Buffer vs EQ pedal??? Advice Please

flipp jackson

Hello GearPage…

I have an issue I’d like to think through. I’m experiencing a bit of high end loss in regards to my pedal chain and the length of cable (I’d estimate there’s probably a good 50 feed of cable once the effects loop itself is in consideration). I’m trying to decide of whether a buffer or an EQ would be more appropriate given my setup (described below).

I’ve been looking at something like a T1M buffer or something more like an Empress ParaEQ/Fromel Shape EQ. Basically I need to add back some high end clarity and potentially remove some of the flubbiness of the low end… What do you think would be the best solution?

I think I probably have enough buffers in the actual chain itself that I’m doubtful that a dedicated buffer would make a huge difference.

Also, if you look at the chain and can see anything that you think I’m missing/doing wrong that would potentially help me out in terms of helping my overall tone please let me know.

I solder my own cables for the pedalboard... I use planet waves American stage cords going from guitar/amp/loop/etc. I have both a Pedal Power Plus and a CAE MC403 power system.

My chain order (currently) is like this:

Guitar -->

ISP Decimator g-spot guitar in
Strymon ob.1 Compressor
Xotic EP booster At unity Gain
T1M Modified VP JR
EHX Microsynth
Digitech Whammy V
AMT Japanese girl Wah
Strymon Möbius pre-in
Catalinbread Belle epoch
ARC klone V2 – Used as low gain/boost
Xotic SL drive – Used as Medium Gain
MI Audio Megalith Delta – Used as High Gain
Paul C Tim – Used as a lead boost or low gain depending on the song

--> amp -- Jackson Ampworks NewCastle 30

Loop send -->

ISP decimator g-spot effect in
Xotic EP booster – used to get clean boost for songs that require no gain
Strymon Möbius main in
Strymon Timeline
Strymon Big sky

--> loop return

Any help is greatly appreciated! I'm thinking if i went the Empress ParaEq route and put it in the effects loop i could probably retire the second EP Booster since the Empress has it's own boost

Blues Lyne

The EQ more than likely functions as a buffer when it is turned on, so it gives you a buffer and EQ controls. It has the most potential for tone shaping and might work well for you since you also want to tighten up the low end.

Keep in mind that what is in front of the amp is separate from what is in the loop. For instance, if you put a buffer in the loop (or an EQ pedal) it won't have any affect on loss from cables and pedals before the amp.

It looks like you already have 2 buffers before you amp, the T1M modded Ernie Ball VP Jr. (I believe a buffer is part of the mod) and it's my understanding that the ARC Klone has buffered bypass like the original. In addition, if the EP Booster is always on, it is acting as a buffer. So, as far as buffers go, you should be set in front of the amp.

I'm assuming your effects loop isn't buffered, since they don't mention that on the Jackson Ampworks site. You might try unplugging the cables from the effects loop, play for a bit, then plug them back in and play and see if you are losing anything there. That may help narrow down where the issue is.

I don't know anything about the ISP Decimator, but since it is the first thing your pickups see and the buffers are after it, it might be good to take it out of the chain and see if it is causing some loss of high end. One way to think of buffers is that they decouple what comes before them from what comes after. So, if the problem is that a certain pedal is loading the picksups, the buffer has to be between the pickups and the pedal to do its job. Since you have buffers on your board, I would assume that any issue you are having comes before the buffer, or is coming from the pedals and cable in the effects loop. If your experiments show that the effects loop is the culprit, then adding a buffer or EQ at the begging of the loop chain would probably help.

flipp jackson

Thank you! At practice yesterday I tried playing with nothing in the effects loop and I did notice that it did make some difference that I was looking for. I didn't like the way that the reverb and delay sounded in front of the amp, but it did seem to tighten things up. Sounding more and more like maybe an always on EQ as the first thing in the loop might be the ticket...

But would it be best to put it as the first thing the effects loop send sees or the last thing in the chain before going back the the loop return?

Blues Lyne

The first thing the loop send sees. That way any capacitance from the cable runs won't load the previous portion of the amp. If you put it last all the capacitance loading has already happened. One way of thinking about it is that a buffer takes everything that comes after it out of the equation (of course there are exceptions) but everything that comes before it still has an effect on loading the source.


I like to have a buffer directly after the guitar, so the signal gets bumped down to low impedance right off the bat. The longer your signal is at high impedance the more susceptible it is to that high end tone loss you're experiencing. Sometimes having one directly after the effects loop send is also needed. Experimentation is the best recipe though, every rig is a little different. Good luck!

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