I get a lot of questions about how to use the loop channel or send/return connections featured on the back panel on most amps. This feature allows you to place one or more effects after the ampâ€™s internal gain stage, – usually modulations (chorus, flanger, phaser) and delays.
If these pedals are connected into the front input when you use the gain stage for overdrive and distortions youâ€™ll often get a muddy tone with distorted delays and uncontrollable feedback. Keep in mind though that unless your amp has two or more channels you will always use the gain stage (preamp) but for Davidâ€™s tones this should be set as clean as possible without the tubes distorting.
Davidâ€™s tones are based on a pristine clean amp with lots of headroom and punch. All overdrives, fuzz and distortions are produced with pedals. This means that the loop is quite redundant since the modulations and delays will be placed after the gains anyway. You could of course use the loop but the feature is often cursed with volume drops and noise that becomes even more evident on clean amps.
As a rule I recommend to always set your amp as clean as possible with all the pedals connected into the front input. This setup seems to work on most amps: bass 50%, treble 50-60%, mids 40%, presence 50-60% and the master should be set to about 1/3 of the channel/main volume.
That being saidâ€¦ The loop can be useful if youâ€™re amp doesnâ€™t have the needed headroom. Smaller practice amps can be hard to tame and adding high gain pedals like Big Muffs and fuzz may sound quite the opposite of what you intended. In this case I strongly recommend that you use the loop â€“ if your amp has one â€“ and utilize the ampâ€™s gain stage for your lead tones. This may not be as fun as having a Big Muff in your set up but in most cases youâ€™ll end up with a much better tone.