The 4 Best EQ Pedals in Front of Amps – Reviews 2023

eq pedal in front of amp

Photo by Rob T / CC BY

Putting an EQ pedal it in front of the amp in your signal chain lets you use it to tweak the sonic output of your guitar before the amp and effect pedals color the sound. While you can technically put any EQ pedal anywhere in your signal chain, there are some reasons that really shine used in front of an amp. A lot of players also use an EQ pedal in front of the amp as an extra boost pedal, and in addition, it can help to smooth out the live sound of finicky amps and effects. Let’s take a closer look at our top pedals before we pick an overall winner.

These are our recommendations for the 4 best EQ pedals in front of amps on the market:

J. Rockett Audio Designs Q Series EQ Pedal

The J. Rockett Audio Rockaway Archer is the best EQ pedal for amps that don’t have an effects loop. It’s basically two effects in one, letting you add some gain as well as adjusting your frequency curve before the sound gets to your amp.

Now the J. Rockett Audio Rockaway Archer (see full specs) is a bit of an investment for an EQ pedal. It’s also capable of producing far more unique sounds than most EQ pedals, however, allowing you to cut or boost up to 18 db within each of 6 frequency ranges. There are also volume and gain controls for the overdrive effect, all of this in a compact pedal with the same footprint as other stompboxes.

The Rockaway Archer is designed to come before your amp in the signal change, and that shows in the sound. Whether you just need to sculpt and prevent feedback or want to make more experimental shifts to your sound, you can do it with the Rockaway Archer.

J Rockett Audio Rockaway Archer Pedal Video Demo by Shawn Tubbs

BOSS GE-7 Equalizer Pedal with 7 Band EQ Bundle

Boss Pedals are remarkably consistent in their design and build. One thing they do especially well is separate the controls from the footswitch on their stompboxes, a feature that’s especially important on a pedal like a graphic EQ. The white faders on the Boss GE-7 are another nice touch, with good contrast from the black backing so you can quickly scope out your frequency curve.

The Boss GE-7 is a highly-versatile seven-band graphic EQ pedal. It gives you a range of 15dB boost or cut for each frequency range, which is plenty for most tone-shaping applications. This is the perfect EQ pedal for limiting feedback from your guitar, and can be used to create some unique tones when placed before an amp.

We also like that the Boss GE-7 has a relatively small footprint. Many EQ pedals are on the larger side, so it’s good to see they’ve kept this pedal at their usual size. While the faders are comparatively small as a result, they’re easy to adjust independently, even in low light conditions. For the money, this is among the best EQ pedals in front of amps.

Pedal Vault – Boss Graphic Equalizer GE-7 Metal review

MXR M108S Ten Band EQ Guitar Effects Pedal

The MXR M108S is an affordable 10-band EQ pedal that also functions beautifully as a boost pedal. It operates at 18-volts, giving you more headroom and output. In addition to the frequency sliders, the master volume and gain controls allow more shaping of your tone.

The interface of the MXR M108S is simple and easy to read. We like the LED lights on the faders, which makes this pedal readable in any light. While it’s a bit on the bulky side, the extra space keeps it from feeling cramped, and reduces the risk of accidentally changing your settings during a performance.

At this price range, the MXR M108S is a relatively affordable way to add an EQ in front of your amp. As an added bonus it offers two-channel output, expanding its versatility beyond simple amp setups.

Donner EQ Seeker Pedal

If you’re looking for a budget-friend EQ pedal to put in front of your amp, check out the Donner EQ Seeker. It’s a compact ten-band EQ unit that gives you full control over your guitar’s sound at a great price.

The compact design of the Donner EQ Seeker is great for portability. It weighs less than a pound, and has an impressively small footprint for a unit with ten separate sliders. The only disadvantage of this design is it does make the front of the unit a bit cramped. If you’re not careful, you could accidentally change your settings when you activate the footswitch. The narrow sliders would be pretty hard to readjust in a dark club.

The simplicity of the Donner EQ Seeker design is perfect if you want an easy to use EQ unit. It also gives you a nice visual representation of your frequency curve, something you’ll only get from a graphic EQ. Considering the features and build quality, this really is an excellent value at the price.

Donner Seeker EQ Pedal Review

Why Put an EQ Pedal in Front of Amps?

If you’re playing on the clean channel, the placement of the EQ pedal doesn’t make a huge amount of difference. The clean tone of an amp doesn’t alter the base harmonics of your guitar’s tone very much, so you’ll get the same basic effect with the EQ pedal before or after the amp.

Where it really can change your sound is if you’re using a lot of distortion and overdrive effects. When you increase the gain, it generates harmonics that extend the guitar’s frequency range higher than normal. Any EQ you provide before the amp will leave these added harmonics unaffected, giving you a more subtle control over the shape of your sound.

If you’re not sure where to put your EQ pedal, experiment with placing it before and after your amp with the same settings. You’ll be able to hear the difference in sound more easily than it can be explained on paper.

The EQ Pedal in Front of Amps Verdict

For straight EQ purposes, the Boss GE-7 (see full specs) is the best EQ pedal to put in front of your amp. It’s easy to use and read, has a great sound, and is just as portable as other Boss effect pedals. Having said that, each of the pedals on the list above made it there for a reason. They’re all great options if you’re looking for a new way to shape your sound. Best of luck in finding the right one for you!

  • Micah Johnson started playing music in high school, when he taught himself the bass to join his friend’s band. He added guitar and drums during his twenties playing in local clubs, and along the way, he picked up unique, hands-on experience from hand drums to studio mixers. On Song Simian, he aims to share this knowledge from 20+ years playing and recording music. When not in gearhead mode, he enjoys photography and travel.

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