DIY Guitar Boost Pedals

Boost pedals are a fantastic way to add a little something extra to your guitar tone to stand out for solos or key parts of a song. We can also use them to boost our signal in a long signal chain.

It’s fair to say that every pedalboard should have at least one type of boost pedal but which type of boost should you choose?

Types Of Boost Pedels

While people may assume that all boost pedals are the same, they come in many different formats, styles and types.

A few different types of guitar boost pedals are:

  • Volume Boost Pedals
  • Full Range Boost Pedals
  • Treble Boost Pedals
  • Mid Boost Pedals
  • Gain Boost Pedals

Before taking the time to rush into building a boost pedal, let’s run through a few different types of boost pedals that are available.

Volume Boost

By running a boost pedal into your guitar amps effects loop, you can take advantage of a cleaner type of boost without any other tonal impact. This will help you boost your volume instead of pushing your amp into overdrive and impacting your guitar tone.

A few great volume boost pedals are:

Full Range Boost

Full range boost pedals are sometimes referred to as ‘dirty’ boost pedals as they colour the tone of your guitar. These pedals will have a tone stack of some sort which will allow you to boost certain frequencies. This can be anything from a simple tone knob through to a three-knob EQ.

A great example of a full range boost pedal are the Xotic AC & RC Boosts.

Treble Boost

First made popular in the 1960s, treble boosters are used to boost the volume and higher frequencies of your guitars’ signal.

Most notably used by guitarists like Brian May, Tony Iommi & Rory Gallagher to push darker sounding amps like Vox AC30’s or Marshall Bluesbreakers/Plexi’s.

A few great examples of a treble boost can be found here:

Mid Boost

Boosting your mid frequencies can really help you stand out in a mix and Eric Clapton made his mid-boost a key component of his tone. If it’s good enough for him, it’s good enough for us.

While you could use an EQ pedal to boost your mid frequencies or use something like a Tubescreamer to get this sound, why not build a standalone mid boost pedal for your board.

A great DIY mid boost pedal can be found with the JHS Haunting Mids.

Gain Boost

As previously mentioned, you can put a boost pedal in your effects loop to boost the volume of your guitar without affecting any other facets of your tone. However, putting similar pedals in front of your amp will have a very different effect on your tone.

Placing a boost pedal in front of your amp will allow you to not only boost the volume but also drive your amp into overdrive.

A few great DIY gain boost pedals can be found here:

You can find my build guide for the Zvex Super Hard On here:

Zvex Super Hard On Pedal Clone Build Guide

Build Your Own Boost Pedals

Now that we’ve covered all of the different types of boost pedals, let’s cover some of the awesome kits you can buy and start working on to help enhance your tone.

Easy To Build Boost Pedals

If you’re just starting out on your DIY pedal building journey or would prefer a build that’s a little easier to complete, check out one of the below kits.

You should be able to complete these builds in a couple of hours as they don’t contain too many components and they’re fairly simple circuits.

MXR Micro Amp

The MXR Micro Amp is an awesome one-knob boost pedal that can work in front of your amp to push your signal into a gentle overdrive or in your effects loop to provide a substantial volume boost for standing out in the mix.

This kit can be found here:

Electro Harmonix Linear Power Boost

Just like the Micro Amp, the Linear Power Boost is a one-knob boost pedal that works really well either in front of your amp or in your effects loop

Originally released in the late 60s, this circuit has been through a few different revisions over the years, but there’s one thing that they’ve never changed. The awesome effect this pedal has on your sound.

This kit can be found here:

Vox Treble Boost

Based on the original Vox treble booster circuit, this pedal adds a volume control to help dial in how much boost you actually want. However, if you’d prefer to stick to the classic sound, you can remove the volume knob and run this as a simple on/off booster.

This kit can be found here:

Dallas Rangemaster Treble Boost

Made famous by players like Eric Clapton and Richie Blackmore, this classic circuit has been shrunk down to fit on your pedalboard with an added footswitch (which the original didn’t come with).

The Dallas Rangemaster treble boost is the original treble boost circuit and has to be heard to be believed.

This kit can be found here:

Brian May Treble Boost

Bohemian Rhapsody, We Will Rock You & We Are The Champions. Need I say More? Brian May’s guitar tone is legendary and his signature treble boost plays a good part in his sound. Any guitar player that is a fan of Queen and wants to get closer to his tone, needs one of these pedals on their boards.

This kit can be found here:

ZVex Super Hard On

An incredible single knob transparent booster, the Super Hard On circuit by Zvex will push your amp. Hard!

This kit can be found here:

I’ve already built this pedal and you can find my guide on it here:

DIY Zvex Super Hard On Pedal Clone

Intermediate Build Boost Pedals

If you’ve been building pedals for a while or know your way around a soldering iron and want a bit more of a challenge, why not test your skills with one of the below DIY booster pedals:

Xotic EP Boost

Based on the legendary preamp of the Echoplex 3 (EP 3) echo unit, this single knob circuit will boost your sound and add a little something to really make you stand out. With the addition of the ‘Bright’ and ‘Fat’ switches, you can really use this to shape your sound.

This kit can be found here:

Keeley Katana

The Katana boost pedal from Keeley is a high headroom clean boost that is favoured by players like John Mayer. This pedal will also drive your amp into overdrive with the flick of a switch by enabling the FET & diode clipping stage.

This kit can be found here:

JHS Haunting Mids

The haunting Mids pedal by JHS allows you to dial in the exact mid-frequency you want and then boost it or cut it to really stand out in a mix. The addition of the toggle switch adds even further tonal opportunities for you to explore.

This kit can be found here:

Hard To Build Boost Pedals

For those of you who are looking for a real challenge and want to put your skills to the test, check out the below boost pedals which are a little more difficult to build. However, if you take your time and triple check your work, these will be very rewarding pedals to create.

Xotic AC/RC Boost

The AC & RC boosters are fairly similar pedals but the main difference is the amount of gain on tap.

The RC Booster is full range clean boost that doesn’t break up until the last few notches of the gain knob.

The AC Booster is slightly more overdriven than the RC Booster but still offers a huge amount of clean boost headroom.

This kit can be found here:

Colorsound Power Boost

The Colorsound Power Boost or Overdriver, were favoured by legendary guitarist David Gilmour and appears on tracks like ‘Have a Cigar’ and ‘Shine On You Crazy Diamon’. These pedals are essentially guitar preamps with treble and bass boosts.

This kit can be found here:

If you have any questions on boosts or would like any further information on anything in here, please get in touch. I always love to talk about guitars and pedals.

Hi, I'm Pete!

I have been a guitar and effects pedal enthusiast since 2005 and electronics tinkerer since 2017.

I’m here to help you begin your journey with building DIY guitar effects pedals. Get in touch with me if you have any questions.

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