Axess BS2 Buffer Review

So, life has been so busy that I haven’t really had a chance to plug in pedals and film them, and then take the two years it takes to upload them to ‘compress-the-living-daylights-out-of-them’ youtube. I guess I shouldn’t complain too much. I mean, there’s a website that hosts millions and millions of videos, and I can actually broadcast something I’ve recorded to thousands of people. Well, hundreds. Okay…….the 10 of you who watch them. I think the rest of the views I get are from people searching for trailers for the movie ‘Timeline’, and somehow stumble across my video reviews for the ‘Timeline’ pedal. Remember that movie? With Paul Walker? No, probably not……because it sucked the intelligence right out of your mind-pores and now all of us who saw it are dumber and cannot remember things like we used to. Just as well, though. That movie was really, really bad. My favorite part was when Paul slide-tackled (no, really……he slid and tackled somebody with his legs in mid-slide) a fully armored knight with a large sword, even though Paul himself was wearing like, a tunic, and had zero of said sword.

Hence (Trying to use a word besides ‘so’ to start off every paragraph……that’s the reason for the jump back word to like 7 centuries ago……hey, just like that movie Timeline! Oh! And yes, I will find ways to tie it in. Ways that are even more lame sauce stretch than that one! Keep reading.) Um, where was I? Oh, ya. ‘Hence’, I’m on this kick of reviewing pedals of which video demos would be very boring. Like tuners. And now buffers.

timelinemovie4.gif picture by rypdal95
(Ah, there’s a good documentation of Paul’s acting in ‘Timeline.’ I defy you to find a worse acting example than that of Mr. Walker in this movie. Although, to be fair, it would be hard when they tell him to stand in front of a green screen and look frightened as they blow Steve Vai-esque fans in his face. I mean, frightened by fans? Paul could barely cop a frightened look when Vin Diesel was threatening him in another candidate for ‘Worst Movie on Universe’:

fastandfurious.jpg picture by rypdal95
See, Vin is large. If he were threatening me, I probably wouldn’t have to ‘act’ frightened. Although, to be fair once more, as big as Mr. Diesel is, the harder he tries to act, the funnier it gets. Both Paul Walker and Vin Diesel obviously attended what I like to call the Keanu School of Acting; in which they teach only two emotions: ‘angry’ and ‘confused’. And up above, we have Vin demonstrating the ‘angry’, and Paul the ‘confused’.)

Anyway, understand that buffers can be great for tone. But, you want them to be unobtrusive to your original signal. And some of the best I’ve found for that are the ones that have no knobs. But, if you thought a tuner demo would be boring, how about a demo for this?

AxessBS2.jpg picture by rypdal95

Maybe someday, but as of now, I’m thinking ‘boredom.’ I mean, you could use one of the other outs and reverse the phase, but still… So here’s the thing. And I’ve mentioned this before, but I hear people talk all the time about how their pedals do not suck tone. And if you don’t hear it, that’s cool. The point is, anything between your guitar and amp will suck some tone. It’s just physics. A 20 inch cable will suck more tone than a 19 inch cable. Can you hear the difference? I know I can’t. But the logic and science of it is there. The problem arises when that point comes that you can hear the difference. For instance, you might not hear a difference with 5 pedals, but you might with 6. It’s different for every person, every rig, and every pedal and cable combination. And this is including true bypass pedals.

So, the three schools of thought are: 1) to use a bypass looper pedal to literally hardwire the pedals and cables out of your signal chain when they are not in use; 2) to use a buffer at the beginning or end of your chain to ‘push’ your signal, making it less bogged down by pedal circuitry and cables; or 3) skip the pedals and plug directly into the amp.

The third option is probably the best, tone-wise. But most of us need some sort of effects in the music we’re doing. Even the ones we think of as the classic ‘guitar to amp’ guys used effects at one time or another. Keith used A/B boxes and of course the Maestro fuzz for ‘Satisfaction’, Page used echo boxes, and Hendrix used wahs, fuzzes, and univibes. So, my thinking is to use the bypass boxes to take stuff out of your chain, and get the tone as close to guitar to amp as possible while still using effects. I’m not huge into buffers, because to me that’s adding to subtract. I’d rather subtract to subtract, if that makes any sense whatsoever.

timelinemovie1.jpg picture by rypdal95
(Here’s Paul Walker subtracting from the entire scene. Another example of the ‘confused’ emotion. I think mixed with a little bit of, ‘I’m Paul Walker. How is my body getting blocked in the shot by Man with Beard 2?’ Oh, and a little bit of triva…the guy on the far right is Gerard Butler, of ’300′ and ‘RocknRolla’ fame. Gotta start low. And by ‘low’, I’m meaning both ‘Timeline’ and ’300′. Oh. Yep, I said it. Getting ready to duck all the thrown stuff.)

But, because I’ve learned over the years that there ae times when I am actually wrong (!) (very, very important lesson that I am still in the process of learning), I decided to try out the Axess Buffer. No knobs, just plug your guitar into it, and it into your pedalboard. Really light, powers up with a 9 volt power supply, and has a sweet, bright blue led. (Man, I love those blue led’s.) And I was really, really pleasantly surprised by this pedal. It didn’t change my tone hardly at all. Really, really, really transparent, which is a huge deal with me. I specifically spend tons of time getting my guitar and amp combination to sound where I like it, and I don’t want that changed by a pedal that’s in my rig only because it’s necessary. And this one did not change tone.

What it did do was intuitively push my signal through my board. It didn’t make my sound harsh or add fake-sounding treble, as a lot of buffers tend to do, but it did put some of the high-end sparkle back in my tone. Now, of course, this was with bypass loopers off, as in, I put the pedals into my chain to see how the buffer worked. With my bypass loopers on and doing as they should, I was pleased to not hear a difference in my tone with or without the buffer. That means my Loop-Master pedals are doing what they should.

But the Axess was great. The best sounding buffer I have tried. I did sell it, because I still like the loopers better than buffers, but I would definitely recommend this pedal to buffer guys, or people who want the far less hassle of hooking up one buffer pedal, rather than re-arranging your whole rig for a bypass looper. If there’s one thing bad about this buffer, it might be a tad weak for those who have monster rigs with no true bypass pedals and cheap cabling. For that, you might need something a little stronger, like the VHT Valvulator.

timelinemovie3.jpg picture by rypdal95
(And some strong acting from Paul Walker……well, at least on the two emotions he knows. From left to right we have: 1) Anger. 2) Confusion. 3) Confusion. 4) Confusion/I’m hot. And please note that the ‘hot’ is not what I think of Paul. I cannot stress this enough. The ‘hot’ is what he thinks of himself. Probably at any and all times. And again, it’s okay for me to make fun of him because he makes more money than I’ll ever see. Those are the rules.)

But for normal rigs, this is a great pedal. Really boosts your tone, and makes you sound more talented. hehe I know I could use some more talent. Hey, maybe it would even boost Paul Walker’s talent in that movie ‘Timeline.’ Oh, yes. Score. Worst transition in a long history of bad transitions over here. And you thought it couldn’t be done.

Splendid.
Karl.

20 thoughts on “Axess BS2 Buffer Review

  1. The buffer situation is one of the reasons visual sound created the “Pure bypass” buffer in the mid 90s. It was about 1/2 the size of a stompbox and just buffed the signal. Apparently it was smooth enough that you could put it in front of a pedal that sucked tone, and it would nicely remind it not to suck, and your signal would be unaffected. Its a very interesting concept.
    That and they quit making the $40 wonder because as cool as visual sound is, they decided to include it as a normal buffer in all their V2 pedals.
    So, I’m viewing their compressor because of 1) the buffer, 2) its a ross clone, and 3) it has a gain switch on it for a clean lift.
    I think I’m sold.
    But Paul C told me my tim would be finished mid Feb. So… I may have to wait as i figure my whole rig is getting reconfigured.

  2. I’ve been stumbling onto your blog for a few weeks now, and I have to say I’m adding it to my regular list. Good, realistic review of the buffer… as well as Timeline.

    I never thought to add a movie review to a guitar equipment review. Brilliant!

    Nate

  3. I use a doobtone micro buffer. It’s TINY! The word out there is that the dude doesn’t make them anymore but I found his email address, chatted with him, and he still makes them for around $40! I reckon it’s as good as the BS2 for a lot less cash…

  4. blogoslogy – I have the exact same story! Microbuffer is a good little buffer for cheap. I haven’t compared it to a BS2 so I can’t say how it compares, but for the money and quality it’s a great deal.

  5. Larry–I’m not a huge fan of the Visual Sound buffers. hehe (I’m sure that doesn’t surprise you; there’s a lot of things I’m not a huge fan of right? ;) ) Doesn’t mean they’re bad, they just sound a bit fake to me.

    So definitely I’d go Tim over buffer! hehe Or, as always, get a Visual Sound a prove me stupid with great tone. ;)

    Nate–welcome! Glad the reviews are working out for ya…I do try to keep them realistic. Well, except for the movie review stuff. Not sure how that happens.

    But thanks for reading! :)

    Jeff–I’ve heard good things about that buffer. May have to try one out.

    Mike–hmm, another vote for the Doobtone. May really have to try it out.

  6. Are you saying that if you set up your rig with a try bypass looper like a loop master, then you don’t need to use a buffer in front of the looper?

    Thanks,
    LL

  7. Hey LL,

    Yes, I am saying that. But it all depends on what you hear. Because technically, you are ‘losing signal’ with each inch of cable. So, if that’s a huge deal to you, then you’d want to use a buffer even if you wanted to plug straight from your guitar to your amp. And some people do use buffers before their bypass loopers. Personally, the Loop-Masters are so good, and there is so little signal loss with them, I do not hear enough of a difference to start using a buffer before them. There’s almost no tone loss. And I’ve yet to find a buffer that didn’t harshen or falsify my tone just a little bit. I prefer to keep as many things out of my clean tone as possible, including buffers. :)

    I’m having results I enjoy with this method, but if you get a bypass looper, and still hear tone loss, then you’ll want to put a buffer in front of it, regardless.

    Hope that helps a bit. :)

  8. hey bro

    wanna ask you. try out the vht valvulator. i find that it is extremely convenient considering the power suply built into it, and also very cool just cuz you can sort of customize your “buffered” tone simply by experimenting with tubes that you have in it. i would love to hear your opinion on that buffer, cuz even if i love it, i actually like to hear your opinion still :) be proud of yourself

    cheers

  9. Hey, Bjorn. So I’m guessing that if I say it sucks, it won’t matter too much? ;) hehe Actually, I’ve tried the Valvulator before, there’s just no review here because I tried it before I began writing this blog. And it was pretty spectacular. Very punchy without losing a lot of warmth. I’m still not at a place where I’m very much into buffers or clean boosts or preamp pedals or what-not in my rig; but if I were to ever go down that route, as of now the Valvulator would be the first one I’d try.

    I only reviewed this BS2 because I got it as an extra pedal in a big trade, and figured I’d try it out before flipping it. And it was very, very decent. I’d call it more of just a line driver, and the Valvulator maybe a bit more along the lines of a clean boost/tone shaper, as well as a line driver. :)

    Cheers!

  10. Hey there!

    I found your review entertaining and informative. I just want to get this out there – if anyone has a BS2 that they’re looking to sell, I’d be very interested in taking it off their hands.

    I’ll keep checking back. :D

  11. You once told me to get this axess buffer if I can’t get the loop master! (yes i’m the same guy and that contradictory effect / music dude was me too. lol )

    My question is, If I use this buffer with 3-4 other pedals and one volume and one wah pedal, will it still be okay. ? I kind of don’t want to get the loop master because I just love stepping on the actual pedals, (still a kid as u can see) and also add my very good excuse of not having a monster effect chain.

    If u still want me to get the loop master, then i can try, my friend from U.S. is doing some research to get the best bargain to get some used pedals at some pawn shop.
    ( poor as u may think; but I’m just far away to avail the warranties so why bother!) I can get new ones from my local shops, but they’ll cost 4 times more than the used U.S. ones.

    Cheers,
    Cjay.

  12. Mike A–sorry I didn’t see this for so long. I’ll keep my eyes open for one for ya! Cheers!

    Cjay–haha I love the ‘kid’ comment! That was awesome! Yes, I think this BS2 would do awesome for 3-4 pedals and a wah. I’m actually using a buffer myself now, the VHT Valvulator, and am really enjoying it. :)

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