Guitar signals are so fragile due to one primary cause: high impedance of passive systems. This property severely limits the reasonable possibilities for cable and effects loads.
I am a strong advocate for the use of well-placed, high-quality buffer amps when using any effects. Boss pedals are a reasonable substitute for a dedicated buffer under most real life conditions, but building a very high quality buffer is very easy as well. Because the buffer is not asked to deliver gain other that 1, many inexpensive op-amp based designs can easily deliver a very high-fidelity signal and a very low impedance; no esoteric parts are necessary for excellent results.
I have seen some construct a tube-based buffer using a cathode-follower, and this works well to drive non-reactive loads. However, if asked to drive a reactive load such as a long cable, cathode and source followers exhibit considerable non-linearity. I'll stick with op-amp designs for this application, as they are better sounding under a wider range of conditions.
With a good buffer, any effects pedals (other than the abysmally bad) can be driven with no loss of treble.
Tech Geek and Sensitive Artiste
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