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How do you setup rack systems with guitar head/cabinet?

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  • How do you setup rack systems with guitar head/cabinet?

    Are rack effects always run through the effects loop of the head? what if you use distortion from the rack effects like the digitech gsp1101 has great distortion sounds.aren't distortions best placed in front of the amp instead of the effects loop?

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    Try it and see which you like best would be my first advice.

    Things to note. Some rack units run better at like level. The loop for example is a line level send and return.
    The guitar input to the amp is an instrument level input so its going to be hotter so you'll have to turn the gain down on the rack unit and likely dial the amp up for cleaner tone so you don't have noise hum and too much drive.

    My rule of thumb is I place a lower gain device before a higher gain device. This way the lower gain adds to the saturation of the higher gain stage.
    If you do it the other way around it tends to act as a booster which increases both the gain and the noise floor. If you use your amps preamplifier to get just a little grit the signal should be cleaner with less noise and having the rack in the effects loop should work better.

    Also Time based effects usually sound better after the gain stages and before a clean power amp for best fidelity. A unit like the Digitec does have some good reverb/echo and chorus. These should sound better in the effects loop after the amps preamp stage. If you place it before the amp input and use the amps gain, then the time based effects will sound ragged out. This may be the sound you like but its not what most try to obtain.

    The effects order inside the rack unit is going to have the gain before the chorus, echo and reverb. When you place it before the amp you have Rack Gain>Time based effects> Preamp Gain> Power amp> Speakers.

    If you put it in the loop you have Preamp Gain> Rack Gain> Time Based Effects> Power Amp> Speakers. This should be a cleaner and better sounding path with most amps. The rack unit likely has a bypass footswitch option that will let you bypass the unit and have the tone and gain of the amp only.

    I've run rack units both ways depending on the amp type. Some of my older amps don't have a loop so I have to run them in front. I dial up a clean tone and don't use the amps drive. Other amps I use the rack for echoes/reverbs and want the amps drive to be echoed, so I put the effect after the preamp in the effects loop. My one amp has a switch that will change the placement so its before the preamp or after so I can always keep it in the loop and get either sound.