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What is True Bypass?

by admin on February 19, 2012

True bypass is a feature of a guitar effects pedals where the circuitry of the pedal is completely bypassed when the pedal is switched off. While some pedals use these feature not all do as there are pros and cons in having a guitar pedal with true bypass.
Pros of True Bypass Guitar Pedals
  • The signal and tone from the guitar to the amp is no colored in any way when the pedal is off so your guitar sound will be as pure as it would be plugged directly into your amp.
  •  If you’re running a true bypass guitar pedal on batteries and they die your guitar signal will still get through when the pedal is switched off. A basic way to test if your pedal is true bypass is to remove the power source and see if you can get a sound through it when its switched off.
Cons of True Bypass Guitar Pedals
  •  The switches used in these types of guitar pedals tend to be noisy. 
  •  Also True Bypass pedals offer no boost in signal that you get out of a Buffered Bypass pedal so if only multiple True Bypass guitar pedals are used this can cause a drop in the output signal from the guitar due to the resistance of the multiple guitar cables and an increase in noise
Best known True Bypass Guitar Pedals

Some Electro Harmonix pedals are true bybass including the Deluxe Memory Man and the Little Big Muff Pi.

Electro-Harmonix Deluxe Memory Man Xo Analog Delay Guitar Effect Pedal What is True Bypass?

Electro-Harmonix Xo Little Big Muff Pi Distortion Guitar Effects Pedal What is True Bypass?

What about Buffered Bypass Guitar Pedals?

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Buffered bypass guitar pedals use a circuit to boost the guitars signal level even when they’re switched off which can help to prevent a loss in signal output when multiple pedals and cables are being used. However the negative in this is that they can affect the guitar tone even when switched off.  So if you’re using a buffered bypass pedal  on batteries and their going flat you will be losing signal output even when the pedal is switched off.
Best known Buffered Guitar Pedals

The well known range of Boss guitar pedals use a buffered bypass for  silent foot switching to avoid switching noise and to  preventing signal loss due to using  multiple cables and guitar pedals.

Boss Dd-7 Digital Delay Guitar Effects Pedal What is True Bypass?

Boss Ds-1 Distortion Pedal What is True Bypass?

What about Hardwired Bypass Guitar Pedals?
Hardwire buffered guitar pedals use a combination of true bypass and buffered bypass to pass the signal through with minimally effecting the guitar tone when switched off but they still require power to ensure that the guitar signal passes through the pedal.
Best known Hardwire Bypass Guitar Pedals

Older MXR Pedals are examples of hardwire bypass pedals though some of their newer pedals such as the Carbon Copy are now true bypass and labeled as “true hardwire bypass”.

Mxr M169 Carbon Copy Analog Delay Guitar Effects Pedal What is True Bypass?

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