Sometimes you just can’t get enough gain. You might need more volume or the power of your signal has been drained by your pedals and cables. You might also want to drive a distortion pedal, or a tube amplifier harder.
This is the purpose of the best boost pedal. It does this in a quiet manner so that you don’t have any worries about noise or distortion.
Many guitarists will be in bypass mode waiting for their solo, then they will engage with the audience and deliver the best experience of their lives.
There are many uses for boost. The consensus is that having one is better than needing it.
With that said, we’ll be covering the basics of these pedals, including how they work, how to use them, and what features you should look for when shopping. You’ll be able to make an informed purchase after this brief discussion.
We’ll share our top picks from the current line-up to help you get started. They offer the best and most efficient gain.
What is the Boost effect?
The boost effect does nothing more than increase the volume of a sound signal. This effect is designed to give more gain than the preamp or guitar’s pickup can provide.
Problem is, the higher you crank up the volume, the greater the noise floor in your signal. Boost pedals can boost the signal without affecting your tone or increasing noise.
There are two main reasons they’re used. First, many players of rock and metal want to push their amps harder in order to create a natural distortion.
This is the second purpose for players who have large pedalboards. Tone suck is a condition where players feel the effects of jumping through all of their pedals. This causes signal degradation and volume loss. Boost can prevent or make up this loss. Buffer pedals are available to help with this second issue.
This is due to the fact that many pedals, especially older ones, don’t have a true bypass. Also, guitar cables can accumulate noise over long runs. You can boost your signal before or after it reaches your amplifier.
What are the Top Boost Pedals?
A boost should only do that, according to the purist definition. This tool will increase your amplitude by the desired amount, and it will do this in a transparent and clean manner. There are many options on the market to add color to your signal.
Some people love it, feeling warmth and fullness. Others don’t like it because it changes your tone. It’s your choice, but it is important to be aware of what you are doing and how you can avoid it. You may need a true bypass for those who color their signal. This will allow you to turn the flavor on and off.
A second consideration is whether you prefer the nano size pedal. Some guitarists prefer that all their pedals are the same size, while others may mix and match. You can squeeze a boost into a tiny size.
Most boosts come with an on-off switch that you can turn and a knob that you can use to adjust the volume. Some boosts now have an equalization section. This usually includes treble, bass, and sometimes mids.
They might also include a gain knob. Assuming most people already own or plan to purchase an EQ pedal, or that another pedal has one with an EQ section, I would guess they do. This is something to think about. You can choose between a simple or more complicated nano boost.
How to use a Boost pedal
Boost is not a traditional effect, but rather an additional volume knob that allows for greater gain. This should give you a good idea of where it can be used in your signal chain. However, we will quickly explain and provide an overview of all knobs that you will find. These are not like a volume pedal which you would use at the end your signal chain.
WHERE DO YOU PLACE IT IN THE SIGNAL CHAIN
Your signal path must follow a specific, logical and natural order in which your guitar pedals should appear. It works like this:
- Dynamics, Filters, and Pitch Shifters
- Boost & Distortion
Before you turn on your boost to get that extra gain (almost always to cause distortion), make sure you take care of the basics like compression, equalization and pitch shifting. After that, turn up the volume to get your distortion. Because you want to distort first before adding delay or modulation, it is only natural that your additional gain should be added at the second stage.
UNDERSTANDING KNOB SETTINGS
You have probably seen some boost pedals before. In 99% of cases there is only one knob to use. This is Gain. These pedals are only for gain.
You might see some with an EQ stage. This is fine if your goal is to have as few pedals possible. Don’t be afraid to use the jack of all trades pedals. One pedal is needed for every task. The only purpose of the pedals is to provide more volume that can be used in other effects.
The Best Boost Pedals
Note: Every image and text link takes you to Amazon.com, where you can read additional reviews, view technical details, see additional product sizes and options, and make your order.
We now know what boost pedals do and what features we should be looking out for. It’s time for us to explore the market using our overview.
They are not ranked in any particular order as they all exceeded our expectations. However, we do highlight our top choice. We also have two other models that are “best in class” in the table at top of the article. However, we recommend you look at each model below in case you prefer a different direction than ours.
MXR M113 MIRO AMP
The beloved MXR HTML113 Micro Amp offers the most bang for your buck. The operation is similar to most of the others on this list. To turn the pedal on, you simply need to step on it and then turn the knob to adjust the level of boost. It’s so simple, why is everyone so passionate about it?
It can be used to boost a passive pickup or read to drive distortion with an activate instrument.
It can be used to drive distortion, balance volume between guitars, make up for lost in long pedal chains, or boost during solos.
It is transparent and clean, with no compression, artifacts or tone loss. This makes it very useful for bass guitar and guitar. You’ve just found the holy grail if you are looking for an invisible volume knob.
- Favorite LedgerNote
XOTIC EP BOOSTER
The Xotic EP Booster is the perfect boost for you. Although you wouldn’t know it from just looking at it this mini pedal has quite a few features.
This discrete FET preamp has a maximum gain of 20 dB and a pleasant coloration. This preamp is based on the Echoplex tape delay pedal. It has a very similar sound and adds sparkle and shimmer to the classic.
You can also select the level of boost you want with two DIP switches inside. For single-coil guitars, the default setting is the Bright’ setting. However, you can switch to a Bass Boost’ setting. Surprisingly bass guitars are more easily understood when the ‘Bright” setting is used. It adds some high-end harmonics to make them understandable.
It’s called the Bass Boost, which is a strange name because it is a full frequency transparent booster. This means that you get the best of both clean and color. You can create any sound you like using your own EQ pedal.
This is the place to get both clean gain and creamy smoothness in your rig. You’ll be amazed at the high praise it has received from the music community.
CHECK PRICE AT AMAZON Clean or colored, the magic is here
TC ELECTRONIC SPRARK MINI
The TC Electronic Spark Mini is the best-selling booter among the lower priced ones. The booter offers up to 20 decibels of gain. This is enough to power a passive pickup, or drive an active instrument for distortion. Tone loss is kept to a minimum by discrete analog circuitry.
This one is more affordable than similar quality boosters and has true bypass. This is a great feature, even though many will keep it on and use it. Because it is small, it will not take up too much space on your pedalboard.
The PrimeTime feature that TC Electronic calls the Spark Mini’s unique feature is what it offers. You can use it in either a momentary mode (press and hold the switch to boost, then release the switch and it cuts off), or the on/off style of most stompboxes. The way you press the switch will determine how it knows.
This is a nice bonus feature that many other expensive options do not have. It is quiet, low-tone loss, simple to use, and very affordable. It’s loved by everyone and you will too.
An Inexpensive and Massive Boost…
The Electro-Harmonix is a remake from the 1968 model. It’s responsible for bringing overdrive to the masses. It is very simple to use. It is easy to turn it on and adjust the gain that you desire. It doesn’t have any extras. It is identical to the original except for one thing that we all can appreciate: the addition of true bypass. It’s off when it’s on!
This pedal is inexpensive and doesn’t have any extra features. Although it is smaller than the full-sized version, it’s not too small to be able to step on other pedals or miss it. It is made of die-cast aluminum and is very sturdy. If you tried, you couldn’t crush it with your foot.
It is not a 100% clean boost, but it isn’t completely colored. This will give your amp warmth and fullness. It also gives you a boost to the mids, which can really help to saturate it. This was designed to drive overdrive. It all depends on the amp. You may enjoy the balance that a bright amp can bring.
This might happen if you have an amp that has a lot bass. You might prefer transparency if you are looking for clarity. If you are looking for vintage blues and crunch sounds, then look no further.
CHECK PRICE AT AMAZON A warm boost for an old school…
Sephora’s Message: UnderMust-have Fragrance at Just-The-Right Prices
PREAMP KEELEY KATANA
The Keeley Katana Preamp is one of the most expensive booster pedals available. Is it worth the extra cost?
First, the pedal employs a series FET stages that cascade to imitate a tube amp. This is a far more modern method than using blue LED’s or non-diode cutting stages. Another deceptive feature is that it has many more features than you might expect. However, this pedal doesn’t require dismantling to reveal them.
The volume knob is interestingly located on the side so that you can turn it with the foot. In its normal configuration, it’s an incomprehensible transparent volume controller with up 20 dB gain. You can change the setting by pulling it into the second position. This will add the slight tube edge and grit color. This is a great option that you can quickly turn on or off.
Now, back to the clean boost. This is where the thing shines. The inside dual FETs receive nearly twice the voltage as the 9v DC adaptor. This high voltage rail gives you a lot more headroom, which is why we don’t just mean clean transparency. We’re talking extra clean.
You can find the same pedal in a smaller version. However, if you prefer it that way, I’m sure that you’ll be able to hunt it down used. You can always buy the full-sized version and live the life you dream of!
A modern, high-voltage, super clean Boost…
DONNER BOOST KILLER
The Donner Boost Killer is another great option. It’s perhaps the most affordable pedal on the market, especially when you consider how many features are packed into this micro chassis.
The boost is the main feature, along with the larger gain knob. You can also use the volume knob to control the output without any attenuation. You can even use it as a volume control in practice, so you don’t have to move to your amp.
It also has Bass and Treble knobs to equalize. You can adjust each EQ range by up to 15 dB, which is quite a bit. This allows you to change the tone of your amp by increasing or decreasing the high-end, as well as the low frequencies. Although there isn’t as much gain as other pedals, this can be combined with the volume knob to allow you to push an overdrive pedal or amp to distortion.
It is transparent and has true bypass. There are an output volume control and an EQ section. And it’s the most affordable pedal you can buy. Even if you don’t think about the price, this pedal is still a good choice for guitarists on a tight budget.
The TC Electronic Spark Mini is a great option if you have the extra money. This one will work just fine for you.
CHECK PRICE AT AMAZON An inexpensive, effective way to boost your EQ…
These are the best Boost Pedals on the Market
There is one job that boost pedals must do, and there are two ways to do it. They must provide plenty of gain, and they can either be transparent or colored.
Many companies now offer two-band EQ’s as shown above. You can also toggle between transparent or colored modes. You can have either one or both styles in one pedal. We’ve compiled a list of the best boost pedals.