Buffers are one of the most widely misunderstood pedals on the market. When compared to other pedals like phasers, overdrives, and reverbs, it becomes difficult to understand what buffers do and why they are even necessary.
The simplest way to think of guitar buffers is that they are pedals that ease your pedal load.
Still sound confusing? Click here to learn what buffers are and why you should get one for your pedalboard!
- 1 Top 10 Best Guitar Buffer Pedals
- 1.1 Thorpyfx Medic V2 Buffer
- 1.2 Mosky Pure Buffer
- 1.3 Catalinbread Epoch Pre EP3 Buffer
- 1.4 Empress Buffer +
- 1.5 Xotic Super Clean Electric Guitar Buffer
- 1.6 Fender Level Set Buffer
- 1.7 MXR MC406 CAE Guitar Buffer
- 1.8 JHS Little Black Buffer Pedal
- 1.9 TC Electronic Bonafide Buffer
- 1.10 Mooer MBF1 Microbuffer
- 2 What Does a Buffer Pedal Do?
- 3 Where to Put a Buffer Pedal?
- 4 Take Back Your Tone
Top 10 Best Guitar Buffer Pedals
The Thorpyfx Medic V2 goes far beyond what you would expect from a typical electric guitar buffer pedal. It is actually one of the most versatile buffer pedals on the market today and is designed to work with both guitars and basses. Look up this pedal’s sleeve and you’ll find some pretty awesome tricks.
For starters, it comes with a switchable Class A buffer and a three-band active EQ. There is enough gain on here to give your signal even more of a boost with just the tap of a switch. On top of that, there is an additional switchable option for even more boost, perfect for those who like to send their amplifiers into heavenly overdrive.
The internal power arrangement is designed to give you optimal headroom, making it ideal for those who like to switch between single-coil guitar pickups and high-gain active pickups. The EQ is incredibly musical, helping to push the worst EQ’d pedals back to normal. Many cheap pedals are notorious for cutting mids and highs, so having the option to get your clarity back is awesome.
Beyond all of the incredible features onboard, this thing is built like a tank. With recessed knobs and top-mounted jacks, it’s physically fit for anywhere you need to play.
Bottom Line: Team Medic went all out with this buffer pedal, using a combination of gorgeous stainless steel materials and top-notch A Class electronics. If you have a tone that you’ve worked hard on and want to fully preserve, there is no better pedal on the market to do so.
Best Budget Option
Didn’t think it was possible to pay this little for a pedal? Think again. The Mosky Pure Buffer might not look like much, but when it comes to eliminating capacitance and getting rid of dreaded tone suck, it does the job surprisingly well.
It’ll make your guitar sound as if it was plugged directly into your amp with a short cable.
It comes with ¼” input and output jacks and a full metal shell that is super lightweight and durable.
Bottom Line: Though it might be one of the smallest and least-interesting looking pedals on the market, the Mosky Pure Buffer is an exciting find for the guitarist on a serious budget who is looking to savor his or her tone.
The Catalinbread Epoch Pre EP3 is a lot like the Thorpyfx pedal in that it goes beyond your traditional guitar buffer pedal. This is because the Catalinbread Epoch is also a preamp, which helps to make your tone bigger and fuller than before.
It is modeled after the same preamp that comes from the legendary EP-3 tape echo unit, and we all know how precise Catalinbread is when it comes to modeling old, unique gear.
Many guitarists over the years have used that same preamp to get a killer tone, so you’ll be sure to love it too. It comes with some pretty incredible features, including a dual output design that allows you to drive two different pedal chains or two different amplifiers. The switchable buffer helps to maintain your tone over long cable runs as well.
The best way to think of the Catalinbread Epoch is as a buffer/mastering processor. It can help take any tone suck and turn it into a lively tone that will cut right through any mix.
Bottom Line: The Catalinbread Epoch is a wonderful pedal to enlarge your guitar tone in a way that regular compression or EQ could never do. It faithfully recreates the old EP-3 tape echo processor preamp too, perfect for those seeking a vintage sound.
We like to think of the Empress Buffer + as a complete I/O interface for your pedalboard. Beyond that, it helps to maintain the highest possible sound quality for your guitar’s signal. When you first take a glimpse at the Buffer +, it might seem a bit confusing, but every piece of it has a purpose.
For starters, it is important to know that it utilizes an all-analog signal path. There are no cheap digital components in this pedal whatsoever! Thanks to its small size, you’ll barely even notice that it is taking up space on your pedalboard. It comes with a few different ins and outs, including a tuner out that separates the tuner from your audio path. With loop in, loop out, guitar in, and guitar out jacks, you can control your entire board from one consolidated place.
There is a handy tuner mute as well, which can be activated by holding the footswitch for a second to mute the amp while you tune. The Empress Buffer + makes use of noise filters that are very similar to Dolby’s Noise Filter Technology, allowing you to choose between two different noise filters to remove any unnecessary noise.
Lastly, the input pad helps to either pad or boost the input by 3dB so that you can retain a consistent level when the pedal is engaged. It’s great when you switch from a single-coil guitar to a guitar with active pickups as it can improve the signal to noise ratio.
Bottom Line: The Empress Buffer + is like a control center for your entire pedalboard. While it may seem a bit overwhelming at first, it is one of the most versatile guitar buffer pedals on the market today.
When most people go out searching for buffer pedals, they try to choose the pedals that won’t take up much room on their board. This is because buffer pedals don’t necessarily need a ton of controls, especially if they aren’t paired with large, adjustable preamps or equalizers.
This is where the Xotic Super Clean Buffer excels. It is a solid, clean buffer that is wrapped up in a small package.
It features the 4558 circuit, which is a legendary integrated circuit. Even with the small design, they were able to provide guitarists with multiple EQ settings and four different DIP switches that can be accessed just outside the house of the pedal.
In terms of boosting your signal, the buffer provides +12dBs of super clean volume, perfect for maintaining consistent levels.
Bottom Line: If you are in the market for a guitar buffer that is the size of your standard mini pedal, the Xotic Buffer is one of the best around. It’s a great option for those who don’t have much real estate on their board, yet it still comes with a lot of unique controls that you wouldn’t expect from your typical guitar buffer.
If you are looking to preserve your tone the Fender way, then there is no better choice than the Fender Level Set Buffer. It is a brilliant pedal that allows you to swap out different guitars without ever having to worry about your tone.
It features a variety of different controls on the interface, including Level, High-Frequency, and Load controls, each of which helps to adjust the signal to your liking. There is also a main mute footswitch that is perfect for silent tuning.
Just like the Empress Buffer +, this pedal comes with a tuner output that allows your tuner to stay on without interrupting your signal path. There are a few LED-illuminated knobs on the face, which enable you to see where the controls are at a glance, even when you are playing on dimly lit stages.
The back features a unique magnetically latched 9v battery door that makes it very easy to swap batteries in a pinch. No more dealing with trying to find that tiny screwdriver you keep misplacing!
Bottom Line: The Fender Level Set Buffer could easily be worth more than Fender is asking for it. With a myriad of helpful controls and a tank-like design that is ready to take on the road, it is the perfect mix of strong and capable.
Getting into simpler buffer pedals, the MXR MC406 CAE Buffer is great for those who are looking for a solid, mid-priced buffer pedal.
Beyond helping to add 6dB of gain to make up for the lost volume along longer signal paths, as well as maintaining the quality of your signal as it runs through deep effects chains, the MXR MC406 CAE Buffer uses fine-tune signal recovery with High and Low cut switches so that you can alter your tone to be even better than before.
There is an additional unbuffered output onboard, which gives you the option to connect the pedal to a tuner, a second effects chain, or a second amplifier. All of this comes in a box that is rugged and built to last, ideal for the touring guitarist.
Bottom Line: If you are looking for the best way to maintain your signal without all of the bells and whistles of high-end guitar buffer pedals, then we highly recommend taking a look at the MXR MC406 CAE buffer.
The JHS Little Black Buffer is a welcome solution for those who are suffering from lackluster high-end or wimpy bass.
The Little Black Buffer is made with ideal input impedance for your rig, so you’ll notice the revitalization of sound right off the bat.
What we love so much about JHS pedals is that they are hand-built. You know that every time you buy a JHS pedal, you are getting one that has been cared for throughout the construction process.
This particular pedal is very simple compared to the other ones we have mentioned on our list so far. It plugs straight into the input of your guitar and then runs out into your pedal chain. It is ultra-compact and comes with nothing on the interface except a funky little graphic and an LED light to tell you that it is working.
Bottom Line: The JHS Little Black Buffer is perfect for someone who loves boutique pedals but also wants something simple and efficient to help maintain their tone.
TC Electronic also makes a simple but good buffer pedal that helps to get rid of signal convolution without all of the bells and whistles from high-end units.
It makes use of what they refer to as “intelligent bypass,” which essentially switches the pedal to true bypass if the power cuts so that your signal still comes through strong.
The pedal is made with a sturdy die-cast metal casing that is designed to excel on the road. Plus, it has a miniature design, which makes it perfect for boards that don’t have a ton of room to work with.
Bottom Line: The TC Electronic Bonafide Buffer may not be anything special, but with high-quality analog components in a small package, it is an attractive option for those who are seeking a more streamlined approach to saving their tone.
Mooer has long been known for crafting some of the best miniature pedals on the market for guitarists on a budget. No matter how long the cable route, the Mooer MBF1 helps to boost your signal up to 6dB.
Even with the small interface, Mooer was able to include high-cut and low-cut switches so that you can have a bit more control over the effect of the Microbuffer.
Beyond that, it comes with a large knob in the center that allows you to control the amount of boosted tone. Though it might come in a small package, it is built to last thanks to the full metal enclosure.
Bottom Line: The Mooer MBF1 surprised us with the high-cut and low-cut switches considering the fact that it is such a small, budget-priced pedal. It is a wonderful option for those who have small boards and also don’t want to spend a lot of money.
What Does a Buffer Pedal Do?
There is a long, tech-filled explanation as to what buffer pedals do, but we’re going to try and keep this as simple as we possibly can. A buffer is essentially a tiny amplifier that takes the high impedance signal from the guitar and sets it to a unity level. Overall, it helps to preserve the signal strength as it runs through a larger setup.
Think about it this way.
If you have tons of different pedals on your board with cables connecting each, you are most likely suffering from tone loss. This is because tons of guitar pedals can weaken your signal chain. Buffers help to mitigate that effect.
Where to Put a Buffer Pedal?
Just like with every pedal, experimentation is the best way to go when placing your buffer down. After all, this is your tone, not someone else’s. With that said, most guitarists generally agree that the buffer should go between your guitar and the first pedal on your board. You don’t want to put it any further back in the line than the last overdrive pedal.
Many people also recommend keeping heavy distortion or fuzz pedals in front of buffers, as they don’t sound very good when following them. Of course, if you are someone who uses true bypass pedals only, you may not have to stress about it. These are designed to prevent your tone from weakening as it moves through the chain.
Your signal regenerates to full strength once it hits a buffer. Once you place your buffer in your pedal lineup, the only signal degradation will occur from pedals before the buffer and from the length of your cable.
Take Back Your Tone
While buffer pedals aren’t the most glamorous or exciting pedals in the world, they play a very important role in helping you preserve the tone that you worked so hard to produce in the first place. If you are someone who uses tons of pedals and long cables when you play, we highly recommend getting ahold of a buffer pedal.
Of course, if we were to pick one of these pedals to rule them all, it would be the Thorpyfx Medic V2 Buffer . With high-quality EQ controls and an interface that can help you control far more than a typical buffer pedal, it is perfect for the professional guitarist who wants to go above and beyond.