Soon after came the first DPDT switches, which can be used for True Bypass systems, but there is no place for connecting the LED indicator (since the Millennium bypass was developed a lot years later). In many cases this kind of switches were used just to trigger the electronic bypass switching circuit. Some producers used a simple SPST momentary switch to trigger the electronic bypass circuit.
Many of modern effect producers use this approach today – but with modern and high quality components to ensure as little effect on your clean tone as possible.
So which bypass switching system is THE BEST?? The one, that doesn’t affect your tone the way you don’t like. Pretty simple, isn’t it?
What exactly does a buffer do? I’ve heard and read a lot about these devices, but still have no idea what it does…
A buffer is a relatively simple circuit that doesn’t boost your guitar signal, but takes care of frequency losses. An ordinary guitar pickup has an relatively big output impedance (impedance is much like resistance in the AC world) and if you put a huge load (long cables) to that pickup your guitar signal will be overloaded resulting in tone sucking (treble loss, floppy bass response and less punchy sound). When inserting in a buffer pedal, you’ll hear a lot of difference in the treble area, your punch will be restored and some of you might say “Hey, this buffer affects my signal too much – it boost the treble”. Actually it doesn’t. It only prevents the treble loss so you actually hear YOUR tone. Roll off the treble a bit on your amp and you’re ready to rock.
Why is this happening?
Your buffer has relatively big input impedance which means that your pickups aren’t overloaded anymore. On the other hand its output impedance is low so it can drive long cables without much signal loss.
Here’s a simple sketch of the whole process. Your pickups induce voltage (that’s your guitar signal), which pushes some amount of current through your cables to the following electronic device in your signal path. The size of that current is inversely proportional to the size of the input impedance of the following device (your amp, pedals…).
Long story short – a good buffer holds on to your true guitar tone and transfer your pure punchy sound of your guitar through all of your TB effects to your amp.
Some of you may have heard rumors that high-end cables produce a lot of high tones and low budget cables sound floppy. Your guitar cable is made of two jack connectors and coaxial cable connecting one end with the other. The outer wire is usually connected to ground and the inner one is hot (the signal runs through it – that’s the tip of the cable). So two wires with different electric potential and a dielectric between them…yup, you guessed this one right – we’ve got a capacitor here.
Besides the C (capacity) every wire has its own resistance (R) and the size of these two parameters depends on the cable quality and the cable length. Simple filters are usually called RC filters. You most probably got the idea why we call them that. They are made of resistance and capacitance. An RC filter is also called low pass filter which means that it cuts the treble and keeps the bass. That’s what’s happening to your guitar tone if you’re using long cables. The higher these parameters are, the more the affect your (treble) guitar tone.
Now let’s take a big pedal board with 10-15 True Bypass pedals. Even if you’re using top quality cables, the whole cable length (your two cables connecting guitar-board and board-amp plus all the small linkers between your effects) in quite big. Remember the RC high cut filter part we we’re talking about a minute ago?
A buffer will definitely “purify” your tone in this case.
The choice is totally yours because after all you’re the guy that plays the guitar and if something sounds great to your ears and produces a lot of creativity, don’t change it. But if you every now and then wonder what’s wrong with your tone you might want to try the following (at least that’s how we like it – it doesn’t mean that you have to do it like this):
- We connect our guitars directly to a buffer pedal – it can be a quality buffered bypass tuner pedal or one of our Spice buffers.
- After the buffer pedal come all the True Bypass pedals. This way there is no noticeable signal loss even if we’re using long cables.
When using really long cables from your pedal board to your amp it is good to use an extra buffer in the last position (so it will drive the long cable to your amplifier). Some of the guys put buffers even in the FX loops SEND and RETURN paths. It’s up to you what sounds the best for you and gives you the best feeling when rocking the stage.
Mostly because our customers prefer this way of switching. The TB switching system has become a standard recently and a lot of pedal manufacturers are using it. The overall number of components and circuit size increase when using buffered bypass, so it’s easily to put TB pedals into smaller and compact enclosures. That’s also one of the reasons we’re using TB.
Special kind of true bypass switching is the one that uses relays instead of mechanical switches. Relay is basicaly magnetic switch, hermeticaly closed inside an enclosure. It is activated by energising the relay coil. The process is usualy triggered by pushing a momentary switch. This sends a pulse to control circuit and activates the coil. This type of TB switching has two major benefits: it is realy fast, so the noise is minimal. Secon one is relays lifespan. Regular foostwitches are usualy rated for 10.000 - 30.000 cycles. Relays that we use ar e rated for 1.000.000 operations, so they are more reliable than regular footswitches. We also use latching relays - this way the power consumption is minimal. We offer relay bypass for some of our pedals, but we are actively developing it for others as well.