Greetings purveyors of the perfect tone!
At last! You have scoured the gear universe to amass an awe inspiring collection of high end true bypass pedals and audiophile cables, and the time to assemble your pedal board is now! Perhaps, depsite all of your attention to tone conducting detail, you feel like something is getting lost sonically between your fingers and your amp. You plug your guitar directly into the amp...Sparkle! Chime! Then, back through your board. Dull. Mud. Dammit! How can this be?
Well, friends...It might be time to add the much misunderstood BUFFER to your board!
For those of you unfamiliar with this tone saving tool or have some questions as to what exactly they do, read on!
Basically, when you combine lengthy cables with several stomp boxes, a little electrical phenomenon called “capacitance” occurs. Without going into great scientific detail (Hell, I barely understand this myself!), it's responsible for the loss of clarity and definition that you heard when you plugged directly in your amp bypassing your board. Depending on the number of pedals you use and how long you your cabling is, this top end signal loss can be quite significant.
A buffer is a little active electronic circuit that helps keep regulate the impedence in your signal flow thus restoring the integrity of your tone when it reaches your amplifier. It generally should be put at the beginning (or very close to the beginning) of your pedal chain so it can send it's massive sonic saving goodness all the way down your tone tunnel.
Keep in mind that running a buffer before any type of Fuzz pedal might make it sound a bit odd, since fuzzes are generally designed to work best with lower impedence inputs. Volume pedals generally perfom better with the buffer run after them as well. But hey! It's your pedal board, experiment and find what you like best!
If you have everything in place and you like the tone...great! You may not need a buffer. Actually, most Boss pedals have a buffer built in, so you may have been running one this whole time! If you do feel like something is a little lackluster in your guitar sound, check out some of the great tone saving tools we have available at BGE!
If you want some more info, check out this video. He explains the basics and then goes into great detail about buffering.
Posted by Mark Dannells on 11 September, 2015