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Best boost pedals 2018 – [Buyer’s Guide]Last Updated January 1, 2020
Best boost pedals of 2018
The “Total” indicates the overall value of the product. Whether you’re looking to upgrade your comfort, style, or accessibility, we have picks to fit a variety of needs and budgets. Now, let’s get to the gist of the matter: which are the best boost pedals for the money? The table below summarizes features, and below you’ll find more detailed reviews of each good.
Test Results and Ratings
|Ease of use||
Why did this boost pedals win the first place?
I am very happy with the purchase. It is definitely worth its money. The product is top-notch! The rear part fits perfectly! It is mounted really tight and reliable. The product is very strong. Its material is stable and doesn’t crack. I don’t know anything about other models from this brand, but I am fully satisfied with this product.
Why did this boost pedals come in second place?
This is a pretty decent product that perfectly fitted the interior of our office. I like this product. For such a low price, I didn’t even hope it to be any better. It’s decently made. Seems that the material is good. It has a very beautiful color but I don’t really like the texture. Managers explained me all the details about the product range, price, and delivery.
Why did this boost pedals take third place?
The material is incredibly nice to the touch. It has a great color, which will suit any wallpapers. This price is appropriate since the product is very well built. It is inconvenient to use due to the size. I am going to get something different next time. I liked the design. We’ve been using it for 2 months and it still looks like brand new.
boost pedals Buyer’s Guide
Think of Your Rig as a System
Even in the simplest rigs, there are a lot of considerations. Your fingers, your speaker(s), your power supply, your tubes, your cables — every piece of your gear, put together, makes up a system and every part of the equation matters.
For our purposes, you need to know, for example, that some drive pedals work better with some amplifiers than others. Guitar volume knob cleanup varies from pedal to pedal, and some pedals coax your mind and fingers to work in different ways than others. Running dirt pedals into a dirty amp is very different than running the same pedals into a clean amp. The list of variables goes on and on.
Since your gear creates a system, it’s important that every piece serves the whole. Each of us tends to have a few favorite pieces of gear, which is fine, but the danger is that we end up trying to force everything else to work within the already-set parameters of our favorites pieces and settings. The secret to stacking pedals successfully is to learn what each pedal will bring to the mix and to find ways to help the pedals complement each other.
Dial Your Gear with Your Ears — Not Your Eyes
The key to a perfect drive stack is to pay attention to your EQ. Each new drive will shape the EQ and most drives also increase compression.
Headroom, with each new pedal, will likely decrease. A setting that works well on its own might not be the best setting when stacked.
If you are stacking a given pedal often, you might find that you need to find a new setting that works well both in tandem and standalone. So mess with the knobs. Stacking dimed drives often results in tubby, indistinct tone. Start low, and then add gain — listen to how the EQ and the compression shifts. Try adding gain with only one pedal at a time and don’t be afraid to defy conventional arrangements by switching your pedal order around. You will be surprised by how much your tone is altered by each small change. With a little systematic and thoughtful experimentation, you will be able to hone in on new tonal aspects to create inspiring tones.
It’s best to start with the most obvious pedal, one you’ve probably heard of already. Distortion! The term “distortion pedal” is actually used quite a bit as an umbrella term to refer to different types of pedals.
Although it’s not really wrong to do this (they all distort the signal of the guitar) I’m going to be a little bit more specific and split the group up into types – distortion, overdrive and fuzz (these second two are discussed below).
Distortion is can be quit a heavy, obvious effect which provides a good amount of sustain & crunch to your sound. Because it heavily distorts the sound, it can sometimes hide the actual tone of the guitar.
However you can still hear the original tone of your guitar and amp in there somewhere. It just makes everything sound much more aggressive.
An overdrive pedal still distorts your sound, and gives it an extra punch, but it’s great at keeping more of the sound of your amplifier & guitar intact. So it sounds a little bit more natural.
It drives or “pushes” your amplifier more subtly than a distortion pedal so it doesn’t sound too heavy or overpowering. Yet it still gives you that beefy, thicker sound.
It’s often used in classic rock and blues but is a versatile pedal which is on the pedal board of millions of guitarists around the world.
Fuzz is the most extreme of the distortion effects and kind of sounds like it’s pushing your amplifier to breaking point. It provides a bass heavy and noisy guitar tone and means that it’s very hard to hear any of your original guitar tone.
However it’s still a very diverse pedal depending on how you use it. It can be used to create very heavy attacking sounds, or add more of a discrete buzz which isn’t too overpowering.
The different pedals are differentiated by the amount of the distortion / saturation they provide. Overdrive has the least, fuzz has the most, and distortion is somewhere in the middle.
Delay is another effect which does what it says on the tin. It delays your signal by a varying amount and then plays it back. This creates a doubling effect. The pedal will let you define how long the delay is.
Digital pedals can usually delay for longer, but some people think that these digital pedals don’t sound as good as analogue alternatives. Delay pedals are great for creating experimental effects and sounds, but can be subtle too.
The chours effect sounds like hundreds of different guitarists playing what you are, but very slightly out of time. The effect also creates a mild wobble type noise.
Overall the sound sound rich, full and thick because of the chorus effect.
It can be used effectively both as a subtle effect or a more obvious experimental effect.
Flanger is very similar to chorus, however it can provide a little bit more of an obvious effect.
It’s got more of a wooshing sound which goes up in pitch and then down again. People often say it sounds like a plane flying past.
Unlike the chorus effect it doesn’t sound like there are hundreds of guitarists copying your sound, but still can thicken your tone up.
Again the phaser pedal is similar to the flanger and chorus effects. It creates a sweeping sound by creating peaks and troughs in your guitar tone. You can alter the height of these peaks and troughs by manipulating the controls on the pedal.
The phaser also adds a similar, but not as obvious, effect to the guitar tone as the chorus. So it sounds like there are a few guitarists playing the same as you.
Tremolo sounds like your volume is being turned up and down very quickly after you play a note. However the sounds gets blended together nicely so it doesn’t sound too obvious or out of place. Essentially it proves a nice wobble sound.
The controls on the pedal control how big this volume change is, and how quickly it occurs. It’s not too far away from the phaser, flanger and chorus pedals, but still sounds unique when compared to them.
A touring pedal offers the rider looking for the added power delivery of a clipless/clip-in pedal but the flexibility of a flat pedal the best of both worlds. If you’re looking to put the miles in but also have the ability to enjoy a stroll with the family or pop to the shops at the other end these are the option for you. These can be used both with and without a cycling specific shoe.
An amp enhancer that makes any rig sound better.
The RC Booster offers a super transparent 20db+ clean boost with an adjustable ±15dB two band active EQ that adds a wide range of harmonic content to your ideal sound. As a clean boost, it can enhance other pedals, such as “overdrive and distortion pedals,” or you can crank the gain for a “crunch” sound. But, the RC Booster is so extremley transparent that many players find they leave it on all the time. It also features true bypass for eliminating any signal interference when switched off.
The term overdrive refers to when a tube amp is driven past its range to supply a clean tone. This is something we as guitar players have come to love and seek out. A common question is “what is the difference between overdrive, distortion, and fuzz as the terms have become interchangeable?” The short answer is not a lot, just one is more extreme as we go down the line.
The Ibanez Tube Screamer is the industry standard for overdrive pedals. Kicked into legendary status by the late great Stevie Ray Vaughan. The Tube Screamer TS80was first released in the late 70’s and now catches a small fortune on the vintage market but fortunately there are reissues and many boutique clones out there. The Tube Screamer is not the only overdrive circuit of course, there are many excellent options, it is just clearly the most famous. What makes the TS so cool is the way it interacts with an already overdriven amplifier. It can add a nice amount of gain, sustain, and tonal shaping options. They do provide a bit of a boost in the mid frequencies that many people love as it helps to cut through a band. The list of TS users is extensive but Stevie Ray is the most notable.
Many distortion pedals can also be used as overdrive pedals simply by reducing the gain, so once again we see how these terms are a little loose. In high gain amps like a Mesa rectifier the amp is taking advantage of gain staging, many pedals do this as well. Gain staging is simply putting one overdriven tone into another and cascading them to produce even more gain or distortion. So in a Mesa, one preamp tube is being run into another to bump up the level of distortion, there can be any number of gain stages. We can also do this by stacking pedals as well, as we will see in the gain staging pedal chain section. Dialing in a good distorted tone can take some time and slight EQ changes can make a big difference.
You can hear one all over Led Zeppelin’s debut record and all over Jeff Beck’s trademark “Heart Full of Soul” intro riff from the Yardbirds. He also used it extensively on the Jeff Beck Group sessions. Of course the most famous fuzz pedal is the Dallas Arbiter Fuzz Face. This pedal was favored by Jimi Hendrix and set the benchmark for fuzz tones that we are still chasing to this day.
As a lover of fuzz pedals myself I have both kinds and find uses for them, they sound different and excellent. Other famous fuzz users are Eric Johnson, David Gilmour, Joe Bonamassa, and Stevie Ray Vaughan to name a few. When shopping for a fuzz, try to play as many as you can next to each other, even of the same model. Due to the transistor values the same model pedal can sound and feel very different from pedal to pedal.
Digital Delay Pedal
In the late 70’s digital technology boomed and made its way into the guitar community. It first entered in the form as rack units which were expensive and relatively large. As costs came down and the technology shrank, digital delay pedals were introduced into the market by Boss in 198with the Boss DD-Since then as technology advanced, delay pedals now offer many features in a very small box such as tape echo, analog, reverse delay, modulated delay, and loopers.
The main difference between analog and digital delays is delay time and note clarity. Digital delays can produce multi second delay times whereas the Deluxe Memory Man offered a delay time of 550ms. Digital delay units also introduced the tap tempo function which is extremely useful when using delay as a rhythmic tool. There are many excellent companies producing excellent delay units, certainly a ground breaker was the Line DLwhich is still popular today. Although I love the sound of a true analog delay, the latest offerings from companies like TC Electronics and Strymon offer so many options and analog emulation options it makes it a tough sell to stick with analog delays.
Chorus pedals can provide a nice subtle doubling effect to the guitar or an extreme “watery” effect when maximized. Famous tunes that use chorus is “Come As You Are” (1991) by Nirvana, and “Brass in Pocket” (1979) by The Pretenders. But basically almost any clean guitar sound in the 80’s had some chorus on it! Certain effects are timeless such as overdrive, reverb and delay. Other effects like chorus can evoke certain time periods such as the 80’s so that is something to keep in mind when using an effect.
Compression is another very common effect that is used in almost every recording. It compresses the volume of the notes you play, making louder notes quieter and vice versa. This gives a nice, polished sound and although it can limit your dynamic range, it can be very useful.
For instance, if you are often switching between rhythm playing and lead compression can help to flatten out the volume differences between the single notes and the chords, allowing you to get a better mix and making your guitar easier to hear. It can also help to sustain notes for longer, as the note will not die away so soon.
Compression pedals most commonly have controls for level (the volume level of the effect), sustain (how much the volume of your playing is compressed by the effect) and attack (how quickly the effect kicks in). There can also be a tone control which helps to prevent the dulling of tone that is common with compressor pedals.
Distortion and overdrive naturally compress your sound, so unless you are a pure-clean player, it is debatable how useful they really are. A compressor will certainly help to improve your tone, but there are other pedals out there that will most often make a bigger difference.
There are six main kinds of modulation effect: chorus, phaser, flanger, tremolo, vibrato and rotary speaker. Although they do sound different, the first three are all based on the same basic principles and sounds.
Chorus is the sound at the beginning of the Guns ‘n’ Roses song Paradise City. It is a gentle, shimmering effect that is good for arpeggiated chords and adding that little extra to a lead tone (such as in the solo for Smells like Teen Spirit by Nirvana). However, we recommend using it sparingly as it can sound dated and old fashioned if over used (unless, of course, old-school is what you’re going for). Common controls include level (the volume of the effect), tone (affects the EQ of the chorus effect), rate (how quickly the note shimmers) and depth (how large and prominent the shimmering is).
Think Eddie Van Halen in Eruption. Phaser effects create a swirling tone by splitting the signal and then moving each part in and out of phase with each other. Like chorus, it can sound dated, but it is great for adding a little bit of craziness to any riff or solo. Some pedals such as the famous MXR Phase 90 only have one control for the speed of the effect, while more modern designs also have controls for the depth and level of the phasing.
Years ago companies used to manufacture rotating speaker cabinets (the most famous being the Leslie Rotary Speaker) – as they rotated the sound would change and develop, creating interesting modulation effects. Nowadays such things are considered too large and inconvenient to transport and use, so we have stomp boxes to help us emulate the sound. The most famous of these is the Dunlop Uni-Vibe, and although it doesn’t sound as close as other pedals to the real thing, it has become a famous sound in its own right. Rotary speaker effects often have controls for the speed of the effect, and can sometimes (such as in the case of the Uni-Vibe) be connected to expression pedals to control the speed on the fly. If you’re into 60’s psychedelic rock like Jimi Hendrix, this one’s a must.
This is probably the most iconic guitar effect ever – from Slash to Jimi Hendrix to Mark Tremonti to SRV, the list of players who use wah pedals is almost never ending. Originally created to emulate the muted sound possible on a trumpet, it quickly became an iconic effect in its own right. The sound is pretty self-explanatory – rock your foot back and forth of the pedal to shift the EQ from bass heavy to treble heavy and you’ll get a nice “wah wah” as you play.
Shimano XT M8020 Trail
Designed for trail, all-mountain and enduro riders, Shimano’s XT Trail pedal encases the SPD mechanism within an alloy platform.
The new M8020 is 3.3mm wider than its predecessor, resulting in a claimed 11.percent increase in contact surface. Additionally, the pedal body is now.5mm shallower, getting you a hair closer to the axle.
The pedals weighed 402g on our scales (408g claimed) and Shimano’s traditional steel cleat and clip mechanism means engaging and disengaging retains its familiar consistency (spring tension is easily adjusted with a 3mm Allen key).
Nukeproof Horizon Pro
The Horizon Pro pedals have pins per side, a slightly concave, 100mm-wide platform and a reasonable weight of 444g for the pair (with chromoly axles).
The platforms are roomy enough to accommodate clumpy Five Ten soles and make for a nice big target to get your foot back onto after a quick dab. They’re approximately 12mm deep so there’s plenty of ground clearance.
When it comes to grip, the pins coupled with the foot-cupping shape make for a glue-like connection between pedal and shoe. Add to that the decent price and we think Nukeproof is onto a winner with these pedals.
CrankBrothers Mallet E
While they look like miniaturised Mallet DH pedals, CrankBrothers’ Mallet E pedals actually have a similar width cage to their downhill siblings. This means careful cleat spacing is required on clumpier, skate-style shoes to ensure adequate crank clearance.
The E pedals have six adjustable pins per side, which come in handy if you’re struggling to clip in, and enough girth to offer decent support for flexier shoes.
Weight weenies with a penchant for flat pedals need look no further that HT’s ME05, which tip the scales at a minimal 292g.
Despite their feathery weight, the platforms will happily accommodate the biggest feet out there, while the pins per side will keep your feet planted in pretty much all situations. And while the grip on offer is impressive, they aren’t so claw-like that you can’t adjust your stance as you ride.
The deeply concave platforms cup your feet securely, boosting grip and giving you that sure-footed feel, even when the trail gets rowdy. And although they’re made from lightweight magnesium, the pedal bodies are tough enough to shrug off everyday scrapes, bangs and hits.
CrankBrothers 5050 3
The 5050 pedals may be CrankBrothers’ top quality offering but they’re also pretty good value.
The platform is large and has a comfortable amount of concave shaping, which provides plenty of grip in combination with the grub-screw type pins on each side.
The pedal body sits far enough from the crank arm that you can really make the most of the large 96x95mm platform too, even with wide feet or clumpy shoes.
The 5050s do well in thick mud, with the machined cutouts in the pedal body allowing dirt to fall through and keep the surface slip-free. CrankBrothers’ five-year warranty helps with peace of mind too.
Off-Road Clipless Systems of
Off-road systems are similar to road systems, except the design of the cleat and shoe lends itself to off-road riding. Off-road shoe systems use a two-bolt system (often referred to as an SPD system) to attach the cleat to the bottom of the shoe. Designed with a recessed cleat attachment and treaded soles, off-road shoes make it easier to walk around off the bike and keep mud and dirt from clogging up the cleat.
That is the main reason why overdrive and distortion pedals with an incorporated boost circuit triggered by a second footswitch have become quite popular over the past few years: the (normally clean) boost circuit placed before or after the OD/Distortion allows for an extra push in volume during solos or loud choruses without losing the guitar’s original tone.
Also, having the two effects embedded in one pedal allows for optimized stacking of the two gain stages, or extra creative routing pre/post options just a switch away.
PICK YOUR OD FLAVOR
Snatchtronics Ovadrive : A handmade pedal from Brooklyn at a reasonable price, this pedal takes the fundamental idea of the Klon Centaur and puts it back in the hands of players not looking to spend two months of rent in one shot. This pedal works in front of any amp and simply rocks, period.
TC Electronics Spark Mini Booster : One knob to rule them all! This unit takes your signal and adds gain to it. This is useful for pushing a solo, or just getting an amp to break up into the stratosphere. As an added bonus, its small stature hardly takes up any room on a pedalboard for maximum portability.
Wampler Plextortion Overdrive : Creeping over the line into a full-faced distortion unit, the Wampler does have a higher gain stage, but retains a clarity most other pedals of its kind don’t, and the quality of your guitar tone isn’t sacrificed. It’s creamy and fluid, like a bowl of melted ice cream – and not nearly as fattening.
Slimmer, lighter platforms have become a priority in modern flat pedal design. Taller pedals offer less ground clearance and aren’t as stable, and don’t benefit from reduced rider centre of gravity, resistance to flipping, and improved efficiency by spinning closer to the centre of the pedalling axis. Thinner pedal bodies can also be made even wider, which increases shoe contact for more stability and control.
Using axles without pedal flats means platforms can sit tighter into the crank arms and the closer the pedal body sits to the bike, the greater the ground clearance and the more efficient your pedalling stroke. Stubby axles allow brands to position pedals further in-board, but one compromise can be some rubbing where feet catch the crank arms. Pedal bodies that incorporate oversized bearing housings might push feet outwards and eat into effective shoe area in bigger foot sizes too.
As a direct connection between rider and machine, a flat pedal needs to be as stiff and solid. With a rigid body, minimal energy is wasted and it also allows you to feel exactly what’s going on underneath you, which helps with control, balance and grip. Most of the pedals here are plenty stiff enough, but the leverage of the widest pedals also generates more twist and flex in cranks, so this is a performance consideration too.
It’s worth checking beforehand the price of new bearings or an axle on really expensive set of pedals, as, chances are, in the UK the platforms themselves will far outlast the internals. A bearing or axle rebuild is a job most home mechanics can tackle and will make tired, baggy pedals feel fresh again for under £20 on some models.
Behringer Eq700 7-Band
Are you looking for the best EQ pedals? Does the hunt for one make you feel like you are lost in a jungle without a map to find the best way? We understand. There are so many good models out there and (let’s face it) many bad ones as well and it might feel overwhelming when trying to determine which one is the best for your needs. But fear not! This list is made to make you feel a little less overwhelmed.
Fall from favour
By the early 1980s, treble boosters were becoming a thing of the past. Players could get heavy overdrive and sustain using active guitars with built-in preamps. Hot wound passive pickups such as Seymour Duncan’s Quarter Pounder and Invader, and the DiMarzio Super Distortion replaced plenty of vintage-style pickups.
Pedals were changing, too, with products such as the Ibanez Tube Screamer, DOD 250 and Boss OD-simulating a more valve-like overdrive. Players discovered that the best results were often achieved when combining diode clipping and boost from these overdrive pedals with an already overdriving valve amp.
The overdrive also added compression and focused the sound in the midrange by rolling off bass and treble. Amps with multiple gain stages, master volumes and powerful equalisation sections were generating far more overdrive and distortion than vintage-style designs.
Hotone Xtomp Mini
The key to using the pedal is an app that provides 140 digitally modelled effects, amp sims and speaker sims (with new models being added twice a month), any of which can be loaded singly into the pedal.
Pigtronix Disnortion Micro
The Disnortion Micro continues the 18-volt headroom achieved by an internal converter from the nine-volt input, but where the original had three independent effects, this version loses the octaver and retains the fuzz and overdrive – both are now called up by a single footswitch.
Pigtronix Philosopher’s Tone Micro
These astonishingly small units may look cute, but paired with the Baby Bomb 30 power amp, you might blow your neighbours’ eardrums, let alone your own – so treat them with a little caution.
The Fender Blackface model (Regal Tone) comes surprisingly close to a Fender clean tone, while the Vox (Day Tripper) has a similar EQ range to a real Vox, but is difficult to dial in with a classic bright Vox chime.
Keeley Red Dirt Mini
With a large knob for drive and smaller ones for tone and level, the Red Dirt Mini follows the standard TS configuration.
Ibanez Tube Screamer Mini
The belle of 2015’s NAMM ball, the adorable TS Mini is made in Japan and packs the TS808’s coveted JRC4558D IC chip: good start.
With a name derived from Greek mythology – like a certain Centaur overdrive – this Mini-taur invites you into a labyrinth of quality Klon-inspired tone.
It’s hard to believe at this price, but the Minotaur does a fine approximation of the Centaur sound, with an upper-midrange boost that’s more open and dynamic than a TS-style overdrive.
Stagg Blaxx Metal
With no boosts engaged, we’re talking ultra-scooped tones – think Dimebag’s Randalls – but the Metal remains extremely taut across the gain range for uncompromising palm-muting and brutal detuned riffs.
Twisting the tone control allows you to sweep the pedal’s mid frequencies, and while engaging the low boost gives you a flatter, less scooped EQ, it’s a little honky for use outside the occasional solo.However, stick to what it does best, and this is a none-more-Blaxx bargain.
Rainger Dr Freakenstein’s Dwarf
By no means your granddaddy’s fuzz, this pared-down version of Rainger’s Dr Freakenstein Fuzz not only delivers high-gain sustain-laden thrills, but also packs a controllable harmonic overtone, noise gate and high-pass-filter-meets-bit crusher.
In essence, the ‘tone’ control adjusts the overtone filter, with the frequency range tweaked using the hi/lo button or the included Igor pressure controller for extreme flange-like filter sweeps.
The Fuzzolo is one of the most usable creations to come out of Zachary Vex’s mad laboratory.
It has a classic high-gain silicon fuzz sound – similar to a Big Muff, but with enough mids to cut through a mix – but the differentiator is the Pulse Width control, which adjusts the fuzz shape from square wave to narrow/wide.
Turning the PW is like tweaking an onboard noise gate – ramping it up chokes the note decay, a bit like a fuzz with a dying battery. It’s ridiculous fun for angular riffs, 8-bit blips and Jack White’s modern-day solo sound, although we wouldn’t mind an onboard gain control for more versatility.
Hotone Soul Press
The Soul Press is a touch longer than its rival mini wahs, but it’s also a triple threat, boasting wah, volume and expression in one.
The wah tone is based on the Cry Baby, but it sounds like a pimped-out version to us, with a throaty, full-voiced sweep that isn’t too treble-y or bass-y at either end, but dominates your sound when it’s on – it’s great with distortion, throwing up some seriously honky mid frequencies.
The volume and expression functions work as they should, too, and although the pedal offers a fairly short travel, its pair of bright blue LEDs ensure you know when it’s on.
AMT WH-Japanese Girl Wah-Wah
The Japanese Girl was one of the first mini wahs to hit the market, and it’s still the smallest. Despite that, it boasts a trio of bandpass filter ranges, plus a pair of blue LEDs for easy onstage visibility.
Mooer Spark Echo
At its cubiform core, the Spark Echo is a digital delay emulating analogue echo – but it’s a lot more than that: Mooer has thrown in a plate-like reverb sound, which you can add to the delay trails only, keeping your dry tone unaffected.
It’s a clever take on the digital-does-analogue delay game, and by cranking the feedback and reverb, and adding a touch of tremolo picking, post-rock fans will be in heaven.
TC Electronic Flashback Mini Delay
As a result, the Mini can still do everything, from digital to analogue to tape to modulated, all with utmost audio integrity, but there’s not much on-the-fly versatility.
With no type knob, the Verb only has one core sound, but Hotone’s picked a good ‘un, which translates from a spring-ish halo around notes to a mammoth church with huge decay and everything in between.
It has a secret up its sleeve, too: hitting the shim switch throws an octave-up reverb in the mix for airy ambient sounds.
We’ve seen a spate of uni-vibe-inspired pedals lately, but none are as teensy as the Roto.
The sounds are impressively faithful, too, with slower rates giving you that trippy chorus-meets-phaser swirl, while ramping it up gets you into Leslie land and beyond – it’s certainly up there with uni-vibes from MXR and BBE.
Mooer Mod Factory
Cramming 1effects into an enclosure of such diminutive proportions is borderline lunacy, but on the whole, Mooer makes it work.
Not every setting is going to set your world alight – the steer-clear list includes a weak uni-vibe, square-wave-only tremolo and over-syrupy phaser – but the Coxon-worthy vibrato, thick chorus and funky touch wah are worth the admission price alone, while zany extras such as the kill switch-esque stutter trem and robot-falling-down-the-stairs envelope ring filter seal the deal.
TC Electronic Vortex Mini Flanger
You know the deal with TC’s TonePrint pedals by now: with no onboard type knob, you equip the pedal with new sounds from the TonePrint app on your phone or TonePrint Editor on your computer.
But, really, who changes a flanger preset mid-gig? With all the key controls present and correct, the Vortex makes perfect sense, and using the TonePrint Editor, you can program huge jet flanges, zero-through flanging, swirly Andy Summers and Alex Lifeson chords, and even chorus and vibrato, too.
Xvive V1Stereo Undulator
For such a simple effect, tremolo can be tricky to get right, but the Stereo Undulator gets pretty close.
The shape control gives you gentle triangle shimmer to choppy on/off square wave slices, while parking the knob in the middle gives you a trapezoid sound, where your signal is on for longer, then briefly off.
The tones themselves are hard to fault, although a volume control could help with the perceived volume drop when using deep, deep trem.
Chorus is a classic effect that creates an illusion of more guitars playing at the same time. It can open up a wide expanse of previously unexplored sonic territory in your music. As an effect, chorus can cover from beefing up your guitars tone to drastically changing the voice of your guitar. The most popular example of chorus effect is the opening riff of Kurt Cobain’s Come as As You Are from Nirvana.
The most classic way to alter your guitar sound is by using a distortion pedal. A distortion pedal is now almost a practical requirement for every guitarist who can play anything from pop to metal. Most of the guitar brands have a distortion pedal to their name owing its popularity among the masses. These effects are in use by guitarists since the 1960’s with the Pro Co Rat (RAT) and Tube Screamer, from Ibanez being the most sought after when it comes to classic distortion.
A looper pedal is actually a tool that helps guitarists to record a signal from their guitar and play it over and over again to create their own backing tracks on the fly. For modern guitarists it makes practising more fun by adding a new dimension and reducing their dependence on other musicians. The loopers are not new to the music scene but had taken a back seat for some time and have now returned to their past glory in recent times.
The volume pedal is the simplest pedals of all. It is basically an external volume knob that you work with your foot. They are used to provide swelling and captivating sound effects when combined with other effect pedals in the rig. A volume pedal needs to be transparent, ie, they do not introduce any of their character to the sound, should have no tone loss, better be passive, have superior build quality, have tuner output and should be adjustable. Boss FV series pedals and Ernie Ball VP are the most popular volume pedals in the market now.
The function of a delay pedal is to play back the notes that you have played. Though it looks very simple, a great and versatile delay can make every soundscape you wish to explore. The effect is used in almost every genre due to which the pedal market is flooded with delay pedals from every conceivable brand making musical instruments however, the MXR carbon copy and Boss DD models lead the pack. Also, there is a raging debate among the music community about the analog and digital delays.
A compressor pedal adds character and distinction to your sound while elevating it and rounds out your acoustic or electric guitar tones in a very subtle manner. Though it does not add a great effect to your music, you will surely miss it when it is not around. It adds an element of control to your playing level – it will bring the quieter parts up and the louder parts down. For a guitar, it can give a more consistent volume output level and increase the sustain by raising the level of decaying notes.
Wah Wah pedals
The Wah pedals are the secret weapons used by guitarists from Jimi Hendrix to Kirk Hammet to bring the extra flavour in their solos. The pedal is popular because it has found a common use in every style of play ranging from classic rock to metal. A dedicated wah pedal will provide you with the most possible variations of sound possible giving you the most enjoyment. The Dunlop orginal cry baby wah is the most widely used and popular pedal that was used to create some of the most timeless sounds in rock music.
Multi effects pedals
Often touted as the do-it-all effect, the effect can cover all tonal bases for recordings and live performances. It is an efficient way for guitar players to keep their pedal set up under control by having an entire effects pedal board in one self-contained unit. The quality of multi effects pedals has increased tremendously over the years since they were first introduced, as a result of which its usage has improved to the point that even critics are finding less and less things to complain about.
There are many more pedals such as boost pedals, fuzz pedals, Octavia pedal, tremolo pedal, flanger pedal, univibe pedal, phase shifter pedal but they are not as widely used as those listed above.
Guitar effects pedals being as popular as the guitars themselves have attracted lot of brands to make effects. Boss, Fender, Dunlop, Electro-Harmonix, Ibanez, Wampler, MXR, TC Electronic, DigiTech, Xotic Effects, Line6, Morley are some noteworthy brands in the effects pedal market.
Ibanez TSTube Screamer
The TSTube Screamer overdrive pedal from Ibanez is the most popular and most copied overdrive pedals. This is a reissue of the original Ibanez TSTube Screamer distortion pedal that is one of the most imitated classis pedals ever made. It has been used by many famous guitarists such as Stevie Ray Vaughan to create their signatures sound. It has three controls, tone, drive and level controls and is used in genres as diverse as country, blues and metal. The warm overdrive sound and tonal integrity along with portability led to the rapid rise in popularity of this pedal and made it one of the best distortion pedals ever.
Pro Co RATDistortion Pedal
The Pro Co RATis a distortion pedal produced by Pro Co Sound. It is a variant of the iconic RAT model which was built in 197The Pro Co RATis built using the same circuit that made the original Rat distortion pedal popular, though it is now being built in China without compromising on the quality. The Pro Co RAT distortion pedal became very popular in the 1980’s mostly because several artists started using it to great effects. It has knobs for distortion, volume and filter. It is perfect for hard rock, metal, punk, jazz or smooth blues solo. It is the most versatile and best guitar distortion pedal with a legacy of around 30 years.
TC Electronic Ditto Looper Pedal
The Ditto looper pedal from TC Electronic is an outstanding and popular looper that owes its popularity to being a simple and affordable pedal. It has a distinction of being the only looper designed by guitarists for guitarists. It offers minutes of loop time with unlimited edits. This is a true bypass mono pedal with just one control knob for volume adjustments. The Ditto’s superior sound quality can be attributed to its 24-bit uncompressed high quality audio. This exquisite guitar loop pedal also features a undo/redo functionality and analog dry-though design. Overall the Ditto is concise and basic yet highly effective and that makes it the best of the best loop pedal for guitars.
Xotic Effects SP compressor pedal
Xotic is a small California based company that manufactures guitars, bass and effects. The Xotic SP compressor is a boutique pedal that is counted among the best compressor pedals. It is built expending the same OTA (Operational transconductance amplifier) technology that is used by the Ross compressor, considered as the best ever compressor. It has a compact design and superb tone quality featuring a wide variety of compressor tones from subtle to modern to vintage and more. It has two knobs to control volume, upto +15db of boost and blend for that perfect balance between dry and compressor signal. There is a three way switch to toggle between, low, mid and high signal. It is a simple to use, great sounding and versatile boutique pedal that is a best buy for the price.
Zoom G3X Multi effects pedal
Zoom G3X is ranked as one of the best guitar multi effects pedal because besides being a multi effect pedal it is also an amplifier simulator, tuner, fully functional looper, USB audio interface and a built-in expression pedal. It provides 11great sounding guitar effects and amp / speaker models with three stompbox-styles each with its own dedicated foot switch. The G3X has three LCD screens each with its own footswitch and control knob, form a large graphical interface that makes it easy to edit effects. With the G3X, you can use up to effects and amp models simultaneously, arranged in any order.
Preset is an important feature present in most modern guitar pedals. A preset allows configuring overall sound setup. A few of them come with some good presets so you do not need to bother about creating your own. Also, you can tweak the existing presets or create an entirely new one and store them.
Clipless pedals are great and safe for commuting.
Your feet do not have to be locked to the pedals for you to start pedaling.
Physics doesn’t stop just because your feet are sitting on top of the pedals, rather than being locked into place. Getting yourself up to speed before clipping in to your pedals will make the whole experience easier.
To start, just put one foot on a pedal, push off, sit on the saddle, and then rest your other foot on its pedal. Get moving a little bit, and then try snapping one foot in. If you start to slow down too much before being snapped in, just pedal some more. Make sure you have a nice long stretch of road or pavement so that you can allow time for Rule 2.
Multi Effects Units
As a beginner you’re probably anxious to try out all of the different effects above and then some. A very costly endeavour to undertake, and where to start!? If you’re taking your first tentative steps into the world of guitar effects then a much more money efficient option is a multi-fx unit. These will generally contain the majority of the effects listed above, enabling you to sample each one and find out which you like the best. As a bonus, multi-fx units will often contain other useful features such as a built-in metronome and tuner. You can absolutely use one of these units in place of an amp while you learn the ropes, all you need is a pair of headphones.
Each unit features 100 effects and amp models, of which can be used simultaneously. They have a built-in drum machine (metronome) featuring almost 70 different patterns for you to practice along with at your own speed. An accurate tuner ensures you are always playing at perfect pitch. Another awesome feature is the built-in looper, which allows you to record up to 30 seconds of high quality audio. A headphone jack allows for quiet practice. Unbelievably at this price, both units also include a well-lit LCD screen for easy navigation of the menu system. An auxilliary input on the back allows you to connect a music source, to allow you to jam to your favorite songs.
Both units can be powered with 4xAA batteries. Alternatively they can be powered with a standard 9V PSU (such as this one), or USB mini cable (such as this one).
Check out this excellent overview and demo video from our friends over at GuitarWorld magazine.
Both units include 70 different high quality effects, amp and cab emulators, and the ability to chain of them together in any order. Other key features include a built-in tuner, drum machine, looper with up to 80 seconds of recording. Three large LCD displays with corresponding footswitches and knobs makes it easy to view and edit multiple effects at a glance.
Computer Based Effects
The simplest way of thinking about a compressor is that it evens out the volume of a signal. The compressor will take your signal and any loud parts will be reduced so the overall volume is a bit more consistent. A really basic explanation is that a compressor makes loud sounds softer.
When a signal rises above a certain volume level (the threshold), it will reduce the volume based on the ratio. So if the ratio is 5:1, that means for every 5dB the signal is above the threshold, the compressor will only allow 1dB to come out. So the overall effect is the signal is reduced by 4dB.
If the ratio is 20:this means for every 20dB the signal is above the threshold, only 1dB will be heard above the threshold. So the higher the threshold, the more the compressor will reduce the volume above the threshold.
The two main controls you have with a compressor are the threshold and the ratio. Reducing the threshold means that the compressor will be applied to more and more of your tone. If you have a high threshold, it will only apply to the very loud parts of your signal (eg: when you pick the strings hard).
The ratio allows you to control how much the volume is reduced above the threshold. The higher the ratio, the more the compressor will compress your signal.
Because the compressor lowers the volume of your signal above the threshold, the overall volume drops when you use a compressor. So a make-up gain is often used to compensate for the decrease in volume.
Later on you will see examples of extreme compression and how too much compression can be bad.
Too Much Compression is Bad
The Loudness Wars refer to the trend where compressors are applied to recordings as a way to squeeze out as much volume as possible. This is done because a louder signal tends to sound higher quality (a well known trick a salesperson will use to sell you an overpriced hi-fi stereo system or guitar amp). So artists try to push the volume higher and higher to the point where most modern music today is incredibly compressed. Compare a song from the 70s to a song today and you will hear a massive difference in volume.
The CD version is squashed to the point where everything is the same volume. The Guitar Hero version on the other hand has plenty of headroom and you can hear the dynamics throughout the song. Some compression is still used, but not to the extreme like the CD version.
For your own use as a guitarist, it might be tempting to crank a compressor pedal up to give you on-tap sustain. But too much compression can ruin your tone. Later on in this guide we will look at how to use a compressor properly.
Keeley Knob Compressor C4
The Keeley Knob Compressor Cis one of the highest rated guitar compressor pedals available today in terms of sound quality. The four knobs give you plenty of control over the compression. It does come with a higher price tag, so your choice should be between whether you need the extra flexibility or quality the Keeley offers or whether a simpler pedal such as the Dyna Comp or Xotic SP would suit you better.
My Personal Recommendation
Of course the right pedal for you may be completely different to what was the right pedal for me. So have a think about what features are important to you, then have a closer look at the above pedals to find the one that suits you best.
Compressor after drive pedal
Many other guitarists prefer to place the compressor after their distortion/overdrive pedal and before any other effect pedals. The reason for this is that the compressor will apply to both your clean sound and your drive sound and even both of them out. Instead of the clean tone being compressed and switching over to an uncompressed drive tone, both a compressed.
When to Use a Compressor
Now we can look at when to use the compressor and when to not use it. I recommend trying all of the following suggestions to see how you could potentially use a compressor. You will then get a feel for the way you prefer using it.
When Not to Use a Compressor
The point I want to leave you with is that compression can help you achieve a very different quality in your tone. It can give your clean tone a completely fresh feel, it can smooth out your volume to give you consistency or it can help you improve sustain. But keep in mind that there will be times when an uncompressed tone will sound better. Experiment and you will learn what works for you.
With the drive knob turned all the way down and the volume knob turned up, you can get a nice gritty boost to your cleans. On the other hand, with the drive knob turned all the way up, you can get a thick crunch, with even more gain in the HP setting. The tone control has a great range for making your tone sound dark (turned all the way down) to sounding very bright (turned all the way up). This way, you can make even the darkest sounding amps sound bright, and vice versa.
Carefully selected TO-1metal can Silicon transistors, as used in the original circuit.
Externally switchable pre gain control with internal pot allowing you to dial in the best pre gain for your guitar.
Bias adjustment for transistors ensuring a perfectly tuned pedal.
First of all thanks for reading my article to the end! I hope you find my reviews listed here useful and that it allows you to make a proper comparison of what is best to fit your needs and budget. Don’t be afraid to try more than one product if your first pick doesn’t do the trick.
Most important, have fun and choose your boost pedals wisely! Good luck!
So, TOP3 of boost pedals
- №1 — Wampler Pedals Tumnus V2 Overdrive/Boost Effects Pedal
- №2 — TC Electronic Spark Mini Booster Guitar Pedal
- №3 — Donner Booster Boost Guitar Effect Pedal Super Mini Pedal