boost questions--my head hurts

Discussion in 'Effects, Pedals, Strings & Things' started by kingink, Aug 29, 2005.


  1. kingink

    kingink Gold Supporting Member

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    So the boost bug has bitten me and after doing a lot of research, my brain's in a muddle. There are so many boosts out there. I'm sure they're all cool in their own ways, which is what makes narrowing things down to one or two choices difficult. Seems like a lot of folks around here have tried quite a few boost pedals, so I thought I'd try to describe how I'd use such an animal and maybe someone can advise me.

    1. Mainly, I want to be able to get my Bassman heads and Maz Sr. to break up sooner by slamming the preamp with a hot signal. I want to get that "big" crunchy sound at lower volumes.
    1b. Related to this, I'd like to be able to use low-output pickups, then use the boost to provide the hot signal, as opposed to relying on "hot"/distortion pickups to smack the preamp.

    2. Some of my guitars already have hot pickups, and I can drive most of my amps into a nice crunch tone with these guitars, but I'd like to have a boost on hand to push the amp into singing sustain for single string runs/feedback.

    I think one thing that has me confused is that sometimes boosts are described as boosting volume for solos, and sometimes they're described as being able to drive an amp harder. I'm wondering if some do the former, and some do the latter, or can all boost pedals be used in either application? (I actually don't need volume boosts for solos, as I don't do solos as such).

    Here are the models that interested me. I like that most of these are pretty small and take up minimal space on the pedalboard:

    Z Vex SHO and Super Duper--wondering if too much "sparkle" or "presence", but the SD has the extra channel and the SHO has the extra output,

    Fulltone Fatboost--advertised as "big at low volume"

    Xotic RC Booster--everybody seems to like it

    Austone Soul-O-Stomp--support local business, plus it seems flexible (volume or gain boost)

    Durham Sex Drive--again,support local business (a friend has one of these but I haven't had a chance to try it myself)

    Blackbox Cobalt--versatile

    Duncan Pickup Booster (construction seems poor and no unity gain)

    Tim/Timmy--everybody seems to like these

    Was also considering Hot Cake with gain low, volume high, or even a Stupid Box (really like that TV graphic ;) ).


    Sorry for such a long email. Thanks for reading this far.

    David
     
  2. Moe45673

    Moe45673 Member

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  3. granite

    granite Member

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    I picked up a Keeley Katana Boost recently. I am using it with my Aiken Tomcat and really like what it does or more importantly what it DOESN'T do. It doesn't color your amp's tone and let's your guitar sound come through. It is as Keeley advertizes, a transparent clear boost. There is a cool volume knob on the side of the pedal that you can adjust with your foot. When you pull the volume knob out it becomes a slightly dirty gain boost. It is perfect for me and is true bypass. I got one off eBay and saved a little money too. Worth checking out.

    http://www.robertkeeley.com/product.php?id=34

    http://www.harmony-central.com/Effects/Data/Keeley/Katana_Boost-1.html
     
  4. dzeitlin

    dzeitlin Member

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    It still amazes me that these pedals haven't caught on, but I think the Tophat Wonderboy is the best boost I've ever heard. Plus it has an independant overdrive too!
     
  5. AL30

    AL30 Member

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    A lot of what you're talking is going to depend on your amp/guitar setup.

    A clean boost in itself won't add much gain BUT if you have your amp set on the edge of break-up then the boost will push it over the edge and the amp will then be pushed into overdrive. Different boosts will color your sound different.

    On the other hand LPB/Rangemaster style boosts will add a little grit to your circuit.

    I have used the Jack Orman/AMZ boost - which is the predecessor to the Fulltone Fatboost - and it is a very nice, clean boost.

    I have two Fender Bassman heads (blackfaces) and I really like using an Electro Harmonix LPB in front of them. It adds just enough without getting over bearing on the gain side.

    AL
     
  6. Tchello

    Tchello Member

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    You have to check Time Machine Boost from Legendary Tones and Robert Keeley, the TMB is a 3 stage boost that have a vintage channel wich add a little grit and a modern channel that add volume for your solos. After check all that boost pedal available today I came to the conclusion that TMB is the most versatile one.
     
  7. rooster

    rooster Member

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    I second the Jack Orman minibooster from AMZ. If you look at generalguitargadgets.com, there is a pre-burned circuit board, and if you are not big on too much shopping around, smallbearelec.com can sell you all the parts. For about $50 or less, you can build a virtually transparent booster. Mine has 2 switchable volumes; one is to give a little boost to single coil pickups to match my humbucker volumes, and the other boosts everything way up for thickening things up some for lead. As a side benefit, you get to learn a bit about building your own stuff, and seeing what these "boutique" fellers have to go through to make a good marketable product.

    rooster.
     
  8. ChrisP

    ChrisP Member

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    on a related note I always reccomend the RGW Bad Bob Booster, which is designed/inspired by Jack O.

    Great boost..Love my BAD BOB
     
  9. jlagrassa

    jlagrassa Supporting Member

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    Check out the new Barber Silver LTD, It's a low gain OD pedal with plenty of volume to slam your tubes!
     
  10. VanStone

    VanStone Member

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    My boost is the green Catalinbread: Sagrado Poblano Picoso. From clean to hairy, it will cover all the boost bases with a single knob. I love it - it's one of my all time favorite pedals.

    V
     
  11. stephenT

    stephenT Silver Supporting Member

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    Sex Drive. Great unit.
     
  12. rooster

    rooster Member

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    Jack has designed some truly great pedals. I've built a few of them. The Insanity Box is a truly ferocious distortion pedal, but a bit of overkill. However, it does get you "metal in a box." I think of him as picking up where Craig Anderton left off. He concentrates on discrete circuits, and you can learn a lot from his projects. Mainly, that most boutique pedals (ZVex usually excluded -- his designs are TRULY original for the most part) are based on either traditional old school FX, or his and the diystompbox.com crowd's work. However, if you're not handy with building, that Bad Bob looks like not a bad deal. It cost me about $25 for mine, but I have a high-quantity supply of most of the components needed on hand at low prices due to the amount of them I keep around. For the average builder, though, I would think you could put the AMZ Minibooster together for less than $50.

    rooster.
     
  13. slowburn

    slowburn Supporting Member

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    my buddy's got the bad bob and freagin loves it. I just got an eternity which when you turn the gain knob all the way down is a fantastic boost as well...
     
  14. kingink

    kingink Gold Supporting Member

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    Great info everybody! Thank you much. Lots of great ideas. Had not considered the Bad Bob, TMB, or Wonder Boy.

    Nor had I considered building something myself, which really intrigues me.

    AL30: no worries, my amps are always on the edge of or just past breaking up.:D

    Rooster, is the pedal you built the Dual Mosfet (on generalguitargadgets.com [and on prophecy.com]), or did you mod the minibooster? I've done some very small amp modification (in the tonestacks of my SF Bassman), and am fairly handy with a soldering iron. I do like the learning part of the process too, so this may be the way I'll go, after researching these other suggestions.

    Thanks again everybody, and keep 'em coming if you're so inclined.

    David
     
  15. madsr

    madsr Member

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    I use a zvex SHO and it's a fantastic boost..doesn't really color the tone but seems to make everything a clearer..snappier..I set mine wide open and use the volume knob on the guitar to put the amp on the edge of breakup...that way I roll up for full on saturation or down a little for crystal clean..it's always on though..I never use it as a solo boost..although it would be great for that too..
     
  16. kingink

    kingink Gold Supporting Member

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    Ha! And it did! Actually, that's a very useful manual to have on hand. Thanks, eBay.
     
  17. DaveG

    DaveG Gold Supporting Member

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    Another vote for the Bad Bob here!

    Could any of you guys explain how a Mosfet booster (like the HBE Uno Mos) would sound compared to the Bad Bob?

    Thanks!
     
  18. AndreasG

    AndreasG Member

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    ...I was wondering the same thing. Looking for a nice boost, which should serve me better than an OD pedal to drive my Marshall into distortion (it's a 73 50 W head, with the volumes at about 7 or 8), with more touch response and better dynamics.
    For me, I narrowed down to Fat Boost or Sex Drive, but it seems those two are not on top here.
     
  19. Moe45673

    Moe45673 Member

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    people seem to love not listening to me, but again I repeat, the super chile picoso is an excellent pedal.

    I guess it's not that popular for some reason (probably obscurity), but honestly, it's my desert island pedal.

    And this is over a versatile EQ pedal and a strobostomp
     
  20. John Phillips

    John Phillips Member

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    What no-one has mentioned so far is that this is impossible with any plain boost pedal. If you want the amp to break up more, you can certainly do it, but not at lower volumes. The volume will be either pretty much the same (if the amp was already pretty overdriven) or higher.

    The only ways to get more distortion at lower volume are either to use an overdrive or distortion pedal (where what you'll hear is the sound of the pedal through a basically clean amp) or an attenuator.

    You could maybe get the first preamp stage to overdrive if you boost the input massively, and then control it with the amp's volume - but don't count on it sounding good, and it certainly won't sound the same as the normal full-power distortion.
     

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