Analog Man Small Buffer Pedal – Upgrades: Green On/Off LED, Power Jack (no battery use)
A buffer is an active electronic circuit that keeps your guitar signal strong and preserves the frequencies of your guitar sound. If you have a good patch cord that’s not too long, and plug directly into your amp, that is the purest sound you can get, and you don’t need a buffer. But if you have long patch cords or a bunch of effects pedals, or a pedal with a weak output, a buffer can help get your sound back to the pure tone you are looking for.
All patch cords or Guitar Cables have some capacitance to them, especially cheaper cables like cables with molded ends. This acts just like the capacitor on your guitar’s tone knob when you turn it down some, and rolls off the high end. Really bad cords can suck away too much of your tone, even mids, and should probably be replaced though a good buffer might make them usable. Some pedals, like old wahs, big muffs, etc also suck a lot of your tone away as they keep the circuit connected to your signal even when they are OFF (not true bypass, or buffered bypass). Certain pedals have a weak output (impedance is too high) and even when they are ON, the signal will get loaded by cables or other pedals after them. Some examples are Dynacomp/Ross type compressors, some distortion pedals, etc. You can test and find these types of pedals by using long cords and turning a buffer on and off after them – the buffer should do nothing on most pedals, but some will sound much brighter, clearer, and louder with a buffer after them. Those pedals are helped with a buffer following them.
Volume Pedals are another item that can be helped with buffers. If you use a passive style volume pedal with high impedance, like the Ernie Ball 250K pedal, it will work great with just your guitar plugged in and won’t suck much tone. But when you add buffered pedals in front of it, the sweep can get strange, making it hard to get the desired volume setting. In that case, the 25K ACTIVE Ernie Ball pedal will have a better sweep, but it NEEDS to have a strong buffer before it or it will REALLY hurt your tone. So I think the best setup would be the 25K volume pedal and a good buffer that’s always ON before it. We can build our buffer into one of these volume pedals to kill two birds with one stone, and keep your pedalboard size under control. With the buffer, it will no longer work as an EXPRESSION PEDAL.