You see the term 'true bypass' floating around quite a bit these days, as guitar pedal technology continues to develop. So if you are unsure what EXACTLY true bypass is, here are a few pointers to help you decide on your next pedal.
To put it simply, true bypass was designed to give you full control overy your pedalboard. If you own a pedal that does not have true bypass, essentially when your pedal is plugged in – yet switched off – the circuit is still active, meaning that it is still affecting your tone in some way or form.
The simple idea of true bypass is quite easy to understand; a true bypass circuit allows you to completely remove the guitar effect pedal from the guitar signal when the pedal is turned off, meaning you have complete control over you tone.
So the question is, is true bypass something that I want in a pedal? Well it depends. Essentially for most musicians, the answer is yes. For many tone purists, full control over your pedalboard is a must, therefore true bypass is the way to go. Without true bypass, a circuit portion of one pedal will interact with any other circuit portion of another pedal, your pickups and your amplifier, resulting in that dirty word – tone sucking.
There is of course two sides to the arguement. A reason for not wanting true bypass is that if you have a chain of many effects with true bypass and no proper buffers, eventually the stray capacitance of each one swithced off adds up, resulting in your tone suffering.
Is it actually better to have true bypass then? Our answer is yes. If you do see a loss of tone with a true bypass pedal chain, then it doesn't hurt to add in a buffer to your pedalboard.