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Deciding how many pedals to add to your pedal board is an art form in and of itself. While many players overload their boards with interesting reverb, delay, and overdrive effects pedals, boost pedals don’t get quite as much love from guitarists.
There are many types of pedals that you may use as a guitar player, but one of the most misunderstood and underappreciated is the boost pedal. A boost pedal offers your guitar a clean increase in gain and can be useful in a variety of different scenarios during a performance. Having one on your board can be a lot more useful than you might expect.
So what does a boost pedal do and why should you consider buying one? In this guide, we’ll tell you what a boost pedal is and why you might want to use one.
What Is a Boost Pedal?
A boost pedal is a type of guitar pedal that will increase the gain on your guitar’s signal.
While many other types of guitar pedals will make a big impact on the tone of a guitar, a boost pedal does very little to affect the tone. It doesn’t add crunch, distortion, flange, or any other effect, and works to offer an uncolored and completely transparent gain. It will simply increase the signal.
The result is that the pedal boosts the guitar signal with a completely clean sound, or pretty close to it. The pedal is essentially used to boost the volume of your guitar in a convenient way.
As with all types of guitar pedals, however, there are many different varieties on the market. Many of these boost pedals offer a completely clean boost while others will include other small effects and features that can influence the sound a bit more. The quality of the pedal will also alter the sound a bit as well.
What Does a Boost Pedal Sound Like?
Using a boost pedal will give your guitar a louder and larger sound and will essentially be the same as simply turning up the volume on your guitar. The difference is that a boost pedal will give you an even bigger boost and will take your sound to levels that are hard to achieve otherwise.
While many people simply use a boost volume pedal for more volume, it can also give your instrument a little bit of extra ‘oomph’ and a more in-your-face sound as well.
Why Use a Boost Pedal?
Since there are already volume knobs on your guitar and on your amp, you may be wondering why exactly you would want to use a boost pedal at all. There are different reasons why guitarists love to rely on boost pedals when playing.
One of the most common reasons to use a boost pedal is to get a boost in volume when it’s time to play a lead part.
It can be inconvenient to turn up the volume knob on a guitar or on an amp in the middle of a song. A boost pedal can be easily pressed down when it’s time to play a solo or a lead part. This can make things a lot easier for guitarists who switch their roles throughout a song.
A guitarist may want to blend in with a band more during the majority of a song but then stand out with extra volume during a solo or lead. A boost pedal can help guitarists accomplish this perfectly.
There are also other situations in which a guitarist may want to use a clean boost pedal as well.
A boost can help to saturate the front end of an amplifier just like an overdrive but without a change in tone. This can be very useful for certain guitarists. A boost pedal can be great for smashing a tube amp and providing saturation for heavier rhythm parts.
There are other ways to use a booster pedal as well. The bottom line, however, is that using a boost pedal can be a great help for a guitar player who wants to have more dynamic control over their instrument in a convenient way. Guitar players can change their parts throughout a song and will have more control over their instrument’s volume at any given time.
Are All Boost Pedals the Same?
While the functionality of a boost pedal is fairly straightforward, it’s important to realize that not all boost pedals are the same. There are slight differences in tone and the pedals usually have different functionality and knobs that can alter their usage just a bit.
Pedals such as the Blackstar Dept. 10 Boost, for example, has built-in EQ features. The MXR M133, on the other hand, simply has a straightforward clean boost and offers simple operation with a single volume knob. There are many more slight variations to the basic booster pedal functionality as well, but overall, they are mostly about the same.
You’ll want to dig deeper into the boost pedals that you’re thinking about buying to find out about the differences that they have in functionality. You should also consider additional features such as EQ and tone options. Boost pedals also range in price by a pretty good bit, starting around $50 and going to $200 or more.
Where to Place a Boost Pedal in the Effects Chain
One of the things to think about when buying a booster pedal is where you’ll put it in your guitar effects chain. There are, of course, many options to consider, and what you decide to do may depend on personal preference and experimentation as much as anything else.
There is one key decision to make, however. It’s important to consider where you’ll put the boost pedal in relation to any overdrive effects that you have on your pedalboard.
Placing the pedal before the overdrive will add some additional overdrive to your tone and will add even more power to the gain.
Placing the booster pedal after the overdrive, however, will make the boost essentially invisible. You’ll get a volume boost without any additional distortion or overdrive. This is particularly helpful when you need to play solos and get a little bit of extra volume without altering your tone.
Understanding the Importance of Boost Pedals
If you’re trying to build a fully-featured electric guitar pedalboard, you shouldn’t ignore boost pedals. While simple and straightforward overall, they can add some essential functionality to your pedalboard. Boost pedals can make playing guitar solos a breeze and can give your tone the extra ‘oomph’ that it needs.
Want to learn more about essential guitar effects? Check out this post now to learn more about the most essential pedals and effects for guitarists.