volume. In other words, the amp has to be
loud to get that sound.
If you only play in your basement or studio, with no complaining neighbors or family—problem solved. You can use an amp at
its optimal volume to your heart’s content.
When you play out in clubs, theaters, or
even arenas, however, you will often find
the sweet-spot volume to be either too loud,
or in the case of smaller combos, not loud
enough. If it’s too loud, you’ll probably
be asked to turn down until all that lovely
distortion turns into a clean “plink.” If it’s
too soft, you might find yourself turning up
until your gorgeous, open, singing sound is
converted into a raspy, overly compressed
However, if you’re committed to this
type of grit, there are solutions:
RockCrusher (street $499,
rivera.com, reviewed June 2011)
and THD Hot Plate (street $328,
thdelectronics.com) can be placed
between your amp’s speaker output
and speakers to lower the volume
without having to turn down the amp.
You will lose the part of the tone that
is caused by the speaker breaking up,
but it should get you pretty close to
that “plug-me-straight-in” sound.
in front of their speakers to reduce
the stage volume. While this makes
soundmen, bandmates, and the first
couple of rows happy, it will seriously
alter what you hear onstage.
Fender Twin Reverb) will still work properly if you pull half of their power tubes
(two of the four, in the case of the Twin)
to drive them harder and get cranked
tones at lower volumes. Check with the
manufacturer before you try this.
The Electro-Harmonix LPB- 1, Fuchs Plush Pure Gain,
and MXR Micro Amp are three examples of pedals that
serve up clean boost without coloring your signal.
•;Bring several amps of differing wattage
to your gig. At soundcheck, determine
which one enables you to get the tones
you want without excessive volume.
If you’ve decided you like the sound of
your amp breaking up, but your guitar isn’t
driving it quite hard enough to give you
the grit and sustain you seek, you’re a candidate for a booster pedal like the Electro-Harmonix LPB- 1 (street $39, ehx.com), an
MXR Micro Amp (street $69, jimdunlop.
com), or a Fuchs Plush Pure Gain (street
$179, fuchsaudiotechnology.com). These
pedals are designed to increase the output
signal of your instrument without coloring
A pure booster pedal will have no tone
controls or drive functions, but many
booster pedals offer the option of desirable
tone coloration or extra drive functions to
expand their usefulness. The Keeley Katana
(street $199, robertkeeley.com) serves up
even today, debate rages as to whether
a germanium transistor-based booster was ever
used by eric clapton on
the seminal Bluesbreakers
“Beano” record, but
there’s no doubt that
driving an amp with such
a device will bring you
significantly closer to the
legendary tones of the
British invasion era.
unadulterated boost, but if you pull up on
the Volume knob it adds extra drive. The
Xotic EP Booster (street $116, xotic.us)
has only a Volume control, yet also aims to
108 PREMIER GUITAR SEPTEMBER 2011