If you’ve ever been playing live and found that your guitar signal got lost somewhere in the mix, then picking up a trusty boost pedal is an easy solution. These pedals are relatively simple in design, but can make a surprising difference to your tone, making it pop at just the right time for that solo or catchy lead riff.
These pedals offer an additional amplification stage right at your feet, but can also be used in various other ways. For instance, if you want to push your amp to produce an even more saturated distortion. In this guide, we'll help you pick the right boost pedal for your tone, along with a ranking of the top 10 best in the UK on Amazon, eBay and Gear4music!
As with most guitar pedals, if you spent any time scouring the internet, then you’ll know there are tonnes of options available. Whether you’re looking for a straightforward amplifier stage, or a pedal that offers some EQ as well, we’ll help you make the best decision for your tone.
The first place to start when choosing a boost pedal, is to consider the different styles available. There are four main variations – clean boost, EQ boost, preamp boost and treble boost - and in this section, we’ll look at the pros and cons of each one.
The most straightforward of the four are clean boosts. These pedals are built to push your signal that bit louder, without adding any clipping or other distortion. Usually, these pedals have a signal knob, making them perfect for all types of players as they’re easy to control and understand.
Furthermore, these tend to play well with other pedals in your rig, especially fuzz or distortion. This is because they can alter the characteristics and colour of other pedals, giving you different flavours and sounds. They’re a little one dimensional, sure, but they’re probably the best place to start.
Next, you have the EQ boost pedal. This style allows guitarists to add more sophisticated layers to their tone. Often, these pedals will have a few more controls (something we’ll touch on later) that allow for alterations to specific frequencies, or other parts of their signal.
EQ pedals range from simple to a little more complicated, so they're probably best reserved for intermediate to advanced players. However, that shouldn’t put you off if you’ve got the time to noodle about and learn the stompbox.
Again, these work well with other pedals in a signal chain, and adding them to your other distortion stages can unlock whole different levels of tone potential from what you already have!
The preamp pedal is a more modern incarnation of the boost pedal, often based on classic pieces of audio gear from yesteryear, such as the EP-3 Echoplex or old school Neve consoles. These boxes not only add volume, but provide musicians with a more dynamic and consistent sound by adding compression.
These are a popular option nowadays, as players can recreate the sound of tube amps, without needing to own one. Not only this, but some preamp pedals have multiple channels, providing a guitarists with a few different sounds within the stompbox. Sadly, they tend to be more expensive, and might not be ideal if you only want to amplify your tone.
Finally, you have treble boosters. This is a single transistor booster that gets its name from rolling off a lot of the low-end from you signal. These pedals were famously used by Queen guitarist Brian May, and many others of that era, who were pushing their amps so hard that the sound became muddy.Thankfully, treble boosters were perfect for cleaning it up.
However, these pedals do have their downfalls too. For example, they can be a little noisy when using a germanium-type transistor, and nothing ruins one’s tone like that little buzz that never seems to go away. But if you’re unhappy with how much bass sound you’re getting when turning your amplifier up, then trying a treble booster could save your skin!
We touched briefly on the controls earlier, but it's worth circling back to cover this aspect in more detail. Generally speaking, boost pedals are simple, so seeing one with only one control knob (usually level) shouldn’t put you off.
However, if you want more control over your sound, then you’ll want to look for pedals that come with options such as high and low, frequency, bass, middle, treble and EQ control. Of course, you're unlikely to get all of these options, but having a combination of these can be beneficial.
Although boost pedals will typically be straightforward to navigate, fiddling with the controls will colour your signal from the amp. That's why it’s worth messing with them slowly and in an orderly manner. Otherwise, you could find that you've lost the tone you liked, or the one you started with.
Last but not least, you’ll want to consider the dimensions of the boost pedal. This is important if you’re building up quite an array of different stompboxes, as transporting your gear is often half the battle for a a budding pedal connoisseur.
Thankfully, these circuits are relatively simple, so most pedals will come as either mini or standard versions, but nothing ever too big or heavy. This will make your job of lugging the gear around much easier, as well as not annoying the sound tech or the rest of your band when you turn up with a pedalboard that takes up half the stage!
Now that we’ve covered the main features, let’s get onto the fun part – the shopping! Within our recommendations, we've ranked some of the most popular boost pedals available today, from big brands to boutique options, we’ve got something for every player and every budget.
|Controls||5 - level, bass, treble, middle, frequency|
|Dimensions||12.4 x 6.9 x 6.3 cm|
|Controls||1 - boost|
|Dimensions||11.4 x 6.9 x 5.3 cm|
|Controls||2 - level, treble tones|
|Dimensions||23 x 7.4 x 5.8 cm|
|Controls||6 - volume, EQ, bass, middle, treble, low cut filter|
|Dimensions||12.1 x 6.6 x 4 cm|
|Controls||6 - hi, low, frequency x 2, oil|
|Dimensions||13 x 9.5 x 6.5 cm|
|Controls||1 - level|
|Dimensions||9.2 x 4.7 x 3.8 cm|
|Controls||1 - volume|
|Dimensions||13.2 x 7.4 x 5.8 cm|
|Controls||1 - volume|
|Dimensions||8.9 x 3.8 x 3.8 cm|
|Controls||3 - bright, middle, frequency|
|Dimensions||12.1 x 6.6 x 3.3 cm|
|Controls||1 - level|
|Dimensions||9.3 x 4.8 x 4.8 cm|
Spark Mini Booster
Emissary Parallel Boost
Two Stroke Boost EQ
Ranger Treble Booster
A Modern Classic
A Truly Unique Take On the Boost Pedal
Popular With Pedal Builders
Inside Switches Change the Flavour
A Special Circuit Creates More Headroom
Recreation of a Cult-Classic
Drive Your Amp Hard Whilst Maintaining a Perky Tone
From the 60s With Love (And Some Compression)
Mids Allow For a Dynamic Range of Boost
|Type||Clean||EQ, preamp||Preamp||Treble, clean||Clean, preamp||EQ||Preamp||Treble||Clean||EQ|
|Controls||1 - level||3 - bright, middle, frequency||1 - volume||1 - volume||1 - level||6 - hi, low, frequency x 2, oil||6 - volume, EQ, bass, middle, treble, low cut filter||2 - level, treble tones||1 - boost||5 - level, bass, treble, middle, frequency|
|Dimensions||9.3 x 4.8 x 4.8 cm||12.1 x 6.6 x 3.3 cm||8.9 x 3.8 x 3.8 cm||13.2 x 7.4 x 5.8 cm||9.2 x 4.7 x 3.8 cm||13 x 9.5 x 6.5 cm||12.1 x 6.6 x 4 cm||23 x 7.4 x 5.8 cm||11.4 x 6.9 x 5.3 cm||12.4 x 6.9 x 6.3 cm|
If you've found your collection of pedals has been steadily growing, it might be time to build a custom pedalboard. Not only will this help you discover a world of new tonal possibilities, but can take live performances to the next level!
So there you have it, our comprehensive guide to finding the perfect boost. Whether you're jamming at the studio, or on the stage, a boost pedal can help you break through the mix, as well as taking your tone to new levels. Here's to everyone hearing your sweet lead riffs!
Author: Lewis Clark
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