How to set up guitar rack effects

Written by jeff o'kelley
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For professional or even amateur guitarists, having guitar effects mounted in a rack can make transportation, set up and storage much easier. While many manufacturers offer guitar effects racks already assembled, most guitarist have a very specific set-up in mind, which may not be available in a stock configuration. For this reason, setting up your own guitar effects rack will allow you to fully customise the design and possibly reduce some of the cost.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • Guitar effects
  • Effects rack
  • Mounting hardware

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  1. 1

    Select the components to be included in your guitar effects rack. These can include equalisers, reverbs, tuners or other effects, as well as power supplies or wireless units. Gathering these components first will allow you to determine the size of effects rack that you will need to purchase.

  2. 2

    Select a guitar effects rack to suit your selection of effects and travel needs. The standard size for rack mount effects is 19 inches wide, with the height measured in increments of "U," which equals 1.75 inches. Guitar effects racks are available in many different configurations, which range from simply providing a place to house your effects to racks designed to withstand the rigours of aeroplane or truck transportation.

  3. 3

    Mount your effects components in the rack based on your personal preference. While most guitars prefer a certain order for guitar effects, some components require specific placement. For example, power supply units give off a lot of heat, which will rise and heat up any components mounted above it. For this reason, power supply units are typically mounted at the top of the rack. Other components, such as tube amplifiers, are mounted toward the top of the rack for the same reason.

  4. 4

    Wire the effects components within the rack, based on your personal choice. The signal flow through the rack can take many different paths, all of which will affect the sound in a unique way. Experiment with different setups to determine the best path for your needs.

  5. 5

    Test the effects rack for proper operation, as well as to ensure that all components are securely mounted in the rack. Be sure that any lids or doors mount properly and that nothing is left loose inside the case.

Tips and warnings

  • Consider cases with wheels or splitting lots of effects into smaller cases to make transportation easier.
  • If you plan to ship your effects rack, be sure to purchase an "ATA rated" flight case to protect your effects.
  • Do not use your effects rack with the back still in place, as this will not provide sufficient cooling or air flow.

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