I have a JVM 410H - Using mainly the OD1 channel with Gain at 3 0'clock.

I have two noise gates, an ISP Decimator and a Boss NS-2.

I have these pedals:

  • ISP Decimator
  • Boss NS-2
  • Boss Chorus
  • Phaser
  • Delay
  • Compressor Sustainer

What would be the best setup to avoid noise?


4 Answers 4


Well, the general advice to avoid noise is to use as few pedals as possible, as each one raises the noise floor.

A noise gate will act as a gain reducer until you send a signal over its threshold, so having a noise gate first is a good idea. (It does affect sustain and various other factors, but they are outside the scope of the question)

The rest of your setup is usually determined by how you want your guitar to sound. Putting a compressor early sounds very different to putting it late in the chain.

For certain high gain distorted sounds, I find on stage I commonly start with a compressor, then distortion, modulation effects then delay - but if I get uncontrollable feedback due to strange acoustics, I may add a noise gate in front of the compressor (odd, but sometimes it is a quick and dirty fix)

If you are wanting to use all those pedals, you should also start looking at signal switchers. I'm guessing you won't run a phaser and a chorus together, so a signal switcher lets you avoid running your signal path through an effect which isn't being used (as you still get noise from an inactive effect)

Also, the decision on whether you run effects pre-amp or on the FX send is not generally done for noise reduction reasons- it gives an entirely different sound, so usually you choose what sound you want.

  • My question was mainly targeted at the best order in which to put my pedals, both at the amp front and the effects loop
    – Steven
    Oct 7, 2013 at 7:52

Noise comes from a lot of places, not just your effects. The best idea is to think your guitar, cables, effects and amplifier are a chain, and remember that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link.

  • The guitar's wiring can pick up hum from all sorts of electrical equipment, especially if it's an older guitar with single-coil pickups. A good repairman can put foil or conducting paint inside the guitar's cavity to help reduce induced noise. Old/noisy single-coils can be replaced with variations on humbuckers that still sound like single-coils. You can use active pickups, or add a little buffer/boost inside the guitar to increase the signal being sent over the cable. This can reduce the effect of capacitance too, keeping your signal very clean and fidelity intact.
  • Cheap cables can pick up noise; You don't have to purchase the most expensive cables out there, but don't buy cheap ones either. I've used George L's cables for years and find them to be very quiet. Their thinnest ones can pick up handling noise if you move them, at least the old ones I have will, but the thicker ones are very quiet. Use the minimum cable length necessary. A coiled cord isn't going to reduce noise; 20-feet of coiled cord is still 20-feet long, even when its not stretched out. I have good 20-foot cords but use 10-foot cords when possible.
  • 9-volt battery-powered effects can add noise to your chain. Make sure your batteries are always at full-strength or use a high-quality power-supply.
  • Better quality effects will generally be quieter and cleaner than less expensive ones. I have pedals from over 20 years ago that, in a chain, were noisy. Adding a buffer and small preamp in front helped reduce the noise. The newer effects I have are all very clean; The manufacturers have learned a few things about reducing noise over the years, plus they can get cleaner-sounding chips for the pedals now.
  • Amplifiers can hiss and hum. They can pick up noise from nearby radio stations. (Yeah, the scene in Spinal Tap where the guitar amp picks up the control-tower can happen.) Run your input stage at the minimal setting needed to get the sound you want. The more amplification in the preamp stage, the more hiss you'll hear. Pump up the signal going into the amp to reduce that noise.

I'd run the compressor first in the chain. As the output drops as a string vibrates, the compressor will begin increasing the amplification to hold the volume. It can amplify any noise from the guitar, and introduce hiss all on its own.

  • My question was mainly targeted at the best order in which to put my pedals, both at the amp front and the effects loop
    – Steven
    Oct 7, 2013 at 7:52
  • That may be. It's important to think of all the components in the setup as they all affect the noise. I have two compressors, from the same era, both are considered "classic" pedals, and both can add a lot of hiss. Turning up their gain is the problem. They're cheap little designs and good for simple use but not studio quality. If you are using massive amounts of gain or overdrive, which is gain too, you will get noise. A noise gate can only do so much before it starts getting in the way. I'd try a boost inside the guitar to push a hotter signal down the wire. Oct 7, 2013 at 13:26

Time based pedals (chorus, delay, phaser etc.) are not supposed to make noise. Your problem probably comes from your sustainer, guitar, cable or amp. Using NS2 with Send and Return with compression sustainer may solve your problem. But if it's from the amp or guitar, you'll have to reduce the gain or change your equipment.


You don't need both the NS-2 and the Decimator, pick one. I like the NS-2 for high gain stuff. The ISP Decimator is not really a true gate so I might just ditch it. Your chain should be something like: NS-2 > compressor > chorus/phaser > delay. This is into the front of the amp. Loops are too finicky for my tastes, but you could go NS-2 to amp input, then phaser/chorus/delay in the loop.

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