How to Run Two Marshall Guitar Amps With an Effects Loop

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How to Run Two Marshall Guitar Amps With an Effects Loop
Ensure all cables are working before setting up your effects loop. (guitar cable image by Darko Draskovic from Fotolia.com)

An effects loop enables you to effectively place your pedals between the power amp and the preamp. This is the alternative to the traditional way of plugging the guitar into the pedals and running the pedal output direct into the amp input. The effects loop method preserves more of the amp's preamp tone. Another benefit of using effects loops is that if you are lucky enough to own two Marshall amps, you can use both simultaneously. This means you can blend both amps' sounds or keep them distinct. Use one for effected signals and one for dry signals.

Skill level:
Moderate

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Things you need

  • 5 guitar cables
  • Patch lead
  • Stereo output-equipped effects pedal

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Plug your guitar cable directly into the input of one of your Marshall amps. Go directly into the amp with the tone that you prefer. This will be your dry signal amplifier. Make sure that the volume is turned down on both amps before you turn them on. If you make a mistake with the signal chain, the feedback or hum at loud volume could damage your ears.

    How to Run Two Marshall Guitar Amps With an Effects Loop
    Make sure the mater volume is at zero before turning on. (l'amplificateur image by richard villalon from Fotolia.com)
  2. 2

    Run a cable from the dry amp's effects send into the input of the second amp. This takes the dry signal from the first amp and sends it to your other Marshall. The effects loop inputs and outputs are located centrally at the rear on Marshall amps.

  3. 3

    Connect a guitar cable between the effects send jack of your second amp and the input of the first effects pedal in your chain. The first pedal is the one that you would ordinarily plug your guitar into.

  4. 4

    Plug a patch lead into the input of the line selector or splitter pedal. Line selectors or splitter pedals enable you to divert signals and send them to more than one place. In this case you are using this function to send one guitar signal to two amps via an effects chain. The Boss LS-2 is a popular line selector pedal. You can also use any pedal that has a stereo output, such as the Electro Harmonix Stereo Memory Man.

  5. 5

    Connect the other end of the patch lead to the output of the last effects pedal in the chain. Plug both outputs from the splitter box into the effects loop return jacks on each amp. This completes the loop, incorporating your signal chain. The splitter box will send the guitar signal through your effects to the second amp and direct to the first one.

  6. 6

    Turn on each amp and gradually increase the volume of each. Test to make sure each amp is receiving and outputting signal. Experiment with pedal placements to modify your tone. Once you find something you like, take a cell phone snap of the set-up to help you remember it in the future.

Tips and warnings

  • Check that all pedals are powered up and connected before beginning your loop. One disconnected pedal can stop the signal from passing the effects chain and reaching the splitter box.
  • If you are using the set-up for performing live, use masking tape to secure the cables to the floor so that they don't get pulled out. It can take a long time to locate the loose cable in these setups.

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