True Bypass vs Buffers

I have seen this so many times…and I just wanted to add my two cents.

Today I bumped into this video:

This video makes perfect sense…so why is true bypass so popular, and used by most boutique pedal makers?…it cannot be just a hype or a selling point, it would not have lasted this long.

I mostly use true bypass pedals, as I feel that the buffer changes the nature of the sound. This is just my personal opinion. But I also agree that with longer cables, which I use when I play bigger venues, the sound gets really dull and dark. To make a comment on this video…who the hell uses 50 feet cables, unless you are playing in a major venue?? To do everyday gigs, I have never used a cable longer than 16 feet, and I feel the loss of treble with good cables (I have been using for over 10 years and endorse Spectraflex cables) is not something I miss.

So the solution I use is a switch-able line driver/buffer when I do bigger gigs. Something like this Hence it is not True Bypass vs Buffer but True Bypass and Buffer in my opinion. For the same reason that we keep in our pedal boards different booster and distortion pedals to suit different scenarios, it should be the same with type of switching.

What’s your opinion on the subject? Leave a comment.


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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Yes, it’s important for people to understand how these things work and to understand that true bypass doesn’t magically fix things and that buffers can be useful tools.

    However, this video, and many videos and articles like it, seems to perpetuate the smug, reactionary view that people who seek out true-bypass pedals are trend chasing fools and don’t know what they’re talking about. “The buffered pedal clearly sounds better with the 50 foot cable. What a bunch of morons!”

    The real reason that many of us who do know what we’re doing (I have an electrical engineering background, eg) prefer true-bypass pedals by default is that they are a known quantity. Not all buffers are created equal. Many buffers on otherwise fantastic pedals utterly destroy your tone when the pedal is off. If you’ve got a board with a dozen pedals on it, each buffered, your tone will be as bad as the worst buffer on the board (or even a combination of multiple crappy buffers). Even with good quality buffers, you have to take into account how they interact with each other, which does not always sound good. It sucks to have to change the order of your pedals to something non-optimal just to keep the buffers from messing with each other. On the other hand, every true-bypass pedal sounds the same as every other true-bypass pedal when it’s off by definition.

    If I’m putting together a board or designing a rig with long cable runs, what I really want in most cases is a very good high quality buffer at the beginning of the run with everything after it being true-bypass for predictability. Those true-bypass pedals can be rearranged in any order without any change to the bypassed tone. I can treat them as interchangeable “black boxes” in designing the overall system.

    So, yes, buffers are useful tools that people should know how to utilize. But guitarists are also right to keep pushing manufacturers to make their pedals true-bypass.

  2. All good points, thank you for your comment!

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