I decided when shopping for the amplification side of my guitar rig, to buy a multi-fx pedal that included amp simulations, and a PA amp that adds minimal distortion or colour.

This means that I can create settings on the pedal that sound nice, and play through the PA amp, or a hi-fi, a venue PA, a computer's audio input etc.

However, sometimes in rehearsal rooms, the amplification available to me is a "real" guitar amp, and I find the interactions between the distortion added by the pedal, and that added by the amp, to be unpredictable. I try to use the amp's clean channel, but it's not a complete solution.

What is the best approach to making these components play nicely together?

  • Do you use the PA amp with a PA box or a guitar cab? Guitar cabinets colour the sound a lot as well. In fact, while staying clean, a PA amp with guitar cab may sound more similar to a guitar stack than a guitar amp over a PA box does. May 12, 2012 at 20:06
  • Can you just switch out the amp sim when you are connecting to a guitar amp?
    – Doktor Mayhem
    May 14, 2012 at 8:45
  • The point is that I've created all the sounds I want, on the amp sim. So I want to get those sounds in the rehearsal room.
    – slim
    May 16, 2012 at 9:50

5 Answers 5


I have a vox tonelab le and for practice I use it straight into the front of an old 40 watt tube amp.

When it matters, I set the amp eq to flat and then start tailoring it to the room and the guitar I intend to use. However, I create my own patches using the amp sims for overdrive etc and almost never use the built in pedal based OD/Distortion in this mode.

Another method, if you have an amp with an effects loop is to go directly into the effects return with the efx pedal's output. In most cases this avoids the preamp of the amplifier coloring the sound.

If you have a MultiEFX with an effects loop and your amp has an effects loop, you can use the 4 cable method which puts OD/Distortion/Wah/Compression in the front of the amp and delay/reverb/modulation effects in the effects loop. Note that which MultiEFX you use determines how 4CM is set up.


I have a Line6 HD 500 and I have one set of patches that include amp/cab simulations and one set that just do stomp box modeling. I find that when playing into a DAW the amp/cab simulations work great but with my guitar amp not so much. So I just use it as a pedalboard.


You might look for a 'clean' amp, like a Fender Twin, that offers much headroom, ie, volume before distortion kicks in. And some amps 'take pedals' much better than others, and pedals will sound very different with different amps, period.

Also, you might consider that playing thru an amp one moment, and directly into a PA the next, is going to change your sound no matter what you do. Maybe take steps to homogenise your playing experience as much as possible.

  • If I get to choose the amp, I'll use a PA amp or a keyboard amp -- both designed to be completely clean. The question is what best to do when I'm faced with an amp that's not mine.
    – slim
    May 11, 2012 at 10:51

Here's a wacky idea.

Assuming the amp or PA has two inputs.

Use a Whirlwind or like noiseless switch.


Connect your guitar into the input of the switch. This has two outputs. Take the first output from the switch directly into the amp that has effects already in it, take the second output into your effects box and have that connect to the clean channel. This way you can switch from directly into the amp or through your effects box to the amp or both.

Likely under $100.


Try editing your patches to turn off the amplifier emulation without changing the rest of your patch settings. You didn't mention what multi effects box you use. We have a digitech and it is very easy to turn off one of the effects settings.

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