Clean Boost Pedals- Educate me.

Discussion in 'Effects, Pedals, Strings & Things' started by saltydogg, Dec 23, 2009.

  1. saltydogg

    saltydogg Rock & Roll Enthusiast Gold Supporting Member

    Oct 18, 2008
    Morris County, NJ

    First let me wish all you TPGer's a Merry Christmas as well as a Happy and Safe New Year.

    I've never used a "clean boost" and was thinking about trying one. I done some light searching through old threads but haven't found any too informative.

    There are a few brands that continue to come up such as the ZVex SHO and the Xotic RC Booster. Are either worth the money? Is there a better alternative?

    I need some experienced advice from you "boost guys".

    I'd be looking to push Marshall amps via Les Paul guitars- if that helps any.....

    Educate me. Thank you.
  2. YETI

    YETI Supporting Member

    Nov 9, 2008
    Sweet Home Alabama
    I bought a clone of the SHO and love it. If you can get a good deal on an original Zvex, they are great. I ended up getting a LWB from Outlaw supply for less than 1/2 the price. (No affiliation here!) It has been my favorite of the clean boosts that I have tried. The Catalinbread Super Chili Picoso would be my second choice.
  3. benabloom

    benabloom Member

    Nov 9, 2006
    Hey Salty Dawg!

    When it comes to boosts, there are a TON of great options out there.

    You can put them in two different camps. Clean boosts that do not change your EQ just amplify the same signal you put in. These are great if you are happy with your eq and tone just want the effect of having hotter pickups. This is really handy for boosting single coil pickups to match the output of your humbuckers when switching guitars on stage.

    Dirty or Equed boosts will add a little flavor as well as dirt/eq shift which may be desirable depending on your desired tone.

    That being said, the 2 that you listed both color your sound in an intended way. The SHO is very lively and bright.. Alot of players like this, but I don't as I prefer darker tones. The RC will have a mroe flexible EQ and some dirt to add, but is nothing like the SHO . If you have to get one or the other, I woudl start with the RC because it is more flexible.

    My experience with Marshall amps are that you usually don't run them clean, so you have a desired rythem crunch dialed in and want to push the amp with a boost pedal for leads or to make it more saturated/distorted. For this purpose, I have had the most success with a flexible eq'd boost and sometimes one that adds a bit of dirt and some bass cut.

    The ones that I have liked with most Marshalls are:
    Treble boosters like the Analog man Beano Boost!
    RC booster (that one is on your list!)
    and Mk1 or MK2 pedals set for low gain..

    My favorite CLEAN boost pedal(no eq) is the Lizard Legs Dragon Boost... but I have found the most use for it in front of Fender type amps, or HIGH headroom amps as a volume boost .

    These are just my opinions ...all of which I have come to by trying a lot of different boosts to find what I was looking for. My advise is start cheap and buy used. Try one at a time and see where it gets you. I own a handfull of different boosts that I like but they are for different goals...

    If you provide some info as to what exactly you are trying to achieve forum members may be able to give you more insight.

  4. sickboy79

    sickboy79 Member

    Aug 17, 2006
    +1 on what Benabloom said. A good clean boost won't color your tone, really. It takes your tone, and essentially gives you a bit more. Into a cranked amp with a LP, you can coax the amp into more silky harmonic overdrive - while retaining the same voice of your amp. A GOOD OD pedal can do this with the level/volume dimed and the gain at a minimum. Then you also have the versatility of more drive if you want it. Other pedals are plain old boosters. Treble boosters are another good option - but, they color your tone (in a GOOD WAY - changed my life as a pedal guy!!!).

    Stuff that works well for me:

    Frantone Hepcat: super transparent - awesome clean booster, also a good drive pedal if you want it

    Clark Gainster: great when set up like a boost - plus and amazing OD tone if you want it.

    Analogman King of Tone: the yellow side in the Boost mode is probably the best "clean boost" I've ever used. Plus you have another channel of killer drive with lots of options as well. Worth the price of admission, or wait.

    Analogman Beano Boost: Treble booster that changed me as a pedal/OD guy. AMAZING booster that brings out an amazing creamy midrangey drive with plenty of clarity. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

    Other good boosters that I've tried:

    RC Booster
    Fulltone Fatboost V1 (I haven't played 2 or 3)

    Good luck!
  5. spentron

    spentron Member

    Aug 2, 2004
    My impression is that people use boosts for different things. The SHO is a favorite of the plug it in and it sounds better crowd, along w/ the SCP and others. Some use boost as a volume switch or guitar matcher. Very few actually state that they heavily overdrive amps with one. This can absorb many more dB of boost. 20 dB can take a mild crunch up to an intense one, etc., but is still less different than OD. There are limits to how far the pedal can go, and how far the amp sounds good like that possibly also.

    Note there are several interactions possible with boost as well as adding gain. If your gain control or single volume has a bright function, it gets brighter when turned down, so with boost the sound may end up brighter. The first stage before that control can actually distort also.
  6. oxtone

    oxtone Member

    Sep 14, 2005
    Edina, MN

    Check out the Dr. Scientist "The Cleanness" boost pedal.

    I've tried many, and this one is the most versatile I've ever used.

    The controls are: Volume, Gain, and Low, Mid, and High EQ.

    With this pedal, you can tweak your tone anyway you want to. The
    three-band EQ section enables you to add or delete certain frequencies.

    I use it to goose my overdrive pedals for leads, and to tweak the tones
    from them. I can give an overdrive pedal more bottom end, or mids and highs, or scoop the mids, etc.

    You can't go wrong with the Cleanness! It's a pedal you want to leave on all the time, as it improves your tone that much!
  7. mockoman

    mockoman Member

    Jun 9, 2005
    Beneath the Blue Suburban Skies
    I've been using a Keeley Katana for years. I put it last in the chain,& use it strictly as a volume boost. I can boost solos,intros,anything I want,dirty or clean ( I run my amps clean,w/pedals for dirt).

    I call it my soundman in a box.
  8. Cap'nMayhem

    Cap'nMayhem Member

    May 1, 2009
    So. Cal
    Menatone Red Snapper for a boost w/dirt, with the Bite and Cut controls you can taylor the high end. Das Boost for no dirt just boost, with the Brite/Normal/Dark switch you can get a variety of boosted tones without a lot of tweaking.
  9. jhuse

    jhuse Member

    Dec 14, 2008
    Merry Christmas, 'Dogg.

    I use both a Keeley Katana and the RC Booster. The RC is last on the board and always on. I use the Katana for boosting my Fenders to match the volume of by Les Paul.

    Both are great pedals that can add a lot of punch to your signal, and/or add that clean boost "sparkle." All of that said, I like the RC the best: more versatile with the variable gain and the active treble & bass circuits. Plus, in my rig, it's much quieter than the Katana.

    However, to give props to the Katana, the pot-out mode adds some sweet dirt to the signal which really warms up and drives the amp. Very cool if that's what you want.

    I've never played an SHO, but it does get a lot of glowing reviews.
  10. goodhonk

    goodhonk Member

    Mar 21, 2008
    Phoenix, AZ
  11. supergenius365

    supergenius365 Silver Supporting Member

    Oct 22, 2005
    Clemmons, NC
    Bad Bob, Radial Big Shot and even MXR Micro Amp are decent IMO
  12. overture2005

    overture2005 Member

    Jul 10, 2005
    bob burt clean boost, lovepedal twin60
  13. fritferret

    fritferret Member

    Jun 17, 2009
    Boston, MA
    the best clean clean boost out there is the fuchs pure gain. my favorite boost, however, is the ep boost by xotic. it's not as clean as the fuchs, which means it colors your tone a bit and has a couple of fet switches inside it, but i love what it does. still very transparent, but not as much as the fuchs.
  14. iim7v7im7

    iim7v7im7 Member

    Mar 9, 2008
    New Jersey
    I have experienced 3 different boost pedals and will try to describe the differences:

    (1) Analogman King of Tone-Yellow Channel: As I understand it, this is an opamp based circuit using a JRC4580D that is based upon a Marshall bluesbreaker pedal. This boost is not "totally" clean but imparts a euphonic "warmth" to my tone and the slightest touch of "compression" compared to my no pedal tone. This euphonic warmth, sounds very musical to my ears with a Fender BF style amp. If I turn up the gain this channel also becomes a a mild overdrive, overlapping the red channel side of the pedal, but with less compression.

    (2) Xotic Effects RC Booster: This is also an opamp based JRC4557 boost that has EQ controls. This is a very neutral sounding pedal, but it does in my view add the smallest touch of "compression" and "brightness" vs. no pedal tone. What is nice about this pedal is the EQ. If your amp is a BF style amp with poor bass handling, the EQ on this pedal is great to cut out bass. If you are playing on the normal channel of a Tweed Deluxe and your tone is dark, you can brighten your tone up with the EQ. The Paul C audio Tim pedal which is really an OD pedal; but can be used as a boost when set low does much of what the RC does (can't brighten) but is more transparent sounding in my view.

    (3) Lizard Leg Effects Flying Dragon: I believe that this is a JFET based circuit (I am not positive about this; perhaps others know? It might be mosfet). This is the most natural sounding of my boosts compared a no pedal tone. It is more dynamic and responsive to changes in pick attack than either the KOT or the RC Booster in my experience. You need to truly like the sound of your guitar and amp with this pedal because its really a volume enhancer if your amp has lots-o-headroom or will push your pre-amp over the edge when turned up.

    So all are good pedals. Each has different strengths: KOT adding a euphonic warmth, RC Booster have useful EQ and the Flying Dragon being neutral and dynamic.


  15. saltydogg

    saltydogg Rock & Roll Enthusiast Gold Supporting Member

    Oct 18, 2008
    Morris County, NJ
    Thanks for your input and reviews, guys.

    Currently, my pedal chain is the following:

    Marshall Amp: honeybee/phantom/lovepedal/gain stage purple/OCDV4: Les Paul.

    The HB stays on all the time with a very mild gain setting with the volume matched to the dry signal. Due to the dynamics of the HB it makes every pedal run through it more dynamic.

    The phantom, lovepedal and GSP, are set for different gain/tone stages and are never on at the same time.

    The OCDv4 I have been using to boost the dirt pedals. The volume is set slightly higher than the dry signal and the gain set at at 7 o'clock (a little bit of hair). The tone at 1 o'clock and the toggle set to Low.

    The OCD actually works well as a "dirty boost" especially for gainy Marshall tones and has a nice effect on the following dirt pedals.

    All this being said, I'm probably looking for a CLEAN boost and I like the idea of having an EQ section.

    I know there is a ton of boosts available and if you have any more advice please don't hesitate. Thanks for helping me sort this out.
  16. Primakurtz

    Primakurtz Member

    Mar 12, 2009
    Denver, CO USA
    The Creation Audio Labs clean boost is excellent, too.

    TGP'er This1smyne makes a terrific SHO clone - smaller, too.

    Different boosts for different amps; I find that I need to experiment quite a bit to find the right matchups.

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