True bypass vs buffered bypass: what’s the difference?

Overhead shot of a group of guitar pedals
(Image credit: Getty/Martin Diebel)

It's easy to forget, but there was a time when pedal power requirements were often quite different. Some pedals took different voltages, connectors, or couldn't be daisy-chained with the now standard Boss/Roland center-negative 9V standard. 

Just as power requirements standardized over time, so did approaches to bypassing pedals. Particularly in boutique circles, the true bypass circuit block became the de-facto standard, displacing many different ways of wiring 3PDT and DPDT switches used by different builders over the years. Not only that, but it started to push another technique out of fashion - the relay and buffered bypass used by large manufacturers. 

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Alex Lynham

Alex Lynham is a gear obsessive who's been collecting and building modern and vintage equipment since he got his first Saturday job. Besides reviewing countless pedals for Total Guitar, he's written guides on how to build your first pedal, how to build a tube amp from a kit, and briefly went viral when he released a glitch delay pedal, the Atom Smasher.