"true bypass" pedals

Huggy B

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...... are really a "thing".

Never put a ton of thought to it, have one chorus pedal with it, one reverb without. Did some plugging and unplugging to test out the A/B aspect of it and was pretty shocked with the results. The reverb pedal is a boss digital reverb and it's been my secret sauce to getting a great jazz lead tone, shorten the time, thicken the effect level and instant Pat Metheny tone, .... done. (or so I thought)

When not engaged it really shaped my tone, and not in a good way. I would make adjustments to compensate, but after taking it out of the effects loop not only the tone, but the articulation improved vastly. For years I used my Rectoverb sans-pedals and was so happy with the directness of the whole equation, the tone, controllability, and articulation. Since I sold it I've been jumping around ampwise and using pedals more, this "true bypass" thing is more than just a selling pitch, I found it to be really real.

.... now I gotta go shopping for a reverb pedal.:D
 

DreamTheaterRules

Not falling for the banana in the tailpipe
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I’m sure some will argue with what I’m about to say. I used to have multiple boss pedals. After a while, many were modified by Keeley and sounded MUCH better. But one problem never went away. With many amps, the buffers in those things REALLY suck tone. I mean in some cases, singlehandedly making a high end amp sound like an average one.

I know some pros use them. I know lots of people say it’s not a big difference. For me it was with the amps I tried them with, and eventually they all went bye bye.
 
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CandidPicker

Because Opportunity Seldom Knocks Twice
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I don't think I'd be qualified as an authority in this discussion, yet do know what my ears prefer.

My FX consist of an Empress buffer at the beginning, and routes the FX through a foot switcher (save for a wah and compressor prior to the footswitcher) and uses all true-bypass effects. (IIRC, the wah is also true-bypass) Once all the effects have been routed through, the foot switcher routes back out through the buffer again, then outputted to my amp.

I don't use an FX loop from my amp (owning only 1 modulation effect, a Neunaber Immerse v1 reverb/delay that sounds decent in front of the amp). And any EQ adjustments are mostly from the FX level, with minor ones at the amp level.

And my gear sounds good. I'd be foolish to try to improve upon something that isn't broken, when in my view, my gear's tone fits the bill for what I originally purchased.

I could try improving the tone by cutting frequencies or trying to add some sort of patch to fix things. Doesn't need it. Why should I be kicking myself for something that doesn't need fixing?

I'll let the other players decide if they need to drop back 10 yards and punt this one. Any decision I could make would not be a wise one at this time.
 

danktat

Award winning tattoo artist ... Amateur guitarist
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Yeah man. Even some of the Chinese knock offs like Moskey, Behringer and Joyo are going with true bypass. That transparency really does make a difference. Especially when you have a bunch of pedals in the chain. If several of them aren't true bypass, it can really make a tonal difference when they are switched off for you dry signal.
 

Boogie

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Went thru this same revelation several years ago and it spurred a 5 year long search for the right pedals for my application. I, too, have gone the Keeley route several times and agree with GTR...some pedals SUCK your signal dry. In my application - everything up front/no loop - it was the combination of the pedals that was as important as their individual character. They have to play well with everyone in your playground. That was a fun, expensive, and laborious journey.

Since I typically run around 30’ of cable - 12’ guitar to PB, 18’ PB to amp - I like a buffer out front to compensate for capacitance and resistance loss. So many people recommended this that I couldn’t ignore it, so I spent considerable time on this experiment. The Klon KTR ended up being my fav. My original Polytune made some weird noise that could be heard thru the signal line so I put it at the end of the chain, which cured the issue.

Many of the jazz guys I know prefer a compressor up front, which dictates the buffer (most of the really good ones have excellent buffers on their front end). If you have one on your list, consider this as an option.

Good luck with your search...it’s your journey to enjoy!
 

eclecticsynergy

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I use two different fuzz pedals and one OD which want to interact directly with a guitar's controls and pickups to be at their best: one FuzzFace type, a ToneBender and the Blackstone OD. All three clean up extremely well using the volume knob on the guitar. FuzzFace with the guitar rolled back is very evocative, instant Jimi semicleans. The Bender scales down from fuzz into pushed-amp OD when you back off on the guitar, also very handy and useable.

The fuzzes are Lovepedals, so when they're off the Blackstone after them is working directly with the guitar. (Nearly all Lovepedals are true bypass, except for one delay with trails which obviously would need to remain in the signal path.) Those three pedals always come before a tuner, but buffering helps keep the signal clear downstream from there.

I also have a VFE Fiery Red Horse (Muff) that I use once in a while; that one doesn't seem to mind buffers ahead of it. But it doesn't clean up well using the guitar volume - most Muffs don't.

I actually have a bunch of other Lovepedals too; I love 'em. It's only the fuzzes that don't seem to like buffers.
 

LSchefman

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A quality buffer converts a high impedance signal to low impedance, which preserves the high frequencies over longer cable runs, such as through your pedalboard and from pedalboard to amp.

There are crappy sounding buffers and great sounding buffers. It's an active circuit, not a passive one. The buffers in Boss pedals are very cheap little devices, and they impart a definite color to the signal. Other pedals and dedicated buffers often have higher quality buffers. Sometimes, as with the Pettyjohn Lift, you get a very high quality buffer plus other features; a buffer box with no controls that only does buffering, such as the Suhr buffer, is another way of doing it.

Because true bypass pedals lack buffers, on a short cable run they can sound better, but for best results use a buffer either first in the chain, or if you have a vintage style wah and/or fuzz, use those pedals first, followed by a buffer.

Lots of folks who have very long cable runs use a buffer as the first thing on the pedalboard, and add another buffer at the end of the pedal chain.

It took me a long time (about 30 years) to figure this stuff out, the hard way! ;)
 

DreamTheaterRules

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This is often recommended and many times effective even with all TBP pedals. But it too depends... how good of a buffer it is up front, how long your guitar>pedal board cable and pedalboard to amp cables are, how many pedals you have and yes, the patch cables you use. If you're using longer guitar cables, have lots of pedals or even more than a couple) that the signal is going through and another longer cable to amp, a good buffer up front can be a significant improvement. To some degree, every upgrade in cables will "usually" help more without the buffer up front than with it. All high end cables will still show a difference with or without a buffer upfront. But with normal affordable cables, sometimes it can really help a lot.

One thing to be aware of. If you really are a "guitar straight into amp" guy, using a higher end single channel amp, and you decide you want to introduce a couple pedals, just be aware that your buffer will change the loading of your pickups and may change (for bad or good) the interaction of your guitars volume knob with the amp. Also, be aware that there are LOTS of not so great buffers out there, and not that many great ones. David Barber makes some really good ones. Try a Launch Pad if you want a transparent boost with a great buffer. Up front with a very slight level boost, or last with a boost to "cook" V1.
 

DreamTheaterRules

Not falling for the banana in the tailpipe
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The buffers in Boss pedals are very cheap little devices, and they impart a definite color to the signal.
Yes, and unfortunately, as someone who used to mod some of them, there is not easy way on most of them to convert them to TBP, thus rendering some otherwise good pedals useless to many. Keeley was modding the buffers and making them better but still not great. Glad he started building his own.
 

sergiodeblanc

Don’t you ever cry again for the rest of your life
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@Huggy B don’t you mostly record stuff? Can’t you just add effects to the signal in your DAW?

Not that I’m trying to stop you from shopping or anything...
 

CandidPicker

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I use two different fuzz pedals and one OD which want to interact directly with a guitar's controls and pickups to be at their best: one FuzzFace type, a ToneBender and the Blackstone OD. All three clean up extremely well using the volume knob on the guitar. FuzzFace with the guitar rolled back is very evocative, instant Jimi semicleans. The Bender scales down from fuzz into pushed-amp OD when you back off on the guitar, also very handy and useable.

The fuzzes are Lovepedals, so when they're off the Blackstone after them is working directly with the guitar. (Nearly all Lovepedals are true bypass, except for one delay with trails which obviously would need to remain in the signal path.) Those three pedals always come before a tuner, but buffering helps keep the signal clear downstream from there.

I also have a VFE Fiery Red Horse (Muff) that I use once in a while; that one doesn't seem to mind buffers ahead of it. But it doesn't clean up well using the guitar volume - most Muffs don't.

I actually have a bunch of other Lovepedals too; I love 'em. It's only the fuzzes that don't seem to like buffers.

ES,

I've heard that a variety of fuzzes don't interact well with buffers. Is there a design-specific flaw found in buffers, or is it the fuzz designs? And if so, could someone compile a list of fuzzes that do interact well (read: clean up well with guitar knob volume) with buffers?
 
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CandidPicker

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This is often recommended and many times effective even with all TBP pedals. But it too depends... how good of a buffer it is up front, how long your guitar>pedal board cable and pedalboard to amp cables are, how many pedals you have and yes, the patch cables you use...

...One thing to be aware of. If you really are a "guitar straight into amp" guy, using a higher end single channel amp, and you decide you want to introduce a couple pedals, just be aware that your buffer will change the loading of your pickups and may change (for bad or good) the interaction of your guitars volume knob with the amp. Also, be aware that there are LOTS of not so great buffers out there, and not that many great ones. David Barber makes some really good ones. Try a Launch Pad if you want a transparent boost with a great buffer. Up front with a very slight level boost, or last with a boost to "cook" V1.

DTR,

Thanks for this. I tried one Barber effect some years ago but my amps were high gain Mesa LoneStars at the time, and the Barber effect only added RFI (was receiving radio signal via the 2 amps). Had to ditch the Barber effect, and was thus soured on Barber devices.

Though you've made a good case for Barber buffers. As an alternative, check out Empress effects that also makes at least 2 types of buffers (one standard with no boost, the other, with boost)

I've personally experienced good success with my effects together using all TBP effects and a buffer at the beginning/end of the signal path. And my wallet is none the worse for wear. That is not to say that others won't experience the same success. Good connecting cable and dedicated power supplies with isolated outputs are the way towards a quality tone FX board.
 

DreamTheaterRules

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DTR,

Thanks for this. I tried one Barber effect some years ago but my amps were high gain Mesa LoneStars at the time, and the Barber effect only added RFI (was receiving radio signal via the 2 amps). Had to ditch the Barber effect, and was thus soured on Barber devices.

Though you've made a good case for Barber buffers. As an alternative, check out Empress effects that also makes at least 2 types of buffers (one standard with no boost, the other, with boost)

I've personally experienced good success with my effects together using all TBP effects and a buffer at the beginning/end of the signal path. And my wallet is none the worse for wear. That is not to say that others won't experience the same success. Good connecting cable and dedicated power supplies with isolated outputs are the way towards a quality tone FX board.
Just curious, which pedal did that? Barbers are some of the best pedals made. And, I've never heard of anyone having the RFI issue with any Barber pedal, but the few Barbers I haven't owned were his various fuzz pedals.
 

Boogie

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ES,

I've heard that a variety of fuzzes don't interact well with buffers. Is there a design-specific flaw found in buffers, or is it the fuzz designs? And if so, could someone compile a list of fuzzes that do interact well (read: clean up well with guitar knob volume) with buffers?
I used a loop pedal to isolate my fuzzes in the past. Yes, most fuzz designs have a characteristic of wanting to be the only thing in the chain. Modern takes on the Classics, like Suhr, can give you the best of both worlds, but if you want your fav old Big Muff, it’s a tough compromise.

On this ancient version of my board, we played a bunch of Weezer, Bush, Jimmy Eat World kind of stuff and I had lots of gain. Mix the 3 channels of the MkIII in and I had a butt-load of tap dancing that day (a giant neighborhood block party with us on a flatbed trailer, an undersized PA and carte blanche from the police department to “do our worst” to the noise ordinance, which meant, crank the guitar!). Two Keeley. Beauties - DS-1 and TS-9 ModPlus - and my Big Muff Mini. The BM had to go at the end of the chain in this scenario, the decision after countless hours of testing and practice.

MkIII-rig-outdoor.jpg


But to get something like this custom beauty to work at its peak, you need to isolate it with a loop.

cerberus7.jpg
 

Huggy B

Space is the place
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This is often recommended and many times effective even with all TBP pedals. But it too depends... how good of a buffer it is up front, how long your guitar>pedal board cable and pedalboard to amp cables are, how many pedals you have and yes, the patch cables you use. If you're using longer guitar cables, have lots of pedals or even more than a couple) that the signal is going through and another longer cable to amp, a good buffer up front can be a significant improvement. To some degree, every upgrade in cables will "usually" help more without the buffer up front than with it. All high end cables will still show a difference with or without a buffer upfront. But with normal affordable cables, sometimes it can really help a lot.

One thing to be aware of. If you really are a "guitar straight into amp" guy, using a higher end single channel amp, and you decide you want to introduce a couple pedals, just be aware that your buffer will change the loading of your pickups and may change (for bad or good) the interaction of your guitars volume knob with the amp. Also, be aware that there are LOTS of not so great buffers out there, and not that many great ones. David Barber makes some really good ones. Try a Launch Pad if you want a transparent boost with a great buffer. Up front with a very slight level boost, or last with a boost to "cook" V1.

Wow you stomp box guys, this thread sure became a pandora's box.:rolleyes:

TBH I doubt all this will be necessary, I only use two pedals (reverb & chorus), went Mogami gold on all my cables, and I'm going into a decent head (although not sgl channel). Just doing the A/B tests I did showed me I like as little in the chain as possible.

Thx for the tips but no pedal board with an array if gizmos and doodads going on here. I'm too fuddy duddy for that.:p
 
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