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"Long signal chain" = how long...?


TheBoringOne

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I saw Wilco again last night (great show, amazing playing all around), and got a few distant looks at Nels' pedalboard. Actually, if you're familiar with his rig, you know it's more like a pedalboard plus a pedaltable. Obviously, to have all of those pedals available to you, it's got to be a long signal chain, even if there aren't any loops being used to break things up.

 

But that got me thinking - what exactly is considered a "long" signal chain? It's a given that having a signal chain that's too long will equal degraded tone unless you're incorporating buffers and/or loops as well as non-crap instrument and patch cables. But, I've never seen any mention of what length of signal chain actually puts you into that "long" category.

 

In other words, is it 12 feet? 15 feet? 4 feet? In general, without any strategically placed buffers, and with just a line of pedals chained one to another, is there a rule of thumb?

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That's a good question. Let me add to it: Just considering cable length, when is a cable so long that it is advisable to use a good buffer (e.g. as part of a pedal) rather than going all true bypass? Let's say one has just 3 pedals and a total cable length of 6 + 6 = 12 meters = 39 feet. Should this be buffered or TB? Thanks.

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I use a 6m cable to my pedalboard, one to my amp, two in the fx loop (I cut them down to about 4m) so it's 20m in total. Most of my board is true bypassed so only the comp is on most of the time.

 

I have no concern about cable length. My biggest concern is having uneccesary pedals on my board, that's when things start to sound like there's a pillow over them. there's a formula for capacitance in relation to cable length. But try expressing that as audible tone.

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