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LOopbone DEVELOPMENT

Since the dawn of the electric guitar, guitarists have been trying achieve the perfect balance between retaining the tone and feel of plugging directly into a guitar amp while being able to instantly call upon various effects to suit a particular song or passage. The obvious solution is to simply connect a bunch of pedals in between the guitar and the amplifier. But as soon as you do so, several problems come into play:

  • The problem with older pedals
    Truth is, many of these 'legendary' super-cool vintage pedals are so noisy, that they are often unusable. Back in the day, tremendous effort was required in the studio to gate out the noise. We love them – yet we hate them.
  • The problem with buffers
    Most pedals are not true-bypass. This means that even when the pedal is turned off, the guitar signal passes through a buffer or unity gain amplifier. Buffers let you switch in the effect without making a popping noise and by lowering the impedance, enable longer cable runs. Unfortunately, most buffers do not sound very good and cause the tone and feel of the guitar to change. Guitarists hate the sound of low quality buffers.
  • The problem with true-bypass
    True-bypass pedals have several shortcomings: When running multiple pedals in series and long cables to the amp, the tone changes due to the capacitive effect of the cable and noise entering the signal chain. Another concern is the popping that occurs when the pedal is turned on. This can be thunderous when used with a high-gain amp.

The Loopbone was conceived from the ground up to address each of these concerns while enhancing the performance aspect of a live show with more streamlined switching capabilities

Eliminating Noise

The easiest way to eliminate noisy pedals is to take them out of the signal chain. The Loopbone gives you two loops that are wired in series and turned on using a dedicated footswitch. Connect the noisy pedal in one of the effects loops and when needed, simply activate the loop. This way, the noisy pedal will only be in your signal chain when the loop is active and be completely taken out of the signal chain when the loop is turned off.

Making the buffer sound right

Not all buffers are created equal. Radial's award winning class-A audio buffers are used by many of the world's top artists including Carlos Santana, Eric Clapton, Steve Lukather, Derek Trucks and Steve Vai. The Loopbone employs the same class-A buffer inside with full size discrete parts to manage the guitar signal and ensure it is transmitted without artefact or distortion. But this is only half the story: When a buffer is connected in between the guitar and the amplifier... the tone changes. This is because the circuit created by the pickup and the tube amplifier has been replaced by a solid-state buffer. Solid state buffers sound and react differently. To compensate, Radial invented Drag Control load correction. This enables the guitarist to adjust the load so that it feels right. This makes your guitar pedal chain 'sound' as if it is true-bypass while reducing noise and enabling longer cable runs.

Getting rid of the pop

Once the signal is buffered, we can then manage it and quietly turn the loops on and off. But instead of using some form of switch, we actually use a series of photocells. These can be arranged so that the signal ramps up and ramps down very quickly thus eliminating the pop for completely silent switching

Using two effects loops

We decided to equip the Loopbone with two effects loops. These are wired in series whereby the first loop feeds into the second. There is good reason for this - depending on how you approach your pedalboard:

  • Assigning the two loops by pedal type
    You can set the first loop up with various distortion, overdrive or fuzz pedals and then set the second loop up with a variety of effects like delays, chorus, phase shifters and so on. This enables you to combine different types of distortion with reverb or delay by activating the desired pedals turning both loops on.
  • Assigning the two loops like presets
    Another way to set up the Loopbone is to create two groups of effects whereby the first loop may combine an overdrive, chorus and delay while the second loop combines a distortion, phase shifter and wah pedal. Loop-1 could be used for one song while loop-2 could be used for another.

With either setup, having two loops enables you to preset them so that the desired effects are on standby and then immediately turned on with a single foot stomp. This yields a much more professional show as the flow from one effect to the other becomes seamless.

Slingshot™ remote control

We then thought about how the Loopbone could play a more important role on the pedalboard. We asked ourselves how cool it would be if when turning on a loop, you could also switch the channels on your amp or maybe turn on a remote effect? This spawned the development of a remote control port called Slingshot™.

Slingshot is a remote port that employs the same type of contact closure as used on most effects and guitar amplifiers. Simply connect a guitar cable from the Loopbone to the device you want to switch and you are pretty much set to go! The Slingshot output can be configured for latching or momentary (pulse) switching to accommodate both old and new amps and is arranged for both standard ¼" and TRS cables. For crazy fun... try connecting the Slingshot from the Loopbone to a Headbone and switch heads while engaging pedals. There is no limit for the creative!

The Loopbone is truly a marvel that opens the door to tonal flexibility without introducing any noise or altering the natural tone and dynamics of your favorite instrument.