In addition to being a private violin teacher, Alecia started writing music-related articles 3 years ago and has been enjoying this experience greatly. Loves quilting and scrapbooking in her free time.
Marcus has a vast experience in digital audio and sound design. Thanks to his knowledge, he actively helps musicians with technical problems, improving their audio quality and even promoting their tracks so that thousands of listeners could enjoy some really good music.
Last updated: February 16, 2021
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It is only natural that you will want your guitar to stand out from the rest of the instruments of your band with a clean boost. To do that, you need to find the best boost pedal. While other types of pedals can take the limelight, the boost pedal is an underrated star. Adding more power to the signal without any coloration is the mark of a high-quality boost pedal, but they can be hard to find.
This is where we step in. Our exhaustive research has led us to find 38 boost pedals out there. For this article, we picked ten of them that we liked the most. While all of them are great, the Xotic EP Booster is a truly exceptional boost pedal with no coloration of the tone, true bypass and is very easy to use. It could be that you’re looking for a little different, so you might want to check nine other brilliant pedals.
To find the best boost pedal that ticks all of these boxes, we have spent countless hours testing, researching and consulting our expert sources. We wanted to make sure that each pedal is able to give you a significant gain boost and a clean sound with no distortion when it’s not in use. In this article, we will discuss the most important features like gain, controls, true bypass and power supply. This information is broken down into an easy to scan comparison table as well as those in-depth reviews to go with a buying guide. Finding the best boost pedal never been easier. Read on to find your perfect boost pedal!
If you’re looking for the best boost pedal for the guitar, then this model is absolutely amazing. It is not only great for lead guitar, but it can be used for a wide range of different purposes, including playing solos or even boosting bass guitar. It has high-quality construction and will be able to stand the test of time.
You’re not going to get any noticeable colorization of the tone, and with the true bypass, you won’t get any interference when the pedal is not in use. Added to that, it’s able to significantly increase the signal in the chain as well as the volume that will let you stand out from the rest of the band.
It’s very simple to use, and you will be able to use it with the minimum of fuss. It can work off a standard 9V battery, or it can also be plugged in via an adapter too.
This boost pedal does it all and to a very high standard. Some users have complained of some issues on delivery, but this is very rare, and most people receive the perfect boost pedal.
Want a boost pedal that has a bit more capability? As well as being able to add a terrific amount of gain, this also has bass, volume and treble controls. While a lot of people will enjoy this extra capability, others will just be looking for a simple boost. The construction of this compact pedal is very sturdy and can withstand even the harshest gigging conditions.
Unfortunately, some customers reported that this pedal made a significant pop when it’s switched on. Still, this will mostly be disguised within the rest of the sound. Once it’s on, you’re going to be able to get the volume that you’re looking for.
All of this brilliant technology comes at a very affordable price, which makes it excellent value for money. Although it’s not perfect, it’s hard to complain about this pedal. It will make a great addition to your pedalboard and can offer you a lot of versatility.
MXR has been able to make a boost pedal that is highly stylish and will be able to give you all the functionality that you are looking for. It is solidly built, and, therefore, you won’t have to worry about it breaking after a couple of months.
With an up to the 26-decibel increase in gain, this is one of the most powerful boost pedals out there. It does that with a minimal coloration of the tone. It doesn’t have a true bypass but still reduces the interference when you’re not using the pedal. Also, the screwed battery compartment can be a little tricky to work with.
If you’re the type of player who has long chains, then this would be ideal. This is an effective pedal for many types of instruments and does its job with a high level of efficiency. If you’re looking for simplicity, then this one knob boost pedal would be an excellent pick as it focuses on giving you that loud and transparent sound.
What we liked:
Adds quality tone
Easy to use
What could be better:
Screwed battery compartment can be not that convenient
Pedalboards can quickly become cluttered with many large pedals that take up a lot of space. This is another fantastic guitar boost pedal for cluttered boards as it is very compact and will allow you to have more functionality from your board. It can give you that strong boost with the +26dB gain increase.
If you’re a big fan of gigs, concerts and always find yourself on the road, then you’re going to want a pedal that can hold up to the rigors of traveling. With this pedal being made from die-cast metal, it will be able to survive heavy impacts and stay working for a good number of years.
While there is a slight colorization of the tone, it is going to be barely noticeable. You don’t get any pops when the pedal is turned on, which you can find with a lot of other models. Overall, it’s a great value for money and another marvelous option for your pedalboard.
If you’re looking to add a little bit of style to your pedalboard then this would be an outstanding option as this analog boost pedal looks fantastic. It will give you a powerful clean boost with up to 26 decibels being added to your sound.
The high-quality analog circuit is highly complex with a true bypass. It gives no noticeable coloration of the tone. If you want a pedal to get a clean tone, this model is perfect for that. Although there can be a little pop when you switch the pedal on, if you’re playing live, you won’t notice that.
This pedal is very simple to operate. It allows you to hit or hold the footswitch when you need it, which makes it quite convenient.
Lastly, it has all the features that you’d want from a high-quality booster and is able to do its job with a high level of efficiency.
While some players out there are only interested in a clean boost, others want a little bit more versatility from their pedal. The three knobs here are going to be able to give you that with the overdrive effect and the ability to adjust the treble. This is why you can call this pedal very versatile.
With this boost pedal, you can expect a high level of build quality, and, therefore, good durability. That is if you receive a boost pedal without any defects. Some people received defective pedals because there are a few quality control. This only accounts for a very small number of people and is an issue that can be quickly solved.
J. Rockett Audio gives you a few different buying options if you’re looking for something a little different, but the pedal featured gives you a high level of performance. It’d make a wonderful addition to your pedalboard.
As we have seen already, some boost pedals have just the one knob and others that can give you a higher level of functionality. This one has four knobs to be able to control the level, bass, and treble, as well as the gain. Moreover, there is a three-way switch between the fat, clean and mid settings, so everyone could find their favorite sound.
The true bypass cuts down on any interference when you are playing, so you will enjoy a very clean sound. That being said, the versatility of this pedal can help you to add overdrive to your sound.
Those extra functions can make this pedal a little too complicated for those just looking for a unit with one knob for a clean boost.
Next, it gives you a high level of transparency, which is in part to the brilliant build quality it has. This premium pedal shows stunning performance each time you add it to your chain. It can provide a powerful boost for an electric guitar as well as bass.
If you’re searching for a pedal that makes no extra noises, this astonishing unit stands ahead of many of its rivals. That makes it the most impressive boost pedal for solos as it’s going to help to make your guitar sound huge and get the effects that you want.
While it is able to add a terrific amount of gain, it doesn’t quite pack the same punch as some other models. However, the 20dB figure should be enough for most people, as it will give you that nice, clean boost you’re looking for.
It is also an amazing option for gigging as it will be able to carry that powerful signal through long cables. That’s where a lot of other boost pedals can let themselves down. Additionally, it has incredible build quality, and that also makes it an ideal traveling companion. It is simple and convenient because you can use a battery or an adapter to run it.
If your space is going to be limited, then you want to use a compact pedal but without any drop off in performance. The Aroma ABR-3 Mini Booster is a wonderful traveling companion as you’re going to be able to take it anywhere.
If you’re hoping for a huge gain here, then you’re not going to find it. However, 14dB is still enough for most players. You also should not forget that the price of this unit is quite low. It’s powered by an adapter, but it doesn’t come with is, and, therefore, you’ll want to make sure you have one as you get the pedal.
Another aspect that makes this a brilliant boost pedal for traveling is the build quality. It’s made from a high-grade aluminum that will cope with the stresses and strains of gigging. The booster is very easy to use and the perfect solution if you’re looking for something a little more compact.
The previous pedal that we looked at didn’t have the crazy level of gain, which this model has. It is extremely powerful and able to give you up to 38dB of gain. It does that while still managing to have a good level of transparency in your tone.
Next, this is one of the most affordable boost pedals out there and represents huge value for money. It makes it the perfect option for those looking for a budget option that can still give you a great boost. You can use the battery of the adapter to power this unit.
With just the one knob to use, this one of the simplest boosters out there, and it could well be perfect for your needs. The color might seem a little odd to some, but that’s not an important factor. It doesn’t quite have the same build quality as some of it’s more expensive rivals, but you’d expect that for the price.
What we liked:
Value for money
Simple to use
What could be better:
Low build quality and poor design
Things to Consider
It’s important to know exactly what you’re getting when it comes to a booster pedal. In this section, we will look at all the key areas that you need to check. An ideal boost pedal isn’t just about the gain as there is a lot more to it. As you read on, you’ll start to get a clearer picture of what you need and what features are going to be the most important to you.
How to find the best boost pedal?
Before starting on this journey, it’s important to decide what you want from your booster pedal. It could be that you’re only looking for the most transparent gain you can find, or it could be that you’re looking for a little more versatility. Here, we will discuss the features like gain level, controls, bypass, power supply and even the construction of the unit. As we go through each section here, it’s a good idea to make a note of how important each feature is.
You’re probably going to want to use your boost pedal for a specific reason, and you need to know how much you want your signal to be increased by. This increase in the volume is measured in decibels (dB).
The models we looked at here range from 14dB, which is offered by the Aroma ABR-3 Mini Booster, and all the way up to 38dB of the Joyo JF-38 Roll Boost. It could be that you don’t want to drown out the rest of the band, and, therefore, don’t need the higher limit. 14dB is still enough to be able to lift the sound of your instrument above the crowd.
You shouldn’t get hung up on the gain figure too much. If you have a higher gain, but it colors the tone, then it’s useless.
This is why you should check the customers’ reviews to get an overall picture of how good the pedals are.
As you can see, the way that these pedals are controlled is different from one model to the next. The MXR M133 Micro Amp, for example, has one simple gain control, which could be perfect for your needs if that’s all that you’re looking for.
The TC Electronic Spark Booster, on the other hand, gives you four different knobs that are going to give you a higher level of control over what you are going. If you wanted to add low-gain overdrive, for example, then this is the way that you want to go.
To get the best boost pedal, you need to know what to expect from it in pair with your instrument.
While extra controls may seem useful, in some cases, they can only distract your attention if you have multiple effects in your chain.
True bypass vs. buffered bypass
Maybe people will argue about which one is better when the truth is that they are just different. True bypass will help to give you that perfectly clear sound and work wonderfully with a short signal chain.
If you’re only using true bypass with a long cable, then this can drain your tone. With true bypass, it’s best to be as short as possible.
In contrast, a buffered pedal is ideal for longer cables and those who use more than two pedals. It will restore the signal strength before it gets to the amp. However, some guitarists don’t like the sound change they can provide.
If you want that crystal clear tone, a true bypass such as the one with the Donner Boost Killer could be the way to go.
Which is better, using a battery or plugging an adapter? Well, the answer to that will depend on which one you prefer. A battery gives you a greater level of portability, but you also have to worry about it running out.
With an adapter, you’re not going to have any of these worries. The inconvenience comes from having to find a power source that can make your set-up trickier. There are boost pedals that offer you both, so you don’t have to commit to one option.
Size and construction
You want to make sure that your boost pedal is going to be able to give you good durability as equipment on the road can tend to be bashed around quite a lot. The Electro-Harmonix LPB-1 Linear Power Booster is the type you should be looking for as the die-cast metal used here is of the highest quality.
You also want to consider the size. If you want the highest level of portability, then you’d want a mini booster such as the Xotic EP Booster. This unit features premium quality build and impressive signal increase that not many might expect to get from a smaller model. That compact size will make it easier to carry and give you more space on your board.
While it’s great to have a unit full of different features, it doesn’t really matter if a boost pedal is out of your price range. Here we look at the various price ranges for boost pedals.
If you don’t mind paying the premium price for a high-quality pedal, then the Xotic EP Booster at around $120 is the way to go. With this, you are getting that crisp sound with none of the negatives that can come with other pedals.
In the mid-range level, the MXR M133 Micro Amp at around $80 is an excellent option. This is a stylish unit with a transparent sound and an impressive level of gain. It may be more expensive than some models, but it still represents value for money because it allows you to make longer chains with it.
At the budget range, the Donner Boost Killer at around $30 is going to be a lot more affordable to some people. It will allow you to have excellent sound with true bypass, and you can adjust it as you like with four knobs.
You might think that it’s easy to get a clean and powerful sound from your chain, but in truth, it’s a bit more complicated. With stompboxes and effects, the signal can fade quickly, and, therefore, you don’t get the gain that you expected. This can be highly frustrating. A boost pedal will increase the power of the signal, and this will carry it through to an amp. Boost pedals have been specifically made for one task and can complete it a lot better than any other type of pedals can. Overdrive and distortion pedals do increase the sound, but they alter the signal. To keep the signal clean, you need to add a boost pedal to your chain.
When it comes to eating, you’re not going to eat soup with a fork. You can think of boost pedals like that. They are made for a specific task, and trying to use anything different will mean using a tool that’s not been designed for that purpose. EQ pedals are meant to alter the tone, and boost pedals are meant to do the exact opposite. You can get a boost with an EQ pedal, but the result simply won’t be as transparent. If you care deeply about your sound and don’t want to have any coloration of your tone, a clean boost pedal is the only option.
There is no definite spot for your boost pedal in the chain. There are a few rules, however, as it’s best not to place it at the start as you have the potential to cause feedback with the signal boost. Placing it at the end is also not advised as this can waste the increased signal that could be sent through other pedals. It could be that you are looking to boost other pedals, so the best spot for you will depend on the sound that you are planning to get from your amp. You also might want to get a clear and transparent tone. That way, placing it towards the end of the chain would be the best idea.
Hopefully, by now, you have a clear idea of which booster is going to be the best one for your needs.
For us, it’s hard to look past the compact Xotic EP Booster as it has all the premium features that you are looking for, like the high signal increase and true bypass, and is very highly rated by everyone who’s used.
The Donner Boost Killer is another brilliant option for those who are looking for something less expensive. It provides a clean boost and can be controlled with four knobs.
Lastly, we loved the MXR M133 Micro Amp. This pedal shows great performance in longer chains, has strong construction and is very easy to use.
It could be, however, that another pedal has caught your eye. It’s important to look at the pros and cons before deciding which one to buy. Once you have the best boost pedal, you’ll be able to enjoy that transparent boosted sound to help you stand out from the rest of the band.