Can You Damage a Guitar Pedal if You Plug Into Its Output?

Most guitar pedals are quite simple: Just a switch, a few knobs, an input, and an output.

However, even given their lack of complexity could avail to some confusion.

In many cases, what players tend to get wrong is which is the input and which the output, since, as you may know, pedals go from right to left.

But could you damage a guitar pedal if you plug your guitar into its output?

There’s no way of damaging a guitar pedal by plugging your guitar cord, or another pedal into its output. The only thing that will happen if that you will get no sound out of it. This is a very common mistake because guitar pedals go from right to left and it takes some time to get used to it.

In this article, I will go in-depth about all you need to know about how guitar pedals work.

After leaving this page, you will have a clearer idea about what to do and what not to do with your guitar pedals, and if you are putting them at any risk of breaking down.

Are you ready to get started?

Let’s go!

What happens if you plug your guitar into a pedal’s output?

If you plug your guitar or another pedal into a pedal’s output the most likely scenario is that nothing will happen.

Usually, nothing tragic could ever happen if you mess up your inputs and outputs with audio gear. 

Things will just not make any sound, because they are not intended to work that way.

But I say “usually” because there’s an important caveat:

Powered outputs could mess up any gear not intended to be plugged into them.

Of course, this is not the case for pedals, but mostly for power amps and gear like that.

Finally, for some wah models, if you plug their input into your amp, you will get a siren-like sound that could be interesting to experiment with.

Can you damage a guitar pedal if you plug into its output?

There is no way of damaging a guitar pedal by plugin a regular guitar signal into its output. It will simply not work until you notice your mistake and switch things up.

If you messed up the jacks of a pedal, which is something pretty normal since they go right to left, and when you figured out your error the pedal is not working, it will probably be due to something else, or perhaps it didn’t ever work.

Can you damage your guitar if you plug into a pedal’s output?

There’s no way of damaging your guitar, or particularly its electronic components by plugging it into a pedal’s output.

The only issue you will have to deal with is that you won’t get any sound out of it, and it might take you a few moments to figure out that there’s nothing wrong with your gear, but with how you are connecting it.

This might seem trivial from a distance, but I bet you, if this were to happen to you just moments before a show, you will likely be on the brink of a panic attack until you figure things out.

Reminder: Pedal outputs are on the left-hand side

Guitar pedals go from right to left. That’s just how things are. And it can be very confusing for most of us.

So, plugging things the wrong way is something you will have to live with as a guitar player, and a mistake that’s so common even among the most experienced players.

There’s nothing to do about it, other than maybe investing in some attention-grabbing labels to put on your guitar to remind you in which way things work.

This might be particularly useful with pedals that boast artsy designs or that have many inputs or outputs.

Can any other incorrect usage damage guitar pedals?

With audio and music gear, there are not many chances of messing things up irreparably.

However, one of the few things that can damage your equipment in some cases is power issues.

For instance, with pedals, messing up the voltages or power jack types could lead to some malfunctions or even permanent damage.

Although in some cases, players use the “wrong” voltage on their gear on purpose to achieve different responses or sounds, this is done in a controlled and secure way, previously tested by professionals.

Always check your gear’s manuals, or ask some more knowledgeable players before doing something dodgy. 

For instance, you can join our Facebook Group if you have any doubts about your gear.

You won’t regret it!