True Bypass vs. Buffered Switching

Bypass… generally there are 2 types used in guitar effects pedals these days- true bypass and buffered bypass. Let’s take a quick look at the pros & cons of each.

Buffered bypass runs your guitars signal through your pedals circuit whether it’s off or on. The buffer portion of the circuit converts your signal from high to low impedance. This lower impedance from the buffer is what drives the signal through long cables. Higher impedance results in more capacitance and loss of high end tone at the end of a lengthy cable run. While this sounds great, buffers have a ‘voice’ all their own. Transparency is the goal, but a poorly designed buffer is far from transparent, hence ‘tone suck’ and the need for writings like this.

With true bypass, your signal is routed directly from the input jack to the output jack, passing the circuit of the pedal all together. Sounds good, right? Yes and no. If you use only a couple pedals, in a small room with short cables you’re probably just fine. But if you’ve got 5 pedals on a board (sounds big I know, but 5 is pretty standard) and say 2 15 foot cables- that’s about 35 feet of cabling… With that you’re really piling on the capacitance. Regardless of quality, your cables act as capacitors, those 5 pedals with jacks, switches and patch cables in between coupled with 30 feet of leads are all capacitors- each component shaving off a little bit of top end and keeping it for itself.

SO- what’s the best option to go with? That’s up to you! Personally I like a buffer up front, as I have a busy board full of true bypass pedals, I need that conversion to low impedance to allow my signal to flow without losing clarity.

Questions? Post em below and I’ll do my best to answer them.



9 comments for “True Bypass vs. Buffered Switching

  1. alfaflasprout69
    November 2, 2012 at 6:12 pm

    Nicely said, there’s only a handful of people who know what’s actually going on with T/B vs Buffered and its really up to what a individual needs. There’s so much hype on must have T/B or only a few descent buffers to get that transparent tone but in the end we should not worry to much about the tone being transparent because it never will be what we can do is build on what we have. If our tone is slightly tarnished by having so many variations in our signal chain then find a signal that’s not so bad and work with it to build your sound…

    Or shut the fuck up and just play that damn guitar!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. Anthony Garrow
    September 1, 2013 at 8:51 pm

    I can’t seem to find the link to purchase this pedal. I thought I saw it about a week ago, but now there doesn’t seem to be an option. Any help would be greatly appreciated?!?

    • Dennis Mollan
      September 1, 2013 at 9:00 pm

      If the purchase button is gone, the pedal is no longer available.

    • Anthony Garrow
      September 1, 2013 at 9:03 pm

      I thought it was supposed to run for the duration of September to coincide with September GuitarWorld issue?

      • Dennis Mollan
        September 1, 2013 at 9:05 pm

        It ran until the issue was off the shelves. It’s gone now

    • Anthony Garrow
      September 1, 2013 at 9:10 pm

      :/ well that sucks. But that’s weird being as it’s the september issue and it’s Sept 1st, why would it not be on the shelves? That’s kind of misleading.(Guitarworld not Pro Tones)

      • Dennis Mollan
        September 1, 2013 at 9:13 pm

        That’s the way magazines run.

  3. Dennis Mollan
    September 18, 2013 at 4:49 pm

    6-8 weeks just like the page said when you ordered it.

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