Need An EQ Pedal?
You need an EQ pedal because you can adjust the electric guitar amp and the guitar itself for tone. Guitar and amp equalizers are passive; thus, they can only reduce frequencies. If you find an abundance of frequency, you can trim it down to whatever level suits you best.
You can’t give them any more frequency, but you can fix them if it’s missing some. This is where active equalizers, such as the one found on a stompbox, shine. These can both boost and attenuate a specific frequency.
An additional perk of equalizer pedals for electric guitars is that they can handle a broader range of frequencies with more precision and clarity. Amp EQs generally have lower accuracy and a narrower frequency range.
This is because the guitar’s tone serves as an attenuator or “trimmer” for high frequencies in the instrument’s equalization circuit. Finally, moving them across the audio chain gives you a lot of leeway in what you can accomplish; different places affect the tone’s incidence differently.
Types Of EQ Pedals
Guitar EQ pedals will include various frequency ranges that the pedal’s slider or knob can manipulate. These are commonly referred to as frequency bands, and various EQ pedals adjust different frequencies within each band. Multiple band EQs differ in providing a different level of control.
The greater the number of bands, the greater the spectrum they control. This means that a ten-band EQ will provide laser precision, while a three-band EQ will provide a more general sound. Both have advantages and disadvantages, but novices will generally prefer the simplicity of a 3-band EQ.
Graphic EQs are simple to use since they visually represent your EQ. Typically, they let you increase or eliminate specific frequencies while also allowing you to see how your EQ appears.
If you’re a control freak who wants to know precisely what you’re doing to your guitar signal to make it sound a certain way, it’s recommended a graphic EQ. The Boss EQ pedal is an excellent example of a compact, straightforward, effective graphic EQ pedal. The MXR EQ pedal line – either the 10-band or the 6-band – is another famous graphic EQ.
- Low Frequencies
The frequency range of bass sounds is 15 Hz 257 Hz. We will refer to frequencies below 200 Hz as Low Bass to avoid ambiguity. This range of frequencies enhances the volume and fullness of the music produced by our instruments. They can be employed without worrying about clipping when the sound is somewhat uncluttered. Acoustic guitar feedback and muffled sound are both reduced by this effect.
Add them to give the tone some warmth or take them away to make it more transparent; they’re called soft bass and around 200 hertz. The lower frequencies, around 400 hertz (Hz), referred to as “Hard bass,” help to give our instrument a more robust presence during the rhythmic sections. Eliminating auditory feedback requires a decrease in these frequencies.
- Medium frequencies
From 257 Hz to 2 kHz, you’ll find the mid-tones. By focusing on the low mids at 800 Hz, we may produce more powerful sounds that are better able to stand out. This is a crucial region for vintage overdrives such as the Tube Screamer.
By manipulating these frequencies in your recordings, you can create nasal or “hollow” sounds. Upper mids at 1.7 kHz are the most prominent frequency range when multiple instruments play simultaneously. They make a more substantial assault on the rope and provide authority. It’s essential to exercise caution when operating within the range of frequencies (1 kHz to 2.5 kHz), as these are directly at odds with human speech.
- High or high frequencies
These are in the 2kHz to the higher frequency range. The “mid” highs (defined as 3.2 kHz) are employed to achieve a crisp and clear sound—6.4 kHz. In addition, high-end treble helps amplify guitar audio and expand its frequency range.
An EQ pedal is required even if one considers the argument that a guitar amp already has the controls to adjust the tone to their liking and wonders why they wouldn’t just utilize them. For example, let’s say the acoustics of a given venue make the higher frequencies (over 12Khz) of a guitar tone particularly noticeable. You can counter that the sound engineer at the mixer can make adjustments, but does that solve the problem? Even if the sound engineer turns off the PA’s ability to broadcast frequencies beyond 12Khz, a true amplifier will still send those signals through. Plus, using an EQ pedal, you can adjust the guitar’s clean tone before it hits the amplifier, giving you greater control over the sound you produce. Numerous guitars are available that feature an obnoxious frequency; preventing this from happening is a no-brainer.
Hopefully, this post will aid your knowledge of equalization effects pedals and the importance and cool methods to apply them to your advantage.
Death metal enthusiast here. I am a Romanian musician and producer with over 13 years of experience in the music industry. I’ve experienced all types of Metal up until now, playing Melodic Death Metal, Brutal Death Metal, and Black Metal with different bands. Learning by doing is my base principle, which is why I’ve been drawn to sound design from an early age.