BigShot™ EFX Development

Today, more and more players are turning their attention to ultra-clean tube amps and using effects at the pedalboard to create tonal variations. In theory this works great but as the purist expands his quest for tonal flexibility, he is often caught having to use non true-bypass pedals that quickly devour the very tone he has worked so hard to achieve. This leaves the tone-hungry purist with a choice: make do with fewer pedals and the clunk and clicks of so many less than perfect true-bypass pedals, or find a solution...

The BigShot EFX is in fact the little brother to the Radial Tonebone Loopbone™, an active loop selector that is fully equipped with the finest class-A buffer and photocell switching for ultra quiet performance. But for many, the added features and higher cost is tough to justify. This makes the BigShot EFX a wonderful cost-effective option.

True-bypass nirvana

When we set out to build the BigShot EFX, we wanted to address one of the most controversial issues of all: true-bypass signal management. When a manufacturer totes that its product is 'true-bypass' this means that when the pedal is not in use, it will not affect the signal in any way. In other words, it allows the guitar signal to pass without loading the pickup or buffering the signal. The BigShot EFX can be thought of as 'double true-bypass' whereby (1) when the effects loops are turned off, they do not affect the signal and (2) it removes non true-bypass pedals from the audio circuit. In other words the EFX itself will not introduce tonal change and all of those old pedals that sound great but add noise can be completely taken out of the guitar signal path.

Intelligent switching

The other thing we did was incorporate two separate effects loops into the EFX. This has many benefits: you can set up one loop for your most common effects and the second for effects that you rarely use. Another approach could be to have your overdrive, distortion, fuzz pedals in one chain and the delays, chorus and phase shifter in the other. With two loops, you can easily transition between two completely different sets of sounds or feed one into the other and engage pedals as you go... two loops open the door to creative options.

Quietly going about your tuning

Another thought we had was: how would one incorporate a tuner into a given setup? There are some tuners that are perfectly well suited at the output of the EFX that can mute the signal chain before it gets to the amp. Some are true-bypass, but many tuners are not. When in the signal path, they buffer the guitar making it sound bright or introduce clicking noise due to the quartz chip. With the EFX, there are two ways you can introduce a tuner into the signal chain: You can simply put it in one of the loops and it will constantly monitor your signal. The other option is to assign the tuner to loop-2 and turn on the mute switch. This way, when you depress the loop-2 footswitch, the signal will go to the tuner and your guitar will be muted at the EFX output. Instant quiet tuning!

Practical solution for active performance

Another consideration was size and practicality in actual use on a pedalboard. The EFX is designed to be as small as possible, with the connectors and cables located at the top of the unit where they will have the least impact on valuable space available on a pedalboard. Connecting a power supply or multi-pedal power brick, activates the LED indicator circuit. Two super-bright LEDs deliver instant visual feedback to let you know which loop is on and which one is on standby. Since the audio path is passive, you can still use the EFX to switch loops when the power supply is not in use.

The BigShot EFX is ultra-compact, yet it gives you two loops with true-bypass 'straight wire' switching. This makes it possible to introduce pedals as needed and take them out of the signal chain for a pure 'guitar-to-amp' connection.