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View Full Version : Buffered pedals or Not??!!


gfarro
11-28-2011, 09:55 PM
Hey guys, I have been doing some research online about my pedals and came across some info saying that you should never put a buffered pedal before a fuzz pedal. I have an interesting chain because I use a loop switcher as the heart of my pedalboard. I don't know which pedals I have that are buffers and which are not. I love my tone as it stands right now, but maybe it can it be better. Here's my chain: Note: I have pedals before the input of the loop switcher and pedals after it. This setup gives me a lot of flexibility:

Guitar > Korg Pitchblack tuner > Jim Cantrell wah > Diamond Compressor > RC Booster > input to 4 loop switcher

Loop A = Digitech Whammy 4
Loop B = Fulltone MDV-2 Vibe > EHX MicroSynth
Loop C = EHX Micro Pog > EHX Tube Zipper > Earthquaker Devices Bit Commander
Loop D = Fulltone OCD > Earthquaker Devices Hoof Fuzz

4 loop switcher output
MXR Micro Amp > EHX Stereo Mistress > Stereo out to 2 amps

My main concern are the pedals before the loop switcher. I don't know if the Diamond Compressor or the RC Booster are buffered pedals and how they are effecting this pedal chain or the fuzz pedal? Should I move them within the loops? Or should I leave everything as is? Any tips?
Thanks guys, you have always been very helpful.

mcdes
11-28-2011, 10:01 PM
the tuner is more than likely buffered?

But the best way is to move pedals around and see if it sounds better, and if it sounds great as you got it now..... then rock on!

Duckmeister
11-28-2011, 10:11 PM
If you're worried about the fuzz pedal, don't be. The Hoof is a clone of the Big Muff, and the Big Muff doesn't care whether you place it before or after a buffer, in fact, it's not picky at all, you could even put it in the effects loop, before or after compression, whatever, and it will still work fine. That "no fuzz after buffer" rule is really only for other fuzz designs like the Fuzz Face, which are really finicky, even to the point of rejecting specific amp tubes and speakers. So don't worry about it.

gfarro
11-28-2011, 10:11 PM
Does a buffered pedal really effect other pedals? Does this mean we should put a fuzz pre-tuner??? I know we should do whatever sounds good to us but I'm a little confused about this buffer world.:bonk

gfarro
11-28-2011, 10:13 PM
If you're worried about the fuzz pedal, don't be. The Hoof is a clone of the Big Muff, and the Big Muff doesn't care whether you place it before or after a buffer, in fact, it's not picky at all, you could even put it in the effects loop, before or after compression, whatever, and it will still work fine. That "no fuzz after buffer" rule is really only for other fuzz designs like the Fuzz Face, which are really finicky, even to the point of rejecting specific amp tubes and speakers. So don't worry about it.
Interesting, because my research always mentioned the Fuzz Face. Good to know.

ZeroChan
11-28-2011, 10:17 PM
Does a buffered pedal really effect other pedals? Does this mean we should put a fuzz pre-tuner??? I know we should do whatever sounds good to us but I'm a little confused about this buffer world.:bonk

If it's buffered and you have a Fuzz Face circuit, yeah. I have my '69 in front anyway as I only use batteries for Fuzz Faces.

Fuzz Faces doesn't clean up as well with buffers before it.

Don't worry too much about buffers if it's a Muff circuit, though.

upfrontguitars
11-28-2011, 10:36 PM
I have found that a buffered pedal before a distortion pedal does add some additional high frequency "artifacts" that are not all that pleasing. My experience is with the JHS Pulp 'n Peel compressor which has a switchable buffer. The buffer definitely gives some extended high end "space" around the notes, but this did not react well with several distortion pedals. The pedals seemed more fizzy at the top end. Buffers are neither right or wrong, they are a matter of preference. If you think it helps, use it. For me, the PnP is a great compressor but I switched the buffer out.

gfarro
11-28-2011, 10:46 PM
So it seems that my Diamond Compessor is also a buffered pedal, but I never use it with my dirt pedals. But I guess it doesn't matter because I have a muff circuit down the chain. What about the OCD?

chervokas
11-29-2011, 07:04 AM
A vintage style fuzz face type circuit works by loading the guitar -- in order to keep it from sounding shrieking and over distorted and in order for guitar knob-roll back clean up to work it needs to be connected directly to the guitar. That means guitar>cable>fuzz, no buffer or other switched-on device between the two.

Duckmeister is correct, a Big Muff style fuzz (and the Earthquaker site clearly calls the Hoof Muff-based) is a different circuit and doens't work the same way. The Muff does have a low input impedance and the original, pre-true bypass, versions of the device were bad tone suckers and probably sounded better behind a buffer when switched off. I suspect their tone will change when they're behind a buffer -- likely to be brighter and hotter when their 100K ohm IIRC input impedance is driven by a 1K ohm source impedance instead of something like 10Kohm or more from the guitar itself.

chervokas
11-29-2011, 07:23 AM
Does a buffered pedal really effect other pedals? Does this mean we should put a fuzz pre-tuner??? I know we should do whatever sounds good to us but I'm a little confused about this buffer world.:bonk

A buffer is a unity gain amplifier circuit that converts signal impedance.

In a guitar signal chain it presents to the guitar a high input impedance (typically, in guitar effects, the are between 470K ohms and1M ohm), and sends to the next device a constant, low output impedance (typically 1K ohm) in contrast with the guitar's high and varying output impedance.

We call it a "buffer" because it buffers one device from the loading effects of another. So, say we plug the guitar into a cable the cable into a buffer and the buffer into another cable and that cable into an amp. The capacitance of the cable between the guitar and the buffer will be loading the guitar, the input impedance of the buffer will be loading the guitar. But the capacitance of the cable after the buffer and the input impedance of the amp will NOT be loading the guitar, the guitar will be buffered from them.

We use buffers in guitar signal chains to manage the effects of cable capacitance loading, impedance loading by hardwire bypass devices with low input impedances, etc. How and where you use them really depends on what's going on in your signal chain. Most commonly people put them near the front of their signal chains to buffer the guitar from all the subsequent devices. Sometimes however there are issues of impedance matching within a chain -- for example an OD like the OCD that can have a high output impedance depending on how its output is set -- that can be solved by placing a buffer between devices.

Some effects, like Fuzz Face style circuits, work by loading the guitar, so they need to be in front of buffers. Other circuits -- like a vintage style Univibe -- develop their characteristic tone in part via low input impedances and sound typically dark in front of a buffer, and quite different (brighter and more modern) behind a buffer. So it's really a matter of impedance matching throughout the signal chain in figuring out how devices are going to behave before or behind a buffer.

Three other things to remember: First, the first active device -- that is the first device in the chain after the guitar that is "on" -- will be the device that is loading the guitar. So if you have a switched-on pedal at the front of your chain, it effectively is functioning as a buffer. Second, buffers decouple the guitar's variable output impedance from amp so unless there's some other workaround circuitry (a la the Valvulator) or some other sort of device at the end of the chain (like the Gigrig Z cable) there's aways a change in amp "feel and responsiveness" when using a buffer (or any pedal that's switched "on"). Buffers, like all things in electronics, aren't perfect, they represent a compromise that solve certain problems but naturally create some issues of their own. Third, it is the input impedance of the buffer that is going to be the biggest factor in how a buffer will sound in your rig: A buffer with an input impedance that matches the input impedance of your amp (usually 1M ohm) most likely to sound closest to your direct-in tone.

smallsnd/bigsnd
11-29-2011, 07:45 AM
excellent write-up by chervokas.

two important things to keep in mind:
1. don't believe everything you read.
2. when in doubt, use your ears.

gfarro
11-29-2011, 08:58 AM
chervokas - Thanks for the clarification. I had to read it a few times, but I think I got it. I'm going to move some buffered pedals around and see what I hear. If there is a noticeable difference I'll change it, if not, I'll keep everything as is.