As a music journalist, it is my job to review pedals. No doubt about it, it is a great job. I get to try out dozens of cool pedals each year. These days, it is rare to find one that doesn’t sound good, within the parameters of what it is trying to do. I really have nothing to complain about, but I do have a minor caveat.
Pedal builders are using a wide variety of footswitches. Leaving aside the idiotic argument about true bypass versus buffered for another time, my issue is the varying ways the switches need to be pressed.
Some are “light-touch,” turning on at the slightest press of the foot. These used to be restricted to momentary switches: the kind that turns an effect on when you press on it, but shut off when you lift your foot. They would be used (and still are) for special effects or tap tempo. Now manufacturers are using them for latching switches: where the effect remains on after you lift your foot and shuts off when you press it again.
Next we have the old school latching switches that require a firm press that results in a quick click indicating it is latched. Some manufacturers have replaced these with switches that initially go down easily, mimicking a light-touch switch, but need to be pressed past a firmer détente part-way down to engage. This latter switch has turned up on pedals as both a latching switch and a momentary one. They can be confusing; more than once, I have assumed the pedal should be on because I thought I was dealing with a light-touch switch and never made it past the détente. This is a greater problem for me as a reviewer, as often I will have the pedal up on a table for testing or video purposes and will be pushing with my fingers instead of my foot. Without my weight behind it, it is has been easy to mistake one of these détente switches for a light-touch one and assume the pedal is not working, resulting in some embarrassment.
Now that I am aware of these switches I won’t be making that mistake again, but I am wondering if the lack of switch standardization is a problem for players? In the heat of performance, with all three types of switch on your pedalboard, is there a tendency to stomp too hard on the light-touch variety and/or fail to engage the hard touch or détente versions?
These switches vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, within the same manufacturer’s product line, and even within a single pedal. On my smallest pedalboard https://www.guitarmoderne.com/gear-2/guitar-modernes-ultimate-mini-pedalboard, one pedal has light-touch switches, one has a hard-touch switch and one has both, a hard switch for engaging and a light one for tap tempo.
I posit this to guitarists and anyone else who uses pedals: is this a problem, or just one more thing to learn about our equipment?