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Being brand new to using audio effects of any kind, I'm just wondering what are the most common effects chains used for vocals and the most common effects chains used for electric guitar?

Of course every artist is different, but I assume there are a few effects that are very frequently used.

Also it would be nice if you could briefly describe what the effect is used "for", i.e. what quality it's supposed to give the sound...which is obviously a subjective question.

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See: music.stackexchange.com/questions/1838/… for explanations of all the effects. –  slim Dec 11 '13 at 11:48
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Well, knowing every guitar player does it a little different, here's how I myself have set up my pedal-board, and how I know quite a lot of players do it (more or less)

  1. Tuner - well, it doesnt (or shouldn't) affect the sound, and you don't want anything before it. Have never seen it somewhere else than at the start
  2. Compressor - used to 'even' the sound and cut down the peaks. singers almost always have compression on it, and so do bass guitar players if they do slapping parts or something similair. That's because in these parts you will have huge peaks being way louder than the normal output
  3. / 4. Wah Pedal - I've seen more players having the wah before the distortion pedals than afterwoods. I myself like it better after, but that's a thing that's just very subjective and which you have to try it yourself. If you don't know how it sounds, here's a cool example :-)
  4. / 3. Distortion Pedals - Add gain to the sound, from a crunchy ryhtm guitar to a high gain metal sound, I sometimes have the feeling there are more distortion pedals than guitar players on this planet.
  5. Modulation effects - Often used are effects ase chorus, flanger and tremolo effects. A quick google / youtube search should help you out on those.
  6. Reverb & Delay effects - Mostly you want you're whole sound to have a delay on it, and not the other way around.
  7. Looper - Because it sucks if you want to make a loop with one of your effects on it, but the pedal comes after the looper ;-)

Just keep in mind that there's absolutely no right and wrong when it comes to the effect chain, and every guitar player and vocalist has his / her own setup which he / she's comfortable with. The chain I gave above is somewhat 'standard' for me as I see it often on jamsessions and also for some famous musicians. Hope it helps

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