Sometimes, as guitarists, we need more tonal options at our disposal. Adding multiple amps to your rig can provide you with so much more to work with on stage. In order to achieve this, we need to split the signal. Step forward, ABY pedals.
A reliable switcher is invaluable when it comes to setting up multiple sound sources. This list will highlight some of the best options available, and the individual attributes of each one.
6 Best ABY Pedals for Your Rig
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The BigShot ABY switching pedal by Radial Engineering simultaneously allows you to run a dual-amp setup, while combating potential issues regarding unwanted noise and polarity.
With a built-in ground lift and isolation transformer, you'll get silent switching and the polarity is corrected by the onboard switch.
Design-wise, the BigShot is compact and simplistic. It contains two latching footswitches which are used to select either one of your amplifiers, or activate both at the same time.
This feature is particularly useful if, for example, one of your amps is on a dirty setting but you would like the clean sound to be present in order to thicken the overall output.
The 180 degrees polarity reverse switch makes It possible to play back both amps while preventing frequency cancellation for happening.
The BigShot does all of this while taking up very little space on your pedalboard, and without altering the tone in any way, shape or form.
Whirldwind’s Selector Instrument Switch gives you complete control over you multiple amplifiers, allowing you to toggle between channel A and channel B or play the output through both amps simultaneously.
It looks like a very basic switcher pedal, but this ABY works behind the scenes is quite complex and very useful for a guitarist.
The Selector Instrument Switch can be powered by either a DC adapter or a 9-volt battery. You can either use it to send the output of a singular guitar to a couple of amplifiers, or alternatively the reverse, using two guitars going into one amp.
Regarding connectivity, the Selector has three built-in ¼” jack inputs, one 2.1mm DC jack, two LED lights which indicate the chancel selected and two footswitches which protrude the case vertically and are easily accessible even on a crowded pedal board.
This straightforward ABY pedal is a great choice if you prefer simplicity over having multiple controls at your disposal.
Orange are one my favorite producers of amps and amplifier related gear, and the Amp Detonator is certainly up to their high standard. If you need to quickly switch between rhythm and lead settings, this ABY pedal would be a great addition to your board.
With two buffered outputs, one which has a custom designed isolation transformer built in, there is very little chance of unwanted noise being produced when switching between amplifiers. What’s more, it can be powered by a 9-volt battery so you don’t need to own a power pack in order to use this pedal.
The amp Detonator has a push-button polarity switch which works to correct phase issues that commonly occur when using a dual-amp setup. There is also a LED which has three color settings to make it easily visible even on a dimly lit stage.
The ABY Pro 2 is a top quality switcher pedal from fast-growing manufacturers, Morley. This small routing pedal does with job with no unnecessary complicating features added in.
Whether you need to switch between an acoustic and electric guitar, or a reverb-sprinkled amp and a overdriven amp, the ABY Pro 2 is more than capable.
You can power this switcher pedal using the Morley 9v adapter or simply use a 9v battery.
There are no tools required to change the battery, which is always handy during those unexpected times when you realize it needs changing on stage or in a rehearsal. Thanks to its cold-rolled steel housing, the ABY Pro 2 can handle the rigors of touring.
With two LED lights built in, you can clearly see which setting is selected. This ANY pedal allows you to quickly flick between two amps or guitars, or select them both at the same time. All of this inside a small, lightweight pedal.
Next up on our list of the best ABY switcher pedals is Radial Bone’s Twin-City. The first thing you notice with this pedal is its cool aesthetics, the light blue casing and array of modern-styled letters make it stand out when compared to other switchers.
The Twin-City makes use of a class-A input buffer in order to power multiple amp outputs.
There’s no danger of hum, buzz or unwanted noise being produced during the switching process, thanks to the built in isolation transformer on the B output.
To further prevent noise problems from occurring, this pedal has a 180 degrees polarity reverse switch and a ground lift switch too.
Another feature of the Radial Bones Twin City that is worth mentioning is the drag control load correction, which recreates the naturally occurring load on the pickups, recreating the tone you would get if you were directly connected to a tube amplifier.
The final ABY pedal on our list is the GSP10000 switcher, made by On-Stage Stands. This pedal has true-bypass circuitry in a heavy duty, anodized aluminum casing.
The base is made from slip-resistant rubber, to minimize the risk of the ABY pedal moving when in use on you board.
The GSP10000 gives you the ability to choose between two inputs/one ouput or one input/two outputs.
In detail, you can run a singular signal two a two amps in real-time stereo, toggle through two amps for contrasting dirty and clean tones, or run two individual guitars through your effects chain at once.
You can also use the switcher to bypass individual components of your effects set up, or simply bypass the entire pedal board in an instant. This ABY pedal is both narrow in design, and its single-switch design makes using it uncomplicated and easy.
Stereo Amp Rigs with ABY Pedals – Is it Possible?
A stereo amp rig is simply where there are two sound sources present, one on the left and one on the right.
Due to our ears picking up sounds from everywhere around us, panning and stereo mixing has become the most popular way to produce music in the modern age.
This is very straightforward in the studio, but has eluded musicians in the live settings for a long time. With the introduction of ABY pedals, it is now possible.
By using an ABY pedal to connect two amps, and position them on separate sides of the stage with ample space between them, guitarists can recreate that stereo panning, double-tracked effect that we hear on almost all recorded music.
This is especially useful if you use delay pedals, as most of them have the capacity to produce ping pong delays which bounce from one amp to another, creating a more immersive experience for the crowd.
Most arena-playing bands will utilize ABY pedals to create stereo amp rigs and in the process produce a bigger, fuller-sounding output.
ABY Pedal – Essential Tips
ABY pedals are highly useful for several applications, but there are some key things you’ll need to consider when choosing the best option for your rig.
If you use an ABY pedal to create a stereo amp rig as I described earlier, there is a chance that phase cancellation could occur. This can be disastrous for the strength and consistency of your tone.
Phase issues occur as a result of the similar frequencies being played simultaneously through separate sound sources, using an ABY pedal. It causes certain frequencies to be canceled out, leaving weak spots in the overall sound.
Polarity Reverse Switches
To combat phase issues that could happen when using an ABY pedal, many manufacturers install a mechanism known as a polarity reverse switch on their devices.
These switches take one of the signals which are sent out of the ABY pedal and reverse it. The process is also sometimes referred to as ‘phase inversion’, and it causes the peaks and troughs of the second waveform to line up more closely with the first.
When the switch is engaged, any phase issues should be rectified instantly. I’d highly recommend choosing an ABY pedal that offers polarity reversal if you want to preserve the strength of your tone when using stereo amp rigs.
Clean & Dirty
Perhaps the most common way that ABY pedals are used by guitarists is to allow them to use one amplifier for their high gain, dirty tone, and the other for their clean, unprocessed tone.
This offers the benefit of being able to instantly switch between amps when the need arises, for example, if you’re moving from a clean chord sequence to a distorted riff.
This detailed guide to the best ABY pedals available will hopefully have inspired you to make the right choice. In truth, all of the switchers on this list will do the job for you.
So, it comes down to how much space you have on your pedal board and how many extra controls you would like the pedal to provide you with.
I’ve had a lot of fun experimenting with ABY pedals in the past. I began by running all of my effects from my bass into a guitar amp, then using a switcher to simultaneously power the output of my clean bass amp.
It takes some time to figure out, but the process is definitely an enjoyable one.