Tips and Tricks: Four cable method

The so called four cable method (4CM) allows you to use POD X3 Live (or Digitech GSP1101) as a full featured effects only processor with your existing amplifier. Required gear to use this technique includes:

  • an amplifier with effects loop
  • a POD X3 Live (or Digitech GSP1101)
  • four 1/4″ guitar cables
  • a guitar ;)

Four cable method connections

Start by connecting your guitar, amplifier, and POD using the four guitar cables (see diagram):

  • Cable 1: guitar to POD
  • Cable 2: POD fx send to amplifier guitar input
  • Cable 3: amplifier fx send to POD fx return
  • Cable 4: POD output to amplifier fx return

Four cable method

Four cable method advantages

  • Use your amplifier’s existing preamp tone and power amp characteristics.
  • Use POD’s effects
  • POD’s stomp effect comes before your amplifier, just like a normal stompbox.
  • POD’s other effects (modulation, delay, reverb) can be placed before or after your amplifier’s preamp
  • Place the volume pedal before or after your amplifier
  • You can switch POD’s fx loop off to bypass your amplifier’s preamp and use POD’s internal modeling through your amp’s power stage
  • This can all be switched with a single footswitch
DigiTech GSP1101 Guitar Effects Modeling System DigiTech GSP1101 price check
Digitech’s marketing for this unit says it was designed to “adapt and fit within your system, letting you get the most out of your setup without taking over.” What they really mean is it can be hooked up this way for effects only operation.
Line 6 POD X3 LIVE Guitar Multi-Effect Pedal Line 6 POD X3 LIVE price check
POD X3 Live works great in this configuration if you want an integrated, stompbox style effects switching system.
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94 Responses to “Tips and Tricks: Four cable method”

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  1. This is for MMD trying to rank on the first page kind of like a pet project.

  2. Nicely explained especailly with the diagram. cheers

  3. Reagan says:

    Hey,

    I am running my Pod X3 Live into my Crate V50 tube amplifier. When I run the four-cable method, I get a hum (is that from a bad cable or something?) and no matter what I do, it always bypasses the preamp, I have to run amp modeling. Any suggestions?

  4. bvesco says:

    If it is bypassing the preamp then you might have the loop turned off or it is wired wrong. Sorry I’m not familiar with your particular amp though.

  5. david goslan says:

    what is the procedure for setting up a dual tone on pod x3 live im stuck

    • bvesco says:

      Hold the “Tone 2″ button down until you see the display switch to “dual tone” mode. Then pressing “Tone 2″ button switches between the two.

  6. Dylan says:

    I am using a X3 Live and have a AMT SS-11A (which is a dual tube pre-amp pedal) – how can the 4CM benefit me? My objective is to have some ‘tube-like’ sounds coming out of the PA while still able to use the X3L’s effects, modeling and cabinets. I tried yesterday and am going to experiment further but need guidance,

  7. bvesco says:

    You can put the tube preamp pedal in the fx loop and treat it like the preamp of a “regular” amp.

  8. Dylan says:

    What then would be fed into the mixer? The Cab/Sim from the Preamp pedal to the mixer or the XLR Out from the X3Live? I have tried both – it appears to me that the sound using the XLR Out is better and manageable from the X3Live.

  9. Helikyler says:

    Ben – this site is amazing. There is a wealth of knowledge here and I’m looking forward to going through it slowly and thoroughly. But I wanted to ask for your advice.

    I’m brand new to the Pod X3 Live, even though it’s been around a while. I play lead guitar in a worship music setting and play a Gibson LP Studio w/a Marshall JCM900. I love my tone and overdrive, so I don’t really need the X3 Live for “dirt”. I’m wanting to get more experimental with delay (I have a Boss DD-3 currently), tremolo and reverb.

    I’d like to know your honest opinion: I’ve been given the opportunity to straight trade over for a Line 6 M9. If I keep it, I will likely be using the X3L 95% of the time for live playing through my amp FOR EFFECTS only. Am I barking up the wrong tree and should I trade it for the M9? You seem to know a lot about the X3L and I want to know, in your honest opinion, if I will be sacrificing effects quality by keeping the X3L. Thanks in advance for your time and for this great site!

  10. bvesco says:

    Specifically on the topic of the effects themselves I do think the M9 is a bit more suited to your use case. POD X3 has “XT era” effects while M9 has “HD era” effects. They are more lush and realistic in general. Also, M9 is set up to allow more freedom in routing your effects. If you want three chorus boxes in a row you should be able to do that with M9. You can’t do that with X3. The contemporary worship leader/guitarist at my church uses two delays in his signal chain. X3 won’t give you that kind of setup (not without trying to do some whack patching between tones 1 and 2). If it seems like a fair trade value wise then I say go for it. Maybe you can test drive the M9 first?

  11. JDM5000 says:

    I tried it with a Crate Blue Voodoo BV120 half-stack and it works.. sort of.

    Mod and Delay would ONLY work if they were set to PRE rather than POST and, worst of all, it added a ton of gain even with everything off. No amp, no cab, no comp, stompbox, or EQ.. Nothing. Put the fizz I was hoping to avoid by using a real tube amp’s distortion right back into the sound.

    I had the tone volume and master volume on the POD X3 Live at 0% (strange that it was still sending a signal to the amp even with the master at 0). I had the pod output set to Live Stack.

    If I was still playing metal, the added gain wouldn’t be much of a problem, but as it is, it made everything sound like metal.

    Such a shame, too.. I was really hoping to avoid buying a chromatic tuner pedal and a volume pedal.

  12. CHIP says:

    JDM5000, I had exactly this on my Marshall AVT50 until I messed around with settings. The problem is almost certainly the LOOP SEND and RETURN settings.

    See my post at :-

    http://line6.com/support/message/356168#356168

    I ended up with SEND -20 and RETURN +15dB

  13. romemulus says:

    Cool tip. I tried this with pod x3 live and 5150 212 combo. works good…but how can I implement an isp decimator to reduce the 5150 hizzz. I can’t put between line6 out and amp return…it kills my delays and verbs… the other three connection points don’t make the decimator effective. Any other recommendations in getting a noise gate to work with this 4 cable method?? Thanks!

    • Sam says:

      Dno if you ever figured it out, but to utilize the isp to clean up amp noise, you want to put the isp in the loop as follows.

      Amp fx loop send > decimator in > decimator out > delay/fxunit> fx return, this way the amp noise gets eliminated first and only guitar signal will be effected and on return, you will get a good clean delay sound with no gating of effected sound.

      What i need help with is, i have an amp called a sherlock Fat Head.

      Its a high gain amp, 100 watt, 4 channel with midi capability, fx loop etc etc etc.

      I have the 4 cable method working okay for my gain channels, they sound the same as if i were plugging directly into the amp, however my clean channel either loses alot of volume OR sounds like when an amp is plugged directly into a p/a line in without a load box or cab sim etc…horrible. Ideas?

  14. Hi there! This post couldn’t be written any better! Reading through this post reminds me of my old room mate! He always kept talking about this. I will forward this page to him. Pretty sure he will have a good read. Many thanks for sharing!

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