Why order from Saturnworks?
Saturnworks hand crafts the highest quality guitar pedals possible at fair prices. Saturnworks pedals work great and look good doing it. Sure, you can buy cheap pedals made in China produced by massive corporations relying on iffy labor practices. But buying from Saturnworks ensures that your dollars are going to support a small, musician-owned business working hard every day to handcraft the best boutique gear to fit your needs and help you sound great. Supporting Saturnworks also supports our partner parts suppliers, all of whom are also small American (and British) entrepreneurs.
Where can I purchase Saturnworks pedals?
You can buy pedals directly from Saturnworks on saturnworkspedals.com. (If you’re reading this, you probably already know that.) Ordering direct means that we don’t have to pay commissions to third-party platforms. We pass that savings on you by offering discounted/flat rate shipping.
Another great place to buy Saturnworks pedals is reverb.com. We have been with Reverb since they started in 2013. Reverb has eclipsed sites such as eBay to become the preeminent site for guitar gear, and for good reason. They are a wonderful company to work with and have superb customer service. We love doing business with and supporting Reverb. We often run sales on our Reverb listings.
Since we produce handcrafted products, we also sell on etsy.com.
A small selection of Saturnworks pedals is available on eBay. eBay is probably our least preferred selling platform, for a variety of reasons, and we have significantly reduced our listings on eBay over the years. But if you’re a die-hard eBayer, eBay is an option for a few basic pedals.
Please note: we only do custom work directly, and not through any of our third-party outlets.
I have a question…
Please send all inquiries to moc.s1539823478ladep1539823478skrow1539823478nruta1539823478s@ofn1539823478i1539823478. Inquiries usually receive a response within 1-3 days. Posting inquiries on our social media pages may result in slow responses.
When will I receive my pedal?
Most orders ship with tracking within 2-4 business days. Business days are Monday-Friday, excluding holidays. If, for example, you place your order on a Friday, the next business day would be Monday.
You will receive a tracking number when your order ships. Please wait the stated turnaround time before contacting us to inquire about the status of your shipment. If you are on a tight deadline, we can usually accommodate you with faster turnaround and expedited shipping rates, but you need to contact us before ordering.
A handful of pedals, including the Dark Matter Overdrive, Cosmic Wah, full size expression, parallel loopers, and Saturn Fuzz, are custom built to order and take approximately 2-3 weeks.
Where is my tracking number?
We typically use stamps.com for shipping; so your tracking information will come as a message from stamps.com. If you receive a notication that your order is “complete,” but you don’t see a message with tracking information, check your junk mail, or just give it a bit more time to appear.
Why isn’t my tracking number working?
We sometimes receive inquires asking to verify that the tracking number is correct, or that the package has shipped, because the tracking hasn’t shown up in the USPS tracking system, or comes up as “invalid” or “not found.” We send a tracking number when we create the shipping label, but it may not appear in the USPS tracking system immediately. The USPS system may initially say that the tracking number is “invalid” or “not found.” Just give it some time. Once we create a label, we drop the shipment off with the USPS, either the same day or the following day, but tracking information often appears on their site with a delay, particularly over weekends. If, for example, your package is dropped in a USPS collection box after the last Saturday pickup, it may not be scanned in until Monday.
Although rare, the USPS sometimes does not properly scan packages (we’ve also seen this with UPS). Given that there aren’t any USPS delays, your shipment will still ship and arrive okay, but it may not appear in their tracking system until it gets closer to its destination. Very rarely, shipments may only appear in the USPS system the day that they are delivered.
My tracking number hasn’t moved for a few days…the package is lost!
After ordering your gear you’re eager to get it and start playing. We totally get it. But once your pedal has shipped, it is out of our control. While delays are rare, they do happen occasionally. A package can be misrouted, trucks or planes can break down, there may be a Godzilla attack, etc. This can particularly be the case with international shipments, which can be subject to lengthy customs delays.
Once we ship your order we can’t make it arrive any faster. We also don’t have access to more detailed tracking information than what appears on the USPS tracking. We have access to the same tracking information you do at usps.com.
Although people are often quick to assume that if a package is stalled for a few days that it is lost. While delayed packages can be frustrating, the good news, is that lost packages are extremely rare. The vast majority of shipping delays are worked out by the carrier and the shipment arrives just fine–just a few days later. Of the over 15,000 shipments we’ve shipped, fewer than ten have been truly lost.
If you need your pedal(s) in a hurry, please contact us before ordering to inquire about expedited shipping services such as USPS Priority or Express Mail, or FedEx services.
How does shipping work?
USA orders pay a flat rate of $2 for shipping. You can add as many pedals as you would like to your order and the shipping is still $2. That’s our way of giving a quantity discount to larger orders. USA orders are shipped either USPS First Class Mail or Priority Mail, depending on weight. Most orders of single pedals are shipped via First Class Mail, unless other arrangements are made. First Class generally arrives in 3-4 postal days (Monday-Saturday), but can take longer – in some rare cases up to 2-3 weeks. If you need to pedal more quickly, you can request an upgrade to Priority Mail, which is 2-3 day (not guaranteed) delivery to most locations within the USA, on any order by contacting us. Upgrading to Priority Mail is usually only a few dollars extra, depending on your proximity to California.
If you’re really in a rush we can also ship via Express Mail (which starts around $30 for 1-2 day guaranteed delivery) or FedEx expedited delivery (usually $50+). Please contact us before ordering for a quote.
International orders are also flat rate, with Canada being $10 and everywhere else being $17. International orders are generally shipped via USPS First Class International Mail. Upgrading your shipping to Priority International Mail, or other more expedited services is available by request.
You are responsible to be sure that the shipping info is correct and current. We are not responsible if you do not provide a current or correct address and your shipment is lost or mis-delivered. Also be sure that your address is formatted according to USPS specs, including correct capitalization, zip codes, and the correct use of abbreviations and apartment numbers.
Do you ship to . . . ?
Yes. We have shipped our pedals to almost anywhere you can think of. Be sure your delivery information is current.
Depending on your country’s policies, international shipments may be subject to import taxes, which need to be collected before you can take possession of your delivery. Where applicable, import taxes are generally levied depending on the value of the goods being imported. These taxes are not included in the price of the goods, or shipping charges. You are responsible to pay import taxes, and to research any applicable taxes before ordering.
We will not declare a lower customs value on international shipments or declare shipments as gifts. Misdelcaring customs values may not only result in a higher declaration (based on what a customs officer things the shipment may be worth), it can result in the confiscation of the shipment. Misdeclaring customs information is illegal and can result in fines. We don’t want our shipments confiscated and to deal with legal issues so that you can save some money on your taxes. Just pay your taxes.
A note on Germany: Over the years, the only country we’ve had a problem shipping to has been Germany. Germany seems to have very stringent customs requirements relating to electronics. Guitar pedals powered by 9v DC power do not fall within the purview of EU requirements on electronics safety, because their power is so low. However, some customs officials don’t seem to understand this, and reject packages containing any electronics that don’t have official EU safety testing verification. When shipping to Germany, we make it clear on customs documentation that the devices (when applicable) run only on 9v DC power.
We’re happy to sell pedals to customers in Germany, and most shipments to Germany arrive fine. But since it’s the only country that has returned our shipments over the years, we try to make you aware that it can be an issue.
Can you accept forms of payment other than PayPal?
The nice thing about PayPal is you don’t actually need a PayPal account to pay by credit card. Once you have entered your billing and shipping info and have clicked “Proceed to PayPal,” you will see the option to pay with a bank account, debit, or credit card.
Can your designs be customized?
Yes, we can generally customize many aspects of our pedals — enclosure size, layout, knobs, graphics, LED colors, etc. Please contact us before placing an order to inquire about customizations. You can include a note with your order to request a specific graphic, but please don’t place an order with a note requesting custom layouts, or other more involved customizations. We can certainly do custom orders, but they are processed differently than standard off-the-shelf pedals.
Can I request a different graphic for my pedal?
Saturnworks takes pride in not only providing top quality pedals, but in an artistic aesthetic as well. Who wants a plain metal box when you can have something cool on your pedalboard? We are continually rolling out new graphics and sometimes retiring old ones. The images on the Saturnworks site are stock photos and the pedal you receive may or may not have the graphic pictured. If you really like the specific graphic you see on the site, please include a note with your order or email us after placing your order to request that graphic. Check out our graphics gallery to see our current graphics. If you see a specific graphic that you like on a different pedal of the same size/orientation, we can usually accommodate your request to apply it to a different pedal or pedals. We also do custom graphics for a small surcharge. Please contact us before completing your order if you are interested in custom graphics.
Can you do painted enclosures? How about different knobs?
We can do a variety of customizations including painted enclosures, various knobs, and different colored LEDs. Please contact us for details.
How about custom builds?
Depending on feasibility and time availability we do take on custom jobs. Please contact us for details. If you’re looking for a totally custom layout, it’s always helpful to have a sketch ready. It doesn’t have to be fancy – just draw something and take a picture with your phone! Check out our Custom Work page to see examples!
Are your loopers the type that repeat a phrase indefinitely?
No. Saturnworks loopers are true bypass loopers, meaning they take a section (loop) of signal in and out of your signal path. It can be confusing because both types of pedals are called ‘loopers.’ Please inquire if you have questions about the functionality of any Saturnworks pedal.
Why don’t your stereo true bypass loopers have LEDs?
The switches used for true bypass loopers have multiple channels, aka ‘poles.’ A true bypass looper needs two poles to work. To add an LED, the switch needs to be a 3-pole switch. A stereo looper requires four poles, two per channel. Unfortunately, the largest capacity switch available on the market is a 4-pole switch. All four poles are used by the stereo looper switching, which doesn’t leave an extra pole for an LED.
Why don’t your pedals have 9v battery clips?
Batteries are expensive and toxic for the environment. For the price of a few batteries that might last a few days, you can buy a power supply (like the one we sell here for $14) that will power multiple pedals indefinitely. Also, we try to make our designs as compact as possible, so a 9v battery won’t physically fit into many of our pedals. However, if you really want to use a 9v battery, we can install a 9v clip upon request, for a modest surcharge. Please contact us for details.
Do your pedals come with power supplies?
No. The vast majority of guitar pedals on the market do not come with power supplies. It simply doesn’t make sense, unless the pedal requires non-standard power. If you have ten pedals on your board, would you want to pay $15-$20 extra per pedal for ten separate power supplies, which you would have plug into multiple crowded power strips? Probably not. Instead, you can power multiple pedals using a single high-mA power supply. We carry a power supply similar to the One-Spot here. If you want to get fancier and use an isolated multi-power supply, you can get a Voodoo Lab power supply for around $100.
What type of power to do need to power your pedals?
All Saturnworks pedals that require power, either to function or make LEDs light up, use standard (for guitar pedals) 9v DC center-negative power.
The symbol on the power supply should look like this:
Using any other type of power may damage the pedal and voids the warranty. It is best to use audio-grade power supplies specifically designed for use with guitar pedals. We have one for sale here. Standard power supplies (the kind you buy at Radio Shack) are usually low quality and very noisy. You must use power supplies that are AC/DC – not AC or AC/AC! Using AC power is very likely to damage your pedal.
Is this pedal true bypass?
True bypass as a concept can be applied to pedals with effects that can be bypassed. This applies to effects pedals (distortion, overdrive, fuzz, wah, chorus, phase, delay, or most other pedals you can think of), or true bypass loopers. The true bypass concept would not apply to pedals such as mixers, A/B pedals, splitters, buffers, kill switches, tap tempo pedals, or expression pedals.
With our pedals, all pedals for which true bypass applies, such as the Dark Matter overdrive, our wah pedals, and of course true bypass loopers, they are true bypass, yes.
When players asks ‘Is this true bypass?’ regarding a pedal for which true bypass doesn’t apply, it’s likely that they have heard of true bypass, or seen it marketed, and while they may not know what true bypass is or how it works, they know is that it’s good. What this question usually means is, ‘Will this pedal negatively affect my sound?’ The answer to that question is no.
Without diving into the ‘true bypass vs. buffered bypass’ discussion (check Google or YouTube for that one), Saturnworks pedals are designed to be tonally transparent, and will not negatively alter your tone.
Why do your A/B pedals only have one LED?
We generally use bi-colored LEDs for AB applications–one LED, two colors.
What is an ‘reversed’ A/B pedal?
Both standard and ‘reversed’ A/B pedals use the same A/B circuit, and since they are passive, can be used in either direction. You can use a regular A/B in reversed applications, and vice versa. But whereas a standard has an input jacks on the right and two output jacks on the left, the reversed version simply has two input jacks on the right and one output jack on the left. This reversed jack configuration facilitates placement on a standard pedalboard with right-to-left signal flow.
Which way does the signal flow in this pedal?
Like the vast majority of guitar pedals, Saturnworks pedals are set up for the signal to flow from right to left.
Can I get a soft touch switch installed in my pedal, rather than a latching switch?
Many customers imagine that a soft-touch switch is an easy drop-in replacement for a latching switch. Unfortunatly, it’s not so simple. In order for a soft-touch switch to work like a latching switch in applications such as true bypass loopers or AB pedals, the soft touch switch needs to be installed along with an active relay circuit. The soft touch switch and the relay work together to make the soft touch switch function like a latching switch.
Relay switching has a couple of benefits. Relay setups can be quieter than the click of a latching switch. Also, relay switch setups don’t have moving parts that can wear out as latching switches can. On the other hand, they require power, are more expensive, and often require a larger enclosure to accomodate the extra circuitboard. Replacing a latching switch with a relay setup usually costs around $40 per switch. So while it’s possible to install relay switching systems into many applications that call for latching switches, there are generally extra costs, power requirements, and enclosure size considerations.
*New for 2018: Saturnworks now stocks super premium ‘soft click’ switches. These fantastic latching switches are made in Japan in limited quantities. They are the highest quality switches money can buy. Soft click latching switches are extremely quiet compared to regular latching switches and are a great alternative to soft touch/relay setups, and at $20 per switch, soft clicks are half the cost to upgrade, don’t require power, and don’t require using a larger enclosure. Click here for a demo of a soft touch switch in action. Please contact us to inquire about upgrading your latching switch application to soft click switches. Click here for more information on other premium upgrades we are currently offering.
Why does my momentary switch click? Did you install a latching switch by mistake?
Some customers confuse ‘momentary’ with ‘soft touch.’ While all soft touch switches are momentary, not all momentary switches are soft touch. The momentary switches we use for our ‘pro’ tap models, as well as dual and polarity momentary switch applications, use momentary switches that have a light click.
Why use clicking ‘pro’ switches in momentary applications that can utilize soft touch switches? Some people like crunchy peanut butter, while others prefer smooth. Likewise, some players like a light click with their tap tempo switches, while others prefer no click.
Can I get a dual or polarity tap tempo with a soft touch switch?
The short answer is no. Unfortunately, soft touch switches only come in a single pole/single throw configuration. That means that they are not compatible with dual or triple tap, or switchable polarity setups.
Dual and polarity taps require double throw switches, meaning that can switch between two different states. Soft touch switches only come in single throw, meaning that they are only on/off.
True bypass and popping sounds
You may experience a popping sound while using true bypass loopers. True bypass pop can be caused by a few different things, but the most common is a significant difference in the current of the pedal in the loop versus the bypass signal. When the problem signals are switched, a discharge occurs, sort of like a static shock when you touch a doorknob. This discharge is heard as a pop. The true bypass looper isn’t necessarily causing the current difference, and hence the pop, but it makes the difference apparent.
Popping because of varying currents can be the result of switching between a buffered and non-buffered signal, or by defective capacitors in your setup that are leaking current and causing the difference. Leaky caps may be present in either effects pedals, or your amp itself. If you’re experiencing popping, try to use a process of elimination to figure out which pedal in your setup may be the culprit. Persistent popping that is present in your setup with all types of pedals is likely caused by a problem with your amp leaking DC current backward into your rig.
Depending on the cause of the popping, it may only pop once per session, and clicking the switch multiple times can discharge the current difference and get rid of the problem. Clicking the pedal multiple times is what EHX recommends to counter true bypass popping, for example.
Some popping problems can be helped by installing pull-down resistors, while some cannot, depending on what may be causing the issue. Contact us if you would like pull-down resistors installed in your switch.
All Saturnworks loopers are tested before shipping to ensure that they don’t cause any unwanted noises.
Splitters, AB pedals, and ground loop hum
Depending on your setup, sometimes connecting two amps to the same ground through a splitter or AB pedal can cause ground loop hum. The switch itself isn’t the source of the hum. Rather, it serves as the connecting link between the two amps whose grounds don’t play well together.
The best way to deal with ground loop hum is to isolate the devices’ grounds from each other. This can be done with either a switch that uses a transformer to isolate the grounds, which tend to be very expensive, or by putting a ground-isolating transformer, such as the Hum X, on one of the device’s power supplies.
Our experience is that most players don’t have problems with ground loop hum; so for most players buying transformer ground-isolating switches is overkill and a waste of money. IF you have a problem with ground hum, getting a standard (non ground isolating switch) plus a Hum X is still cheaper than a ground-isolating switch.
My feedback looper isn’t working. Help!
Feedback loopers are tricky beasts with variable results. Feedback loopers by themselves don’t create feedback sounds. If you simply connect a patch cable in the loop you get nothing. Rather, a feedback looper’s job is to feed the signal of whatever is in the loop back on itself. In that sense, it is the pedal (or pedals) in the loop that are ‘doing the work.’ The feedback looper is essentially just a switch and a level control to control the amount of signal being fed back on itself. Some pedals make crazy sounds when their own signal is feed back to them, while some pedals literally do nothing. If you put multiple pedals in the feedback pedal’s loop, some pedals can even cancel out the feedback effect for other pedals. For example, in our experience, having a buffer in front of the feedback looper can sometimes cancel out the feedback effect.
As every setup is different and there are an infinite number of variables in play, it’s impossible to say how any given setup will react with a feedback looper. With a feedback looper, it’s not simply a matter of plugging something in, hitting a button and making a sound, like most effects pedals.
The first time I ever made a feedback looper I tested it with a distortion pedal and it did absolutely nothing. It didn’t sound like videos I had seen of feedback pedals, and it do anything remotely like I imagined it would. It didn’t do anything. I thought that I had either made it incorrectly, or it was a piece of junk; so I shelved it. Months later it dawned on me that I should try it with other pedals. Trying other pedals I got instant results and I kept experimenting from there.
We have had consistent results using feedback loopers with delay pedals; so we recommend starting with a single delay pedal, with nothing else in the loop, or before it, and going from there. We test every feedback looper with a delay (a Boss DD-7) to verify that it’s sending the signal back on itself and creating feedback. Unless it has an extremely rare parts problem, your feedback looper is doing what it’s supposed to do. Whether it’s doing what you imagined it might do, or you like what sending your pedal’s signal back onto itself sounds like, can be another story.
Customers sometimes contact us insisting that their feedback looper is defective, but in every case it has just been a matter of experimenting and trying other configurations. The feedback looper is an experimental tool. Keep experimenting!
My favorite switch isn’t working! Help!
The most common reason why your Saturnworks favorite switch may not be working with your Strymon device is that you’re not connecting it with the proper cable. You must connect the favorite switch with a stereo (TRS) patch cable. Without a stereo cable the favorite will not work. If you need a stereo patch cable, we have them here.
The next most common reason why your favorite switch may not working is that it’s not set up properly with your Strymon device. The favorite is not a plug-and-play switch. Strymon provides setup instructions for each of its devices that are compatible with the favorite switch. This setup usually includes ‘rebooting’ the device after you connect the favorite switch, often with toggles in a certain configuration. The setup instructions are not the same for every Strymon device. You will need to find the instructions specific to your device. These instructions can be found on their site, or in your device’s owners manual.
A third reson may be a faulty part, but this is extremely rare. Favorite switches are tested before shipping to ensure they work properly; they are simple devices that very rarely have problems. Customers sometimes contact us believing that their switches are defective; but virtually all of the problems we have seen with Saturnworks favorite switches are due to one of the aforementioned causes.
My momentary kill switch is making a popping sound.
Occasionally we get concerns about our soft-touch momentary switches making popping sounds when actuated. Quickly cut off a sound wave can cause an audible popping sound. The popping sound can be especially noticeable with clean non-distorted tones. With distorted sound waves, the waves are already clipped (into square waveforms), so the popping usually isn’t noticeable. There’s nothing wrong with the kill switch’s wiring; it’s just a matter of the physics of sound waves.
Do I need phase inversion switches?
Many customers are worried about phase problems. Sound waves being out of phase is definintely a thing. However, there seems to be a tendency, based mainly on internet gear forums, for customers to believe that nearly every pedal application needs some kind of phase inversion switch. We get inquiries about adding phase inversion switches on tap tempo pedals, expression pedals, amp switches, and many other applications in which phase inversion would not apply.
There are lots of videos and other resources to explain how phase works from a physics perspecitve, this video is helpful, for example, but out-of-phase problems usually occur when you are splitting or combining (summing/mixing) signals, resulting in thinner quieter sound.
We have active phase reversing circuits that we can install in applicable pedal applications. They usually run around $40 per pair of signals. This includes a 2-channel active phase reversal circuit and two micro toggles. This can installed as a custom upgrade to our mixer or splitter pedals. Please be aware that adding this extra circuity may require a larger enclosure for the pedal.
What makes a pedal bass specific?
Active pedals use capacitors that essentially act as a filter to only allow a certain frequency range to enter the circuit. The logic is this filtering excludes frequencies beyond the instrument’s range, in order to cut down on noise. Bass specific pedals use modified caps to open the pedal’s low-end frequency range. A bass setup doesn’t cut highs; it just opens up the lows. Saturnworks pedals set up for bass are perfectly fine to use with a guitar. So if you want a pedal to use with both bass and guitar, we recommend using the bass version. The bass version can also be a good idea if you’re using the pedal with instruments with lower ranges than the guitar, such as keyboards or synths.
Passive pedals (pedals that don’t have active circuitry requiring power) are not bass or guitar specific.
Why should I pay you to build a switch, rather than building it myself?
This commonly comes up on music/guitar forums. If someone asks any question regarding a relatively simple switch, inevitably someone will chirp in and say something like: ‘Don’t be a chump and buy one; build one yourself for like $5 worth of parts!’ What’s wrong with that? Nothing, if you already happen to own all the tools necessary to build your own pedals and are a DIY-inclined person. But by that logic, why buy bread? Make your own! It’s just flour, water, yeast, sugar, and salt, right?Why buy clothes? It’s just pieces of cotton and polyester stiched together…easy!
The reality is that while a handful of people may decide to bake their own bread, sew their own clothes, or build their own guitar pedals, with everything people have going on in their lives, not everything has to be a DIY project–and generally it’s not cost/time effective to do so.
Let’s take a basic tap tempo as an example. A tap tempo switch costs around $19 from Saturnworks. Assuming you already have the necessary tools, if you follow ‘forum guy’s’ advice and head down to your local RadioShack, you will walk away with a plastic enclosure, a low quality jack, and a low quality switch. In the end, you will spend a fair amount of money and build yourself the lowest quality switch possible.
If you decide to upgrade and go through an electronics parts supplier, the parts will cost you around $15 including shipping, which is already about what a Saturnworks tap tempo costs. If you don’t have any of your own tools then you’ll be spending $20-25 for a cheap soldering iron, around $10-20 each for the necessary drill bits (which are larger and more expensive than the bits most commonly found in bit sets), and at least $30 or so for a low-end drill (the drilling itself can be a difficult/dangerous job without a drill press). You’ll also need to find solder and wire. As you can see, the materials add up. Assuming you’re sourcing things locally, you’ll also need to factor in the time and fuel costs of you running around trying to source the materials. Or, if you’re ordering online, you’ll need to add the additional costs of shipping.
By the time you factor in the parts and time, building your own pedal is almost never a cost savings. My first true bypass looper, the type I sell for around $30, ended up costing me well over $100 in materials by the time I tracked down all the parts and tools – not to mention time involved. If you’re a total do-it-yourselfer then you probably like the challenge, and in that case, awesome! However, if you’re like most people and don’t have the time, inclination, or desire to spend the time and extra money to build things like guitar pedals yourself, then you can save the time and hassle and buy one from Saturnworks. That’s what we’re here for. We source the best parts and produce solid pedals, often cheaper than building them yourself.
What’s the difference between a summer and a mixer?
Combining multiple signals into one is called ‘summing.’ On schematics, when signals are combined, this is represented by a plus sign. Think ‘adding’ (or summing) the signals together. If you add level controls to a summing circuit, the circuit becomes a mixer. So a mixer is a summer plus level controls.
Saturnworks active summers and mixers use the same circuit to combine the signals. The mixer simply adds level controls to the inputs in order to control the mix. If you’ve already got level controls on the inputs that you would prefer to use, then you can go with a summer. Our active summers feature a level control knob, which allows you to trim the level of the combined output.
What’s the difference between passive and active summers/mixers?
Passive and active mixers or summers both have their advantages and disadvantages.
Passive mixers are inexpensive, often quite compact, are simple with little to go wrong, and don’t require power to function. However, depending on your setup and what you’re trying to do, they can have their downsides.
If you just wire two signals together (like a y-cable), they essentially become the same circuit. Being simply hooked together, whatever you do to one side you do to the other. With nothing to prevent interaction between the two channels, if you turn one side down the other will get softer as well. This is called crosstalk. Passive mixers are a step up from a y-cable in that they use summing resistors to combine the signals. This reduces (but does not eliminate) crosstalk. Depending on the types of signals being mixed, with a passive mixer, if you turn one side down completely the other side gets around 20% softer. While you can minimize crosstalk with a passive mixer, you cannot eliminate it altogether.
Passive mixers can have problems when trying to mix signals with different impedance. If you’re trying to mix a standard high-impedance guitar signal with a low-impedance signal from a keyboard or MP3 player, for example, the stronger low-impedance signal can cancel out the guitar signal altogether. So while inexpensive and simple, passive mixers work best when you’re okay with some degree of crosstalk, and you’re combining signals that have more or less the same impedance.
Active mixers/summers are often a bit larger, more expensive, and require power to function. However, they do offer some key performance advantages. Active mixers and summers eliminate crosstalk between channels. This means that you can turn one channel down without the other channel(s) being affected at all. Active mixers/summers also balance mismatched impedance so that you can combine a wider range of signal types.
Which type of mixer/summer will be best for your depends on your setup, and the types of signals you’d like to combine. Passive mixing/summing works well in a lot of cases, and Saturnworks has provided passive mixers/summers to thousands of happy customers. But all things considered, from a technical perspective, active summing/mixing is the best way to combine two signals.
What’s the difference between a passive and active splitter?
Like with passive vs. active mixers, active splitters feature zero crosstalk and buffers that are designed to maintain your tone, while passive splitters are cheaper, often smaller, and don’t require power.
Crosstalk means that a change in the level of one side of a split affects the other side. For example, if you’re using a basic y-cable and you turn one side to zero, the other side will go to zero as well. All passive splitters have some degree of crosstalk. Saturnworks passive splitters use resistors to minimize crosstalk, but even with passive protection, depending on your setup, if you turn one side of the split to zero the other side may get around 20% softer.
Saturnworks active splitters use individual buffers on each output, to isolate each output against crosstalk.
Depending on your setup, passive splitters can affect your level/tone. Regular (high impedance) guitar signals are quite weak; and if you split something that is already weak, it just gets weaker. Passive splitters are, therefore, best used after a buffer. Active splitters use built-in buffers (one for each output) to maintain your tone; so extra buffers are not necessary.
From a technical perspective active splitters are a superior way to split a guitar signal. However, passive splitters do offer the advantages of being cheaper, simplier, not requiring power, and are often smaller.
Why does my blender’s volume seem to dip in the middle?
Our standard blender pedals use a single pot to linearly criss cross the wet and dry signals. Imagine an X. That’s what the two signals are doing levels-wise. As one gets softer, the other gets louder, and vice versa; and they cross in the middle. Imagining the wet and dry signals like an X, there may be a dip in the overall volume around the 50/50 mark, depending on the relative levels of your wet and dry signals.
In order to compensate for the volume dip at the 50/50 mark, we can build a blender pedal with a clean boost, which you can set as makeup gain. Another option is to install a special blender pot plus active mixer configuration that maintains the both the wet and dry levels at full at the 50/50 point, and tapers them linearly from there:
If you’re interested in that type of blender configuration, please contact us for details.
Which footswitch controller do I need for my device?
Mechanical footswitches come in two types: latching and momentary. Sometimes momentary switches are also called “unlatching.” To figure out what type of footswitch you need, you first need to figure out if your device needs a latching or momentary switch (or switches). If, for example, your device calls for the Boss FS-5L switch, then you need a latching switch (“L” is for latching). If your device is compatible with the FS-5U (“U” is for unlatching or momentary), when you need a momentary switch.
When devices call for momentary (aka unlatching) footswitches, the other thing you need to know is whether your device uses normally open (NO) or normally closed (NC) switches. Boss/Roland uses normally closed, while most other brands use normally open. Some devices, like the Boss FS-5U, and some Saturnworks control switches, have polarity toggles so that you can set the switch to normally open or normally closed. That way, they can be used with most brands.
Saturnworks pedals use two different types of momentary switches: pro and soft touch. Both are momentary. The soft touch switch is clickless, while the pro has a light click.
While that covers most control switches, some devices, such as Strymon, use non-standard TRS setups, and need a special configuration. So be sure to confirm what type of switch you need before ordering.
To confirm what type of footswitch your device needs, first check the manual for any information. You can also get more information by contacting the manufacturer of your device.
Help! My pedal has a problem!
Combining great components with careful workmanship means that our pedals very rarely have issues. However, an occasional problem pops up here or there. In our experience, of the very few pedals sent back to us with problems, most work flawlessly. So be sure you fully understand how to set up and use the pedal, and that there aren’t other issues in your setup before contacting us for warranty work.
We have demo videos on our YouTube channel.
Guitar rigs can be complex ecosystems with a lot of components. If you’re experiencing problems, be sure to check cables, other pedals, your amp, guitar, etc. and try to eliminate other variables. If you feel that your pedal has an issue, feel free to contact us. We work quickly to fix or replace any bad parts and get the pedal back to you. Most repairs are taken care of in 1-2 days of receipt of the pedal.
Saturnworks pedals are covered by a one-year warranty from the date of purchase against manufacturing defects and parts failure. This warranty does not cover abuse or misuse. Any modifications to the pedal void the warranty. Out of warranty pedals may be repaired for a fee, based on the repairs required. In the case of a verified defect, or a shipping mixup, we will either send you a return shipping label, or reimburse, at our discretion. Most new pedals sent to us for repair work perfectly, and the supposed defect turns out to be something else — a bad cable, power supply, etc. In cases of shipping reimbursement for returns, we will only reimburse shipping for true defects.
Please note: we will only reimburse USPS First Class or Priority Mail shipping, or the equivalent cost, if you use another carrier. In other words, if you ship your $20 tap tempo pedal that doesn’t seem to be working back to us via $100 FedEx overnight, only to find that it works perfectly, we will not reimburse your return shipping cost. If your tap tempo is defective, we will reimburse the USPS shipping rate.
Saturnworks has a two-week return policy. Non-custom pedals in like-new condition may be returned for a refund of the original purchase price within two weeks of the date of delivery. While custom pedals are included in the 1-year warranty, there are no returns on custom pedals. Shipping on returned pedals will not be refunded and the buyer is responsible for return shipping costs. The buyer is also responsible for any damage to the pedal during use, or incurred in return shipping. Any damage to the pedal(s) will be evaluated and deducted from your refund.
Please contact us first to arrange a return.