Bass boost pedals are often overlooked and only regarded as just another volume knob by most bassists and guitarists. The modern musical scenery is “vulnerably” focused on the complex approaches for perfect tones, forgetting that simple styles could also be the right solutions to cracking the musical mysteries.
A clean boost pedal is actually an invaluable weapon in every sonic arsenal, providing cleaner gains than what overdrives can offer. The boost units can also be used together with other bass pedals (such as the high-gain amp, distortion and drive pedals) for the exceptional tonal production.
That said, here comes your much-needed knowledge on boost pedals and a list of some of the greatest options you can buy today.
Table of Contents
Bass Boost Pedals We Recommend
|Bass Boost Pedal
|No. of Knobs
$172.00 at Amazon
|True Bypass Switching, power Consumption: 9VDC/6mA, input Impedance: 500k ohm (min), output Impedance: 10k ohm
|Price not available at Amazon
|True Bypass, up to 20 dB of LOW frequency gain to any amp, center frequency of 400 Hz to 200 Hz at maximum volume, tough and compact die-cast chassis, 9-volt battery included
|$121.52 at Amazon
|True Bypass, power Source: 9V DC power supply sold separately, inputs: 1 x 1/4", outputs: 1 x 1/4"
|Price not available at Amazon
|Frequency range: 30Hz – 150KHz (+1/-3 dB), distortion: 0,0025 %, input impedance: 2 MΩ, output impedance: 150 Ω
|$46.90 at Amazon
|True bypass, tough and compact die-cast chassis, 9-volt battery included, optional 96DC-200BI power supply available
Xotic Effects Bass RC Booster
What’s good: The bass and treble EQ controls give it a versatile tonal application, have enough headroom so you can use it as a powerful gain boost and a preamp.
Not so good: Only for boost signals, somewhat costly.
The Xotic Effects RC booster pedal is one of the most popular clean boosts in the world of effect pedals. It is widely regarded as a multi-tool of sorts because of its ability that goes beyond boosting your signal alone.
One of the cleanest boosts that hardly distorts your tone and take a convincing route of additional resistance.
With a 2 band EQ and 15dB clean boost function, the Xotic RC booster is a reliable tone-shaping tool that gives your tone a fantastic boost. The circuitry is well-engineered to make the most of the natural character of your bass for that fanciful boost or mild overdrive effect. This means it also expands the dynamic range of passive basses and instruments. The right description of transparency for guitar effects.
It has a true bypass to maintain a high level of transparency and eliminate any signal interference when switched off, ensuring your instrument’s sound remains clean. The true definition of transparency for guitar effects.
In terms of build quality, the Xotic RC booster looks and feels rugged; it’s absolutely a durable and tour-worthy pedal. You also have a 1/4“ input/output and the unit be easily powered by either a 9V DC power supply or a 9V battery that can be accessed by opening the bottom plate.
Electro-Harmonix The Mole Nano
What’s good: Kills treble, good selection of effects.
Not so good: Not for guitar, meant for signal boosting only.
Thinking of a boost pedal with a simple design and fairly affordable to fit your budget, the Mole by Electro-Harmonix (full review) might be a great option for you. Like most models from Electro-Harmonix, it is extremely simple – one boost knob and one switch.
The Mole is a no-nonsense bass booster that packs the right features and does a brilliant job at pointing you the only boost knob. A great audio gear that helps guitarists and bassists unearth a positively subterranean sound. It doesn’t just boost volume and girth to your sound, it also pushes the amplifier into overdrive.
The true bypass comes with a 9V battery but you can also use a power supply since it just requires a standard 9V DC. It offers up to 20dB of low-frequency boost to any amps and a center frequency of 400Hz to 200Hz at maximum volume.
Besides, being a “Nano” pedal, the small footprint means you won’t be part of a bunch of pedalboards. The strong and compact die-cast chassis gives it rugged look and feel and it is road-ready.
Xotic EP Booster
What’s good: Responsive, compact – very slim.
Not so good: It isn’t completely transparent, has some tone sweetening effect.
The Xotic EP is another common booster pedal from Xotic. It is based on the pre-amp function of the iconic vintage Echoplex Tape Delay (EP-3 effects processor). This means it has the ability to not only boost your volume but a little thickness to your tone as well.
Many players also use for tone shaping together with overdrive pedals to clean up their output.
The EP booster has the capacity of delivering up to 20dB of boost that adds an undeniably rich character to your tone. This brings in that multi-dimensional effect, shimmering high and low, and most importantly no ear fatigue.
The two available DIP switches allow you to choose the EQ (bass and treble) and boost frequencies settings easily.
Though it’s regarded as a clean boost, it does not offer enough transparency, and there are cases of tone coloration effect.
RMI Basswitch Clean Boost
What’s good: Versatile tone application, heavy-duty chassis.
Not so good: It’s a bit larger in size compared to most models, heavy.
The RMI Basswitch clean boost combines the much-admired pre-amp from the Basswitch IQ DI together with a 3-band EQ voiced for a clean sound and to preserve the natural sound of your bass.
You can, therefore, use it as a booster, as an additional pre-amp channel with the Basswitch IQ DI, or as a pre-amp in front of your man bass amp.
Build with the Lehle True Sound Technology, gold plated relays and a discrete JFET input stage, this unit is capable of delivering fat, punchy bass tone with vanishingly low noise and a studio-grade frequency range of more than 100dB and vanishingly low noise.
The gain adjustment of +/- 15dB also gives you the versatility you need any a live performance or studio setting.
There’s a series of electrical design measurements to ensure an optimized signal path. The frequency bandwidth is also limited to the audible frequency range at the output to prevent high-frequency interference.
To ensure there’s sufficient headroom, the provided voltage is corrected, cleaned, stabilized and brought up to 18V.
Electro-Harmonix LPB-1 Linear Power Booster
What’s good: Very responsive, compact design.
Not so good: Limited selection of sound effects, poor sound quality as it lacks enough transparency.
The Electro-Harmonix LPB-1 Linear Power Booster is a spot-on recreation of the original LPB-1 circuit that introduced the age of overdrive in 1968. It is a clean boost, designed to simply boost your guitar’s volume and increase saturation at the amp.
Just put the LPB-1 power booster in front of any effect pedal to dramatically boost your tone definition and ensure the signal entering the input drive is cleaner and heavier.
The true bypass comes with a 9V battery but you can also use a power supply since it just requires a standard 9V DC. Besides, the Nano LPB-1 power booster is meant to give your sound some presence. The strong and compact die-cast chassis gives it rugged look and feel and it is road-ready.
What’s our overall favorite?
The Xotic Effects RC booster pedal takes the crown.
It has bass and trebles EQ controls for a versatile tonal application, besides having enough headroom so you can use it as a powerful gain boost and a preamp.
The rest of the listed options will also do the magic for you depending on how well you use them. At the end of the day, it comes down to how well you understand your musical set up and how you intend to use your unit.
Can I use guitar boost pedals on my bass?
Yes, you can. Generally, all pedals (including boost) are designed to process signals, without choosing the source. It doesn’t matter whether the signal is coming from the bass, guitar, microphone, or keyboard, pedals will do their job. There are just no rules for pedals. The only important thing is that you get the right unit for the musical responsibilities.
What’s a boost effect?
Boost pedals increase/boost the gain of your guitar’s signal without distortion or EQ adjustments before it reaches the amplifier. They do not alter the guitar’s tone or frequency range since their purpose is only to boost the signal level.
The intended result of using a boost effect is to produce an entirely clean sound that’s completely clean and transparent.
In simple English, a boost pedal takes the guitar’s sound and makes it bigger and louder. You can use a clean boost pedal to improve high-gain tone, preserve your high-end, drive vintage effects and in a series of the effects loop.
Why do I need boost pedal?
Overall, you’ll need a boost pedal if you have longer guitar cables or a complex signal chain that lack the true bypass and makes the signals weaker. The boost pedal will give you the extra boost that reinforces the signal and allows the equipment to perform better.
Another reason is when you need to “cut through the mix”. There are those situations at the studio, on the stage or in the rehearsal room when the rest of the band are at your level, which may make it hard for you to make an impact especially when you’re coming to your solo or a break. You’ll, therefore, need a clean boost pedal to help cut through that mix easily.
Choosing the right one
It’s important to understand that shopping for your ideal bass boost pedals, doesn’t necessarily mean that you rely on the most recommended models only.
Since the word “best” tends to mean different things to different people, you should have the right shopping guide that will help you identify the specific features you need in your preferred unit.
Speaking of getting your desired features, there are two main conditions that every boost pedal should meet to be deemed good or musically worthy.
The first one – is its capacity to provide a significant gain boost, which is arguably the obvious capability because boost pedals are principally preamp stages packed into a pedal format.
The other – is its ability to offer transparency, which is kind of complicated in the current market. You could also factor in a true bypass switch too.
Wondering why things get tough on making boost pedals transparent enough?
Well, most boost pedals, especially the older models, are designed with simple circuitries. However, achieving that high level of transparency requires a far more advanced and complicated approach (an extremely complex circuitry), which has led to equally expensive boost pedals hitting the market.
At this point, most bassists and guitarists find it hard to spend much on these models with ultimate transparency. And that’s where having a true bypass switch is important, especially when the transparency isn’t on a high level.
What is True Bypass Boost?
Generally, the true bypass is a big positive and most boost pedals do come with the feature. This means that there will be no virtual interferences when the footswitch is in the off position, especially you don’t want any boost. This is important if want to keep your tone stable and replicable.
However, the true bypass has two issues that do not make it completely desirable to some people and you’ll find it isn’t a feature on some premium boost pedals. The issues include:
- The audible pop/click that comes from the footswitch when switching the circuit. Though it is not much of an issue, it’s a really big problem in the studio especially when you’re hitting the boost frequently.
- The second issue is the harsh and jarring response when you depress the footswitch for the boost kick-in.
This is why you’ll find some pedals with vocal processors or buffering instead of a true bypass for a smoother tonal transition.
You’ll need to think about choosing between vocal processors or true bypass.
Another thing you need to take into consideration is whether or not you need any additional features that will make your boost pedal more versatile. Most models come with EQ options that add more functionality to these units at decent prices.
Most boost pedals come with ports for external power input or can either be used with a battery. You’ll need to make your choices depending on what you’re planning to use.
Size and shape of the box
The box’s size and shape speak much about what the boost pedal is capable of. Generally, you’ll find two main sizes in the market today: standard and mini. The standard models pack the most tech because there is enough room to house all the components. The mini ones, on the other hand, are great if you need something more compact, especially if space is an issue.
To that point, you must know where to get your data from and perhaps where to buy your boost pedal.
Having covered the key point that you need to choose the right boost pedal, and still given you our top recommendations, you must be on the right path to getting your ideal unit. However, you should be more focused because there may be complications depending on the manufacturer, the pedal’s purpose and the price tag.