CHAAA-CLUNK – Stomp Sw Click Sound and True Bypass
You might have noticed that we prefer 'soft' stomp switches with true bypass around here, so we thought we'd share some thoughts about that while you’re here. We’ll start with the bullet points, and you can get on your way. If you’re here for more background info, keep going with the Extended Reading section.
Pedal Bypass Types
True bypass: When off, the pedal circuitry is 100% bypassed
Buffered bypass: When off, signal is still going through the pedal’s buffer portion of the circuitry.
Click vs Soft for True Bypass
Click Switch : (called 3PDT) – Simple mechanical switch that connects input jack to output jack when bypassed. Click sound can be annoying in some settings.
Soft Switch : Uses a relay to directly connect the input jack to output jack when bypassed. The switch is much quieter, with no CHAAA-CLUNK sound. It’s still operating as true bypass just like the click switch.
After considering the options, we decided to use True Bypass with a Soft Sw in our pedals. Our goal is to provide you with the most pure and flexible setup to fit our pedals into your rig, premium feel and performance, and to keep your pedals working for you for as long as possible.
——— Extended Reading ———
Ok, ready for more? Last I counted there are 1 million articles about buffers/true bypass. But, while you're here, might as well dive in. It’s never a bad time to brush up on this stuff.
What’s a Buffer Good for Anyway?
When your signal travels down a long cable, or through several pedals, it can lose some of its signal strength. Particularly, you may notice some tone loss in the high frequencies. In theory, a buffer is a simple electrical device that does nothing to your tone. No volume boost, no EQ change, nothing. What it DOES do is fight that sonic entropy so you tone can remain strong and clear even with a long cable and/or long chain of true bypass pedals. It's not magic, it's impedance (maybe another article some day).
Pedal Bypass Types
We covered the pedal bypass types above. So the question is, are buffered bypass pedals good or bad? Yes ... Buffers are great for the reasons mentioned above. A pedalboard with 10 true bypass pedals and no buffers will definitely lose some tone. On the other hand, 10 buffered bypass pedals in a row might start to sound stiff. Also to consider, not all buffers perform at the same level. The differences will likely be small, but you may find that some buffers just don’t quite feel right to you.
A general rule of thumb if you have a large pedal board is to have a buffer near the front of the pedal chain, and one near the end. These can be standalone buffer ‘pedals’, or a buffered bypass pedal (Boss or Klon, for example). Having a buffer or two in the middle of the board generally won't hurt anything either. A good way to check if you're in need of a buffer (or another one) is to test your rig with all the pedals turned off, compared to just your guitar plugged into amp with a short cable. Also we should note, some fuzzes/wahs don't want to be after a buffer, but need to be first in the chain.
Clicky vs Soft Stomp Switch
Since the start of the true bypass craze in the early 2000s, clicky switches (called 3PDT switches) became very prevalent. And we think that's great. It's simply a mechanical switch that physically connects the input and output and jacks, and bypasses the pedal circuit. That click you hear/feel is the switch locking into one position or the other.
That's cool... but sometimes that click is less than appealing, musically speaking. Maybe fine for some loud rock n roll settings, in other situations that loud CHAAA-CLUNK when the band is in a come-down moment can really stick out like a sore thumb. Fortunately, there's a smoother approach. A soft-touch stomp switch, a little micro-chip, and a relay can be used to achieve the same exact function as the 3PDT. The relay behaves exactly like the 3DPT switch, except it is controlled electrically by the chip. Your signal is still going through direct metal-to-metal contacts from the input jack to the output jack in bypass. So tonally, it’s completely identical to the 3PDT switch.
Another consideration is that in a pedals, mechanical components are often more likely to fail than electrical. Sure, the soft-switch relay true bypass adds a few electrical components, but overall we consider it more durable because the 3PDT clicky switches fail more commonly than the soft switches.
I know some of you may not mind the click feeling. But for us, we decided offering the premium feel with quieter operation was worth the effort to hand-write the micro-chip code and implement the system right from the start of our line of pedals.
– Bill & Phil