Which Boss pedals have buffers

Buffer, Booster & Equalizer

by Marc-Oliver Richter,

Buffer and Booster are simple amplifier circuits that raise the signal level and thus make the guitar tone louder.

The buffer usually does this to a lesser extent than a booster and is usually not adjustable. Its task is to stabilize the guitar signal, which is susceptible to interference, by converting the high-impedance signal from passive pickups into a low-impedance signal that is not susceptible to interference. A buffer is particularly useful for musicians who only use TrueBypass effects. Because cable runs and contacts easily add up to quantities that make the sound audible. Buffer circuits are already integrated in all effects pedals that do not work according to the true bypass principle, but with electronic switching - i.e. in all pedals from the major manufacturers, such as B. Boss, Ibanez or DigiTech. With these devices, the guitar signal passes through the electronics even when the effect is switched off and is thus "buffered". When the Japanese manufacturers implemented electronic switching in the effects pedals in the 1970s, however, they had less in mind of refreshing the sound than of being able to implement the switching process without popping or cracking. Therefore, unfortunately, not all buffer circuits are really sound neutral. Some pedal classics are even considered true "tone sucker".

Another reason why the mechanical switching with the TrueBypass principle experienced a renaissance in the pedals of the boutique manufacturers in the 1990s. A booster is an adjustable preamplifier that can be used at different positions in an effect chain. It can take on buffer tasks at the beginning of an effects chain or provide more gain before the distortion stage. For this purpose, special boosters, the so-called treble boosters, were developed as early as the 1960s. Treble boosters particularly emphasize the high range and should elicit distortion from the tube amplifiers, which were not very distortive at the time, by driving the preamps with a very high input level. Why the high frequencies of all things were emphasized in the early days of the electric guitar can probably also be explained by the fact that the use of very long guitar cables (e.g. spiral cables more than 10 m in length), which was common at the time, increased the heights of the guitar signal in particular suffered. Today - in the age of radio systems - one would rather use a midboost to help the distortion on the jumps.

Behind the distortion or in the loop-in path of guitar amplifiers, sound-neutral boosters are often used to increase the volume - e.g. B. as a solo boost. Depending on the intended use and personal taste, the market offers a wide variety of boosters that are more or less sound neutral. Sound neutrality is not necessarily a quality criterion for boosters; the coloring of the sound using boosters is often desirable. Examples of a deliberately colored tone are the Xotic EP-Booster or the MXR Echoplex-Booster, both of which imitate the preliminary stage of an old tape machine to make the tone softer, fatter and lighter. Some boosters therefore already offer control options for influencing the sound.

This makes the transition from boosters to equalizers smooth ... Equalizers (EQs) are specialists in sound shaping and allow targeted volume control of individual frequencies of the signal. Basically, a distinction can be made between graphic and parametric equalizers. In the case of graphic equalizers, there are usually several sliders that can either increase or decrease the volume of the signal. Just a few controls are enough to drastically bend the frequency band in the midrange, which is important for the guitar signal, such as: B. the MXR M109 six-band graphic EQ proves. From the middle-weighted classic rock solo sound to the middle-poor heavy metal rhythm sound, you are only a foot switch away.


Parametric EQs usually allow the selection of a frequency with the help of a potentiometer and allow this frequency to be raised or lowered with a second potentiometer. Some devices also offer the option of narrowing or further defining the bandwidth of the frequency. While parametric EQs are common in studio technology, they are rarely found in pedal form (e.g. Artec Parametric EQ). Of course, equalizers can also be used for all tasks of a booster and act in a sound-neutral manner if they have a control for the overall volume. Due to the more complex circuitry, problems with unwanted background noise, especially noise, can arise when using EQs.

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