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5 Most Common Questions When Choosing Pedals

Let's be honest...pedals are loads of fun! They not only allow you to build a unique and personal sound profile but are super versatile as well. Here we're going to look at some of the most common questions surrounding pedals, including different varieties, patch cables, and pedalboards.

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Why Pedals?

For many musicians, pedals are one of the best things about playing guitar or bass. They give you the ability to change up your sound subtly or dramatically without changing your instrument or your amp. There are heaps to choose from, and a player's pedal selection is integral to the formation of their sound. Of course, they're not just for guitar and bass, you can use pedals to affect just about anything!

With so many options, it's handy to understand a little about what you're looking for. Here are five things that we think pedal shoppers should know about.

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1: What Are Multi-Effects & Single Effect Pedals?

At Mannys we stock a massive range of pedals, covering a huge range of effects and processes. There are individual pedals available for each of these purposes, or multi effects pedals which will offer a range of effects in one box. Multi-effects pedals offer great value for money and handy presets, so it's easy to produce complex effect combinations. Some people prefer individual effects (many of which are analog) for their individual character and the amount of personalisation they offer (with all of the choices, very few people have the same setup). Players can build their collection over time, choosing their favourite pedals for each effect type. Adding an effects switching system will give similar control over individual pedals as one would get using a multi-effects system.

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2: Does it Matter What Cables I Use with My Pedals?

For many people, cables are the weak link in their setup. Regardless of what kind of audio equipment you're using, pairing it with good quality cables will allow you to get the best out of your gear. Cable quality varies due to the components used for the cable and connectors as well as the standard of manufacturing. Poor quality cables can introduce noise to your signal and reduce harmonic range. As you add more links to your chain (pedals to your board) the effects of cable quality will be multiplied, with your signal passing through a longer length of cable and more connections. Cables are (of course) something that can be upgraded over time, but they're worth keeping in mind when budgeting. Fender offer a great range of cables at reasonable prices. If you're a serious player, we recommend Oyaide's Neo range.

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3: What Are Pedalboards and Do I Need One?

If you are considering using a selection of single pedals, a pedalboard is probably a good idea. Pedalboards are just that - a board to mount your pedals on. This will keep your setup tidy and easy to transport, without the need to unplug and replug audio cables and power supplies (which also reduces wear on cables and connections). Pedalboards come in various sizes to accommodate different setups and generally include a case or bag, maybe also featuring an integrated power supply. Some boards have indents for your pedals to sit in, otherwise you can attach your pedals to the board in a number of ways, including velcro and zipties.
Pedaltrain offer a range of options for every board size and budget.

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4: Do I need to Purchase a Power Supply?

Most pedals will accommodate either battery or mains power, but few single effects pedals are sold with power supplies (most include batteries). Some pedals, like Fuzz, Overdrive or Distortions can sound better with cheap Carbon Batteries rather than a power supply. Batteries are convenient as you don't need a socket to plug into, but losing power due to a flat battery can interrupt your studio session, or stop your gig! If your pedals are fixed to a board, changing batteries can also be inconvenient. For these reasons, you might consider a dedicated power supply. Many supplies have multiple outputs, allowing them to power a number of pedals at once, from a single socket. One Spot offer reliable and affordable power supplies to connect up to twelve pedals. For a pro solution, check out Strymon.

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5: What Are Buffered and True Bypass Pedals?

While your pedals may look small and are close together, they all contain wiring. Add a few together and you're essentially adding a long cable to your setup. Even with quality cable, long runs can reduce the high frequencies in your signal (AKA tone suck). Buffers combat this issue. They also allow more complex internal routing (to keep that reverb going after the pedal is disengaged). They do, however, draw power whenever a cable is attached (even when turned off), so can be battery killers. True bypass pedals connect the pedal's input with the output, bypassing the internal circuitry. Buffers have gotten a bad rap over the years for colouring tone (particularly due to some poor quality models), but a good buffered pedal is nothing to be scared of. Most people use a combination of true bypass and buffered pedals in their setup.

Got More Questions? Come in and talk to us.

If you need some help finding the right pedals or expert advice setting them up, talk to us. Is there a particular sound you're trying to emulate (from your favourite artist or song)? We can help you put together the pedal(s) for the job. Our team of pros have loads of experience, and you're sure to find what you need in our huge range. At Mannys we love pedals!

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