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How many are too any? - pedals and sound degradation

pedrozepelim

Member
Messages
818
From your experience, how many pedals in front of an amp (and let's assume they're all true bypass, and connected with quality cables) would take to start affecting your tone?
 

wired

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
366
Not many, IMO. I'm always surprised when I see boards with 10+ pedals & no switching system. I've found not all supposed TB pedals are the same & running through too many without a buffer somewhere in your signal path will dull your signal.

I think once you get to 5 or 6 pedals, you should use a loop/switching system.
 

ThePenwellCrash

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
1,602
.
I think once you get to 5 or 6 pedals, you should use a loop/switching system.
Haha. The problem for me is that I consider anything under 10 "only the essentials". 5-6 would be totally minimalist and putting a looping system in there would defeat the purpose of creating a physically smaller board.

I definitely see the benefit of a looping strip, but haven't made the jump yet. Currently, I have 8 pedals and only use one buffer (by choice). My pedalboard signal (with all pedals bypassed) is the same as my signal straight in. When I had 15 pedals all hooked up, I needed at least two well placed buffers to keep the signal for suffering (it was noticeable if not for the buffers)
 
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Messages
2,262
if they're all true bypass, the only thing you'd have to contend with is cable capacitance from the long line of cable that you'd be using, which is remedied with a decent buffer. so, if you don't have any pedals on, then theoretically you could have heaps in your chain and not suffer any 'sound degradation'.
 
Messages
1,016
the main problem is that it tends to all go down to the quality of the weakest link.

1 Duff cable... dead tone
1 dodgy switch mechanism.... ditto
1 badly designed buffer.... guess

But provided the cabling is good the buffering not excessive (but present) and the true bypass switches are all ok you can string up tones of the things.
 

chervokas

Member
Messages
6,839
if they're all true bypass, the only thing you'd have to contend with is cable capacitance from the long line of cable that you'd be using, which is remedied with a decent buffer. so, if you don't have any pedals on, then theoretically you could have heaps in your chain and not suffer any 'sound degradation'.
Really the only accurate answer is "it depends."

Of course you're going to have loses at the connection points; and maybe you'll want the convience of a switching system that can give you pedal/patch combinations.....but from a tonal perspective with a true bypass chain, everything off, it's mostly about the tonal impact of the capacitance loading.

So what matters is how much capacitance is in line -- so it depends on the length of the cables you're using, it depends on the capacitance per foot of the cable you're using, it even depends on the inductance of your pickups and the resistance of your pots (high inductance humbuckers loaded with 1M ohm pots are going to be less effected by changes in cable capacitance than low inductance singles and 250K ohm pots).

So you can manage that by inserting a buffer or using a looper or using lower capacitance cable, etc.... you have a bunch of different choices to manage capacitance loading.

Everyone want a simple, universal rule -- after X number of pedals you need Y solution -- but it just really depends.
 

Charlie_Pace

Member
Messages
2,425
I have 8 pedals on my board, and prior to getting a TB looper and a buffer I had a TON of tone loss. Even with the TB looper I was losing some tone. Added a Wampler Clean Buffer, and it's the best thing I've ever done for my tone.
 
Messages
1,819
one. for me going straight into the amp means one 15 foot cable. using one pedal means two cables totaling 30 feet. each pedal after that is only a few inches of cable. so i think the first pedal makes the biggest difference.
 

chervokas

Member
Messages
6,839
For me, I just stripped down to a small board for a new band I'm in. Four or 5 true bypass pedals depending. 15 feet of cable to the board, 12 feet to the amp, 6 in cables between pedals. I'm using low cap cable -- 23 pF/ft -- and the system is plenty bright. Maybe if I was using, say, Canare cable at 49 pF/ft it might sound different. But with low cap cable that kind of arrangment is fine.
 

Bar-B-Kill

Member
Messages
520
Like someone else said, probably "depends" on each individual setup. IMO, if I only had 5 or less pedals, 3 or 4 most likely would be " always on" so then your only contending with a couple pedals. Most pedals are TB today, so that set-up I think would be fine. 5 or more pedals, I feel you need a looper. Not only to keep all that mess organized and out of the signal, but also ease of operation. Plus in my setup, I have mostly vintage pedals, most of which suck tone and need to be isolated. :munch
 

chervokas

Member
Messages
6,839
Like someone else said, probably "depends" on each individual setup. IMO, if I only had 5 or less pedals, 3 or 4 most likely would be " always on" so then your only contending with a couple pedals. Most pedals are TB today, so that set-up I think would be fine. 5 or more pedals, I feel you need a looper. Not only to keep all that mess organized and out of the signal, but also ease of operation. Plus in my setup, I have mostly vintage pedals, most of which suck tone and need to be isolated. :munch
Well, if any pedals are always on, then the first always on pedal is going to be loading the guitar with it's input impedance and decoupling all the subsequent devices and subsequent cable from loading the guitar. It effectively will be buffering the guitar from the subsequent stuff. So that's a different scenario that a chain of true bypass pedals switched off.

Also if you're using a bunch of hardwire bypass pedals like those vintage pedals switched off -- that's another scenario that's also very different from a chain of true bypass pedals switched off.

So, like I said. It depends.
 

Whalestone

Member
Messages
1,018
if they're all true bypass, the only thing you'd have to contend with is cable capacitance from the long line of cable that you'd be using, which is remedied with a decent buffer. so, if you don't have any pedals on, then theoretically you could have heaps in your chain and not suffer any 'sound degradation'.
One pedalboard builder actually reports a typical loss of 2dB in setups consisting of more than ten true bypass pedals driven by a buffer with very low output impedance.
 

screamingduck

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
3,062
I run 10 pedals all true bypass except for a Klon (always on) and an old Boss DM-2 which is purported to have a decent buffer in it. I use Fulltone gold plateds cords from guitar to board and board to amp and use George L's on my board. I have played through this rig and then plugged straight into my amp and compared the tones and, to my old tired ears, I hear little to no difference. I'm sure there must be some tone degradation to someone totally concentrating on the sound alone but as far as playing with my group or jamming out at the house to backing tracks the difference is not heard at all.
I am more than content with the tone. Just my $.002
 

Bar-B-Kill

Member
Messages
520
Well, if any pedals are always on, then the first always on pedal is going to be loading the guitar with it's input impedance and decoupling all the subsequent devices and subsequent cable from loading the guitar. It effectively will be buffering the guitar from the subsequent stuff. So that's a different scenario that a chain of true bypass pedals switched off.

Also if you're using a bunch of hardwire bypass pedals like those vintage pedals switched off -- that's another scenario that's also very different from a chain of true bypass pedals switched off.

So, like I said. It depends.
Yeah, I agree with you. It depends on the individual set-up. I can't see myself not using a tb looper anymore. Love my Rocktron patchmate loop 8, fully programmable, channel switching ect. Its a nice unit, like the Voodoo lab stuff as well.
 






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