Blog - True Bypass?

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A phrase that guitarist will often encounter at some point in their musical life is ‘True Bypass’, guaranteed to be a debated on forums across the net. But what does it actual mean?

This phrase typical applies to guitar effects pedals that often sit in the signal pathway between the guitar and amplifier. The True Bypass phrase is used to dictate the direction of the guitar signal path when entering the effects pedal.

Effects pedals usually find themselves in one of three categories,

1. True Bypass

2. Hardwired

3. Buffered Output

True Bypass (TB)

This simply means the signal from the guitar will bypass the circuit board of the effect unit when the effect is not engaged or in use. Therefore the signal path stays true and unaltered – or as pure as it can be. Pedals like the Joyo Vintage Overdrive and Roger Mayer Voodoo Vibe are TB.

Hardwired

This represents effects units / pedals that allow the signal path to navigate through the circuit board at all times, Thus resulting in a (minimal) decrease of the guitars’ signal. This results in a small amount of tone loss in upper and higher frequencies – better known as tone sucking. The overall sound now becomes slightly darker, although only to the trained ear. Wah Wah pedals are a good example of Hardwired signal paths in effects units / as well as tone sucking.

Buffered Output

This simply means the signal from the guitar enters the circuit board of the pedal when the effect is not engaged or in use, however this time the signal path is boosted up as it leaves the pedal compensated by a variable gain stage/amplifier to reduce signal degradation. Boss pedals are a great example of this and the Buffered Output stage can even add a slight increase to the upper / higher frequencies which gives a slightly bright sound.

All good to my ears!

At the end of the day this old saying sums up the debated in my opinion ‘If it sound good then it is good’ . There really are hundreds of factors that relate to the sound of guitar and the tone that you produce – from your finger tips to your guitar leads to the way to you set your amplifier, etc! Still it’s nice to know what helps achieve the sound you desire!

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