Block order tips

Do you have any rules of thumb for ordering the blocks in your presets?

Most of the NDSP plugins have some effects before the amp, and some after. For instance, the Cory Wong Archetype has envelope filter, compressor, tube boost and overdrive in the pre-effects, and chorus, delay and reverb in the post-effects. For a QC preset, I assume that roughly translates to {pre-effects}{amp}{post-effects}{cab}, or do you approach this differently on QC?

Really, it’s all subjective and I wouldn’t say anyone is following any specific rule of thumb for their signal chain . I would say that you build your signal chain with the hopeful results that it will sound how you want it to in the end. I’ve seen simple signal chains that start with a gate, drive, amp, cab with time based effects pre (and or) post cab but nothing is right or wrong. I think some good examples are in the factory presets. They are great for studying specific signal chains and getting the tones you are after.


This is a classic example where “rules” are made for breaking. It comes down to preference.

For example: Do you like the sound of a delay pedal on a pedal board hitting the front of the amp’s input? Do you like the sound of a delay in the effects loop of an amp? Do you like the sound of delay after the speaker cab/microphone done by the engineer in the control room? You can try your delay block in front of your amp block, after the amp before your cab, or after your cab before the output and hear all the different options. All three sound different, and all three can be really cool.

Maybe start with the way you would have your effects set up if you were doing a traditional pedalboard into an amp and work from there. The QC makes it so easy to just drag the blocks around into different orders and configurations. In very little time, I think you’ll find some options you love.

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(this is just generalized musings here based on what I’ve experienced, not meant to be direct advice to Lex specifically)

Sleiweke is right- there are SO many options and it’s all very subjective, but if you’re going for a specific type of rig you can start by emulating how you would arrange it in real life.

Next, thinking outside of the box can really get you to some interesting places.
Try putting a reverb in each position (pre-, between, post-) and switch scenes to compare their effects.
Try wet fx on a parallel line of a splitter, at 100% mix.
Put a Reverb in front of an overdrive for a wall-of-sound Shoegazer tone.
Stack series fx- multiple delays or reverbs into each other. Put a compressor at the end and see it turn the decays into a whole new effect.

Don’t just think in terms of individual blocks, try combining them in various configurations to see what happens.

All these are great points, much appreciated!

That said, when I wrote ‘rules of thumb’, I meant what’s a good jumping off point. Obviously will experiment, but there are so many variables and I don’t have enough time to explore all of them - so a good starting point for most new presets would be valuable IMO.

Very basic rule of thumb that makes sense most of the time is to put time based effects after the amp and everything else before the amp.
I would also suggest to look at some popular presets in the QC.
It’s pretty well explained here:

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Interesting that Strymon has the compressor first in all their examples, although they also point out rules are for breaking. Most sites I have been on discussing effect/amp order, recommend putting wahs, touch-wahs, and pitch blocks before the compressor, at the very beginning of the signal chain to better capture picking dynamics.

Really just comes down to what sounds good to you, and in the digital realm, without the need to re-cable, experimenting with signal chain order couldn’t be easier.