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the rock'n roll noisemakers  ::  custom  guitar  pedals

True bypass & Buffers

You’ve most probably heard stories about buffered bypass system and true bypass systems – and of course which one is better.

We’ll walk this path slowly – step by step. Let’s talk about True bypass first. What exactly does it mean?

True Bypass switching means that there is absolutely no signal connection between the effect circuit and IN/OUT jacks when your effect is bypassed. The guitar signal is taken from the input jack and connected directly to the output jack. This way there’s no effect on your clean tone as the signal runs through the bypassed pedal.  This sort of bypass systems is usually built using 3PDT, DPDT or relay switches. True bypass is great when using just a few pedals. If you have a whole pedal board of TB pedals, your entire cable length will be pretty long, and you’ll most probably notice the tone sucking effect. This approach is relatively new in the guitar world.

In the early days, when the first guitar pedals were built, they usually used buffered bypass switching systems. This means that your guitar signal ran through a buffer circuit when the pedal was bypassed. The first buffers were not made of good quality components resulting in “tone sucking” and additional noise production.

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Overdrive and headroom

What exactly does the word "headroom" mean?

In guitar world, we often speak about headroom as the point where you amp or guitar pedal starts to overdrive/distort.  

If your amp has a lot of headroom, you’ll be able to get a nice crunchy clean sound when playing lightly, but if you hit the strings harder, the guitar sound becomes more saturated, more overdriven. The opposite reaction comes from a highly overdriven amp that compresses your sound. In this case you guitar will sound distorted although you’re playing softly – there won’t be any volume difference if you play more dynamically either. There’s also one nice thing about pedals with lots of headroom – these pedals have a great amp-like character with great bass response and smooth treble tones.

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Overdrive and headroom

What exactly does the word "headroom" mean?

In guitar world, we often speak about headroom as the point where you amp or guitar pedal starts to overdrive/distort.  

If your amp has a lot of headroom, you’ll be able to get a nice crunchy clean sound when playing lightly, but if you hit the strings harder, the guitar sound becomes more saturated, more overdriven. The opposite reaction comes from a highly overdriven amp that compresses your sound. In this case you guitar will sound distorted although you’re playing softly – there won’t be any volume difference if you play more dynamically either. There’s also one nice thing about pedals with lots of headroom – these pedals have a great amp-like character with great bass response and smooth treble tones.

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Powering your pedals

Don’t use cheap (non-regulated and non-filtered) power supplies…

You know the feeling when you buy a new pedal, come home and want to try it out on your setup…but there’s no power supply to provide the juice for the box on the floor. Now, what to do?! “I have a lot of small power supplies (step-down adapters) at home, so why shouldn’t I use one of those? The connector seems alright, it suits perfectly…now let me just plug this thing to the power network…”

  • - if you’re the luckiest person on Earth, the pedal actually works
  • -if you’re lucky, but not the luckiest, the pedal works, but there’s a lot of noise present in your sound
  • - if you’re not lucky at all – well, there might be a lot of “not-so-holy” smoke in your room right now, so open the windows :D

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