Question about using vintage pedals, buffers, and modifications

Discussion in 'Effects, Pedals, Strings & Things' started by BigDiceBuddha, Jan 30, 2015.

  1. BigDiceBuddha

    BigDiceBuddha Member

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    I've found myself GAS'ing more and more lately for vintage pedals. Call it magic, mojo, whatever, I just am starting to prefer old versions of pedals that are still produced, albeit to more modern specs.

    It started with a big box DMM, then it was the Maestro Stage Phaser, then it was a DD2 over my trusty DD3, and now I'm checking out Echoplexes and vintage Tube Screamers.

    I still use plenty of modern pedals, but I'm wondering about the incorporation of the vintage pedals into a more modern, practical set up.

    I'm not a collector of pedals per se, although I do collect other things, but the collector in me wants to keep them original spec and not modify them.

    I have three questions:

    1. Is there a difference in buffers from older Boss, Ibanez, etc... to the current version, or is it essentially the same buffer found today? And if so, do people actually prefer one over the other, an example being the way people actually like the way an Echoplex preamp fattens their sound up.

    2. What are people's opinions on modifying vintage pedals, even a simple modification like making it true bypass?

    3. Do you do anything special to incorporate your vintage pedals into your set up like adding a looper, etc... Do you find that older pedals don't always get along with newer pedals, or do you just treat them the same as you would any other pedal in the chain?

    Thanks, and looking forward to reading other peoples thoughts/opinions on this.
     
  2. Alchemy Audio

    Alchemy Audio Silver Supporting Member

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    1. Someone correct me if I'm wrong (because, admittedly, I have not measured the output impedance of the pedals in question to confirm) but my understanding is some of the older Boss pedals (Japan) have a higher output impedance (in the 10K range) than newer (Taiwan) - which I think are in the 1K range. Also, I think the output impedance of most Ibanez / Maxon pedals is in that 10K range as well.
    2. My personal opinion on modifying vintage pedals is: do what you want to make it practical and improve the sound / performance - as long as you are aware that any changes will reduce the collector / resale value. A perfect example is the Maestro FZ-1A Fuzz-Tone with that silly, short 1/4" cable coming from it. I have absolutely no problem installing an input jack in its place. I have a '75 Ford Bronco I drive every day in the summer. I installed practical safety / performance features on it (disc brakes, power steering, shoulder harness seat belts, etc.) because I enjoy living.
    3. Adding a true bypass looper to vintage pedals is an inexpensive, non-destructive alternative to modifying them. The disadvantage is it will take up more real estate on your pedal board. Although, something like a Keeley true bypass looper is quite small.
     
  3. BigDiceBuddha

    BigDiceBuddha Member

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    Thanks for the response!

    One more question I thought of from reading your responses...

    What are the benefits of modifying a pedal, say an early issue DD2, to True Bypass? Most of the pedals on my board are already TB, so I'd guess I'd benefit from keeping the buffer. How does one decide which ones are worth modifying and which ones are staying the same. Again, bringing up the Echoplex as being a preferred preamp, so one would imagine that should be left alone.

    Does that make sense?
     
  4. Alchemy Audio

    Alchemy Audio Silver Supporting Member

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    Using the Boss pedal as an example, I personally don't find them to suck that much tone when bypassed. The buffer is precent decent. Converting them to true bypass involves A) Drilling a hole in top and installing a 3PDT switch or B) Install one of the various true bypass circuits available (which also may require installing a different switch) - such as this one from Griffin Effects:
    http://www.griffineffects.com/store/other-kits/69-silent-step-true-bypass.html
    I would suggest you compare the sound direct into your amp versus with the effect in the chain to determine if you think you need to go true bypass.
    I get questions almost every day regarding true bypass. Often, I feel some of the people don't really have a strong understanding of why they are asking and if they even really need it.
     
  5. BigDiceBuddha

    BigDiceBuddha Member

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    Yeah, I imagine that's true.

    I guess for me, I'm playing into a '69 Vibrolux Reverb, and I just love the chime and sparkle of that amp, especially with my Telecaster.

    When I was using my Maestro Stage Phaser as part of my gigging set up, I used a Keeley looper to keep my signal clean when it wasn't engaged, but even with the looper, something didn't feel right... It sounded off, I couldn't pinpoint it. I've since removed it and the sound has improved, or perhaps my perception is that it has...

    I just really want to keep the integrity of that Fender clean.

    And again, thanks for the thoughtful response.
     
  6. BigDiceBuddha

    BigDiceBuddha Member

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    I guess I could see a point where I'd like to go completely vintage, but I'm afraid it would sound like I was playing underwater.
     
  7. BigDiceBuddha

    BigDiceBuddha Member

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    Sent you a PM about the Maestro Stage Phaser.
     
  8. drbob1

    drbob1 Silver Supporting Member

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    If you're finding things sound weird with a true bypass looper, then you've got a different problem than the vintage pedal. Either there's a wiring fault in the looper, or you don't have your signal chain buffered and the looper is introducing a lot of excess capacitance. Either way, you need to get that sorted with a straight wire in the loop (so it sounds the same with or without the looper) then experiment.

    My feeling would be to always use a looper rather than mod the pedals (the Boss buffer is good, I'd leave that alone, anyway). The pedals that are the biggest problem are those, like most wahs, that have bypass that only bypasses one leg of the circuit (like the input or the output only) leaving the rest of the circuit there to introduce impedance and capacitance issues.
     
  9. BigDiceBuddha

    BigDiceBuddha Member

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    Thanks, Bob...

    I'm still undecided if it was a perception vs. reality issue for me on using the Maestro with the Keeley looper. As you mentioned, I do think I had other issues at play at the time, mainly power supply related, that have since been rectified by adding a second PP2+ under my board. As to your point about the chain not being buffered, it had a single buffer directly before it, the Klon KTR.

    The issue was that I was using a surge protector into the first PP2+, mounted on top of my board, for unique effects like the Stage Phaser that required an AC outlet, I believe not having isolated power for this effect may have played a part.

    I agree that I need to retry it now with the additional PP2+, if I can get an answer as to whether I would fry the pedal or not by trying to, which is a whole other thread :) (although if anybody has the answer I'd welcome it, here is the Manual for the Stage Phaser will all power information and schematic: http://www.jedistar.com/pdf/maestro_stagephaser.pdf )
     

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