How do I get a big volume increase? / The science of clean boosts


Hi all, I'm not at all an expert on the technical side of things, so allow me to describe a problem with my setup and how I might resolve it:

I'm playing in a LOUD band right now, and I'm my setup is:

ARC Klone v2 set to add minimal OD > King of Tone > EP Booster > DST Engineering Savoy (35 watt blackface)

I should add that the Savoy has a LOT of clean headroom. So I'm chugging a long with a decent overdrive sound with the Klone and KoT boost engaged, and the solo comes up. I step on the KoT red overdrive side and EP Booster (cranked to 10), and there is almost barely a discernible volume increase - I'm still buried in the mix.

1.) So what's up? Is the signal hitting the amp already 'maxed out', and by extension the volume increase is minimal?
2.) Is the EP Booster not a suitable pedal for this desired volume increase? Would the RC Booster or another boost pedal be a better option?

Thoughts appreciated, thanks


Oh wait it already is. Ooops. I'd try messing with the dip switches to get the most treble boost from the EP then.


Wannabe Shredder
Silver Supporting Member
Try the EP boost right at the end of your chain before you do anything else.
It is at the end of the chain already...

OP, you're running out of headroom.

Kid Casseroli

So I'm chugging a long with a decent overdrive sound with the Klone and KoT boost engaged, and the solo comes up. I step on the KoT red overdrive side and EP Booster (cranked to 10), and there is almost barely a discernible volume increase.
Simplification will help identify the problem.

Try to achieve what you want experimenting with only one pedal at a time before stacking. Start with the KOT. Start with the red side and the boost off. Set the amp volume equal to what you had with the KOT boost engaged. Then add the KOT boost to see if you can get a volume increase.

Then reverse the order on the KOT (to the way you have it set up now) and compare the volume boost.

It's easier to get where you want to be by breaking the chain down into its individual parts and taking it one step at a time. Once the problem is located, then the suggestions to solve it can be more specific.
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A surefire way to check whether you are running out of headroom is to place your boost in the fx loop if your amp has one - thats where I use my CAE Line Booster - always a great volume boost, unless the power amps has no more volume to give...
I find that if each boost in the chain adds a little grit and also boosts volume, you risk running out of headroom at the amp's input. When you finally step on the boost, it just adds more gain and no increase in volume. We want to drive the front end of the amp with an overdrive pedal, because it sounds good, but we risk stealing the volume boost from the end of the chain because the amp is out of headroom. It's a compromise and a balancing act. Try turning down the level on each of the pedals in the chain so that they add grit but don't boost volume. Then turn up the amp a little and use the boost at the end of the chain.
If you are running out of headroom, maybe try another way to fix the problem. You can always try to boost some frequencies rather than the overall volume. I find the soul food/klon the best way to boost IMO. It boosts just the right frequencies for you to get heard, but it isn't harsh or blaring loud that makes your ears hurt. An EQ may work as well. If you are still getting buried even though you are boosting those mids, you may want to get a louder amp/second amp and run stereo.


Been struggling and experimenting for years using various clean boost pedals, drop volume pedals and a bunch of input from friends and the only way I've found to make a clean boost work is through the effects loop. There's just no efficient way to boost the volume from the front of the amp without running out of headroom or packing the signal with extra junk that kills the tone through the preamp. I know that doesn't help if you have a single channel amp with no FX loop.

If you're using a distortion/overdrive pedal in front of a clean amp then put your boost pedal after the drive pedal. Sorry couldn't be more of a help.

Clark GriswoId

Looks Great. Little Full, Lotta Sap.
Silver Supporting Member
is your amp maxed on volume?

is your guitar volume up all the way?


Turn the overdrives off - is the amp clean? Kick in the booster - is it still clean? If so, the amp has enough clean headroom to handle the higher input signal. If it starts distorting (or if it was slightly dirty even without the booster on), the amp simply doesn't have enough headroom to handle the extra signal level.


Gold Supporting Member
I have two different things I can stomp on to get more. They are both essentially in the loop of my amp (I say "essentially" because I'm running a separate preamp and power amp). One of them is a Keeley GC-2 compressor, and the other is a VFE Rocket EQ. Between these I can get over just about anything, if I need to. I should note that, because my power amp is a Mesa 2:90, I have a vast amount of clean headroom, if I need it.


OK I see several explanations here :
- if the volume is maxed out, your amp might not have any headroom left to increase volume, so when you amplify the signal with your boost, it is just "cropped" by your amp, which saturates.
(that would be your hypothesis 1)
- usually, to cut the mix, a good tip is to add some mids to your tone, but the EP booster is quite a killer in that aspect, so that should not be the problem.

I am not a sound engineer myself, but another issue that you can investigate is what your bandmates settings are. When playing in a band, one of the good way to keep the "tracks" of every musician split is to attribute a set of frequencies to each musician and absolutely avoid that 2 people play in the same frequency range. In this last case, this usually leads to "volume war" and not a very good mix.
Maybe you have another guitarist in your band that already has a lot of mids in his setting. Even a bass can be a problem if it goes too much in the higher frequency range.
If you set this correctly, you can then simply boost your mids when you want to cut the mix and it works wonderful!
Requires a bit of practice though

Guinness Lad

Add a boost to any amp with two overdrive pedals already will never work. There is only so much headroom in a 12ax7 tube, the power amp part of it will not matter if the preamp is already saturated. Instead running another boost, just set you guitar on 6 and turn up the amp, from their roll up your volume control. It's better overall because you will control the increase.


Gold Supporting Member
If you try this without the band, does the EP add noticeable volume? If not, then you're out of headroom, in at least one stage of the amp. It might be preamp, or power amp, do you have an effects loop? If you ARE out of headroom, then changing the EQ of the end signal might help-something like a treble booster or SHO that brightens things might help them cut.

If you're not out of headroom, then the problem is that the EP is moving the signal into a part of the EQ spectrum that the band already has covered, and you need a different boost.

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