True Bypass or Buffers?

Discussion in 'Effects, Pedals, Strings & Things' started by geetarplayer, Feb 23, 2012.

  1. geetarplayer

    geetarplayer Member

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    Which is the goal? I've read that true bypass is the goal. Then I find people selling "buffer" pedals. Why add buffers if they are supposed to be bad? Then I find that people like the buffer that is built into a particular pedal.

    I don't have all my equipment yet (and even waiting on my amp at the shop) but this is going to be my effects chain. Can you see if there will be problems with this regarding tone suck, etc? The whole buffer/bypass thing has me confused.

    Pedal - True bypass?
    Boss TU-3 Tuner - NO
    Crybaby GCB95 Wah - NO
    Rocktron 360 Compressor - NO - always on anyway
    PaulC Tim - YES
    PaulC Timmy - YES
    Boss TR-2 Tremolo - NO
    Ibanez FL-9 Flanger - ???
    Biyang CH-8 Chorus - YES
    Visual Volume - ???
    TC Electronic Nova Delay w/ Younworks NT9 Mod - NO
    EHX Cathedral Reverb - YES
     
  2. teleclem

    teleclem Member

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    Not really.. some are pretty good.

    In my experience, I've found that I get the best (ie. truest?) sound with a mix of both. I use a dedicated buffer upfront and everything else goes through my truebypass looper strip (which I actually mainly got to eliminate tap dancing/patch cable failures, not "tone suck").

    What cables do you use? Do you use active pickups?
     
  3. Bufferz

    Bufferz Member

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    [​IMG]

    or

    [​IMG]

    I highly recommend these true bypass loopers from loop-master. with Master bypass and Tuner out. This way your rig is true bypass and the cable runs are minimilized. Plus you have the option of chaining 2 or more effects in one loop so that you can activate multiple effects with one stop
     
  4. Rage

    Rage Supporting Member

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    Who says that buffered pedals are bad? Experiment with your pedals one by one comparing them from direct to amp input. If you find that a certain pedal affects your immaculate tone in a bad way, get rid of it.
     
  5. chervokas

    chervokas Member

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    There's nothing inherently good or bad about a buffer or buffered bypass or true bypass. Both have pluses and minues. Buffered bypass and true bypass are both designed as solutions for the negative consequences that sometimes occur when a hardwire bypass pedal with a low input impedance loads down a guitar resulting in signal loss and a change of tonal balance (aka "tone suck").

    A guitar signal chain buffer is just a unity gain amplifier circuit that presents to the guitar a high input impedance and drives the next device in the chain with a low and constant output impedance. It's used to keep the devices after the buffer from loading the device in front of the buffer. It's a tool for managing the effects of the impedance loading of devices in the signal chain and the capacitance loading of cable when you're using a guitar with passive pickups. Whether one uses buffers or all true bypass, and where buffers will work best in the signal chain, depends on each players individual circumstances -- the capacitance of the cable used, the length of the cable used, whether any pedals are always on or nearly always on, the input and output impedances of the devices in the chain including the buffers, etc.
     
  6. tibbon

    tibbon Member

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    How often do you play with zero pedals turned on?

    Almost every pedal is effectively a buffer when its turned on. TGP's poor understanding of this drives me up a wall. Got your trem turned on? Its probably using a buffer before and after the vactrol.
     
  7. playguitar6789

    playguitar6789 Supporting Member

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    The goal is to have a mix of pedals with good buffers and pedals that are true bypass. If you have too many buffered pedals or some with bad buffers, you could have significant tone loss. If you have too many true bypass pedals, your signal may have a hard time making through your chain. The best solution is probably a true bypass looper with a standalone, good sounding buffer at either end of your chain.
     
  8. RockStarNick

    RockStarNick Supporting Member

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    1. Search function!!! To say that this topic has been discussed a lot on TGP is a huge understatement.

    2. Chervokas is the man. He's the resident expert on buffers, so listen to him closely! he knows what he's talking about.

    In addition to everything he said, here's my little analogy:

    A true bypass pedal lets your signal through as-is. A buffer makes a "copy" of your signal. Some buffers are high-quality photo-realistic Xerox copiers. Some make grainy, blurry BW copies on budget copy paper.

    Too many bad buffers, and your resulting signal will be a bad copy of a bad copy of a bad copy

    Having a single strong buffer up front, that accurately converts your signal from high-imp to low-imp, is ideal.
     
  9. chervokas

    chervokas Member

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    Hardly. Ask Jack Orman or RG Keen or one of those guys...or read what Jack's written about buffer and various bypass schemes http://www.muzique.com/lab/main.htm if you want to hear from people who actually know what they're talking about.
     
  10. lux_interior

    lux_interior Member

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    I understand completely and I agree. There is a point however that I don't believe has been stressed enough... sometimes this happens: you compare your tone of
    guitar --> quality cable --> amp to
    guitar --> quality cable --> quality buffer --> quality cable --> amp

    ...and you find out you like the latter more than the former. This is usually the case with my taste, as well. So I don't treat buffers just as circuits that are used solely for the purpose of helping the signal travel easier without the "tone suck", but as additional colouring stages as well.
     
  11. guitarz1972

    guitarz1972 Member

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    +1.
     
  12. DT7

    DT7 Member

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    I've never found a buffer of any kind that makes your guitar sound more natural through any given amp. Never.

    That said, the most effective use of buffered pedals is to have one right before a long cable-run back to the amp...an "always on" pedal, or a pedal that has an active buffer when the effect is bypassed. You should also have some kind of "always on" (or buffered) pedal as the first pedal your guitar "sees", due to the cable run from your guitar to your pedal board. Try to set up the rest of the pedals on your board (which can all now be true bypass) between those two buffered pedals, and your tone should be much more consistant.

    It's a trade-off...like all other things. Too long a cable run...which is like adding all the length of your cables together when all your true-bypass effects are bypassed...and your highs and clarity will suffer. This happens as soon as you get past around 10 feet of your average cable (closer to 15 feet with George-Ls). Too many buffered pedals and, as has already been said, your tone (sans effects) can get quite severely mangled.
     
  13. aflynt

    aflynt Member

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    I pretty much always like the former better. :) I'd agree that people should try that, though. Most people seem to like the way quality buffer sounds and reacts better. I can kind of see why as it's usually a) louder, b) brighter, and c) fuller. To me it feels like I'm playing with a cybernetic robot suit on or something. Everything is more powerful, but some of the delicate nuances of the sound are gone. I prefer the sound coloration of wire myself. The sound may be smaller, but to me it reacts in a more natural way.

    As far as pedals being buffered when on goes, I understand the point, but to me those buffers are part of the sound of those pedals. To my ear, adding other stand alone buffers colors the sound even more than a straight wire does. I choose the pedals I do because I like the way they sound when they are on or combined. When off, I prefer the sound of electrons flowing through metal whether it's a wire or a switch or a jack or a circuit board trace.

    -Aaron
     
  14. JasonAz

    JasonAz Member

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    what dt7 said is what I know to be true, whether it is or not.. i have like 22 pedals. i run a buffer at beginning and end... then a bunch of TB pedals in between, but after 7 or so pedals ill put another buffer, than continue the tb pedal flow until the end
     
  15. guitarz1972

    guitarz1972 Member

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    :rotflmao:rotflmao:rotflmaoSig-worthy.
     
  16. rootbeersoup

    rootbeersoup Member

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    True bypass buffers are the way to go.
     
  17. chervokas

    chervokas Member

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    That buffer in the middle is totally unnecessary unless you have a problem with impedance mismatches between the pedal in front of it and the pedal after it that you're trying to solve. Remember all a buffer is doing is loading what's in front of it with it's input impedance and driving what's after it with its output impedance.
     
  18. JasonAz

    JasonAz Member

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    but i have 20 pedals in between the 2 buffers...that adds up probably.some happen to be buffers in between. should i seriosuly make all the in between buffers into TB?
     
  19. chervokas

    chervokas Member

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    It doesn't much matter how many pedals you have. It doesn't matter at all in terms of the capacitance or impedance load on the guitar, once you have that first buffer in place the guitar is buffered from the rest of the signal chain.

    Plus my guess is that with 20+ pedals you always have some combo of pedals on so all that really matters is the impedance relationship between the pedals that are on, and between the output impedance of the last switched on pedal and the input impedance of the buffer at the end of the chain.

    But the guitar is buffered by that first buffer. The additional buffers aren't doing much of anything unless, as I say, you have an impedance mismatch between devices in the signal chain that you're trying to manage.
     
  20. chervokas

    chervokas Member

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    I should add, it's important to remember, a buffer is not adding anything to your signal. It's not "strengthening" your signal. (In fact it's probably weakening your signal ever so slightly because it's not probably less than unity gain and there's probably loss at the connections.) All it's doing is is keeping the impedance or capacitance of anything following it from loading the device in front of it. The next switched on device after the buffer is then loading the buffer and driving the next device. Say a buffer with an output impedance of 1K ohm is driving the next pedal, which is switched on....well, the output impedance of that switched on device is driving the next device, the buffer in front of it isn't, it's only driving that subsequent switched -on device.
     

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