Tone Suck in bypass mode....

Discussion in 'Effects, Pedals, Strings & Things' started by HereIGoAgain, Feb 15, 2008.

  1. HereIGoAgain

    HereIGoAgain Member

    Feb 18, 2006
    I've been reading a lot about this topic. So far on my board now, I have five pedals, four of which are hardwire (true) bypass. The first in the chain is not a true bypass - a Behringer TU100. Best tuner pedal out there for under $30.

    I've checked my tone with and without the tuner. It does not appear to color the tone or drain any of the signal in bypass mode.

    I'll describe the bypass sound coloring of pedals I've owned in the past: (None were hardwire bypass):
    DOD Overdrive/Preamp 250 - I don't remember any tone suck
    Boss DS-1 - All clear, no tone suck.
    DOD Vibrothang - didn't have it very long, so I don't remember
    Danelectro Cool Cat - Don't remember
    Danelectro DanEcho delay - actually *improved* my tone in bypass mode. It really warmed up my sound.
    Dunlop Cry Baby - I don't think it colored the tone any

    Now, it is known that if you have a long chain of effects, especially digital effects, the signal from the guitar will be reduced and/or colored somewhat.

    I guess I'm going to ask the pedal freaks here to list some of their experiences with pedals in bypass mode. In particular, which "true bypass" pedal suprised you with tone drain (if any)? Also, which buffered (non-true) bypass pedal did you try that so little tone suck you'd believe it was true bypass?

    I've posted price ranges in previous threads, but in this one, anything goes - whether you paid $10,000 for a one-of-a-kind OD pedal hand-built by a Tibetan yogi that you waited 10 years for and had to answer a riddle to accept final delivery, or whether it was a Radio Shack kit your kid made for a school project, let's hear your tone suck stories.

  2. mooawk

    mooawk Member

    May 26, 2007
    Massachusetts USA
    Bump for this thread.
  3. stinkfoot

    stinkfoot Member

    Jun 20, 2004
    Uppsala, Sweden
    First off, "hardwire" bypass usually means non-true bypass (the type of bypass found in wah pedals, MXR, Marshall, pre-2002 Electro-Harmonix etc). To date, except possibly the new Digitech Hardwire series, all pedals with that label has turned out not to be true bypass.

    Many people seem to think that there are only true bypass or buffered bypass (I often hear people referring to a stock wah pedal as being buffered, for instance). You can read more the various bypass systems, labels and terms here, but the three main types of bypass systems are:

    • True bypass - a mechanical system that disconnects all circuitry, leaving only a straight connection from input to output jack
    • Hardwire/passive/output switching/half-assed bypass - again, a mechanical/passive system, but with the input to the circuit permanently wired to the input jack. The switch only selects what to send to the output jack.
    • Buffered bypass - usually electronic switching (Boss-type), where the full signal is buffered in bypass mode.

    The first and third both have their merits - true bypass obviously leaves the signal alone, so it won't be affected by the circuit in the pedal, while a buffered bypass can really help your signal survive long cable runs, and provide a stable input impedance for your pickups. The hardwire/halfassed approach used by MXR, Dunlop, Marshall etc is sadly the worst of both worlds - it neither leaves the signal alone (as the circuit is always there to load down the signal) nor buffers it (to protect it from loading)...

    I find that a mix of mostly true bypass pedals with the odd fully buffered pedal (or stand-alone buffer unit) thrown in seems to work best. What you want to avoid at all costs is having hardwire/halfassed bypass pedals be the first thing the guitar "sees", as that can cost you treble and signal strength. Having an active pedal in front of that type of pedal can really help.

    And as always - far more important than any info from the internet is your own ears. If you're happy with your tone and don't notice any particular tone loss, don't worry about it...

  4. dk_ace

    dk_ace Member

    Mar 2, 2006
    This topic can really drive you crazy. I've been messing with boutique pedals and gigging with them for three years now. Here's what I've learned:

    Forget all that you've heard about tone suckage and let your ears be the judge. Play straight into the amp. Put the pedal in line and play. Do you hear a difference that really matters to you? Can you add it back in at the amp's EQ? If it doesn't matter or you can compensate for it and you like the pedal, keep it and use it regardless of what's inside the thing.

    We snobs can get really picky about that stuff, but I finally realized that it didn't matter so much after watching pros use boards that had pedals that were infamous online for sucking tone, but they sounded fantastic. What you can hear while listening intently in your bedroom, and what is noticeable in a band context are two entirely different things, and it is my opinion that the band context is all that really matters. Just my $.02, but if you take it to heart it will save you a lot of useless frustration.

  5. HereIGoAgain

    HereIGoAgain Member

    Feb 18, 2006
    I fully agree the ear is the best judge of tone. I also fiddle with my EQ settings all the time. (I love cranking my amp, but in the bedroom, I go for my MXR DIstortion III for the dirt and I sometimes run the mids from my usual noon to about 2:30-3:00 and it fattens up the tone.)

    I have 4 MXR pedals in addition to that Behringer tuner. I can run my entire board without any tone suck. I've done testing with playing straight into the amp and playing through everything in bypass. No problems.

    It is a good point about the pros. How many records have a Cry Baby on them? How much junk does Gilmour have (including the rack-mounted stuff) between his guitar and his amp?

    But then, Eric Johnon is perhaps the most famous tone snob. It was rumoured that he didn't play live much because he was so picky about his tone. A FOAF story claimed that Johnson replaced the stock footplate screws in his fuzz face with brass screws because he thought it made a difference in the sound. Later sources say that that one's just a joke, but it's been said also that he can tell the difference between the sound of Energizer batteries and the sound of Duracell batteries in his pedals.

    Whether it's true or not, I think we can talk about this civily. It's definitely interesting so far.

    Oh, and Stinkfoot, thanks for the technical info. I did not realize that. And BTW, are you the same Stinkfoot who has the Stinkfoot mod for the Boss DS-1?

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