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"Always-on" boost pedal for a stronger signal?

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by keyofnight, Jun 20, 2014.

  1. Yes. The signal is strong with this one.

    33 vote(s)
  2. No. Why would I need that? My active bass kicks my amp's ass!

    3 vote(s)
  3. No. My passive pickups speak for themselves!

    10 vote(s)
  4. What are you even talking about?

    4 vote(s)
  1. keyofnight


    Jun 3, 2011
    Seattle, WA
    (I wasn't sure if this should be in the amp or effects section. Sorry if I made the wrong decision!)

    Last month, I had a feeling that my passive pickups are a little on the weak side, or that my amp doesn't have a strong enough preamp. Either way, I thought the sound coming out of my amp was loud and mushy, so I picked up a TC Spark Boost pedal to fix the problem. As it turns out, the difference was huge. My sound went from mushy and muddy to strong and "hot" with a midrange growl.

    I decided to try the same thing with a Strat into a Blackface Fender Pro Reverb. I figured the boost pedal would probably make the amp break up pretty easily. Man. I was wrong. The pedal is capable of a +20dB boost, and I could get it up to +10dB comfortably without breakup. My strat sounded a lot cleaner, a lot louder, and more "sparkly." Oh man! Why didn't I buy/build a boost pedal sooner?

    So now, I just leave the pedal in my effect chain (after distortion, before modulation) and I leave it on all the time. How many of you do the same? What are your experiences? Also: which pedal do you use? I hear great things about the Phat Phuk B and the Zvex Super Hard-on.
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2014
  2. Mosfed


    Apr 21, 2013
    Chamonix Mont-Blanc
    Partner - CCP Pedals
    When I am using my smaller rig (Genz Benz Shuttle 6.2) I have a Darkglass VMT on all the time - reasonably clean - to get the kind of effect that you describe with passive pickups.

    When I use my SVT, there is little need. With that said, if I have either a Mu-Tron or a Moog in the signal chain, their gain is always present.
  3. Laurent

    Laurent Supporting Member

    May 21, 2008
    Napa, California
    Boost will make a big difference if you are running long cables and a big pedal board.
    If you go straight in with short cable the difference is more subtle.

    Best boost to my ears is the Home Brew Electronics Bajo Mos. I tested about 10 different ones before settling on this one. Another preeminent Tbass member did agree with me on this one. Do a search.
    JimmyM likes this.
  4. mmbongo

    mmbongo Five Time World Champion Supporting Member

    Aug 5, 2009
    Didn't you buy my Lizard Legs Blue Tail boost a while back? If the Bajo Mos beats that Lizard Legs, it's a freakisly good pedal that should probably cost 3 times what it does :)
  5. I use the Bass RC Booster for my passive bass and it works like a charm. If your bass output is weak or at least normal, the RC will be really clean even with the gain all the way up. It is also very transparent and the construction is excellent. I leave it on all the time with passives, and it definitely is one of my favorite pedals ever. Love it.
    keyofnight, Berme and pbass6811 like this.
  6. NoxNoctus

    NoxNoctus The Crushinator

    May 9, 2004
    Annapolis, MD
    Is there a fundamental gain (hah...pun...) of using a boost over having an always-on with a higher than unity output volume? I run my M87 a little hot so it boosts the level going into my dirt, seems to work well
  7. pbass6811

    pbass6811 Supporting Member

    Nov 10, 2008
    Indy, IN
    I'm with Frank on this one. The Bass RC Booster is pretty fantastic. I don't leave mine on all the time, but it's on with my passive basses.
    Frank_Raider and Berme like this.
  8. I use a ZVEX SHO in rehearsals because I'm always playing through the space amps. You never know how roached out they are and having a buffer at the end of the signal chain helps to avoid loud pops and inconsistencies. But my own amp is plenty loud and it's been unnecessary to this point.
  9. Laurent

    Laurent Supporting Member

    May 21, 2008
    Napa, California
    Yes I did indeed buy your Lizard Leg Blue Tail boost. The Bajo Mos won over the Blue Tail.
    The Blue Tail added a hair of woolly laid back tube character and did emphasized the bass a touch. Some people might really like these two characteristics.
    They are actually very nice and very musical. I happened to look for a clean boost.

    I also use the RC Boost when I need tonal correction and that's a very nice pedal as well. If you want tonal correction as well as boost the Barber Linden (a discontinued pedal) is fantastic.
  10. I think it all depends on the pedal you're using. If the boost pedal has only an output volume, then there isn't much of a difference in using another pedal, that's not a dedicated booster, higher than unity. Probably, maximum output on a not dedicated boost pedal wouldn't be as much as you may need, though.

    But if the booster has also a gain control, then there's certainly a difference. For example, the RC not only is capable of giving me more overall volume, but also more presence and character. It's like my tone becomes more vivant, with more texture, but still clean. Actually, to me that's the main reason for adding it to my signal, and I don't always necessarily use it to give me more output volume.
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2014
    NoxNoctus likes this.
  11. Gremson


    Mar 22, 2012
    North-Leftern USA
    It depends on the bass for me. I don't use one with my Allen Woody bass, but now that I'm using my bass VI a lot I leave my SFT on all the time.
  12. VT bass is my "always on" pedal to give me tone control and a little distortion. This works great for me since I play passive basses. Geddy Lee Jazz + rotosounds + VT Bass = great tone. :)
  13. It all depends on the bass I am using. My main basses do fine on their own but several of the second stringers need a pre to compete tonally or volume wise. I have several choices depending on the bass and tone needed.
  14. Why would I need a boost pedal with any bass? The gain and volume knobs on my amp work just fine. Even the pickups on my weakest bass (1963 P) do just fine with a minor volume knob bump.
  15. Well, it depends where in the signal chain you're putting a boost. Let's say you have one before an overdrive; then the boosted signal hits the drive differently than the un-boosted signal. And not to mention plenty of boost pedals have also EQ capabilities or other features you may want to add before your signal hits the amp or other pedals as well.

    Then there's the volume changes too. Of course you can always use the volume pot on your bass, but not all people likes the effect that doing it imparts to your signal. And if you have a master volume in your bass that wouldn't be a big deal in a middle of a song, but with a JB, for example, it could be a PITA.

    Finally, a booster can be used as a buffer, to maintain your signal's integrity when using long cables or large pedalboards with a lot of TBP boxes.

    Oh, and I forgot those cases when you just wanna push a little bit further an amp's preamp or a tube section.
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2014
    Kijuer, blindrabbit and keyofnight like this.
  16. gregmon79

    gregmon79 I did it for the muff... Supporting Member

    Dec 20, 2012
    Chicago IL
    B7K always on. Clean. Gives me a great boost in more ways than one. I also use the Rusty Box and Submarine by John K. So yeah, I have a lot of boost options. I have yet to try a dedicated boost pedal with my new tube amp. I think I will today. I too like to have a hot signal, nice and clear, defined, hi-fi if you will. So I chose the first option in your poll. I prefer to ALWAYS have some kind of preamp, or boost if you will, running and engaged in my signal chain. Especially with my new amp. Its a power unit, not a ton of tone shaping on it which is fine by me, I have plenty to choose from to help sculpt my tone going into hot tubes.
    theunknowndude likes this.
  17. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Hi, I'm the guy Laurent was talking about. Bajo Mos rules. Only boost I tried that didn't change the output other than to boost it. Tried several...really liked the new Dunlop Exhoplex but it's got its own characteristics that I really liked but not for the purpose I wanted, which was a dead clean boost. Spark Mini was close but scooped it just a tad. Anything else I tried was out the window.
  18. Fair enough - I've never encountered any of those situations, so I'm still happy.
  19. Marcus Willett

    Marcus Willett

    Feb 8, 2005
    Palm Bay, FL
    Endorsing Artist: Bag End - Dean Markley - Thunderfunk
    I installed one of the Bartolini TCT boost units in one of my passive basses. It defaults to 6dB clean boost and really helped tighten up the tone, plus the soundman loved the hotter signal. Wired it to a push pull pot so I can go passive if desired. So I guess it's an always-on boost just internal. :D
    keyofnight likes this.
  20. keyofnight


    Jun 3, 2011
    Seattle, WA
    The Spark Mini scoops the mids? I couldn't tell at all—it sounded pretty uncolored to me, but this is the only one I've used. ;)

    Have any of you used a Barber Launch Pad? It has an inverted phase output for driving both inputs of a Blackface or Silverface amp.

    Yes, and I think this is a really important tip. A loud, clean, signal requires less amplification at the power stage down the road and so you're less likely to introduce noise down the road too. Using a preamp to boost a signal to the highest possible clean level before amplification is called "gain staging," I think. I don't know that much about it, but I've always been told to do it when possible. I mean, there are people who want the opposite effect: they want a muddier sound and pleasant power tube distortion. (Some people call this "vintage," I think. Go figure.) I'm just not one of those people, I guess. ;)

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