Buffer Guitar Pedals – Guitar Effects

Guitar Buffer Pedal - Avoid Tone Sucking in your guitar signal chain.

Why do you need a buffer pedal? It is all about your guitar signal chain and the effect of impedance on the signal from the guitar pickups to the amplifier input socket. The impedance generated by everything involved in that chain will ultimately effect the overall guitar tone, leading to a loss of high end frequencies. A buffer guitar pedal is a tiny amplifier that isolates the incoming high impedance signal sent from the guitar, preserving the strength of the signal. A buffer is not the first effect a guitar player thinks of, but it plays an important role in maintaining your overall tone, especially if you are playing live. If you use long guitar cables and guitar effect pedals in the signal chain then a buffer can make your overall tone come to life.

The guitar signal chain is a fragile factor in your overall sound, using lots of guitar pedals and long guitar cables can cause the guitar signal to dip, and as the guitar signal loses power, clarity and bright tone will fade, causing the dreaded guitar player “tone sucking” problem. Using lots of pedals is similar to adding lots of different low pass or high cut filters in your guitar signal chain. The more pedals you add, the more high end you lose, leaving your tone dull and void of attack and sparkle. This means you are missing out on important frequencies that are essential to your mix in a band setting and general tone quality.

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Where to Add a Buffer Guitar Pedal

A guitar buffer pedal is a great addition to your pedal-board, just before the signal dips in strength. The only way to work out the best place to put a buffer is with experimentation. A general guideline would be to insert the buffer between the guitar and first guitar pedal, and no further forward in than the last overdrive pedal. Your signal will be at full strength immediately following a buffer. Once you have a buffer in place, only the length of cable preceding the buffer and any pedals before it will cause degradation to the tone. Even if you do not use guitar pedals a buffer pedal can still be great addition to your set up. Really long cables can do just as much damage as a massive pedal-board.

Buffer Guitar Pedal and Fuzz Pedals

Fuzz guitar pedals became popular in the late 60s with players like Jimi Hendrix. Jimi used a Dunlop Fuzz Face pedal and this type of silicon transistor circuit has a low input impedance, around 100k, this allowed the effect to generate a warm tone. Think of this impedance as resistance, and in order for fuzz guitar pedals to have the right effect they  should be placed in front of any buffer pedal. However, manufacturers, if they are a reputable one, will quote input and output impedance with the sales literature of the pedal, and if the input impedance is over 500k it should work OK with the buffer in front. Anything less and it should be after, as a rule of thumb, but you decide, experiment.

Buffer Guitar Pedal at the End of the Signal Chain

The last guitar effect pedal on your board is the one driving the cable running to your amp. If it has a high output impedance you will loss some high end tone. For this reason having a guitar buffer pedal or an effect pedal that has a buffered bypass setting last in the chain is a good choice. Some quality pedal makers include either buffered bypass or true bypass options on the pedal. Using a buffered bypass pedal last is a good idea. If not by a separate buffer pedal. This will ensure you can effectively drive the run of cable going from your board to your amp with no loss of tone.

Strategically placed buffers or buffered pedals can be the key to preserving a robust and awesome guitar-cable-amp signal chain and guitar core tone. Plan and experiment until you get the right set up and your bandmates will think you are a different player.

Selecting a Buffer Guitar Pedal

Generally, all buffer guitar pedals will make your overall tone better, not worse, however anything you place in the signal chain will have some effect on the signal as is the nature of electronics. Some guitar buffer pedals are obviously better than others. Despite that a relatively cheap buffer pedal like the Hotone FAT buffer pedal will still do a good job of restoring your tone. Some more expensive, and boutique, buffer guitar pedals include extra features like a booster pedal function, a good example is the Tonebone Big Shot PB1. more transparent than others. Even the worst offenders will cause minor changes at most, so any decent quality buffer should make your tone better, not

Review these Buffer Guitar Pedals

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