Booster AND Buffer - should I have both?

Discussion in 'Effects, Pedals, Strings & Things' started by rhythmrocker, Sep 20, 2006.

  1. rhythmrocker

    rhythmrocker 1966 Battle of the Bands Supporting Member

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    I've read so much about boosters and buffers now I am a bit confused.

    Here's my pedal set-up: guitar (Guild Bluesbird) > looper (to tuner; to rest of pedals) > wah > compressor > looper (3 differents OverDrives that I choose between, never having more than 2 on at a time) > Chorus (sometimes I 1-loop a Yamaha Magic Stomp with a Jacques Meistersinger)> Echo > Xotic RC Booster > Fender Deluxe Reverb (or Ampeg V-40).
    With the booster, do I really need a buffer/eq? Or are these really separate issues?
    Thanks.
     
  2. Ben C.

    Ben C. Member

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    If you compare your tone when plugged straight into the amp vs. through your pedals, and perceive a noticable difference (usually some loss of clarity or high-end), then a quality buffer at the beginning of your signal chain (right after the guitar) may help you.

    A booster's job is primarilly to boost volume and thereby overdrive the amp or following OD's. Some will add some grit. Some have an EQ to fine tune the 'fattening' quality of a boost, or in the case of something like an RC Booster, you can tailor the EQ further.

    However, if your issue is degraded signal through the board vs. plugged straight in, a buffer is the tool to help with that problem.

    That said, there are plenty of folks who use a booster at various points in the signal chain to add more high EQ to get some of that high-end back. Splitting hairs though (or maybe not), that's really EQ-ing a degraded signal rather than perserving it. Personally, I like to have my booster act as a booster, rather than having it as an 'always on' compensation for a degraded signal.

    -Ben
     
  3. mild

    mild Member

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    Just a quick other perspective... the Catalinabread SCP is a 2 in 1 booster and buffer. Its great!
     
  4. Ben C.

    Ben C. Member

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    Right! Then there are those as well. And let's not forget the Morning Dew EQ that also has that buffer.

    -Ben
     
  5. Gary Ladd

    Gary Ladd Member

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  6. mild

    mild Member

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    Yeah! After doing the whole Buffer hunt, I decided on the MDEQ as well! Remember - there are only 50 more of these being made, and half of those are already spoken for. You would be wise to get in on this one...

    Ben - are you implying that the SCP and MDEQ have the same buffer circuit? Just checking... :cool:
     
  7. Ben C.

    Ben C. Member

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    No no, a typo of sorts I suppose... should have said 'a', not 'that'. My bad!

    -Ben
     
  8. vinni

    vinni Member

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    Here it is......

    [​IMG]

    vinni
     
  9. spentron

    spentron Member

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    Contour Boost (see sig.) is avail. in 2 buffered flavors. Even with the electronic soft switching, only one quality op-amp is in circuit in deselect mode, with no switching elements in conduction.
     
  10. StompBoxBlues

    StompBoxBlues Member

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    I think nobody has really touched upon an issue in what you asked, yet.

    Normally a buffer pedal is used in line with other pedals to help "boost" the signal...or more precisely it is used to get the most of the original signal from the guitar pickups to make it all the way through a lot of pedals...when there are a lot of pedals, and when most of them are off AND true bypass, or else when they have impedance mismatches (which would mean the signal from the pickups wouldn't make it through well).

    A boost pedal, accomplishes pretty much the same thing if designed right, but I "think" only when used very early in the chain. Point being, if the first pedal after a guitar is a low impedance input...you already lost a lot of signal then in the transfer from pickup to the first pedal...you can't "make up" this loss honestly...only "dishonestly" by boosting that weak signal. If you want the most pristine, I think you have to have a boost pedal (with high input impedance, which most or all are I think) first in the chain, and on all the time.

    I'm a little less certain about "buffer pedals" as people in the know often mention having them "at the end of the signal chain" or after ODs/dist/wah/fuzz...but I think they also mean...after all TB pedals, because it will help when they are off. There is a natural "buffering" in most types of pedals when they are ON, so it is when they are off that it matters.

    But in this whole equation, you seem to have two different looper pedals. Because of this twist, it changes the equation I think. Mainly because I imagine when you are not using pedals in the loopers, the loop is "pristine", meaning shortest possible length...cable mostly going direct from guitar to whatever is NOT in the loops, into amp.

    Point being, it seems to me like you might want either a boost before the looper, or a buffer pedal AFTER all loopers. I'm really not sure about this though.

    It also is hard to evaluate all the possible combinations, so it would help (you started to do this by mentioning only usually one OD pedal at a time on, max two) if you outlined the MOST OFTEN configurations.

    Even with a large pedalboard, I find that if I list the most used combinations I ever use, it isn't nearly as many as I would have thought.
    I use wah both alone and with OD and Fuzz. Sometimes also with delay.
    I use chorus usually clean, sometimes with Delay.
    etc. etc.

    This might suggest how and what should be looped.

    Things to watch out for, if some pedals make a huge difference in volume, tone, and also if some pedals in a loop when off, while another pedal in the same loop is on, do strange things to tone or signal strength.

    What does your intuition tell you, you probably have experimented a little already right? Does it seem to be a problem?

    Some (many actually) folk like to put a boost further down the chain, almost or even at the end, for boosting the whole shebang. This might even out any differences a little in volume, but it still seems to me you are then boosting an attenuated (from the pickup) signal.

    The Zvex SHO for example, you can use anywhere in the chain, but because it has ultra-high input impedance really shoves your real pickup sound down the line...but that is a problem if the next, or second next pedal down the line is a fuzz...it pushes ITS' input too high, which then interferes with being able to use the guitar vol to adjust the fuzz.

    Fuzzes in the equation really make it interesting. I am learning that now, as I have a couple of fuzzes that change tone, but volume is "basically" the same EVEN with guitar vol down to about 2-3 !! (but in these cases, when the fuzz is the first thing in line) but turn the fuzz off, and you have to quickly turn up guitar vol again to 8-10 to get up there again :)

    I think buffers are more important for folks that don't use loopers. Loopers can have their own problems, but generally as I mention, you turn a loop on when one or more of the pedals in that loop are ON...which is effectively a buffer in that it handles and either keeps the signal unity, or rasises the vol/signal. Also hopefully low impedance out when they are on?
    (not sure about that part).
     
  11. StompBoxBlues

    StompBoxBlues Member

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    Ben, really well said, and much shorter than my answer! I agree with all you wrote there. Just also thinking that the looper adds a twist to it all. Suddenly changing the length of cable, but also presumably at least one pedal in the loop is ON when the loop is chosen...which ought to buffer also.
     
  12. hipfan

    hipfan Member

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    Here's an interesting read on the issue of buffers in a guitar signal chain, authored by one of the guys from Radial/Tonebone: http://www.musiciansfriend.com/document?doc_id=99397&src=3SOSWXXA

    Admittedly, it's a bit of an advertisement also, but I think the information is still good. Personally, to answer your original question, I think buffers and boosters address different needs or intentions. Buffers lower the impedance of the signal and allow your signal to travel unscathed through pedals and cable runs. They are used as a preventative measue. Boosters do not necessarily change the impedance of the signal (but, in practical terms, they may always do so as far as I know), but they up the gain of the signal to serve various purposes.

    I just ordered one of these from Musictoyz: http://www.tonebone.com/re-bigshot-pb1.htm

    Hopefully, this will take care of both functions for my signal chain. :AOK
     
  13. Ben C.

    Ben C. Member

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    I like what you wrote better ;)
    And yes, the looper definitely adds a twist to the situation.
    I'd like to know how he's using his RC Booster though... rhythmrocker?

    -Ben
     
  14. nashvillesteve

    nashvillesteve Member

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    Someone should make a fuzz pedal that, before the fuzz circuitry, has a 2-way toggle switch that engages passive volume and tone pots (like on guitar) that can be adjusted to optimal setting for use with fuzz. Then (when you have the toggle for the vol/tone pots turned "on"), every time you step on your fuzz, the sound will be adjusted and you still have control on the guitar.

    That said, I'm fine with the controls on the guitar, but I know a lot of people don't use the guitar controls for tone/volume much and subsequently miss out on the cool things you can do with a fuzz pedal...
     
  15. hipfan

    hipfan Member

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    Cool idea! I suppose you could do this by putting a fuzz in a loop which also contains an Everman "The Pot" pedal before the fuzz. Leave both pedals "on" and use the looper's on/off switch to activate.
     
  16. nashvillesteve

    nashvillesteve Member

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  17. Hamer95USA

    Hamer95USA Member

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    Hey folks,

    I have a VHT Valvulator I tube buffer/power supply at the beginning of my signal chain and the Xotic RC before the amp's input. My signal chain is like this:

    VHT Valvulator> Area 51 wah pedal> Boss AC-2> Xotic AC> Xotic RC> amp's input.

    Having a buffer and a booster is great to have in your pedalboard. The buffer restores your signal and the booster is nice for solos.

    Guitar George
     
  18. rhythmrocker

    rhythmrocker 1966 Battle of the Bands Supporting Member

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    Hey all - great replies to my thread. I use the RC Booster after every pedal to regain some tone (using the eq).
    IF you go to Harmony Central effects' reviews, and I have read them all to see how folks use their RC, most players use it before everything - where, from my understanding, a buffer - like the Morning Dew - ought to be used.
    So . . . . Here's what I propose. I have a Morning Dew on order. I will try it this way: guitar > wah > Morning Dew > Ross Clone, etc . . . > RC Booster > amp.
    Then I will try switch out and interchange the Morning Dew and RC and let all of you know which is "best" and why.

    In the meantine . . . are any of you out there able to do the following? What would be fantastic is to hear and see on YouTube (with links in this thread):
    1 - one video with the RC booster right after the guitar, running through a bunch of turned OFF pedals and loopers to the amp; then, on the same video . .
    2- the RC Booster AFTER all the pedals (just before the amp), again with all the effects and loopers off.
    That way ONLY the boosted tone would be heard, of course leaving the setting on the pedals, amp and booster unchanged throughout.

    Then, on the same video:

    3 - quickly adding a BUFFER at the beginning of the signal chain after the guitar (or wah-wah) while the RC is still connected after all the pedals (pedals and loopers still off). Some might argue that you really can't hear the difference over computer speakers. This is true. BUT, what you would hear is the relative difference in volume and tone between the 3 configurations.

    (I don't have a video camera; I know J McCoy? has done something like this with the Morning Dew, but - no offense Mr. McCoy, I love your vid's - I hear compression and reverb? together with the Morning Dew.)

    Anyone able to do this? If not, I will get back with a new post about all this after I get the Morning Dew.

    [As someone on the forum has stated, and I paraphrase, "the best way to get better tone is to PRACTICE."
     
  19. nashvillesteve

    nashvillesteve Member

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    I have tone-neutral buffers with adjustable level controls at the output of my switching system (right before amps, though I will eventually have the new stereo boomerang coming out soon placed right here)... I figured a buffer there would help run cables to amps and I could adjust amp level (slightly) mid-set from the pedalboard.

    I have a Hotcake Bluesberry, but it's on most all the time, so the buffer sees no action... One of the outputs of the Deluxe Moon Phaser is buffered, the Deluxe Memory Man has at least one buffered output (dry) and when engaged (most of the time), I believe the Level control works as a buffer. There is a Boss HR-2 that will be out of the chain hopefully and a RC-20 out of the chain, doesn't turn off, but has input and output level controls.... so at least for looped parts I can adjust input/output signal...

    I haven't decided if whatever looper device (prolly custom proglooper or something) I get will have a buffer at the input stage or not, but I'm certainly not opposed to it at this point (I just can't afford it right now!)...
     

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