OBEL stands for On-Board Effects Loop. It is a wiring design inside the guitar which uses a separate 1/4" stereo jack to allow the direct output from the pickups to go to effects pedals and then back into the guitar for post-effects volume control. The purpose of the OBEL is to allow for volume adjustments on the guitar after being processed by effects. You may notice that distortion and envelope filters respond differently with volume adjustments on a standard electric guitar. Using an OBEL allows for consistent response from your effects pedals/processors at any guitar volume.
We recommend to use a junction box with a stereo 1/4" guitar cable to connect the guitar to a junction box (a stereo Y-cable can be used instead). A junction box looks like an effects pedal. It has a 1/4" stereo input jack on one side, which is where the stereo guitar cable from the guitar's OBEL jack plugs into. The other side of the junction box has 2 mono 1/4" jacks. One of those jacks is a send to the input of your effects the other is a return from the output of your effects. Using one mono guitar fx patch cable, connect the send from the junction box into the input of your first effect pedal, and the the return from the junction box plugs into the output of your last effects pedal in the chain.
Yes, you do not have to use the OBEL in order to plug in your guitar to your effects. You can simply bypass the OBEL using the OBEL bypass mini-toggle switch on the guitar and use the guitar as a standard electric guitar with your effect pedals plugged in-line between your guitar and amp.
The answer is yes. You do need a working 9V battery installed at all times to hear sound coming out of the main output, even with the OBEL bypassed. The pre-amp is always active in the signal and the pre-amp is powered on by plugging in a guitar cable to the main output. To save battery life, unplug the guitar cable when not playing your guitar. If you accidentally leave the cable plugged into the guitar, the battery would drain out in about 2 weeks, that's about 14 full 24 hour days of battery life from a single 9V.
The Godfrey Daniels HubBub Junction Box is wired Tip to Send, and Ring to Return. Sometime in 2018, we made sure that PHRED instruments guitars moving forward are wired with the OBEL I/O jack on the guitar to be compatible with the Godfrey Daniels HubBub and HubBub Stage Pro Junction Boxes.
If you are experiencing issues with your OBEL equipped guitar and a Godfrey Daniels HubBub Junction Box, there are few things you can try to troubleshoot the issue.
1. Plug a regular mono guitar cable into the Main Output jack on the guitar. The other end of the cable should be unplugged. This is just to power on the pre-amp, if your guitar has a pre-amp. Most guitars with OBEL have a pre-amp.
2. Plug another standard mono guitar cable into the OBEL I/O jack, and the other end of that cable directly into your guitar amp.
3. Put the MINI toggle into OBEL mode, and you should get sound if the OBEL jack on the guitar is wired correctly. The volume knob on the guitar won't work in this test, and that's ok, as the volume on the guitar is bypassed for this test. Here's a video that shows how to perform the test above.
This test is mostly specific to PHRED guitars with copper foil inside the electronics cavity or with a dual output jack plate. If you perform Test #1 above and don't get sound, we'll need to make sure that neither the tip or ring lug on the OBEL jack are grounded somehow to the copper foil inside the electronics cavity. You can visually inspect for this by removing the electronics panel on the back. If any part of the OBEL jack is touching one of the screws that is securing the Dual Output Jack plate, then there could be grounding. The best way to check is with a multimeter. Here's a video on how to test for that.
If you have performed Test #1 and Test #2 (inspected for grounding of the tip or ring lugs, and there is no grounding, and also no sound from Test #1) then it's recommend to swap the wires that connect to the tip and ring lugs on the OBEL jack. This will require soldering. Here's a video that shows which wires need to be swapped.