FAQ

Please note: this page provides general information as well as a statement of our official shop policies. More information regarding our terms and conditions is available here.

General/Inquiries
Shipping/Arrival
Payment Options
Customizations/Graphics
Function/Power
Problems/Repairs/Warranty


General/Inquiries

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, most of whom are also small American entrepreneurs. In fact, our main parts supplier is a small family-run electronics parts supplier in Portland, OR.

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, and most musicians have made the switch to Reverb versus sites such as eBay. Also, we periodically participate in Reverb-sponsored sales, usually around holidays, on our listings.

Since we produce handcrafted products, we also sell on etsy.com.

We have a small selection of pedals on eBay. Most players seemed to have migrated from eBay to Reverb over the years. eBay is probably our least preferred selling platform, for a variety of reasons, including them penalizing sellers for factors beyond their control, such as how quickly the USPS scans a package once it’s dropped off, penalizing sellers for returns regardless of the reason, poor support, etc.  We have significantly reduced our listings on eBay over the years, and eBay is only a small fraction of our business.  But if you’re a die-hard eBayer, or are stuck in the late-1990s, 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.s1566217683ladep1566217683skrow1566217683nruta1566217683s@ofn1566217683i1566217683. Inquiries usually receive a response within 1-3 days. Posting inquiries on our social media pages may result in slow responses.

Shipping/Arrival

When will I receive my pedal?

Most orders ship with tracking within 2-4 business days. Business days are Monday-Friday, excluding holidays. Our shop is closed on weekends. 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 shipping status of your order.  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.

I received a message saying my order is “complete.” Where is my tracking number?

We typically send tracking info through PayPal for orders placed on our site. You will generally also receive a notification from our site that your order is “complete.” Some customers are confused by this. “Complete” means that your order is complete from our side and has shipped, not that you have received it. If you you don’t see a message with tracking information, check your junk mail, or just give it a bit more time to appear. You can also see the tracking information through the PayPal website or app.

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,” “not found,” or it’s stuck in “pre-shipment.” 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. Most peoples’ experience of the USPS is waiting in line to drop off a single package, in which case they will scan it right in front of you. The process is different for businesses in that we drop off batches of 20-30 packages every day at USPS pickup locations. We drop batches of shipments at our local USPS office, or sometimes at drop boxes.

The USPS is supposed to scan everything by hand as it comes in, but sometimes they do not. If the package misses the initial hand scan, it goes through an automated system (think conveyer belts and laser scanners) that should scan it later down the line–usually later that the same day at a USPS hub. 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.

We have seen some cases in which the first scan appears days after the package is dropped off, usually at a hub close to where the shipment is supposed to be delivered. For example, while we’re in California, sometimes the first scan may be in New York. In some (rare) occasions, shipments may only appear in the USPS system the day they are delivered.

An example of a shipment whose first scan was the day it was delivered, on the other side of the country. Although rare, given how many packages we ship, we have seen this happen many times. Why? We don’t know.

We know it’s frustrating if the tracking number doesn’t properly appear in the USPS system as it should. It’s frustrating for us too in that them not doing their job makes it seem as though we’re not doing our job. However, the good news is that in virtually every instance, the package is still moving through their system and will be delivered as normal. (Remember the bad old days when there was no such thing as package tracking?) It may just not be trackable until it’s close to being delivered.

Why didn’t my tracking number show up in the USPS system until the day after you sent it to me? When did you *really* ship it?

A USPS collection box

Packages can arrive at the USPS in one of three ways. First, you can take the package directly to a post office. Second, you can put it in your mailbox to be collected by a mail carrier. Third, you can drop it in a USPS collection box. We don’t think it’s a good idea to leave boxes full of pedals outside to be collected by a mail carrier; so we generally drop our shipments directly at a post office. However, at our discretion, we may sometimes drop shipments at a USPS collection box. The USPS usually collects mail from a box once a day. That can be anytime during the day, from morning until evening. If we drop packages at a box that has already been collected, then the USPS may not collect the package until the following day. Occasionally, if we drop off packages on a Saturday, the following postal day will not be until Monday. This is also the case for postal holidays.

So shipment information should generally show up in the USPS system the same day you get a tracking number–assuming it is scanned in properly, which is not always the case. However, it may show up the following day, or a bit later, if we drop shipments in a USPS collection box. Customers can sometimes be confused or frustrated because they have a tracking number, but the USPS website doesn’t indicate acceptance, until the following day or in some cases two or so days later. So they may think that we didn’t *really* ship it. The fact is that we did ship it. And once we drop it off we cannot retrieve it. (Sorry, but we don’t believe in going to jail to try and break into a collection box. As Meatloaf says, ‘We’ll do anything for customers; but we don’t do that.’) Rest assured your package is on its way, and should appear in the USPS (and later your door) shortly.

If you are in a rush to receive your pedal, we can usually accommodate you. Contact us for more information on expedited turnaround and rates.

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 Mail generally arrives in around 3-5 postal days (postal days are Monday-Saturday). 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 verify that your shipping information is correct, complete, and current. If you do not provide a current, correct, or complete address, we are not responsible if  your shipment is lost, mis-delivered, or returned to sender. Also be sure that your address is formatted according to USPS specs, including correct capitalization, spelling, house/building numbers, zip/postal codes, and the correct use of abbreviations and suite/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.

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 powered devices run on 9v DC power and that passive devices do not require power at all. We hope that helps, but we can’t control if they will accept or reject a shipment for whatever reason they like.

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.

Will you declare a lower value or declare a shipment as a gift on customs forms?

No. We will not declare a lower customs value on international shipments or declare shipments as gifts.

Would you approach someone you don’t know and ask them if they will commit a federal crime for you so that you can save a bit of money? That’s what you’re doing when you ask a business to falsify customs documents.

Falsifying customs values may not only result in a higher declaration (based on what a customs officer thinks the shipment may be worth), it can result in the confiscation of the shipment. Falsifying customs information is illegal and can result in fines. We don’t want our shipments confiscated or deal with legal issues so that you can save a bit of money on your taxes.

When ordering from overseas you are not subject to the sales tax that many US customers must pay, or the sales or VAT taxes of your home country. So import taxes are one way that governments try to collect taxes on that loophole. We know they’re not fun, but you know what they say about death and taxes. Hey, we pay our taxes, you should too.

Returned Shipments

If your shipment is returned to us, for whatever reason, you can opt to either pay to have it shipped again, or get a refund for your purchase price, minus shipping. Our promotional flat rate shipping only applies to the initial shipment. If you opt to have the package reshipped, you will be responsible for the full shipping amount. If you opt for a refund, we will deduct the *actual* shipping cost (not the promotional flat rate) from your refund.

Payment Types

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.

Other Payment Options

Can I get a discount?

If you look around the boutique market, our pedals are very competitively priced. Keep in mind that our pedals are individually hand made in California, USA–not produced en masse by factories in communist China. But under certain circumstances we may offer discounts. We often participate in Reverb sponsored (usually seasonal) promos though our Reverb shop. We also offer discounted/flat rate shipping as our way of giving a discount to anyone who deals with us directly. At our discretion, we may offer other discounts–for example, if you buy a large quantity of pedals (we usually consider orders of $300 or more large quantity). But please don’t hit us up for large discounts just because. There may be cultural considerations (cultures in which haggling is more normal), but we consider asking for large discounts, particularly on handcrafted goods such as ours, impolite. Don’t be ‘that guy’ who asks if we will sell a $100 pedal for $40.

Customizations

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!

Function/Power

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.

What’s the difference between a parallel looper and a blender looper?

A serial vs parallel signal path.

Parallel and blender loopers are similar in that they actually both utilize parallel circuits. They both split a signal, modify the split signals, and recombine (aka sum) them. The Saturnworks blender looper uses a very simple parallel circuit that splits one signal into two, using an active splitter. One of the split signals goes to a loop (where you add whatever you’d like to the signal), which becomes the ‘wet’ signal. The other signal passes straight through as the ‘dry’ signal. With the Saturnworks blender loopers, both the wet and dry signals are passively summed with a single blend knob controlling the wet/dry ratio.

Parallel loopers are similar conceptually, but feature more control over how the parallel signal interact with each other, plus more parallel channels. Parallel loopers feature volume controls and/or on/off switches on each of the parallel channels. They also feature an upgraded active mixing circuit, which has zero crosstalk and allows you to boost the channels’ levels relative to each other. So the same parallel concept, but with enhanced control over what’s happening, more channels, and with some upgraded summing circuitry.

So if you’re looking for something straightforward and compact for a simple wet/dry blend, a blender looper is a good option. We’ve sold many hundreds of blenders to satisfied players everywhere. But if you would like more extensive controls to really craft your parallel sounds, you may want to reach for a more full-featured parallel looper.

Why didn’t my pedal come in a fancy box? Is this pedal even new?

Yes, your pedal is new. We don’t sell used pedals. Most of our products do not come in commercial packaging. As primarily a direct-to-customer business, we mostly focus on our products, rather than elaborate retail packaging.

Our philosophy is to concentrate on the stuff that we think matters, such as high quality components and solid construction, and not as much on things that we think don’t matter as much, such as fancy boxes, silver foil, gold strings, velvet pillows, etc. When you get a product with elaborate packaging, that isn’t free. You paid extra for that “unboxing experience,” not to mention the extra resources it took to make, sell, and eventually dispose of the extra materials.

Instead of focusing on elaborate packages that will likely just go into the trash within a few minutes, we keep our quality high and prices low by streamlining things and just selling quality pedals.

If opening a box gets you excited, head over to YouTube for endless “unboxing videos.” If quality pedals get you excited, you’re in the right place.

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 a ‘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.

How to I connect a true bypass looper?

Like this…

looper wiring diagram

What is the difference between a latching and a momentary switch?

light switch

Latching

arcade switch

Momentary

Latching switches toggle a circuit on and off. Think of a light switch. You flick it on, the light comes on. You flick it off, the light turns off. That’s how latching switches work. Most effects pedals with an on/off footswitch use latching footswitches.

Momentary switches are spring loaded switches that have a normal state (either ‘open’ or ‘closed’), enter into the opposite state when held down, and return to the normal state when released. Think of the buttons on an old school arcade game. They are momentary switches. Let’s say that when you hit an arcade switch, your video game character fires a laser. That’s basically how a momentary switch works. Triggering the momentary switch usually triggers something to happen with the device it’s connected to. The simplest iteration of this is a tap tempo switch. When you set a beat with an external tap switch, a delay pedal takes those alternating states of being open and closed, and sets the delays to that pulse.

Momentary switches are either normally open or normally closed. Normally closed means that the switch is normally grounded and becomes ungrounded (open) when the switch is held down. Normally open switches are the opposite. They are normally open (not grounded) and are grounded when held down. Most devices that use normally open momentary switches use normally open switches. The exception to that is Boss/Roland. Boss/Roland devices and amps that use momentary switches use normally closed switches.

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.

Click here for a video comparison of the various types of momentary switches we use.

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 pricey transformer ground-isolating switches is overkill and a waste of money. However, 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 doesn’t do anything. Is this thing defective?

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. In our experience, a buffer (or buffered bypass pedal) in front of the feedback looper may cause the feedback knob to cut the signal when it is maxed out. So for example, if you connect a feedback looper after your Boss tuner, it may cancel out the feedback effect.

As every setup is different and there are many 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 matter.

Customers regularly contact us wondering why their feedback looper doesn’t really seem to do anything and assuming it 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 and use the instructions specific to your device. These instructions can be found on Strymon’s site, or in your device’s owners manual.

A third reason may be a faulty part. However, this is extremely rare. Favorite switches are tested before shipping to ensure they work properly. They are simple on/off switches that very rarely have problems. Customers sometimes contact us believing that their switch is 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 switch or the pedal’s wiring. It’s just the physics of sound waves.

Do I need phase inversion switches?

Many customers contact us worried about potential phase problems. Sound waves being out of phase is definitely a thing. Sounds waves being in and out of phase is the basis of active noise cancelling technology and balanced signals. However, there seems to be a tendency, presumably based on information gleaned from guitar 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 perspective, this video is helpful, for example. Out-of-phase problems may occur when you are splitting or combining (summing/mixing) signals, resulting in thinner quieter sound. Adding certain devices to your signal path(s) can alter the phase, resulting in signals being out of phase.

Not all splitting or summing situations need phase inversion, and in our experience it may be an unnecessary expenditure for most players. Customers usually approach us asking about adding phase switching to their application, not because they’re experiencing an out-of-phase problem, but rather they’ve read on a gear forum that they *need* phase switching. One problem with altering phase is that there can be degrees of being out-of-phase and simply flipping the phase 180 degrees, as phase inverting switches do, may not solve the issue. Nevertheless, if you would like phase inversion capability in a splitter or summer, just in case, we’ve got you covered.

We have standalone phase reversing buffers and buffered splitters with phase reversing toggles. We can also add phase reversing circuits to applicable projects for a small up-charge.

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.

Can you make a pedal that sounds like X?

Designing a pedal from the ground up is usually a lot more expensive than customers realize. We work with a circuit designer who we pay around $400 to help us design a circuit to be manufactured on a circuit board. That’s before anything is made. We then have to get the board produced, which only makes sense if you’re doing large quantities. By the time you have a custom circuit board designed, a single board built, and the pedal itself produced, you would likely be pushing $1,000. Not many customers are ready to pay $1000 for a pedal that is only slightly different from something you can buy for $100 or less.

If you are looking for something new, or to summon unique sounds from pedals you already own, or are likely to own in the future, we would point you to our parallel loopers. They allow you to create unique combinations of sounds from your gear that you wouldn’t be able to produce using them in a normal (serial) configuration.

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 chime in and say something like: ‘Don’t be a chump and buy one. Build one yourself for $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.

What’s the difference between passive and active summers/mixers?

summer comparison

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 about 15% 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?

splitter comparison

Saturnworks active splitters feature  buffers that are designed to maintain your tone and prevent level loss, whereas passive splitters are cheaper, often smaller, and don’t require power. Passive splitting can work in some instances, but when dealing with high impedance instrument-level signals, active splitting is generally preferred.

Depending on your setup, passive splitters can work, but they usually have to be used in conjunction with buffers; otherwise, passive can negatively affect your level/tone. Regular (high impedance) guitar signals are quite weak. Remember that we’re talking about a tiny current produced by strings vibrating above passive magnetic pickups. So if you split something that is already weak, it just gets weaker. Passive splitters are, therefore, best used after a buffer, or, preferably, with buffers (or buffered bypass pedals) placed on each of the outputs.

If, for example, you used a passive splitter followed by Boss (or other buffered bypass) pedals on each output, that setup would avoid level loss. Saturnworks active splitters use separate buffers on each output to maintain your level and tone. So if you’re using a Saturnworks active splitter, adding extra buffers is not necessary.

In some setups, you may experience levels issues across channels while passively splitting. Let’s say you have a 2-way passive split followed by a volume pedal on one of the outputs. Turning the volume all the way down on one channel can make the other channel slightly softer. This scenario could be avoided by placing buffers, buffered bypass, or always-on pedals on either side of the split, which would protect the signals against cross-channel levels interference. This problem can also be avoided by using one of our active splitters.

From a technical perspective, active splitters are a better way to split a guitar signal. However, passive splitters do offer the advantages of being cheaper, simpler, not requiring power, and are often smaller.

Which volume pot should I get? 250k, 100k, 25k, etc.

The volume pot you choose should be a based of the type of signal you plan to use it with. Guitar/bass signals coming from passive pickups, also called “instrument level” signals, are very weak (i.e. high impedance). High impedance signals need a higher value pot; otherwise, they will loose high end and sound quiet and muddy. So if you have a regular guitar or bass with passive pickups, and you don’t have an always-on buffer, then you should go with a standard 250k pot. That’s the same pot you will find in most commercial volume pedals, such as Ernie Ball volume pedals.

If you have a buffered signal, in other words, if you’re using active pickups or if you’ve got an always-on buffer in your chain, then you can use a 100k pot. An always-on buffer may be a standalone buffer pedal, or any Boss pedal. So if you have any Boss pedal in your chain, whether it’s on or off, you’ve got a buffered signal. If you have a buffer that puts out a very low impedance signal (such as an IC buffer), then you can also go with a 25k pot. That will provide more usable sweep than a regular 250k pot. A 250k will work, but it will go from max volume to zero pretty quickly.

If you have a line-level signal, such as the output of an MP3 player or phone, then you should go with a 10k or lower pot. You can use a higher resistance pot, but the usable sweep might be very short.

The basic rule of thumb is that the stronger (lower impedance) your signal, the smaller the pot value, and vice versa. So with a weaker instrument-level signal you should go with a larger pot value. With a stronger buffered or line level signal you should go with a smaller pot value.

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 slight dip in the overall volume around the 50/50 mark, depending on the relative levels of your wet and dry signals. Some configurations will have some dip, while many will not. If, for example, you’re using the blender with a distortion pedal that has its own gain control, the distortion’s gain control can make up gain around the midpoint.

In order to compensate for any volume dip at the 50/50 mark, we can build a blender pedal with a clean boost, which you can dial in to make up gain when you engage the loop. 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 either of these blender configurations, please contact us for details.

Another, more versatile, option, if you’re looking to blend sounds, is to use one of our parallel loopers. Parallel loopers have more extensive control over how channels can be blended together.

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. Normally closed switches are normally grounded (closed) and are not grounded when the switch is held down. Normally open switches are normally not grounded (open) and are grounded when the switch is held down. 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.

Problems/Repairs/Warranty/Returns

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 pedals sent to us for repair work perfectly and we just send the pedal back. In the majority of cases, the supposed defect turns out to be something else: a bad cable, power supply, or what we like to call ‘user interface error.’ We will only cover return shipping for verified defects or order errors.

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.

If your purchase falls within our two-week return period, you may contact us to arrange a return.

Please note that returns are subject to a 10% restocking fee.

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