These useful boxes can solve all kinds of problems for guitarists
By Phil O'Keefe
Do you have a vintage pedal that causes extra noise in your signal path, even when it's bypassed? How about a cool sounding pedal that you really like, but that suffers from a poor sounding bypass or buffer? Have you ever wanted to switch on two or three different pedals simultaneously in mid-song for a lead sound, but came up short on enough feet to hit all of their switches at once? Maybe you'd like to blend multiple pedals together. If so, then a true-bypass loop pedal could be the ideal solution to your problems.
HOW THEY WORK
True-bypass loops come in a variety of styles, some with multiple loops, blend or mix controls, LED indicators, and other useful features, but at the most basic level, a true-bypass loop pedal is a simple, passive switching device with an input and output jack to connect your guitar and amp, as well as a send and return jack to connect your pedals. (Fig. 1) When bypassed, the signal runs straight through the loop pedal, from the input to output. When you engage the footswitch, the signal is routed through the effects loop first, then out to your amp. How can this be useful? Let's take a look at a few specific examples.
Fig. 1: Keeley Electronics true bypass loop pedal is extremely small and pedalboard friendly
Figure 2: Some true bypass loop pedals, like this Carl Martin Paraloop, feature blend controls that allow you to adjust the amount of signal from the loop that is mixed into your signal path
Figure 3: Some pedals have multiple loops, such as the two found on the Radial Engineering Bigshot EFX. This allows you to quickly switch between multiple pedals simultaneously
A SAMPLE OF WHAT'S AVAILABLE
There are many different true-bypass loop pedals on the market. Here's a list of a few of them for you to check out, broken down by their features.
Basic true bypass loops:
True bypass loop pedals with two independent loops:
Loop pedals with mix / blend capabilities:
Two loops and mix / blend capabilities:
Phil O'Keefe is a multi-instrumentalist, recording engineer / producer and the Associate Editor of Harmony Central. He has engineered, produced and performed on countless recording sessions in a diverse range of styles, with artists such as Alien Ant Farm, Jules Day, Voodoo Glow Skulls, John McGill, Michael Knott and Alexa's Wish. He is a former featured monthly columnist for EQ magazine, and his articles and product reviews have also appeared in Keyboard, Electronic Musician and Guitar Player magazines.