Getting Started With the Guitar 4 Cable Method

The 4-Cable Method (GCM) of guitar playing enables you to utilize effects pedals with your amplifier’s preamp without losing control over tone. This guide offers simple explanations, diagrams, and tips on getting started using this method.

Your signal from your guitar passes into the first pedal in your wah, fuzz, overdrive or distortion chain and eventually into your amp’s effects loop return jack.


The four cable method is an increasingly popular way for guitarists to utilize multiple effects pedals simultaneously. By routing one group of pedals through your amp’s preamp and another group through its effects loop, it gives you more freedom in terms of which pedals to use in each situation for more targeted tonality – this guide demonstrates this using the Headrush pedalboard.

Why Is the 4 Cable Method Popular? Utilizing the 4 Cable Method allows you to place certain effects before and/or after an amplifier’s preamp (in front of or behind), in order to maximize their use effectively and ensure they get maximum benefit from them. Certain effects sound differently depending on whether they’re placed before or behind, for instance when placed before or after distortion for example reverb is placed before or after distortion, using this approach you can ensure your effects are used optimally and to their fullest extent possible – making use of all available effects for maximum impactful utilization!

To use the 4-Cable Method with your amp, you will require a multi-effects pedal featuring an effects loop-in path such as the Line 6 Copper or M13 (or any multi-effects pedal with FX SEND and FX RETURN jack sockets). Connect your guitar to the output of the multi-effects device using cable 1, then tap into its guitar input of your amplifier via cable 2. The signal from a guitar is fed through the preamp of an amplifier with preamp ON and then sent back through FX SEND into multi-effects device for further processing. Cable 3 connects this effect to pre-effects such as compressor, overdrive/distortion or wah. Finally, cable 4 feeds it back into the FX RETURN jack of the multi-effects device to return it to its original form before passing through the preamp of an amplifier.

How to Wire the Headrush Pedalboard using the Four Cable Method

These diagrams depict a basic setup for wiring your amplifier and pedalboard using the four-cable method. We advise starting out simple as you familiarize yourself with it; once you gain confidence with signals and connections you may expand as desired. It is crucial that high quality instrument and patch cables be used when setting up your system to minimize signal loss or interference.

The Four-Cable Method is an incredible technique that can open up new dimensions of tonal versatility for guitarists. By seamlessly integrating effects pedals with amplifier preamps, this approach can help you discover the ideal combination of tones for your playing style and find their optimal combination through experimentation and practice. Just grab your gear, plug it in, and let the magic begin! –Benjamin D’Alfonso of The Guitarist Magazine.