4-cable Method for connecting a guitar amplifier to a multi-effects pedal

four - cable method


The “four-cable method” refers to a way to connect a compatible guitar multi-effects pedal to a guitar amplifier. Some digital multi-effects pedals have multiple inputs and outputs, and allow to route different effects to those different outputs, which allows you send effects to both the guitar input and the guitar amp’s effects loop simultaneously, depending on where the effect will sound best. For example, an overdrive or compressor is generally best in front of the amp’s input, while a delay or reverb will often work better in the amp’s effects loop.

If you have a such a guitar multi-effects pedal, here’s how you set up the four cable method:

  • Cable 1: Plug your guitar to the guitar input of your multi-effects (MFX) pedal.
  • Cable 2: Plug the send from your MFX pedal to the guitar input of your amplifier. Send all your distortion, boost, compressor, and wah-style effects to this send.
  • Cable 3: Plug the send from your amplifier’s effects loop into the return of your MFX pedal. Send all your delay, reverb, and modulation effects into this return
  • Cable 4: Plug the return from your MFX into the effect loop return of your amplifier.

This way, you can route the effects within your multi-effects unit the same way you would route individual stompboxes, but with much less fuss.

Connecting Guitar to your amplifier

Connect the power cable of the amp All guitar and bass amps use the same power cable. Most power cables can be detached from the amp itself. If your cable is detached, plug the female end into the amp. The female side has holes instead of prongs extending outward.

Plug your guitar into the amp- To plug your guitar in, run a quarter-inch (6 mm) audio cable from your guitar’s output jack to the input jack on the amp. Always plug into the amp with the amp turned off, and avoid turning the amp on when nothing is plugged in. This can damage the amp’s components. Some amps may have more than 1 input jack representing different “channel” options for you to play out of, for example, channel 1 is clean and channel 2 is more distorted or has reverb.

Power the amp on- There are two types of amps: solid state amps and tube amps. Solid state amps will have a simple button or flip-switch to power them on. Amps using tube circuitry, however, will often have 2 switches: 1 labeled “Power” and another labeled “Standby.” Turn on both switches for the tube amp to make sound. Tube amps will take longer to produce sound because it takes a few moments for the tubes to warm up. The standby switch is useful keeping the amplifier warmed up and ready to go during short breaks in playing. If you are playing a gig and load in your equipment on stage before the show, turn on the power switch only. This will make the tubes on your amp warm before showtime. When you’re ready to play, flip on the standby switch.

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