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Re: Volume pedals

On Tuesday, April 22, 2003, at 10:46 PM, erwill@cspc.us wrote:

> what is this thing called "tone-suck"? i've heard alot of guitarists 
> use this
> term on effects forums and whatnot, but no one bothers to explain the
> phenomenon quantitavely. is it a subjective term like "phat", or an 
> objective
> term like "punchy"?

The quick way to find out is to plug into a piece of gear, play 
something short, then quickly unplug the thing in question and plug 
straight into your amp and play the same thing.  If you notice no 
difference then either a) you've got a really transparent piece of gear 
[rare] or b) it's not something that you personally are going to notice 
[lucky you, or maybe not].

With many effects, adding them to your signal chain produces a decrease 
in volume (which may be more pronounced in some frequencies than 
others), an increase in noise, and a diminished sense of "immediency" 
to the response of your amp to your instrument.  The last effect is 
usually only apparent to the person who's playing, and it's similar to 
the difference between playing a tube amp and a good tube amp model.  
The "feel" is different, and often less desirable.

Some people believe that "true bypass" desirable for effects, which 
means that when the effect is turned off, it sounds the same as a 
straight wire to the amp (assuming only one effect in this case).  In 
practice, this is very, very difficult to achieve, although many boxes 
get close enough for practical use.  However, once the effect is turned 
on, all sorts of things can happen in addition to the desired effect 
(chorus, wah, whatever).  The impedence seen by your guitar, the amp, 
other effects can change with the effect in-line, the level can change 
(with vintage effects, the result was almost an increase in frequency 
response and volume) and so on.  You have to decide if the good 
outweighs the bad, or whether the bad can be made better.

Other people believe (effects guru Pete Cornish for instance) that a 
buffer amp should always be in line, to insure that no matter what you 
put in or out of the chain, the guitar sees the same load.  Various 
manufacturers sell things that purport to do this (VHT's valvulator, 
Cornish, plenty of others).  Active pickups can also help in this 

I'm sure that there are some technical points that others on the list 
with an actual engineering background could elaborate on.