To buffer or not to buffer...

Discussion in 'The Stomp Box' started by udoering, Aug 7, 2017.

  1. udoering

    udoering Friend of Leo's

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    The necessity of using a buffer at the start of one´s signal chain is often discussed. More or less incidentally I found out what a difference a buffer can make. I didn´t believe it would be a big difference because my cables are short and the signal runs only through three or four pedals, all with true bypass. Then I read how to switch the first pedal between buffer and true bypass and just wanted to try it out. I had to notice that the difference was tremendous.

    I noodled two chorusses of a blues bt, changing pickups within one chorus; please pay no attention to the playing, it´s ...! The signal chain is: American Standard (Twisted Tele / Broadcaster pickups) => Source Audio Programmable EQ => Source Audio Gemini chorus => TC Flashback => Lonestar Special 2x12.

    The only difference in sound between the two chorusses is if the EQ´s buffer is activated or not.



    Of course I can´t say that the difference is the same with other guitars, cables or pedals. But if you think your sound is too muddy, buffering might help. If your sound is too bright, using no buffer might help.
     
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  2. fjrabon

    fjrabon Tele-Afflicted

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    IMG_8532.JPG

    Yeah, I just put in a buffer in my chain by upgrading my tuner to a TC Polytune 3, and it's been one of the best things I've ever done for my tone.

    I run a 25' coiled cable (actual cable length of cable measured along the cable, not how long the cable reaches) into the above board which then has a 12' cable connecting to the amp. So that's 37' of cable plus maybe five feet of cable in the board, plus pedals (all true bypass). A buffer was certainly needed.

    Gone are the days of having to chose between the versatility of pedals or the clean beauty of plugging straight into the amp, I've got the best of both worlds now.

    It's an awesome difference. I could immediately turn down the treble in my ac15 while still having plenty of airy, shimmery presence, without it being harsh.

    That being said, not all buffers seem to be created equal. The TC electronics bonafide buffer (which is built into the polytune 3, but they also sell as a standalone pedal) is much better than other buffers I've used and certainly better than random buffered out pedals I've used.
     
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  3. codamedia

    codamedia Friend of Leo's

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    As soon as a pedal is engaged it is buffered and since it's inevitably going to happen in various stages anyway, I prefer the consistency of having a buffer right at the beginning of my chain. I know there are some pedals that are best before a buffer (wah, old school fuzz, etc...) but I don't use those.
     
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  4. RetroTeleRod

    RetroTeleRod Poster Extraordinaire

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    If Hamlet had a Tele he might have said...

    To buffer, or not to buffer: that is the question:
    Whether ’tis nobler in the chain to suffer
    The slings and arrows of outrageous treble loss,
    Or to take FETs against a sea of true bypass,
    And by opposing end them?


    :)


    (personally, I also like having at least one buffer on board)
     
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  5. rich815

    rich815 Friend of Leo's

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    Nice playing!
     
  6. udoering

    udoering Friend of Leo's

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    Thanks!
     
  7. fjrabon

    fjrabon Tele-Afflicted

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    I think this is one reason why some people prefer an "always on" pedal without actually realizing that it's the reason why. I once noticed on accident that my tone improved when I used my Orange Two stroke clean EQ boost turned on, but with everything in the pedal set to 0 (which in that pedal theoretically means it's not doing anything). I was thinking either I was crazy or that there was some magic to the circuit; I then realized it's probably mostly because at that point it had become a line buffer.
     
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  8. Redvers

    Redvers Tele-Meister

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    I don't think that's true. A boss DS-1 is buffered when not engaged, and a basic true bypass boost is not buffered when engaged. If you put a long Y cable after these pedals into two amps, the boss would drive both amps with no tone loss but the boost would lose some tone because it isn't buffering by design.
     
  9. Steve 78

    Steve 78 Friend of Leo's

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    Wow, that is quite a difference. Great demo - thanks for posting.
     
  10. codamedia

    codamedia Friend of Leo's

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    I did not explain that very well.

    Yes, BOSS and many other brands are buffered whether engaged or not... often this is referred to as buffered bypass.

    On the other hand, a true bypass is not buffered when off! But many, if not most true bypass pedals do go through a buffer once they are engaged. Of course there are always exceptions.
     
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