BigShot™ ABY Development

When we set out to build the BigShot ABY, we had several goals in mind: For tone aficionados it had to be true-bypass, to fit on a pedalboard it had to be compact, to be useful for touring it had to be rugged and it had to be plug & play easy to use. The ABY is a simple switcher that allows you to toggle the signal between two amplifiers whereby one could be a Fender Twin set to deliver a clean tone while the other could be a Marshall for crunch or distortion.

True-Bypass AB performance

The never ending quest for great guitar tone drives 'the purist' to extremes. For many, this comes down to committing to a 100% True-Bypass signal path. In other words, they do not want anything in between their guitar and the amp that could mess up their tone other than a high quality guitar cable.

The BigShot ABY is exactly that. A true-bypass ABY switcher that was designed from the ground up to be simple, have the least amount of circuitry possible and most importantly, it had to provide simple mechanical switching so that the purist could get the tone he craves. You simply hit the AB switch to toggle between amps.

Dealing with the Y in ABY

A second switch was added to our switcher that enables both amps to be played at once. This could for instance be used to combine the attack of a clean tone with the distortion of another for added definition. But playing two amps at once is not always as simple as it seems. Hum and buzz caused by ground loops is one of the most common problems. This is caused by differing electrical voltages in each amp interacting which in turn causes noise.

The BigShot ABY presents two remedies: A ground lift switch disconnects the ground going to the second amp which can often help. The other option is to activate the isolation transformer which actually disconnects the electrical flow by introducing a magnetic bridge. A transformer is a passive device like a magnetic guitar pickup. When inserted into the signal path it will cause a slight tonal change which means you will have to compensate on your amp. But this may be a small price to pay versus playing with horrendous hum in your amps that may make them completely unusable.

Another issue when playing two amps at once is making sure they are in absolute phase. This may seem odd, but amplifiers and pedals will often reverse the polarity of the signal. And when played together, they sound distant or out of phase. The BigShot ABY adds yet another control that enables you to switch the polarity by 180 degrees... or bring the two amps back in phase.

Adding extra facilities

At Radial, we are often accused of over-building our products. The metal shop will often suggest thinner metal to save money. Some techs will say our products have too many features. Yes, guilty as charged... but in our view, these extras can often be very helpful in certain situations. For instance in the BigShot ABY we chose to add a separate tuner out. This is particularly useful for tone craving guitarists as tuners generally buffer the signal. By taking the tuner out of the primary signal path, you get your tone and tuner too...

No power needed

Because the BigShot ABY is passive, it does not require any power. We thought long and hard about adding LED indicators but concluded that if the pedal itself did not need power, did the guitarist really need an LED to tell him whichamp is on? By eliminating the power altogether this mean less hassle when putting together the pedalboard, less cables and, of course, less noise.

The argument for an active ABY

Radial makes a variety of ABY switchers to suit every player. The BigShot ABY is a simple true-bypass device. For those that want LED indicators and active buffering, the TwinCity and Switchbone offer more features and several innovative solutions. But alas, they do so at a premium price and for many, these extras are not needed.

The Radial BigShot ABY answers the need for a compact, simple and effective amp switcher with 'straight wire' true-bypass connectivity for the purist, with the option to switch a noise eliminating transformer into the circuit should ground loop induced hum and buzz be a problem.