Buffer Pedals

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Pedals, patch jumpers, and instrument cables can change the sound that leaves an instrument before it reaches an amplifier or audio interface. Guitarists may notice that their clean tone is different when plugged directly into their amp or routed through their complex pedalboard. Or keyboardists might hear a difference in volume when turning on their favorite flanger.

What does a buffer do?

In many cases, the cause of these differences is capacitance. In a nutshell, capacitance is the amount of electricity carrying your original signal. For example, using a 100-foot cable from a bass guitar’s output to an amp would probably result in less volume and high-end than using a 10-foot cable. Buffers help with this problem.

What pedals are buffered?

Some guitar effects pedals, such as those made by Boss, have buffers as part of the circuitry, even when bypassed. Other pedals, which are sometimes described as true bypass, have no buffer when disengaged. Many newer multi-effects and digital pedals, such as TC Electronics Toneprint series, give you the option to use or bypass the buffer when the pedal is off.

What does a buffer pedal do?

A buffer pedal adds a buffer to your pedal chain. Many are so simple, they don’t even have switches. Others offer additional features, such as a tuner. The Catalinbread Epoch Pre guitar buffer pedal, for example, is also a preamp, boost, and signal splitter.

Can I use a buffer pedal in an effects loop?

You can use a buffer in your amp’s effects loop. However, you may want to consult your manual or check with the manufacturer, since some amps already have buffers built into the effects loop.

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