Is a turned off pedal "invisible"?

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by Tupac, Dec 19, 2014.

  1. Tupac


    May 5, 2011
    Eg. if I turn off one of my pedals, is it as if it was never there at all?

    Also, this board needs an Electrical Engineering 101 sticky for dumb and easily answered questions like this.
  2. bassmusic17


    Jan 15, 2011
    Depends if it's true or buffered bypass. Also how many pedals you have and length of cables resulting in signal degradation.
  3. bongomania

    bongomania Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 17, 2005
    PDX, OR
    owner, OVNIFX and OVNILabs
    If you turn off a "true bypass" pedal, then it is like the pedal is not there at all---except the patch cords and the switch itself can still load down a passive bass, dulling the tone slightly. With pedals that are not "true bypass", there's a whole range of possible outcomes. Some of them affect the tone noticeably when bypassed, but some of them not so much. Some of them could even make your signal sound BETTER when bypassed. It depends on the design of the specific pedal.
    Roberto Nunez, rtav, eveilleu and 3 others like this.
  4. Eugene B

    Eugene B

    May 7, 2014
    Rochester, NY
    Endorsing Artist for Bergantino Audio Systems and Payson Fanned Bass Strings
    Slightly off topic, but I noticed you specifically mentioned passive basses. Are active basses generally less affected by this?
  5. Marihino


    Mar 25, 2010
    Yes, the active preamp acts as a buffer that prevents the pickups from being loaded by long cables, amp input stages, effects etc.
    Roberto Nunez and groucho like this.
  6. kevteop


    Feb 12, 2008
    York, UK
    Actives don't so much 'prevent' signal degradation as reduce it. It's noticeable over say 20ft of average cable though.

    A solution for passive basses is to use a buffer (or 'line driver') at the start of your pedal board, which will convert your signal to low-impedance and give it effectively the same properties as an active bass signal.
  7. MrBKerth

    MrBKerth The Gypsy Bravado

    Apr 20, 2013
    Like many have said, it depends on is buffered or true bypass. I just figured I'd add a little to what bongo had mentioned about a pedal "adding" to your tone in an unpredicted way. My guitar player can only really get the tone we jive with if he uses a non bypassed (although strangely modded with some funk from a previous owner) old memory man deluxe with the level all the way up. The pedal is off but that colouring is there, and boy is it sweet.
  8. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Yamaha, Ampeg, Line 6, EMG
    Actually it DOES prevent it, sorry to contradict you in front of everyone.
    David Jayne and bassbrad like this.
  9. GregT


    Jan 29, 2012
    Southwest Missouri
    Here is an interesting article written by Andrew Barta about your question. Keep in mind, his pedals are not true bypass so he may be a little biased. I use three Tech21 pedals in conjunction with about 10 true bypass pedals.
    I don't necessarily 100% agree with him, but it is good information.
  10. My advise would be not to care much about these things, unless the pedal is super crappy or deffective and is totally annihilating your sound.
    And even if there is some degradation, I assume that the pedal is going to be always on your chain when you play, so any change in the sound would anyway become part of your sound ;)
    Like Wilco's Nels Cline once said: "Degradation IS my sound" (ok, he's a guitar player, but you get the point 24:00).
    Just plug, play and enjoy! :bassist:
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2015
  11. fishdreams


    Sep 4, 2010
    Brooklyn, NY
    Endorsing: Martin Keith Guitars
    Thanks for sharing! Love this video - Nels Cline makes great music through his pedals and really understands what he is doing. And he's an awesomely nice guy to boot.
  12. kevteop


    Feb 12, 2008
    York, UK
    So you're saying that a signal from an active bass can be sent down any length of average cable with no loss of treble frequencies at all?

    And you're saying that 'in front of everyone'?

    It's nice that you're confident I suppose.
  13. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Yamaha, Ampeg, Line 6, EMG
    Been a major selling point for active systems since they started. I suppose there's a point where it gets loaded down, but it's not going to be loaded down in typical setups unless they're using like hundreds of feet of cable.
  14. He's right. With an active pre or buffer it would be hard to hear any treble loss with a cable up to about 100' or even longer. Non - buffered signals generally become noticeably darker at around 15-20' cable length.
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2014
  15. bongomania

    bongomania Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 17, 2005
    PDX, OR
    owner, OVNIFX and OVNILabs
    Agreed, really it would take a large amount of added capacitance, like from hundreds of feet of cable, or a shorter amount of very bad cable, or some bad solder, bad jacks, to audibly load down an active bass.

    So on the one hand a person could have an experience where they did hear their active bass tone getting dulled by something in the chain, and it could even be from a cable, but it would NOT be a normal cable at a normal length.