Boost pedals! What do they do and why might you need one?
Our resident Tone Wizard Simon Fraser-Clark breaks it down for us, as well as giving us the lowdown on the BCC-STEELPARK & Tony Iommi BCC-TI-BOOST pedals. Keep reading for a jargon-free guide to using boost to enhance your guitar tone.
In almost every instance if you can hit the front of your guitar amp harder, and in particular a valve amp – it will just sound better. A boost pedal aims to increase the gain of the signal without necessarily altering the frequency range or tone. They perform a very useful function in the guitar signal path. Boost pedals allow you to dial in just the right amount of gain (boost) to make your amp naturally compress and sit in its sweet spot.
A boost pedal can have a different impact on your tone depending on how your amp is set and where you place the boost. In front of an amp, it hits the front end of the amp harder and can be used to nudge the amp into a nice harmonic distortion and make the amp compress nicely.
If you place it after the preamp but before the power amp section – say in the FX loop of your amp, then it can be used to increase the actual volume of the amp without necessarily altering the tone – just making it louder. This is great for single-channel amps as it can give you some pseudo channel switching options.
Most boost pedals claim to be transparent but in reality, many of them have the ability to let the player choose to alter the basic characteristics of the guitar tone. Manufacture variations in the overall EQ footprint to the pedal account for the many different boost pedals in the market. Choosing the right boost pedal involves deciding on what you actually want it to do and what tone you’re going for. Boost pedals plugged into clean amps have a more significant impact on the overall tone. Boost pedals plugged into amps that are already being pushed have a less noticeable overall impact on the guitar tone – which does not make them any less important.
When we compare the Tony Iommi signature TI-BOOST with the STEELPARK boost pedal, they both perform the same overall function. The difference is that the TI-BOOST was specifically designed for Tony Iommi to be used in front of his Laney amps which are running at high gain levels. This results in the boost pedal being voiced in a particular way that allows Tony to switch in specific mid-range frequencies which he uses to drive his amps harder in particular situations.
The STEELPARK was designed using the same boost circuit as the TI-BOOST but offers more flexibility when it comes to the mid-range frequencies that can be selected by the mini-toggle switch. This flexibility allows the user to be able to tailor the pedals mid-range in response to the guitar being used, the amp, and how it is set.
The new CUB-SUPER valve amp range includes a foot-switchable Steelpark boost function. Check it out here!
Boost is cool and can really enhance your sound. Finding the right boost pedal for you depends on the sound you’re going for.
Remember – the best tone in the world could be your tone with just a small amount of boost added!