Too many buffers?

slopeshoulder

Senior Member
Messages
7,872
Hi.

Can you tell me how many buffers is too many?

I have 5 true bypass pedals (fuzz, wah, volume, treble booster, an OD),
followed by a Radial buffer and booster (I love its transparent boost, placed before the OD chain, and got it when all my pedals were true bypass)
followed by a Klon (buffer),
followed by 10 true bypass OD's,
followed by a TU-2 tuner (buffer)
followed by a ModFactor (buffer)
followed by a TimeFactor (buffer)
to amp.

Of course. if I turn on 3 pedals in a stack, that's 3 more buffers.

On the one hand, if I had bunch of Boss pedals, they all have buffers, but maybe I need to remove a buffer (take something out of line with a looper? but room on the board it tight!).

Do I have too many (good) buffers? What does too many buffers sound like?

Thoughts?
 

ChickenLover

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
1,701
Do I have too many (good) buffers? What does too many buffers ound like?
Easiest way to tell is to set your amp for a really sparkley clean tone...plug straight in to the amp and play it. Now using the same cable from your guitar...plug into the pedalboard (with all pedals powered but OFF) and plug the pedalboard into the amp and play. Hear any difference? That's really the best way to tell if it is affecting your base tone.

How each pedal reacts to having a buffer just before it or just after it would take a lot of testing with all those pedals.

Obviously, using a loop-switcher that only places a pedal in the signal path when you want it there is the best approach for that many pedals but I assume that's not an option right now.
 
Messages
752
not all buffers are created equally... and some pedals have more than one buffer in them. Typically you want your buffers to have an input impedance of about 1Megaohm. Most boss pedals are anywhere from 500K to 200K, and have more than one buffer. While some of their buffers are opamp buffers, but most are bipolar transistor buffers, which are not quite as accurate as opamps.

both convert your signal to low impedance, and typcially will make your guitar sound brighter in theory, because it will reduce the effect of the capacitance of all the cables following the buffer. Of course, in reality, especially with soft switching pedals, there seems to be some high end loss, usually due to the low input impedance of the buffers, or because of deliberate high end roll off in the pedal to reduce noise.
 

pgissi

Member
Messages
2,481
I keep hearing McCartneys "Too Many People" with this thread title, its a curse.

But its a topic that comes up often and the short of it is that its totally subjective but I think I can sum it up

1) Buffers, IMO seem to "modernize" a tone with some top end zing
added, seem to lend themselves to a more modern and aggressive style
of playing tone wise, shred if you will and while doing this depart from a more vintage tone and attack, how much is subjective and dependent on the buffer circuit and is something you have to live with on a big stage

Having said that, just addding one of them does this and adding more seems does not seem increase this effect but...too many buffers can be aggregate tonaly, hence the use of loopers

2) A buffer affects the tone of what follows it more so than what precedes it, especially OD pedals that are designed to render what they are designed to do using their own internal buffering or none at all. Many OD's are looking to "see" the relatively high impedance from the pups and not the low imp from a buffer but there are exceptions and stacking them also muddies this point...

I removed the buffering before some of my OD's and their true character was more apparent immediately whereas before, the buffering tended to make them all sound similar.

Now I hear Beano or Rat or Mongoose or AC Booster or Sparkle or TS-9 etc

Buffers of course can affect what precedes them since the top end zing I mentioned happens regardless of whether they are earlier or later in the chain, I have just found them to be more transparent later in the chain

For example, the bark of a Fuzz Face is somewhat masked with pre-buffering but not nearly as so with post buffering

This caused me to put my TU-2 at the end of my chain, a recent change for me.


Of course. if I turn on 3 pedals in a stack, that's 3 more buffers.
When any pedal is on it is buffering, even the lowly 1 stage IC based OD/Dist pedal. Simply by the processing of your signal, buffering is taking place so its a moot point because when a pedal is on, its technically buffering anyway but...

finding the best order for pedals you may deem more tone sucking can improve tone by miminizing the negatives


I did what chicken lover suggests, I compared my tone straight in incrementaly with as many pedal variations as I could come up with and settled on this-

pups - cable - looped compression, enhancer and digi jimi modeller - all true bypass od's (most transparent one last in the OD sub chain) - looped univibe, envelope follower -amp w/2 boss delay/rev's pedals in fxloop and soon to be looped on demand

I can acheive a straight in tone with 2 stomps
 

SkipTracer

Member
Messages
414
No offense, but if what you're hearing sounds good to you, then who cares how many buffers are on your board?

I have the impression that lots of people put way too much stress on stuff like this. I mean, it's probably not a bad idea to know about different types of bypass, impedances and what effect all this may have, but in the end all that matters are your ears, right?

If you really feel you're missing out on something, I would maybe swap some pedals around and see what happens. Or maybe remove the buffered ones one by one or something like that. In my experience, the results are often less predictable than you think. I personally wouldn't go straight guitar > amp, because that's not what you're going to do in real life, i.e. when you playing out or whatever. I've found that these notions of purity are just too metaphysical for guitar playing and don't really apply. At least in most cases. Whatever sounds good, is good.
 

pgissi

Member
Messages
2,481
No offense, but if what you're hearing sounds good to you, then who cares how many buffers are on your board?

I have the impression that lots of people put way too much stress on stuff like this. I mean, it's probably not a bad idea to know about different types of bypass, impedances and what effect all this may have, but in the end all that matters are your ears, right?

If you really feel you're missing out on something, I would maybe swap some pedals around and see what happens. Or maybe remove the buffered ones one by one or something like that. In my experience, the results are often less predictable than you think. I personally wouldn't go straight guitar > amp, because that's not what you're going to do in real life, i.e. when you playing out or whatever. I've found that these notions of purity are just too metaphysical for guitar playing and don't really apply. At least in most cases. Whatever sounds good, is good.
1) I used to think the same way as stated above but unless you go there you dont really get to see or "hear" the greener grass, you will lack that perspective until you do so and in this pursuit you could reason "sure my tone may sound good" as mine did...

but now its better...for me as yours can be for you and you wont know until you try it

maybe it wont but how will you know

2) going straight in is not my fave and your right, its not what I do in real life...most of the time anyway but it is an option for when I want that

more subtle shades of tone, more graduations of clean to overdrive

if the guitar straight in is a valid option, why not try to make it switchable that way

3) audible purity is not metaphysical its meta-fact and just really means to define anything beyond the designated A starting point which becomes B and so on with each change you make, just something different in addition to what you have, not necessarily better since its subjective but for me was better in some ways and in some ways just different


You want options dont you and if so dont you want as many as you can get?

If you dont want them now, you will and aside from spending thousands on amps/speakers and guitars, moving pedals around is the next most dramatic results delivering method to discover more tones from your rig

Like I said, my tone was always great "to me" as yours sounds to you but now my tone is better "to me" and if your like most of us, there is ALWAYS better, ALWAYS

You asked so we delivered and here is what I would try if I were you

You said-
followed by a Radial buffer and booster (I love its transparent boost, placed before the OD chain, and got it when all my pedals were true bypass)
I would move the radial buffer booster to last position in the OD sub group and listen to how your ODs true characters are revealed without pre-buffering and how much more boost and clarity having the cleanest boost last delivers from the OD's that precede it

its like Magic

As you do this move the TU-2 to dead last in the chain also to remove its buffer from tonally affecting your pups

A/B this with what you had in a strict scientific control like process and tell me if you dont hear a difference, whether its better for you or not is not the point, there is a difference and the only way to know for yourself is to try it

Where I find players not liking the difference are those 100% of the time high gain players who like the added top end zing of a buffer, when its gone they are reached for more pre-gain if you will.

I like that tone too but hate my rig to just be that all of the time, I want that when I want it on the fly

I want the world (tonally) and I want it now
 

ChickenLover

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
1,701
No offense, but if what you're hearing sounds good to you, then who cares how many buffers are on your board?
Bingo! That's the way I see it too.

I have the impression that lots of people put way too much stress on stuff like this.
Yes and no IMO. In the past people have put a bunch of emphasis on having all true-bypass pedals with the idea that it 'preserves the purity of tone'. But if you have a bunch of true-bypass pedals and no buffers at all...it does exactly the opposite of that. You lose top end and signal strength and that doesn't sound like 'preserving the purity of tone' to me.

With me it was just a matter of 'stumbling' onto it myself. One day I was re-arranging my pedalboard for a gig and noticed that my distorted tone (it was a channel-switching amp) wasn't as distorted or 'good' as before. Then I realized that I had all true-bypass pedals on my pedalboard whereas before I had a Visual Sound Jekyll & Hyde pedal early in the chain which has a nice buffer in it. I was losing both top end and signal strength...the latter of which was most apparent when playing through the dirty channel (the loss of high-end was most apparent on the clean channel). Ever since then I always just listen/compare straight-in vs. through-the-pedalboard...and I usually need a buffer.

I guess my point is that everyone should take the few minutes it takes to listen and see if there is a difference and if you dislike that difference...if not you're good to go.
 

StompBoxBlues

Member
Messages
19,943
If you find it getting too bright, my suggestion would be to pull the Klon out of the line, and see if that helps a lot. There ARE buffers, and buffers, but the Klons' particularly is bright, and I have found it doesn't play well with other buffers.

I have other buffered (the Visual Sound is a particularly good one) pedals that play well together, when I drop the Klon in there, it's ear-piercing time.

I love a lot of what the Klon can do, but the buffer (and fact that on this expensive a pedal, there is no switch, jumper, someway to turn it off) is starting to really weigh down my opinion of the thing as a whole.

I may sell mine. It's either that or use it in a very minimal setup.
 

Stratso

Member
Messages
132
My gripe about buffered pedals is that if you put them before distortion or high gain, they make a lot of white noise and other sounds even when they're off. With true bypass, you turn them off and they're gone.

I used to use a noise gate, which I hated. Then I went all true-bypass before gain/dist and the noise is so low a gate isn't needed.
 

kenoflife

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
2,485
I found the Klon's buffer to be brighter when using GeorgeL's, no problem with using better cords....
 

pgissi

Member
Messages
2,481
I think some points are being misunderstood-

-I dont like not using buffering or pre-OD pedal buffering generally, only buffering at the end of the chain, dead last, I find the buffer colors my pups and pedals less this way but I do like pre-OD pedal buffering for a more aggressive tone as I suspect others do hence all the switchable buffering pedalboard or looper inputs you see today, it gives you the option to have it in or not

I recently started using my TU-2 dead last from 1st position and tried it based on a learned opinion here, john phillips. I immediately heard a difference, a more natural tone from the guitar and pedals, natural meaning, more true to the original character or intent of the designer of the pups and pedals

its funny how old habits die hard and this one was one of the oldest

once again where I depart from this is for a more modern aggressive tone, shred, hard rock, metal etc. early buffering adds zing and facilitates speed picking with its top end edge

-tone purity (pups-cable-amp) is less about purity and more about something different and thats valid on its own and can be a switchable option but is less desirable for me anyway as a full time operational mode and begins to suffer with total signal chain lengths over 30 feet


-once one buffer is introduced to your tone anywhere in the chain, you'll be hard pressed to hear the uniqueness of any additional buffers in the chain and the only exception there is when a buffer alters the input sensitivity to an OD pedal, which changes the attack and tone characteristics of any OD pedal.

These things are designed to respond based on the value of the input coupling cap (sets the overal freq response) and tie down resistor (sets the input imp) the pups high output impedance sees when connected to any OD. Alter that relationship and you get something that differs from the designers intent meaning...you may not be hearing that fuzz face or beano bark or the cry of a tonebender etc.

Another excepton is when you experience signal strength degradation with too many tone sucking buffering when bypassed type pedals in the chain and there are many out there that do just this, suck tone and signal.

-too many true bypass pedals colors your tone myth is not due to having too many true bypass pedals but rather no buffering at all in combo with an excessivley long signal chain which is a rare condition since most players own some buffering types and have them in the chain.

But if you have 10 True Bypass pedals with a total chain under 25 or 30 feet, your within limits. Its when you have all true bypass and long signal chains, cheap cables, thats a problem

But I am down with the fact that some amps just need pre- preamp buffering.

Low Quality cabling can magnify the problem more so but a buffer at the end of the chain can minimize these negatives all at once so if you did have all true bypass pedals, 1 buffer dead last fixes you right up (as long as your not exceeding reasonable cable lenghts or not using crap cables)

I am not a fan of "solderless" patch cables, they introduce loss

Without buffering you should be able to run a total signal chain length of 25 to 30 feet with a non microphonic good quality cable without any noticeable loss of tone and this adheres to generally accepted high impedance cable length limits.

Beyond this and you need some buffering

Dont spend 300 on a cable but spend more than $10 or $15. There are some differences in cables of comparable quality/cost and thats due to the capacitance of each cable, its varys slightly from cable to cable and that is dependent on the cable design. The distance of the center or axial conductor to the outer or co-axial shield is what determines a cables capacitance in combination with the insultation type and condition, the dielectric.

Choose a cable for what it brings to your tone which means you have to buy a few and compare. The ones I dont like for guitar I then use for my synths or even bass

Balanced low impedance cables as seen in low z mic cables or signal sends can be run up to 100feet without noticeable loss and this is why for large stages and pro rigs you need a top quality line driver type buffer, an ordinary buffer will not do since the signal gets converted from high to low impedance but still remains unbalanced.

All things told, with your average pedal buffer in the chain, my total signal chain length can be stretched an additional 10 or 15 foot to max out at 40 to 50 feet and I use the shortest cable from the pups to my pedalboard and the longer cable post pedalboard (last pedal is a buffering type) to amp.

With a high quality Line Driver buffer you can max out at 80 feet or so, depending.

Lastly, if your playing with much grande gain anyway, it aint gonna matter what you do since all of the od/dist will mask anything that references subtle and nuanced buffering characteristics being described here.

Where you really hear buffers and buffering byproducts the most are in the cleaner tones for the most part.
 




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