Along with technique and tone, dynamics play a prominent role in the performance of a guitarist. Knowing when to sit back in the pocket or rise above the rest of the band is a highly important skill to develop.
Clean boost pedals provide an instantaneous way to increase the power and volume of your instrument. If you need to stand out during a solo or provoke your amplifier into producing slight breaks ups, boost pedals are the perfect solution.
Best Clean Boost Pedals - My Top Picks
The Spark Mini by TC Electronic is a compact clean boost pedal that is capable of adding substance to your guitar at any point during a set. It's very simple to operate, and its miniature dimensions mean it will slot onto even the busiest of pedalboards with no problem.
One thing that always stands out about TC Electronic’s stompbox offerings is their eye-catching artwork. Indeed, as guitarists, we value tone and performance over aesthetics when it comes to pedals, but the eccentric design gives the Spark Mini a unique look.
This clean boost pedal owes much of its quality to the inner analog circuitry that it houses. It ensures that no digitally-produced hums or buzzes are present when the pedal is activated and protects the integrity of your tone.
The Spark Mini is based on two useful switching options. Powered by PrimeTime switching, you can toggle between standard latching operation or momentary operation.
The former will give the pedal permission to monitor the dynamics of your playing, and boost the volume when required, much like a compressor would. The latter switching mode is controlled by you, and only boosts the signal when you choose to.
This TC Electronic offering is capable of boosting an electric guitar’s clean tone by up to 20dB, a significant amount that is enough to raise the dynamics of your instrument above a drum kit, or other loud instruments on stage.
2. MXR M133
The M133 by MXR is a microamp level booster pedal that provides you with complete control over the volume of your guitar before it reaches your amplifier. The simple one-knob layout makes it easy to match the dynamics of a full band.
The M133 clean boost pedal has singular input and outputs, and its centerpiece is a gain rotary parameter. By cranking the control, you can cause your amplifier to reach the warm zone of natural break-ups.
With true bypass switching, you can guarantee that this pedal won't compromise your clean tone even when the pedal is not in action. It also has a visible red LED indicator which lights up when the pedal is on.
Featuring a stylish design and simple functionality, the EP Booster by Xotic is no ordinary clean boost pedal. Based on the preamp used in the popular EP-3 echo effects processor, it houses inner components of the highest quality.
The maximum amount of boost provided by this Xotic pedal is 20dB, which is more than adequate for any style of guitar playing. The pedal colors your tone with a warm, rich character.
There are a series of dip switches internally installed into the EP booster. These mechanisms make it possible for you to tweak the frequencies that are boosted, and adjust the EQ settings of the pedal.
True bypass switching is a welcome addition to the EP clean boost pedal, withdrawing the pedal from your signal chain when it is turned off. This pedal can be powered using either a dedicated supply of a 9-volt battery.
Detailed and multi-functional, the Buxom clean boost pedal by Friedman provides plenty of options for a guitarist that goes beyond your standard volume booster. It aims to deliver more volume whilst protecting the natural clean tone of your instrument.
The pedal features a total of 6 rotary parameters that control different aspects of its performance. The 3-band EQ is very useful for dialing in or boosting certain frequencies, compensating for the changes caused by additional volume.
Then there's the boost control. This is arguably the most important component of the pedal because it allows you to adjust how much you clean tone is affected by the Buxom, and can be easily tailored in real-time.
The tight parameter also provides you with more sonic-tweaking options. If you find that your amplifier loses a bit of the low-end thickness when the boost pedal is activated, simply adjust this control accordingly and tight bass frequencies will reappear.
As you’d expect, this Friedman pedal has true bypass switching to preserve the clarity of your clean tone, and to ensure it interacts well with your other effects pedals.
5. JHS Prestige
JHS has emerged as one of the leading producers of guitar effects pedals in recent years, building a reputation for designing high-quality stompboxes that are reliable and full of character.
The Prestige is their flagship clean boost offering. The pedal’s best quality is its versatility, despite its fairly simplistic appearance. It contains a triple-threat of tools to add to your guitar rig.
If the single rotary knob is set anywhere below 25%, the pedal will perform as a buffer, compensating for any of the high-end loss caused by long single chains. Set between 25-50%, and the pedal will give your guitar a much-needed boost perfect for solos.
Finally, when you crank the control above halfway, it results in an authentic-sounding, warm drive that is ideal for getting your amplifier into the golden stage of overdriven break-ups.
The DB+ V2 is a minute clean booster by Wampler. This dual-purposed offering is a great addition to any pedalboard, thanks to its compact size and true bypass switching.
By setting the gain parameter to a unity level that matches that of your amplifier, the pedal will act as a buffer and control the dynamics of your whole signal chain without compromising any clarity.
When used as a straight-up boost, the DB+ V2 maintains the majority of your guitar's natural characteristics, coloring it slightly with a musical warmth that sounds great when playing melodies of solos.
The Most Important Features on Clean Boost Pedals
The reason every guitarist should use a clean boost pedal is that it's the single most effective way to increase their volume without having to mess around with controls and settings. Simply set the levels in advance, stomp on the switch, and you're good to go.
However, despite the simplistic nature of these pedals, there are some varying aspects and features that are worth looking out for.
True Bypass Switching
The term “true-bypass” commonly pops up when you are searching for any variety of effects pedal. This essentially means that the pedal has a special type of switching built-in, which sends a signal through the circuitry of the effect.
It acts to avoid the circuitry that is responsible for producing the effect, thus ensuring that the signal integrity doesn’t suffer when the pedal is on or off.
When we think of analog, it provokes thoughts of primitive recording gear and effects pedals from the days when TV was in black and white. Even though digital pedals have become increasingly popular, analog circuitry is still used for many clean boost pedals.
This is because analog pedals use a continuous signal and unadulterated processing. In simpler words, this means that there are fewer points in the circuit, resulting in a cleaner operation.
Clean boost pedals aren't exactly the flashiest of pedals, but they perform an integral function nonetheless. If you play solos or melodies, it's worth investing in a high-quality booster.
When it comes to using your pedal for the first time, be sure to test it out with your other effects pedal and amplifiers to ensure that the levels match and it performs to the best of its ability!