I am building a rack guitar system based on analog, valve preamp and poweramp. I've read a lot about the power of pre-EQ, that is, having an equalizer before the preamp distortion. Since I have everything in a rack, there's an abundance of quite cheap rack EQ units that would suit my needs.

However, as I understand it, those devices require line level input and won't properly work with a passive guitar plugged directly into them. Some research in guitar pedals made me realize that every EQ pedal is essentially a preamp, which allows it to work properly. Incidentally, that's also how overdrive stompboxes work.

So what are my options here? If I understand that correctly, I can:

  • Get a pedal-format EQ and put it in a rack shelf
  • Get a rackmount guitar-specific EQ with a preamp built in
  • Get another, ideally completely transparent guitar preamp before the EQ to drive it properly

Are there any other ways? Is there anything I should be aware of in this case? One thing that comes to mind is the fact my tone-shaping preamp will receive a different signal (not just equalized, but also buffered/on line level), which I'm not sure if is gonna have any impact on its operation (since it's accepting high-Z input by default).

  • P.S. Not endorsing any, but some of the options that I've found that fit this scenario are Boss GE-7 and GE-20, TC Electronic tc1140 and Furman PQ-3. Nov 8, 2016 at 14:06

1 Answer 1


Yes, you require a preamp if you want to use a line level EQ.

But any of the other options you give are fine.

The simplest route for a guitarist is one of the standard EQ pedals. This will let you experiment with more tonal qualities (currently you are limited to the tone controls on your guitar for pre-amp tone) as well as gain.

  • 1
    Yes, but putting EQ pedal into drive stage may be quite noisy
    – teodozjan
    Nov 8, 2016 at 12:49
  • Always true teodozjan - the earlier in the chain you put amplification, the more gain your drive or distortion stages will have so more noise.
    – Doktor Mayhem
    Nov 8, 2016 at 19:45

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.