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Bob Burt is a famous guitar speaker cabinet maker from the USA who shot to acclaim amongst guitar pedal enthusiasts when he launched a short run of Clean Boost and Overdrive pedals several years ago. Sadly in the UK Bob’s name is not a one frequently brought up in conversation but I was recently able to get a hold of one of Bob’s pedals, a Clean Boost!
Super simple this one; just one knob that controls volume (or boost if you will). Solid construction throughout using only the highest quality parts. Also is the excellent swirly paint job which makes each pedal totally unique, no two will ever be exactly the same. Extra special is, if you order directly from Bob, it will be signed to you personally which, is a nice little feature too.
Also it features a super bright red LED indicator, incredibly useful on stage.
There really is not a lot to comment on feature wise as it is SO simple. The only thing that gave me any doubt is if you are a battery user then the space is a little tight (especially if you have fat hands like mine!) and I found myself catching the wires attached to the 3PDT when taking out the battery, nothing major, but just something to look out for.
You may notice from the pictures that the circuitry is fully ‘glooped’ over. I have voiced my opinions both for and against this in the past so won’t do it here but it is obvious that Bob has done this to help protect a pretty special circuit from being copied.
You wouldn’t believe that something this simple could be so versatile! I didn’t realise it myself but there is a LOT you can do with a simple volume boost.
First on the clean channel. Now you don’t really want to be massively boosting the volume in front of you clean channel (unless you are going for that natural, ‘amp-sounds-like-it-is-breaking’ crunch tone) but having a slight volume boost yields surprising results. If you’re running more than one or two pedals in your chain there will be noticeable tone-sucking or high end loss, this is not necessarily a bad thing but generally for clean tones we like our treble to remain present and, more importantly, clear. Running a small volume boost in front of the clean channel acts almost like a buffer (albeit a particularly hot one) and it really brings back some of that lost sheen and sparkle to your tone, chords ring clearer and choppy, funk rhythms have more ‘spank.’ The Clean Boost really excels in this situation because, as its name implies’ it is a clean boost. No tone colouring, no dirt or grit, just pure, sweet volume.
Where this pedal really does it for me though is on my rhythm tone. I had the boost set to about two o clock and man does this really do something special. My once slightly muddy, undefined rhythm tone suddenly becomes this blistering hot, crystal clear crunch that finally fights through the mix. I used this live at a gig a few nights ago and I have never been happier with my rhythm tone. Words can’t really describe the sound I am hearing but no matter how much gain you apply on the amp the clarity is still there, even open chords ring out with precision. Rolling down the volume on your guitar really tests your amps ability to maintain clarity on crunchy settings and mine wasn’t quite cutting it, but with the Bob Burt Clean Boost in front it now excels at this job and finally I can get suitable, lower-gain crunch rhythm tones I need for some of the classic rock songs in our set.
So, what about lead tone? Well the results were obvious after the previous two tests. The Clean Boost placed in front of my lead tone just does wondrous things, not only do I get a big enough volume kick I also get some of that tasty, crunchy goodness and upper midrange bite that helps you soar way above the mix (which is no easy task if you see the size of our rig!). There isn’t really much else to say here except that it REALLY makes a difference.
I liked the sound of my rhythm and lead tones with this pedal on so much that I left it on all night, all of the time except for on my clean channel (where I have another boost performing the aforementioned job of adding clarity and restoring lost treble, this saves from tweaking the pedal in-between every song). I’ve never been so happy with my live sound, who knew all I needed was a volume boost? However, calling it ‘just a volume boost’ is unfair, the Clean Boost really does do something quite magical in restoring that lost treble and upper midrange.
But obviously our test does not stop there. Boost pedals have been used many times in the FX Loop of an amp to increase volume for solos by slamming the power valves hard. Again the Clean Boost performs admirably at this job and the volume on tap is pretty crazy, this thing gets LOUD at higher settings.
Another neat little trick to try with this pedal is to get power valve tone at bedroom levels. Try having your amp volume low and place the Clean Boost in your FX Loop with the dial cranked right up (or thereabouts) and really give those power valves a kick! This will help get you some power valve saturation and cranked amp tone at bedroom levels, it doesn’t get you all the way there but it certainly is pretty realistic.
Who knew I could talk so much about a volume boost? I could go on and describe how each slight turn of the knob adds subtle changes to your tone to the point where (at full boost) it has almost acted like a treble boost (because of the volume buffering your signal, reinstating some of that lost treble as I talked about earlier) and gives lead tones a searing, ice-picky pick attack perfect for getting you towards that Brian May sound or for adding much needed clarity if your an alternate picker.
You may not believe the hype, I didn’t really believe the hype as I am a sceptical person at the best of time, but Bob Burt really has something pretty special here that deserves to be held in as high regard (if not higher) than the likes of the ZVex Super Hard On, Landgraff Boost and the Xotic EP Booster. Don’t be put off by the price tag, Bob makes these with love and care and is a genuinely great bloke to talk to and on top of that you get a really killer boost pedal that does exactly as it says on the tin, and more!