• Mach Analog Seagull/Clean Buffer review

    Buffers – it sounds technical but they can do wonders to a cluttered pedal board and endless signal chains. There are different ways of adding buffers to your setup but I recently came across the Mach Seagull/Clean Buffer – a dedicated buffer pedal. Here’s my review.

    Let’s face it people. Most of us don’t pay enough attention to what signal loss does to the tone. Noise, malfunction, dying batteries etc is easy to detect and eliminate but loss of treble, dynamics, sustain etc is harder to notice simply because we usually have lots of pedals that colour the tone and loud amps sound deadly no matter what. I will be the first to admit that I have failed on this matter. Apart from using good quality cables and having a trusty old Boss DD2 (with buffers) at the end of the chain, I haven’t done much to compensate for several true bypass pedals and the biggest tone killer of them all – the wah wah.

    The reason you want buffers is that the pickups alone aren’t designed to drive the signal through huge pedal boards and meters of cable. Most of us solve that – perhaps without even knowing it – with a couple of Boss pedals among the true bypass ones. But unless you have a perfectly balanced board as David’s Cornish board, I recommend that you don’t have too many buffers and that you have some idea of where to place them. Now, I won’t go into details here so check out this feature for some tips and my cents on the subject.

    The Mach Seagull/Clean Buffer is housed in a rugged die cast (aprox T Rex sized) box with a bright led and high quality switch and jacks. The pedal is actually a dual effect with a clean buffer/booster and a reversed wah circuit for those classic Echoes screams.

    The buffer side is active with the high input impedance of a tube amp (1 meg ohm), meaning that you can’t switch off the pedal but that’s the whole nature of it. Setting the drive at 0, treble and bass at noon and the volume all the way gives you a unity level with the amp. The drive control allows considerable volume boost with a mild crunch when you turn it all the way up. The treble and bass acts as an EQ.

    Sound clips:
    I’m using a Fender Stratocaster with Seymour Duncan SSL5 bridge pickup with a Blackout Effectors Musket Big Muff into a Laney Cub12. Delays and reverb is added digitally in Logic. The clips are recorded with a Shure SM57 about 4″ from the grill, slightly off axis.

    Sorrow solo excerpt – Mach (flat settings) added after the Muff on the second clip. Notice how the tone gets brighter and more defined when the Mach is added.

    Seagull effect

    The seagull section is basically a reversed vintage inductive wah circuit activated by the on/off stomp switch. A dedicated volume control allows full control over the volume from 0-100%.

    Now, you may ask your self “what do I need this pedal for”. I did ask my self that very same question and I did need to spend some time getting to know it. I’m also sceptical to pedals that feature names that are used for obvious marketing reasons. But this isn’t your average clean booster or overdrive but a tool much like a compressor or EQ. I placed it after the gain pedals and set everything to neutral. I instantly recognized a brighter tone with more dynamics and attack and a signal that seemed to respond better to the guitar and amp. Increasing the drive control adds noticeable volume boost and a slight crunch, which is great for adding a bit more bite to the cleans or for boosting the Muff or Tube Driver (or any other distortion/overdrive). The overdrive isn’t the best I’ve heard but turning it all the way up, rolling off the treble a hair and lowering the volume to compensate for the volume boost, produce some very convincing Colorsound Power Boost tones. It needs a tube amp though as it sounds a bit harsh on solid states. I tried the pedal on both a Reeves 50w and a Laney 15w tube heads and it works nicely on both. In fact, a home set up often sound dark without the rich dynamics a loud amp produce but the Mach cleaned it up nicely even on the lowest volume levels.

    The seagull feature is pretty straight forward. Engage the effect and follow the instructions shown here. The dedicated volume control allows you to lower the output volume, which can be quite deafening with a wah wah pedal. The effect works well (you need vintage style single coils) but not as smooth as with a wah. I had to adjust my technique slightly to get that “laughing” effect right before you roll the tone all the way down. Still, to have this effect incorporated in a pedal saves me a lot of hassle – and no, I don’t want to mod my wah…

    The Mach Seagull/Clean Buffer might seem like one of those boring pedals you don’t want to spend your savings on. After all, a good distortion or delay is much more fun to use. But, I would say that a good buffer/booster does much more for your rig than a compressor or EQ. In 90% of the cases where I need something extra I always go for the booster (Tube Driver, ThroBak Overdrive Boost, Boos BD2 etc than a compressor or EQ – more on that here.)The transparent signal allows you to have complete control of your tones and use the effect for that certain something that makes everything sound better. Check out machanalog.com for more information.

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19 Responsesso far.

  1. Jeff Tucker says:

    Hey, Bjorn. We are pulling Echoes back into our set this year. I have looked around for this pedal for purchase, as I am tired of fulling with/rerouting the wah to do it the way DG originally did it. I can’t seem to find the Mach unit. Is someone else making something similar? Love the site. Keep up the good work. Shine On.

  2. Bryce says:

    Thanks for the info! Yeah, I do place the fuzz in front of the wah but it was still very feedback-y and harsh sounding. So I dont know why that is. Well, this makes me consider getting pedal more. Thanks again!

  3. Bryce says:

    Hi Bjorn, would it be un-wise to use this pedal on a fuzz heavy pedal board? I use the mjm london fuzz and the analogman sunface bc-108 and I remember you saying that buffers with these pedals are a no no but I have 10 pedals on my board and most are true bypass. I also want a seagull effect at my disposal since my current wah (a Teese RMC Wizard wah) is unable to get that effect. I have a Vox wah that can do it, but alas, it doesnt work friendly with my fuzzes (Gets really screechy and ear-piercing). Any suggestions?

    [The buffer works nicely if you don’t place it next to a fuzz. Place a couple of true bypass pedals between and you should be fine. Both the classic Cry Baby and Vox goes well with fuzz but you need to place the fuzz in front of the way… – Bjorn]

  4. Johan says:

    Hello Björn,

    Maybe the answer is obvious, but where would you put this pedal in your chain? Given that it is a buffer I would assume it should go last. However, considering the “seagull” effect and its interaction with the delay, shouldn’t it be placed before the delay? What’s your advice on this?

    [Up to you really. I like to have boosters after the high gain effects and in front of modulations. You could also place this one in front of the delays to better utilize the buffer stage. – Bjorn]

  5. Eric Nyberg says:

    Hey Bjorn, Wanted to give you my compliments on All Rights Removed, I’m enjoying it tremendously. Interesting tone at the tail end of The Bridge. Light Them All Up was heartbreaking…

    [Thank you Eric! Glad you enjoy the new album :) – Bjorn]

  6. Daniele says:

    We talk about the trasparency of the buffer, but the Cornish buffer affect the sound, it add something high and add some special movement in the guitar sound

    [It’s not adding anything. What appears to be brighter is actually the pure unaffected tone. Long cables and lots of pedals makes the signal darker but a good buffer maintains the true signal from the guitar. – Bjorn]

  7. Steve says:

    There is no modding involved, all you do is reverse the connection from amp to pedal and pedal to guitar. So, put the guitar into the amp plugin, and the amp into the guitar plug in, and then you’ll get the seagull sound.

  8. Keith Johns says:

    Your new Airbag CD came in the post today – I’m on run through 10 or so…..Homesick is epic…..congrats to you all……love the shark dude toon cover, very classy.

    [Thanks Keith! Glad you like the album :) – Bjorn]

  9. João says:

    OUT OF TOPIC

    Please ear the Immersion Box!!! The live concert was remixed and there are alternate mixes of the album! There is another perception of the sound!
    Now we can see how the mix process can modify the original tone!

    Cheers!

    [Yeah, I’ve been listening to it a lot lately. Love the new Wembley ’74 mix. Cheers! – Bjorn]

  10. keith johns says:

    Hi Bjorn, waiting for the new CD in the post on the 17………
    I’ve been using the Z cable by Gig Rig instead of a buffer with my TC G-System for the past couple of months with amazing results. Keith

    [Thank you Keith! – Bjorn]

  11. marty says:

    Great review as usual Bjorn. I have been using this pedal now for over 6 months and have found it to be perfect for my use, which is playing pink floyd! Has never let me down and makes the whole sound better and makes the seagull effect at the push of a button rather than re- routing wah cables all the time. Have found that using my candy emg strat makes it redundant however as the active pickups don’t need a buffer and the reverse wah effect won’t work with active pickups, but with my black strat pure bliss! Cheers

    [Thanks for your input. – Bjorn]

  12. Alex says:

    Hi Bjorn,

    I use my EO MoonVibe for the buffering and clean boost thing. It’s always active (chorus mode) and gives me some slight modulation in addition. For Breathe I just switch to phaser mode. Well, works good for me. Though it was kind of a mental struggle to accept that the *not vintage mode* actually sounded better in my rig ^^

    Cheers,
    Alex

    [It’s always hard to accept the unexpected :) – Bjorn]

  13. richard says:

    hey bjorn,

    definately gets brighter, but did you cramp the musket fuzz between a dozen other pedals or did you just plug in your guitar into the fuzz –> mach–> amp? if latter, it would make no point since you wouldn’t need a buffer anyway, the mach just puts some treble on top of the tone.
    know what i mean?
    speaking of the musket fuzz, i’m looking for a new sovtek muff clone for those PULSE tones, and was wondering if you’d choose the musket over a toptone dg-1? which of those would you get if you wouldn’t care that the dg-1 is nearly twice as much? i’m asking because the musket in your soundclip sounds really great, much better than in your review a few months ago..
    i play on a laney cub12, if that matters (you did a great jon in promoting these little things ;)

    wish you all the best!
    cheers

    [I used a big setup with 12 pedals (my home practice board), so the difference is quite noticeable. I guess I’d go for the Musket. Especially with the Laney. Both are great pedals but the Musket is a bit more versatile and works better on lower volume levels. – Bjorn]

  14. martin says:

    nice review (as always), but i prefer the wampler clean buffer (http://www.pedalspluseffectswarehouse.com/WAMPLER_Clean_Buffer_w_Footswitch_Mod_p/wmplr-clnbffs.htm).
    why? the wampler pedal does exact the same job for less money.
    sure, no seagull-effect – but i think that effect does not sound quite alright on the mach pedal.
    if someone has five or more pedals on his board it is really recommended using a clean buffer.

  15. PAUL says:

    Totally agree Bjorn,
    A good buffer can do wonders for anybody running certain stomp boxes, when placed in certain positions. In my particular situation I found a dedicated buffer works best at the end of the effect chain, along with a switchable buffer at the beginning of the effect chain. If it wasn’t for my MJM 60’s Vibe, I probably would not need a switchable buffer at the beginning. Without it I lose noticeable treble on that effect only. A pity the Mach Seagull uses the foot switch for the seagull effect only. As the 60’s Vibe runs on 18 volts, I’m on the lookout for a 18 volt switchable buffer beforehand, for the extra headroom. Leaning towards a MXR CAE MC-401. Wish you were better friends with Pete Cornish, so you could do a demo of his LD-3 Line driver. That would be something to hear, as far a humble buffer comparison. Although, 289 GBP might scare the majority of folk.

    [You might be right about that :) – Bjorn]

  16. Hey! Very cool!

    If that pedal really helps to clean the sound, it’s great!

    I used a Cry baby to get the seagul effect. The buffer is on the oposite side of the one in VOX models, so instead of a volume pedal to lower the signal we needed a booster / overdrive to increase de volume. It was great and more pratical than a Vox Wha… now we don’t need that no more!

    Lets see the price…

  17. Nick Veekens says:

    Hi Bjorn,

    Nice review. I read an article about this pedal some time ago but the price was rather steep.

    Can you tell me how this pedal compares to or differs from the gullmour pedal “gulleffectwise”.

    Best regards from the Nehterlands.

    Nick

    [It’s more or less the same. – Bjorn]

  18. Vadim says:

    Hi Bjorn!
    As always excellent, informative Review! I recently bought booster, have produced in Russia by the SMB (http://www.smb-effects.ru/booster.html). The sound of this pedal alone (with Delay) very pleased me because very similar to the Power Bosst, which David used to 72-77 years. However, attempt to use it in place with after the Rat again made ​​me frustrated, because get a lot of noise with a sharp thin sound. In this case I used Hiwatt Mawatt G50 CMR. However, the pickups in my guitar is not good, I do not even know the manufacturer. Can the replacement pickups such as you solve the problem of noise when using Rat+booster?
    Yours sincerely
    Vadim.

    [Perhaps but keep in mind that the RAT has a lot of gain and doesn’t really need a booster. If you do, be sure to set the booster clean and roll off the gain on the RAT to around 12:00. You might also need to lower the tone a bit. – Bjorn]

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