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.
(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’:
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?
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.
(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.
(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.