Do Guitar Pedals Use Power When Turned Off?

Guitar pedals are fundamental for achieving the tone you have in your head.

And as one of the centerpieces of your rig, you should take proper care of them.

Preventing them from running when not needed will probably not do a lot, but it’s always a nice habit to develop.

In edge cases as power surges or extreme conditions where they could overheat, making sure they are off is very important.

But, to get to the point: Do guitar pedals use power when they are turned off? Here’s a short answer to that:

Guitar pedals draw current from the grid even when turned off. This is because most of them are designed to always be running to avoid clicks and noises when turning on or shutting down. The best way to make sure your pedal is completely off is by unplugging your power supply and removing the batteries.

In this article, I will dive deep into this topic and try to answer the main questions you might have about it.

You will leave with a clearer idea of how to take proper care of your pedals, and how to ensure they are not running silently when you don’t want them to.

Are you ready to get started?

Let’s go!

Do true bypass pedals draw power when off?

Even true bypass will draw power when they are turned off, this is because effects tend to be always running silently so that when you turn them on you get a clean transition into their sound.

The true bypass feature just means that when they’re off the signal skips them altogether.

That doesn’t prevent them from keeping running silently.

The best way to make sure your pedals are not drawing power from the grid is by unplugging them from your rig completely and removing their batteries.

Removing any audio jacks connected to their inputs or outputs could trigger an internal switch that shuts their silent functionality, but this is a feature, not every pedal has.

Do buffered pedals use power when off?

Buffered pedals use power even when they are turned off, this is because their buffers still require energy to keep running.

But, in many cases, the main pedal effect will still be running even when the pedal is off. 

This is to prevent clicks and pops when turning on or off the effect.

An always-on pedal, as mentioned earlier, helps prevent unwanted noises during your performance.

So, to recap, even if the indicator led is off, your pedal might still be taking power from the supply.

Do pedals draw battery energy when turned off?

Battery-powered pedals could still be drawing energy when they are off or bypassed because they also stay running silently to avoid clicks and pops when it’s their turn to come into the signal chain.

Pedals connected to a power supply that have a battery inside them will most likely not draw energy from it, since many designs have a switch that bypasses the battery when there’s an external power source connected.

The best way to preserve your batteries anyway is to make sure you remove them every time you finished playing and storing them in a dry cool environment.

Another way, if you plan on playing again in a few hours, for instance, is unplugging every audio jack from their inputs and outputs, since it’s very likely that there’s an internal switch that would shut down their functions when this happens.

Do guitar pedals still drain energy when off and connected to a power supply?

Guitar pedals do still drain energy when they are turned off but are still connected to a power supply

The best way of checking this is by placing your hand over the power brick and feeling its warmth. 

This happens because most pedals will remain on their standby mode of silent running waiting for being turned on again and providing a seamless transition into the signal chain.

The best way to make sure you are not drawing current from the grid when you do not intend to do so is by:

  • Turning off your power brick
  • Unplugging it
  • Unplugging your pedals
  • Unplugging all cables from the inputs/outputs of your pedals

I consider this an important thing to take care of because it will add unwanted runtime to your gear, it will expose it to power surges, and can even lead to overheating issues.

These boring extra steps when you finish playing will pay off long term.

Do pedals use less power when turned off?

The power consumption of pedals, when turned off (or in standby mode), will depend exclusively on their design and the type of effect they provide.

I think most pedals will draw the same energy from your power supply even when they are off, but this is because their draw is not that big.

However, it’s important to mention that simpler circuits such as overdrive or distortions use way less power than more complex effects like modulations.

I don’t think your electric bill (or the environment, yeah) will suffer greatly from you leaving your pedalboard plugged in 24/7, but just to be extra careful with your precious gear, it would be great if you could make sure everything is off when you are not using it.