For guitarists, the quest for the perfect tone can often lead to a mesmerizing number of guitar pedals, each promising to enhance the sound in unique ways. However, amid the insane assortment of pedals that add saturation, noise, or dramatic tonal change, the clean boost pedal has one simple job: elevate the guitar’s output without compromising its inherent characteristics, letting the instrument’s natural voice shine through. At its core, the purpose of the clean boost is to increase the level of your guitar signal while adding as little color as possible. Sounds simple, right?
In this article, we look at the best boost pedals on the market for your guitar rig.
- Best Boost Pedals – Product Roundup
- Selecting a Clean Boost Pedal – Buyers Guide
- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Best Boost Pedals – Product Roundup
Xotic EP Booster Mini Boost Pedal
This pedal stands out for its simplicity and exceptional performance. The Xotic EP Booster Pedal embodies the core functions a guitarist seeks from a clean boost effect. In other words, transparent boost. Its design was inspired by the EP-3 echo effects processor’s preamp stage, offering up to 20dB of boost with internal dip switches that adjust the EQ curve. This ensures prominence in the mix, emphasizing your guitar playing without tonal alteration.
Its compactness is a virtue, permitting integration into virtually any pedal setup, and its true bypass feature guarantees an unaffected signal when disengaged. For further customization, internal EQ adjustment can attenuate specific frequencies, providing subtle sonic tailoring.
Keeley Katana Mini Clean Boost Pedal
The Keeley Katana Mini Clean Boost Pedal is a classic example of convenience and function in a lean package. Its boost is clean and definitive, ideal for maintaining tonal integrity across various styles, from the pristine to the heavily distorted.
Its size and single knob makes it a nondisruptive addition to any pedal collection, and while straightforward in its primary function, it also houses subtle EQ refinement options within. This could be the preferred choice for those satisfied with their core tone seeking a modest volume enhancement.
TC Electronic Spark Mini Boost Pedal
When budget considerations are paramount without wanting to sacrifice quality, the TC Electronic Spark Mini Signal Booster is a fantastic option. Affordably priced and sporting durable design features, it offers a simple boost of up to 20dB.
This is one the most affordable boost pedals, engineered with a true bypass feature. It stands as testament to the fact that cost efficiency and performance can coexist in the realm of clean boost pedals.
TC Electronic Spark Booster Pedal
For those desiring a pedal with extended capabilities beyond a mere volume increase, the TC Electronic Spark Booster Pedal is a compelling choice. Apart from providing a clean volume lift, it possesses a set of intuitive controls designed to craft your guitar’s tone meticulously, making it a pretty versatile pedal.
With knobs for gain, level, bass, and treble, along with a toggle switch for preset voicings, this pedal doubles as a tone-shaping tool and overdrive effect. Its versatility makes it a highly resourceful pedal for discerning guitarists looking to finesse their output for either rhythm or lead parts at an inviting price point.
EarthQuaker Devices Arrows V2 Preamp Booster Pedal
To stand out during live performances, one might seek a pedal that facilitates smooth operational use without creating unintended noise. The EarthQuaker Devices Arrows V2 Preamp Pedal features a soft switch that activates without a click, offering undisturbed transitions between volume levels.
Not only does it provide a seamless boost suitable for different sections of a performance, but it also upholds the original tonal characteristics with increased loudness. The level adjustment on this pedal is both precise and satisfying, making it a perennial favorite among performing guitarists.
Fender Engager Boost Pedal
The Fender Engager Volume Boost Pedal earns its status as one of the most adaptable units due to its comprehensive set of features, which cater to an array of sonic needs. Whether you’re adding volume to your solos or seeking a refined boosted tone, this pedal displays a strong command of versatility.
Its construction promises an enduring presence on any pedalboard, making it a sound investment for guitarists who prioritize diversity in their sonic arsenal. Embodying precision and advanced functionality, the Fender Engager stands as a testament to the multifaceted nature of modern clean boost pedals.
Selecting a Clean Boost Pedal – Buyers Guide
Clarity of Signal Enhancement
Boost stompboxes aim to elevate your sound level while maintaining the original sonic characteristics of your instrument. Users should seek pedals capable of an undistorted volume increase. Testing the pedal’s ability to remain sonically unobtrusive, such as the models like Xotic EP and Keeley Katana Mini, is critical to ensuring the authenticity of your instrument’s voice is preserved.
Volume Lift Capability
It’s crucial to ascertain how much a pedal can elevate your signal. Typically found in the product’s detailed specifications, a common standard is around 20dB of elevation. Some models even offer a lift up to 26dB, catering to various needs.
Pedals generally employ either a true bypass or a buffered bypass approach. True bypass directly connects the input to the output, maintaining the pure tone when disengaged. Buffered bypass can enhance signal integrity over long cable runs, possibly altering the tone subtly. The choice between true bypass for unaltered tone and buffered bypass for signal clarity depends on the user’s setup complexity and personal preference.
The physical dimensions of a pedal can play a pivotal role for those with limited space. Compact options like the Xotic EP Mini or Katana Mini are ideal for cluttered pedalboards, while larger pedals pose no issue for spacious setups. Standardization in pedal dimensions means the size concern is generally minimal unless board real estate is at a premium.
Some stompboxes double as clean boost and additional effects units, such as EQ or overdrive. For those requiring versatile functionality, consider pedals like the TC Electric Spark that integrate multiple effects, simplifying pedalboard setups and expanding creative possibilities.
When selecting a pedal, considering these aspects will help ensure that the pedal not only fits your technical needs but also complements your musical expression.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
The Role of a Clean Boost Pedal
A clean boost pedal primarily raises your guitar’s volume level while maintaining the original sound character. Subtle changes in the tonal dynamics, like a slight increase in richness or certain frequencies becoming more prominent, may occur.
Distinction Between Clean Boost and Distortion/Overdrive Pedals
Clean boost pedals provide an increase to the guitar signal’s volume cleanly, without introducing any deliberate distortion or overdrive. While they add gain, this gain is devoid of grit. However, it’s important to note that at higher gain settings, especially with tube amps, clean boost may lead to a more overdriven sound profile.
Optimal Placement of Clean Boost in the Signal Chain
Placing a clean boost pedal can be flexible, yet an effective spot is after a distortion or an overdrive pedal within your signal chain. This positioning allows you to amplify the existing tone, enhancing volume without altering the effects applied. Modulation effects like chorus and delay, are often set towards the end of the signal chain.
Impact of Clean Boost Pedals on Guitar Tone
While clean boost pedals are designed to amplify the signal rather than change the tone, they can still affect the tonal qualities, especially if you’re using one with a tube amp. For instance, boosting the signal in a tube amp’s preamp stage will generally produce a more pronounced natural tube saturation, and with significant boosting, can lead to tube distortion. With any amplifier, a clean boost pedal can introduce a subtle saturation, sometimes resulting in a fuller, warmer sound, even when the overall tone remains clean. Experimenting with your clean boost pedal’s settings is the best method to explore these tonal variations.