A booster pedal is a type of guitar effects pedal that increases the volume of the guitar signal. It’s also known as a “clean boost” pedal because it doesn’t change the tone of the guitar signal like distortion or overdrive pedals do. Instead, it just increases the volume.
So, if you’re looking for a pedal that will just make your guitar sound louder without changing the sound, a booster pedal is the way to go.
In this article, I’ll explain everything you need to know about them and I’ll even recommend some of the best ones out there.
What is a Guitar Boost Pedal?
A boost pedal is a device that increases the gain signal that a guitar produces. There are many types of pedals on the market today, and boost pedals can affect the tone of your guitar. A booster or pre-amp stage is created to boost the signal from your guitar before it reaches your amplifier, adding special effects like distortion and fuzz. Boost pedals can change the frequency range and tone of your guitar, and the purpose of a boost pedal is to increase the signal level overall. The intended result of a boost pedal is to produce an entirely clean sound that is completely transparent, with a noticeable increase in sound.
How Does a Boost Pedal Work?
Boost pedals work by theoretically making your guitar sound louder and clearer. In reality, boost pedals actually enhance the treble and can be paired with a tube amp in order to drive the amp harder and expect a certain level of distortion to greet your ears when attempting to distort the sound. A boost pedal can also be used to look for an unchanged volume lift, and can be used to gently adjust the amp or preamp stage.
What Does a Boost Pedal Do?
Boost pedals can change the sound produced by your guitar, and some of the more expensive boost pedals can be sneakier in changing the sound. An expensive boost pedal is often described as a “clean boost” pedal, as the manufacturers have adjusted the pedal to be highly effective in tempering the tube amp and producing distorted sounds at lower volume levels. The circuit boards of booster pedals are simple in purpose, but some of the more complex and expensive pedals have a complex circuit board. As mentioned earlier, some manufactures add secondary sound shaping circuitry to the effects of the boost pedal, containing fuzz, distortion, compression, and overdrive. If you’re looking for an entirely unaltered sound, try adjusting the amp or preamp stage, as this can alter the tonality of your guitar and change the timbre of your sound.
Benefits of a Boost Pedal
Boost pedals can be a great addition to your guitar setup, and have many benefits:
- Increase the signal level of your guitar
- Produce an entirely clean sound
- Enhance the treble of your guitar
- Temper the tube amp and produce distorted sounds at lower volume levels
- Alter the tonality of your guitar and change the timbre of your sound
- Add secondary sound shaping circuitry to the effects of the boost pedal, containing fuzz, distortion, compression, and overdrive
What Does a Boost Pedal Do to Your Guitar’s Sound?
What Does a Boost Pedal Do?
A boost pedal can do wonders for your guitar’s sound. It can:
- Make your sound louder and bigger
- Create a fuller sound
- Give your guitar a unique tone
- Make your sound stand out in a mix
- Allow you to play solos with more clarity
Why Use a Boost Pedal?
Boost pedals are great for any guitarist who wants to take their sound to the next level. Whether you’re playing in a band, recording in the studio, or just jamming at home, a boost pedal can give you the edge you need to make your sound stand out. Plus, they’re easy to use and come in a variety of styles, so you can find one that fits your needs.
Understanding Different Types of Boost Pedals
Types of Boost Pedals
Boost pedals can be divided into three main categories:
- Clean Boosts
- Treble Boosts
- Boost/Overdrive Combos
Clean boosts are a great way to add volume and clarity to your sound without adding any distortion. They are especially useful for long cable runs, as they can help to keep the signal clear and strong. Clean boosts can also be used to push high-gain amps into overdrive, which can add a bit of extra punch and thickness to your tone. Examples of clean boosts include the Xotic EP Boost and the TC Electronic Spark Mini Booster.
Treble boosts are designed to boost the treble and mid frequencies, adding a bit of extra gain and clarity to your sound. They can be used to add a bit of extra sparkle and brilliance to a fuzzy pedal, or to cut through a mix with clarity. Examples of treble boosts include the Catalinbread Naga Viper and the Electro-Harmonix Screaming Bird.
Boost/overdrive combos are a great way to get the best of both worlds. These pedals combine the power of a boost pedal with the warmth of an overdrive pedal, allowing you to add a bit of extra gain and volume to your sound. Examples of boost/overdrive combos include the Earthquaker Devices Palisades and the Keeley D&M Drive.
Understanding the Benefits of Boost Pedals
Let’s say you have a 50 watt tube amp and a 100 watt tube amp. These amps represent different levels of headroom. A lower wattage amp will distort faster, as it has less headroom. Think of headroom as the clean power that an amp can produce before naturally overdriving. A 50 watt amp has less headroom than a 100 watt amp, so it will distort pretty quickly when you turn up the volume.
Now let’s say you have a single coil pickup on your guitar. When you strum an E chord, the single coil creates a certain voltage. When you turn up the volume on a 50 watt amplifier, the voltage will eventually cross the headroom threshold of 50 watts and push the amp into overdrive. This is something that has been known for years, and is why louder is often better when it comes to rock’n’roll.
The Early History of Boost Pedals
Let’s talk about the early effects units and boost pedals. To be honest, before humbucker pickups, there wasn’t really a way for folks to rock out and get the sound they wanted without needing to be louder. They needed more gain to push their amp and achieve the sound they were looking for.
Words like “tape echo” probably bring to mind the pedals you’ve seen advertised as an “Echoplex preamp boost”. Something like the Maestro EP-1 came as part of a deal with an Echoplex, and it had a volume control that offered tons of gain. We all know and love the amazing preamp boost that the EP-1 offers.
I remember when I was on tour with Ryan Adams, he had an old Shin-ei Japanese tape echo unit set up on his pedal board. He had the delay turned off and the volume turned up a little bit, and it acted as a buffer and enhancer. A lot of people have been using this trick for years, and a lot of rigs still rely on a tape echo cranked up a little bit.
The Dallas Rangemaster Treble Booster
Not long after, I got my hands on a Dallas Rangemaster Treble Booster and I remember thinking, “I want to boost the treble”. I didn’t understand why it was invented in the 60s until I heard some British rock, which sounded a little differently than the Americans.
The British were playing darker amps like Vox and Marshall, and they wanted to hit a certain sound that was more saturated and a little brighter than what you’d hear in America with a Fender Twin Reverb. The Brits wanted something that was a little brighter to cut through the mix, and that’s when the treble booster entered the picture.
It boosted the mid frequencies and high mids, which gave a really crazy and cool complex harmonics to the signal. If you go and listen to a rock classic like the guitar solo on Queen’s “Brighton Rock”, you’ll hear Brian May’s rig consisted of a homemade guitar plugged into a Rangemaster, and it was sat in front of a Vox AC30 amplifier. It sounded heavenly.
Players like early Clapton and Jeff Beck, and modern players like Taylor Goldsmith from Dawes, are some of my favorite guitar players and their immaculate tones rely on the Rangemaster. It’s harsh but perfect in the way it’s heard in life. I realized that this was basically the Mary Poppins of boost pedals.
The Electro Harmonix LPB-1
Later that year, I got a new idea that I wanted to create a piece of gear that could plug straight into a guitar cable, which normally goes from your guitar to your amp. The end result was a volume control boost for your guitar instead of a big ol’ pedal board. Musicians who wanted to rock out without having to lug around a big board had a great solution.
Dan Armstrong and Vox had some products like this, and a lot of companies created their own versions of the boost pedal. One of the most popular formats was the Electro Harmonix LPB-1. This actually predates the Big Muff, and in my opinion, Electro Harmonix deserves credit for really making boost pedals a big flippin’ deal.
The legend goes that Peavey borrowed the circuit from the LPB-1 and put it inside their amps in the early days to create distortion! You can find different versions of the LPB-1, like the LPB-1 and LPB-2. The real difference between the LPB-1 and LPB-2 is that the LPB-2 version has a stomp switch and comes in a bigger box.
Basically, the LPB boost takes your signal and simply turns it louder. It can emphasize the treble, like a treble booster, or emphasize the mids. It simply takes your signal and cranks it up cleanly.
Elemental Boost Pedals
The LPB boost circuit has been elemental in the guitar industry, and there are now boutique boost pedals based on the LPB-1.
Pre Boost vs Post Boost
One common thing you’ll see with boost pedals is the option for pre boost or post boost. Pre boost is when you boost the signal before it hits your amp, and post boost is when you boost the signal after it hits your amp.
Pre boost is great for pushing your amp into overdrive and getting a nice saturated sound. Post boost is great for adding a little bit of volume and clarity to your sound.
How to Use a Boost Pedal
Using a boost pedal is easy, and can be done in a few simple steps:
- Connect the pedal to your amp or instrument.
- Adjust the settings to your desired sound.
- Turn the pedal on and enjoy!
Tips for Using a Boost Pedal
Using a boost pedal can be a great way to add some extra volume and punch to your sound. Here are a few tips to help you get the most out of your boost pedal:
- Experiment with different settings to find the sound you’re looking for.
- Try using the boost pedal in an effect loop to create a distorted sound.
- Don’t be afraid to turn it up! Boost pedals can add a lot of volume to your sound.
Where Is The Best Place To Put A Boost Pedal In Your Signal Chain?
Boost pedals are a great way to add some extra gain to your sound. But where should you put them in your signal chain?
Dynamic pedals, like overdrives and distortions, are typically used near the beginning of the signal chain. This is because they are designed to add gain to the signal and shape the tone.
Boost pedals, like the EP-style and Vox-style, are usually used after the dynamic pedals. This is because they are designed to add a glassy tube tone and act as a preamp.
Modulation, Delay, and Reverb Pedals
Modulation, delay, and reverb pedals should come after the dynamic pedals. This is because adding reverb to an overdriven signal can reverse the effect and distort the reverberated signal.
Tips for Musicians
Here are some tips for musicians looking to use boost pedals in their signal chain:
- If you want to add some extra gain, try using a boost pedal after an overdrive pedal. This will let you find the perfect gain level for your solos.
- If you want to add some extra volume, try using a boost pedal before an overdrive pedal. This will act as a volume knob and push the amp into breakup.
- If you want to add some extra gain and volume, try combining a boost pedal and an overdrive pedal. This will add some good gain and keep the tone of the overdrive pedal intact.
- Remember that boost pedals naturally add some color to the tone. If you’re looking for a baby preamp sound, try using a boost pedal.
Booster Pedal Vs Overdrive
When it comes to guitar pedals, the difference between a booster pedal and an overdrive pedal can be confusing. But don’t worry, we’re here to help!
Let’s start with the booster pedal. This pedal is designed to give your signal a little boost, adding a small amount of overdrive to your sound. It’s great for adding a bit of extra oomph to your playing, without taking it over the top.
On the other hand, an overdrive pedal is designed to give your sound a bit more of a distorted edge. It adds a medium level of distortion, giving your sound a bit more of a crunchy feel. It’s great for adding a bit more of a rock ‘n’ roll vibe to your playing.
Finally, there’s the fuzz pedal. This pedal takes the distortion to the extreme, giving your sound a huge, fuzzy sound. It’s great for adding a bit of a wild, chaotic edge to your playing.
So, there you have it! The main difference between a booster pedal and an overdrive pedal is the amount of distortion they add. Booster pedals add a small amount, overdrive pedals add a medium amount, and fuzz pedals add a large amount. So, if you’re looking to add a bit of extra oomph to your sound, a booster pedal is the way to go. But if you’re looking for something a bit more extreme, then a fuzz pedal is the way to go!
Booster Pedal Vs Preamp
Ah, the age-old question: what’s the difference between a booster pedal and a preamp? Well, let’s break it down.
A preamp is a device that takes a weak signal (like from a guitar or microphone) and amplifies it to a level that can be used in mixers, rack effects, and other gear. It also shapes the sound by equalizing, adding distortion, and other effects.
On the other hand, a booster pedal is a device that takes a signal and boosts it to a higher level. It’s usually used to make an acoustic instrument or pickup sound louder. It’s like a preamp, but it’s designed to give the signal a bit of a boost.
So, if you’re looking to increase the input sound of your instrument, a booster pedal might be the way to go. It’ll give your signal a bit of a boost, making it louder and cleaner. If you’re looking to shape the sound of your instrument, a preamp is the way to go. It’ll give you more control over the sound, allowing you to add distortion, equalize, and more.
In the end, it all comes down to what you’re looking for. If you want to make your instrument sound louder and cleaner, go with a booster pedal. If you want to shape the sound of your instrument, go with a preamp.
Can A Boost Pedal Damage An Amp?
Boost pedals can definitely damage an amp if used incorrectly. They can cause the amp to be pushed too hard, resulting in distortion or even blown speakers. If you’re not careful, you could end up with a fried input stage or a loud, messy mess of speakers. So if you’re planning on using a boost pedal, be sure to turn the volume down on your amp and start with lower volumes. That way, you can avoid any potential damage and still get the sound you’re looking for.
Do Boost Pedals Make Amps Louder?
Boost pedals can absolutely make amps louder! They can transform your guitar sound, making it larger and louder with some simple effects. Boost pedals are essential for modding your sound and can give decades-old amps a new lease on life. With a boost pedal, you can easily turn up the volume of your amp without having to turn up the master volume, which isn’t always feasible. So if you’re looking to make your guitar sound bigger and louder, a boost pedal is the way to go!
Do Boost Pedals Increase Volume?
Boost pedals absolutely increase volume! They take the sound your guitar produces and transform it into a larger, louder sound. With a volume knob, you can control the amount of boost you want to give your instrument. Whether you want to add a subtle boost or a huge increase in volume, boost pedals can do the job. They’re also incredibly versatile and can add a whole new dimension to your sound. Think of it like a volume pedal on your pedalboard setup to boost a particular effect or send your amp into glorious overdrive. Boost pedals are similar to other guitar pedals in that there are lots of brands producing different designs. Boost pedals offer a pure, clean push to increase your volume and add some sizzle to your tone.
So, if you’re looking to increase your volume, boost pedals are the way to go! They can be used in your effects loop or run directly into your amp. Either way, you’ll get a unique character that will let your amp and effects interact better. Plus, with certain pedals, you can get a boost without necessarily increasing the output. So, if you’re looking for a subtle boost, you can find the perfect pedal for you.
Boost pedals are a great addition to any pedalboard and can be your secret weapon, especially when playing live. So, don’t be afraid to give them a try!
Do You Put Boost Pedal First Or Last?
When it comes to guitar pedal order, it can be tricky to tackle the rules of the game. But don’t worry, the Tone Guru is here to declare the guidelines. Gain pedals and modulation effects should always be placed first in the chain, followed by FX loops. But when it comes to boost and overdrive pedals, there’s no hard and fast rule. It’s all about what sounds best for you.
If you put your boost pedal before your overdrive pedal, your tone will stay roughly the same volume but sound more overdriven. If you put your boost after your overdrive pedal, you’ll notice a level increase in the overdrive signal, making it sound fatter and heavier. Stacking pedals is a great way to create your signature tone, so if you want to turn your single channel amp into a rhythm and lead dual channel monster, this is a useful trick.
For single guitarists, or bands that don’t worry about competing for volume, the old school tonal beauty of single channel valve amps is hard to beat. But if you need a little extra versatility, adding gain stages in the form of a clean boost pedal or an FX loop can be a great way to easily increase the volume of your amp.
So, when it comes to boost and overdrive pedals, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. Experimentation is key, and you’ll find what works best for you. Just remember, there’s no stopping you from putting your boost pedal first or last – it’s all about what sounds best for your style.
Is A Boost Pedal The Same As A Buffer?
No, a boost pedal and a buffer are not the same. A boost pedal adds gain to your signal, while a buffer helps to keep your signal strong and consistent. A boost pedal is great for adding a bit of extra volume or dirt to your tone, while a buffer is a must-have for any pedalboard with a lot of pedals and long patch cables. Buffers help to evenly distribute the power load to each individual pedal, which is especially important if you’re using a lot of them.
Using a buffer at the end of your chain is also recommended, as it helps to keep your signal strong and clear. If you’re looking to fix any issues with volume or tone loss, a boost pedal is the way to go. But if you’re looking to compensate for big pedalboards and long cables, a buffer is your best bet.
It’s worth experimenting with both a buffer and a boost pedal, as there are no hard and fast rules. Ultimately, it’s all about finding the right combination of pedals to get the sound you’re after.
What’s the deal with guitar booster pedals? Do you ever feel like your guitar just isn’t loud enough? Well, you’re in luck! Introducing the Dual Boost High End 2 Channel Booster – the ultimate way to get your guitar sounding louder than ever before!
This pedal is packed with the best components and has been meticulously processed to ensure minimal background noise and a class-leading sound. With a maximum boost level of 10-20 dB, you can be sure that your guitar will be heard loud and clear. Plus, the internal voltage charge pump provides the pedal with a high headroom and wide dynamic range, while the high-quality buffer lets you keep your tone intact.
So if you’re looking to take your guitar sound to the next level, the Dual Boost High End 2 Channel Booster is the way to go. With its superior sound quality and powerful boost, you’ll be shredding like a pro in no time!
What is a guitar booster pedal? It’s a pedal that boosts the guitar’s signal for a stronger sound. It can be used to increase the volume or to overdrive the guitar for a heavier sound. It’s a great way to add some kick to your guitar.
I'm Joost Nusselder, the founder of Neaera and a content marketer, dad, and love trying out new equipment with guitar at the heart of my passion, and together with my team, I've been creating in-depth blog articles since 2020 to help loyal readers with recording and guitar tips.
Check me out on Youtube where I try out all of this gear:Subscribe