The Workbench

Talk to me about the buffer/fuzz thing, will ya?

1

Mmmkay, my pedalboard is arranged thus...^ ^ ^

It finally dawned on me to A/B the tone between coming through the ‘board/plugging the guitar straight into the amp. (I’m sure you know what’s coming.) volume and tone takes a holiday when going through the board. Talked to a couple veteran fellers who bananamously told me I need a buffer. Bought a Mesa Stowaway, partially coz I have room for the skinny li’l bugger and my Sweetwater guy said it’d do me just fine. Set it up as the input into the ‘board, first thing. More volume now (still not as much as dy-rect but better.) However, very little headroom, to the point that using anything with humbuckers results in some dirt, regardless of amp, even at volumes around 2 or 3. (The ones I have out are the Twin and the Executive.) In fact, I noticed it first while using the Executive and suspected a tube going south. Cased it up and rolled out the Twin. Same deal. Thought I’d better try it direct before I decided it was an amp issue. T’ain’t. BUT, I HAVE been told that fuzzes don’t always play well with buffers.

Sooo.....

My query is:

Using the pic of my board (buffer’d be at the top left. Chain ends at the Electric Mistress, then into the amp. Pic is pre-buffer.), how do you fellas recommend I route my signal? Oh, and the fuzz is to the right of the Electric Mistress. Right now, the signal’s routed from top left into the buffer, straight down the row of H9’s, down to the mini-wah, then straight down the line, right to left. The mini-switch on the bottom left corner just toggles the first H9 in and out of tuner mode.

(Sorry for such a greenhorn question, btw.)

2

What does the buffer sound like by itself into the amp?

What is the amp?

How long is your cable?

3

I suspect most of these pedals have a buffer or the input works like a buffer, unless they are off.

https://www.eventideaudio.c...

And that page implies you need to set your amp to work with the buffer.

Where are you losing headroom, at the amp, or in the pedals?

If you turn the amp down, can you get about the same volume with just the buffer?

4

If you're getting dirt with a twin on 2 with all your pedals off, something's not right

5

I suspect most of these pedals have a buffer or the input works like a buffer, unless they are off.

https://www.eventideaudio.c...

And that page implies you need to set your amp to work with the buffer.

Where are you losing headroom, at the amp, or in the pedals?

If you turn the amp down, can you get about the same volume with just the buffer?

– hammerhands

Yessir, tried setting all of the H9’s in each of the three buffer modes.

Had the best luck running it through the A/D into D/A converters. But the result still wound up to be as I described up above.

20’ cable btw.

Embarrassingly, it’s not occurred to me to try just the buffer itself in between the guitar and amp!

Lemme get back to ya...

6

If you're getting dirt with a twin on 2 with all your pedals off, something's not right

– WB

Yessir, that was my very first thought.

7

I don't understand what you're trying to do. If you want to go straight into the board, forget the amps. You need something that provides the right level matching between guitar stuff and pro audio stuff AND have "Impulse Responses" or "cab sims." There are pedals that do it (oh so many now), or the Kemper, or the L6 Helix, or recording interfaces. You put'em between your guitar chain and the board/interface. They should take care of any level mismatches AND provide the auditory illusion of real amp-and-speaker rather than the spiky thin lifeless tone plugging direct into a mixer gets you. (Beatles' "Revolution" bedamned. Sounded like crap then, still sounds like crap.)

But if you put your H9s before a mono interface/cab sim, you're not getting their stereo wonderfulness. And please tell me you're not using them for dirt modeling or compression. They're not very good at that.

If you want to record amps, put dirt, dynamics, and gain-modifying devices before the amp. Then use mics, adjusting input gain and trim to satisfaction. Put your H9s in a bus from the board/interface with stereo returns (and use them like the rack-mount stereo effects which they truly are under their minimalist hoods).

Electric Mistress...ehh, probably before the amp as well. Either my eyes or the miserable resolution the GDP allows for images won't let me determine what that pedal with the chicken on it is, but it's probably another pre-preamp device.

When recording - with the amps you've mentioned - there's a clear divide. You either laboriously mic the amps, crank them to wherever you think you've achieved your tone, then tweak input at the board till you're hearing that tone - or you forget the amps and figure out how to get amplike tone going direct. Either method leads to insanity, but you already self-identify as a musician, so that's familiar territory.

(Of course some amps have recording outputs, some with their own cab simulation...but if you're simulating, why use the amp at all?)

8

Tim, I used “ ‘board” as short for pedal board. Sorry for my lack of clarity.

And the box with the chicken is a “Game Hen” fuzz, named after its being a clone of the original schematic from Peter Cornish. I’m told that it could also be the root of my issue in relation to the buffer, but I think I need to have a better grasp of that concept in order to learn what to do, thus being the impetus for this here thread.

9

Ah. Now it makes sense.

Start taking pedals out one at a time till it sounds right. Or conversely, start plugging them in one at a time till it sucks.

My guess is something is wrong. (Free comedy.)

It could be a cable problem as well. It's basic stuff, but it's tedious. With that modest array of pedals between guitar and amp, you shouldn't have drastic tone-suck.

11

I did not know of such things (buffer pedals). Interesting.

12

I keep hearing 18 feet is a magic limit for cables. Anything more and you have attenuation of the highs, because of the capacitance of the cable. So if you like that sound, the buffer works against you.

But the thickness of the wire and how it’s made must must change the capacitance.

I would do what Proteus says, try adding things one at a time, mix things up, so you see what the interactions are.

You might want to use a loop switcher.

13

Start with the Cornish hyped-mythical-tone box. Put it alone between guitar and amp. If it sounds good, try it (alone) with the buffer both before and after. See if either of those positions matter.

Some fuzzes (particularly of the antique we-build-it-this-way-because-that’s-how-we-did-it-in-1970-when-guitarists-only-had-one-pedal-as-God-intended variety) “like to see” unadulterated guitar signal. Assuming your cords are all good, and nothing is being starved for power, the Cornish is indeed the wild card in that deck.

But it’s not the only head-scratcher. I worry about your pedal order. Unless you’re using H9s for dirt or compression (surely not, please), it seems purdurn weird to me to have them first(ish), before fuzz, wah, and compression. My first instink would be to start with the fuzz, then the JB3, maybe the EM, then the H9s bringing up the rear. I’m agnostic about wah location vis a vis dirt (there are vehement schools of opinion), but it surely should come before other modulation, delay, and reverb.

Presumably the Eventides are for modulation, delay, and verb? I might put one or two of them “mid-chain,” devoting them to modulation duty, and the other two at the end for delayverb.

But get them AFter fuzz and compression and see what you get. Maybe don’t even use the buffer till you see how the order works best. I’m all for buffers when needed - but that’s not a big board that obviously requires one.

Also, what’s at lower far right? Looks like part of a pedal. Is it part of the plan?

14

Tim, the little stomp switch at the bottom left is an outboard switch connected to the 1st (top left) H9. All I have it doing is toggling that H9 in and out of its tuner mode.


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