Large pedalboards with uncountable pedals on them might weaken the signal or at least change the sound in a certain way. In this case, it is secondary whether you use true bypass pedals or buffered ones. Even the length of the cables on your pedalboard will influence the sound. A purist plugs his guitar directly into the amp. Doubtless, this might be a very special sound experience because the signal will be loud and direct. But for most styles of music, this won’t be the perfect solution.
Even blues-guitarists who adjust the amp slightly overdriving and tune the degree of overdrive via the volume pot of their guitar, occasionally use at least a booster or something similar.
Joe Bonamassa seems to be like many other guitarists: on one tour he uses a pedalboard with several effects on it and on the next tour he has reduced his equipment to a minimum. I think, it is all about finding the balance between tone and functionality.
And because guitarists are in the rarest of cases satisfied with their sound, they are always searching for a better sonic solution.
Nobody dictates that a guitarist is allowed to use only one guitar, one cable and one amplifier. To be honest, I don’t know even one singe guitarist who constantly played his guitar that way. No matter if it is a Fuzz Face, a Tubescreamer or a delay pedal for a slightly slapback – there is always something beneath the feet of a guitarist. Even if it is a TC chorus used to split the signal.
In my honest opinion, pedals are necessary to improve the sound and to create various sonic nuances. Pedals have not been invented to impair the bypass signal, but to improve the sound. Frequently, this “inferior” signal is only perceived subjectively because the pedalboard reduces the volume quite slightly or lowers the bass or the heights in a certain way. These nuances can easily be readjusted via the amplifier.
Or you use an “always-on”-booster to freshen up the sound (click here for more information).
And, the electric guitar – a relatively young instrument – has not been designed to be played clean only. The pure sound of the tonewood will always be influenced by the pickups, the cables and the amplifier.
The focus is therefore less the desire for a specifically natural as for a especially nice sound.
Above all it is important that you feel comfortable with your pedalboard, that it is easy to handle and that the pedals can be changed quick and easily.
In the end, a pedalboard is something like the “ink fountain” of the guitarist which has to be arranged according to the respective mood.
Click here to learn more about downsizing.