How many are too any? - pedals and sound degradation

Discussion in 'Effects, Pedals, Strings & Things' started by pedrozepelim, Feb 19, 2012.

  1. pedrozepelim

    pedrozepelim Member

    Messages:
    780
    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2006
    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?
     
  2. wired

    wired Supporting Member

    Messages:
    270
    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2007
    Location:
    Freetown, MA
    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.
     
  3. ThePenwellCrash

    ThePenwellCrash Supporting Member

    Messages:
    1,574
    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2009
    Location:
    Boise, Idaho
    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)
     
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2012
  4. NakedInTheRain

    NakedInTheRain Member

    Messages:
    2,230
    Joined:
    Aug 14, 2010
    Location:
    Melbourne, Australia
    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'.
     
  5. Theroyalconsort

    Theroyalconsort Member

    Messages:
    956
    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2010
    Location:
    London
    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.
     
  6. chervokas

    chervokas Member

    Messages:
    6,864
    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2008
    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.
     
  7. Charlie_Pace

    Charlie_Pace Member

    Messages:
    2,429
    Joined:
    Jul 14, 2010
    Location:
    Chicago
    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.
     
  8. dramaticrunner

    dramaticrunner Member

    Messages:
    1,670
    Joined:
    May 16, 2005
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    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.
     
  9. chervokas

    chervokas Member

    Messages:
    6,864
    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2008
    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.
     
  10. Bar-B-Kill

    Bar-B-Kill Member

    Messages:
    520
    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2008
    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
     
  11. chervokas

    chervokas Member

    Messages:
    6,864
    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2008
    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.
     
  12. Whalestone

    Whalestone Member

    Messages:
    1,017
    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2009
    Location:
    Sweden
    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.
     
  13. screamingduck

    screamingduck Member

    Messages:
    3,019
    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2005
    Location:
    cumming,ga.
    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
     
  14. Bar-B-Kill

    Bar-B-Kill Member

    Messages:
    520
    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2008
    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.
     

Share This Page