I have a Digitech Bad Monkey, which in my experience, is a very transparent pedal. I use it to mainly to boost my volumes during solos etc.

But I've spoken to a few people, read at a few places that an EQ pedal is very handy and should be a part of one's rig. What are your thoughts on this?

10 Answers 10


There are a lot of opportunities for EQ in the long signal chain between your pickups and the house sound: Your guitar's tone knobs, the tone knobs on your effects pedals (when engaged), the EQ on your amp, the choice and placement of the mic on your amp, the EQ in the channel strip on the house board, the main house EQs, and maybe some others I'm not thinking of at the moment.

You have control over some of these, and some of these you don't control at all. If I think I need a touch more, say, bass in my sound, I could try to EQ it myself, but if the house engineer disagrees, s/he'll just turn it down on my channel strip. I generally assume that I have little control over nuances in my final tone, because the house engineer is going to tweak it however s/he needs to anyway. So I'll use my guitar and amp controls to get as good a tone as I can get, and then I don't worry about it much after that.

With that in mind, I think your use case for EQ pedals---as a boost and perhaps a slight tone shift for solos---is perhaps the best and only practical use case I can imagine for an EQ pedal.

  • 1
    You're right. The sound engineer will anyway EQ my sound as deemed fit. In my case, I was just talking about getting a boost. But that is being done by my Bad Monkey anyway.
    – Anonymous
    Commented May 25, 2011 at 12:25
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    It's really a matter of preference, but I agree with Alex. I use my amplifiers EQ, but higher quality pedals can be used to get more extreme, parametric control over your input frequencies.
    – Jduv
    Commented May 25, 2011 at 15:06
  • Note that – especially when there is a lot of distortion – using an EQ in the output signal / mix (which both you and the engineer can do) can have an effect that is completely different from using the same EQ as a pre-amp-FX (which only you can do, the engineer has no influence on this – at least not from the console). So even a statically-set EQ pedal can be of practical use. Commented Jul 16, 2011 at 20:58
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    This is one of the reasons why I like giving the house engy a pre-EQ DI feed. My amp allows pre/post EQ switching on its built-in DI; for those who aren't so lucky, just slip one in between your pedal board (every bassist should have at least a good chorus and a gain boost) and your amp input. Now, turn your cab towards yourself and kick it back at an angle; presto, instant monitor feed, with the sound you want, independent of what the engy wants for the house mix. Like you, I've come to the realization that I have very little control over the house mix, but I can still control my stage sound.
    – KeithS
    Commented Nov 5, 2013 at 3:20

In a general rig you will have basic EQ on the guitar in the form of tone pots and pickup selector, on the amp (usually) as low, mid and high pots, and many effects also have EQ built in.

If you have one, it can definitely be used to boost or cut those specific areas you find you need. I have even used a very narrow Q parametric EQ to minimise some feedback issues in one venue. As @elbicho says, it won't fix a bad sound but can help with elements.

Whether I would recommend buying one for general gigging though... probably not, as good ones are pricey.

Oh- and because the sound engineer should be able to do all this anyway.


I don't use any EQ in my pedal chain, though I see it as a tool to shape sounds. On the other side, using an EQ to correct a bad sound I think is a mistake.


Another time to use an EQ pedal, is with an acoustic guitar that is plugged into am amp. The acoustic should run to a pre-amp first and then into an EQ pedal. The EQ can be dialed in, to help prevent unwanted feedback or bass rumble from the acoustic guitar. A sound engineer told me about that and it works perfect. ( I have a compression knob too on my pre-amp pedal for the acoustic)

  • I rather doubt this works perfectly: guitar amps just don't have a sufficiently straight frequency response to get a good acoustic sound, regardless of what effects you use. But this is still a good point: EQ pedals can be used to literally equalise the sound of different guitars, if only approximately. Commented Nov 4, 2013 at 13:57

When I would buy eq pedal:

  • built-in tone knob is not enough
  • want to have equalizer before or between effects
  • wanna change frequency characteristics with foot

In all other cases I am not able to see use for that.


Some people use them as clean boosts and a buffer, with the added advantage that you can do some tone tweaking if you want. It can add a little sparkle to your tone.

For a lot of players, though, the holy grail is guitar-->cable-->amp. Find an amp and guitar that sound awesome together and leave the stompboxes in your closet.


I have a Boss equalizer and it seems to be the only good pedal they make. its a 7 band EQ and i find it extremely useful for, thats right, EQing.

From removing mids for that nice clean almost single pick up sound, to using it as a plain volume boost, to using it to turn your guitar into a semi bass for writing, it does the job. It's also helpful if you're playing in multiple bands that have different sounds.

I think my favorite thing about it is that you can take out/lower all the tones that make a guitar sound too muddy or too trebly and then raise the volume to where when you stomp it, theres no volume change; just a tone change.

$20-$50 used off of ebay and a spot on the board? silly not to. especially if you hate tweaking your amp settings. Instead of going to the amp over and over i can just reach for it and control my whole sound from mids and highs to cut through the venues shitty PA sound or for a volume boost playing house parties.


An EQ is more important than a lot of musicians realise, especially for guitar. Most musicians like to leave their overall sound in the mix to the soundman. However, if you really like a certain tone, having an EQ beside your rig will give you more flexibility to get that tone. As you do your sound check and play with the band you need to move out and stand in front of the house and listen to how you ACTUALLY sound in the mix vs. how you sound on stage (both are just as important). Most sound engineers, if not experienced with mixing lead and rhythm guitars will resort to setting them according to their volume level in the mix when they should be truly seperated by volume AND tone. For example, I often play the lead guitar along side an acoustic and another rhythm electric. I tend to boost my tone at 630khz, 3khz and sometimes 6 khz, which allows it to break through the mix in a nice lead tone. However, the other electric rhythm guitar should NOT be boosted at 3khz. This allows it to be seperated tonally and heard seperatly in the mix. A VERY experienced sound engineer will do this for you but from my experience most sound engineers tend to worry more about feedback and volume and OVERALL EQing vs individual instruments. Another trick I personally do as the lead guitar player is I run a parallel feed directly from the Front of House speakers to my monitor. This way, I hear EVERYTHING and I also hear my guitar in the OVERALL mix. I base my volume (which I control from my pedal) off of this. Most sound engineers dont feel comfortable with this with younger inexperienced guitar players but if you are a moe experienced player you are able to control your volume to not overrun the rest of the band and it is beautiful. You are able to perform 150 % better because YOU know what the audience is hearing! Hope this helps.


I use an MXR ten band EQ in the loop of my Mesa Rectifier, to boost the mids (which are quite scooped on this amp type). For me it is a necessary thing to be able to get a sound I like from that amp. So it can be very important.

I think it is important to try to get the most out of your equipment you have now first, and then add effects as limits are encountered. The more stuff you have, the more combinations and ways to go astray you get, too.

But if you feel you are lacking something in your sound, by all means try an EQ. They can be used between the guitar and the amp, or in the loop, where they will generate quite different results. Some EQ:s can boost the signal too, making them great to push your lead tone.


An eq pedal can be pretty important. It's really wierd to me people thinking a good guitar amp alone should solve everyone's problems. Amps are all voiced differently. The manufacturer decides when you turn your bass/mid/treble knobs what specific frequencies they are affecting. Ultimately, it might not be what you want. For example I love my Mesa mark 1. Its low end can get a little out of control... Thankfully a lot of Mesas come with a five band parametric eq that I can if need be cut out some of those harsh frequencies. But I still use a eq pedal because the bass curve doesn't sound right to me. It's about tonal flexibility. Cutting out unwanted frequencies or maby boosting them for a lead to make sure it cuts through the mix.

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