TESTED: Our Favorite Clean Boost Pedals – No Hiss, Pure Bliss

Boost pedals are great for bringing your sound to the forefront and making your tone stand out when need be. With a simple and straightforward design, these pedals can not only give you the spotlight for a solo or main melody lines, but also enhance your tone. In some cases, these tools can also help shape your sound and be that secret weapon on your pedalboard.

In simple terms, boost pedals are used to increase the volume of your guitar signal. Taking that one step further, pedals that concentrate on clean gain give you that extra boost without adding any coloration or distortion. Not only that, these pedals can also make up for lost frequencies, especially with longer cable runs.

Boost pedals have been around for decades and have been used by most legendary guitar heroes. You can also stack your boost with other effects units in order to achieve your desired tone. There are plenty of pedals out there in the market, and in this article, we’re going to help you decide which one to pick. Keep reading.

Read more about our review process.

Editor's Choice
Keeley Katana Clean Boost

Keeley Katana Clean Boost

Features: JFET Design, Metal film resistors and caps, Internal power supply boost 

Benefits: Creates tube like sensitivity, Delivers exceptional headroom, Hands free gain ajustment 

Best Value
JHS Prestige Buffer / Booster

JHS Prestige Buffer / Booster

Features: One knob control, All metal construction, LED on/off indicator

Benefits: Ultra simple control, Rock solid construction, Super transparent boost

Best Budget
TC Electronic Rush

TC Electronic Rush

Features: True bypass, 20dB clean gain, All metal housing

Benefits: Rugged construction, User friendly operation, Extremely affordable

Our Top 3

The JHS Prestige Buffer is our Top Pick for this list. This is a rugged one-knob mini pedal that will likely fit in any pedalboard. With a simple design and great built quality, this pedal offers three ways to boost your tone.

The TC Electronic Rush is our Budget Choice. With a straightforward design, this pedal comes in a very durable enclosure and is a great choice to boost your sound with 20 dB of boost on an affordable unit.

Finally, the Keeley Katana Clean Boost is our Editor’s Choice. This is a versatile pedal with a side-mounted speed knob that you can turn with your foot to adjust the gain in order to carry out real-time adjustments in the middle of a song. A fantastic choice for discerning players.

Individual Reviews

Top Pick
JHS Prestige Buffer

JHS Prestige Buffer

An effective and elegant solution

JHS is a respected pedal company out of Kansas City, Missouri, with highly desirable models of all types. The Prestige Buffer brings that level of quality and functionality into a simple yet effective boost pedal that is sturdy and convenient to use.

The JHS Prestige Buffer is a rugged one-knob mini pedal that is sure to fit in any pedalboard. On its small front panel, right below the only knob, there is a drawing of a top hat with some rabbit ears coming out. Besides being cute, this small doodle is an accurate representation of what this unassuming pedal offers.

We used our Fender Strat in conjunction with our Twin Reverb for this review. At first sight, this may look like a simple boost, but the real trick is how it boosts. When we set the knob at some point between zero and 25% and got a transparent boosted tone. We then switched to a long 20-foot cable and noticed a loss of high-frequencies when the pedal was on bypass. However, when boosted at around 20%, we were able to recover some of the lost frequencies.

When we turned the knob up further, we naturally got a greater tone boost. We found that the sweet spot of this pedal is with the knob turned to somewhere between 25 to 50%, where we got a great boosted tone for solos or for carrying a melody line.

Finally, the remaining 50 to 100% gave us a nice clean drive, great for pushing our tube amp just beyond the breakup point. Here is where we’d go into some grittier bluesy territory – and although the Prestige Buffer is a boost, it paired nicely with our Ibanez Tube Screamer, as well as our EHX Big Muff.

In short, a fantastic pedal that is truly clean, simple and straightforward, but can be used in creative ways to get the exact boost you need depending on the application and context.

Verdict: The JHS Prestige Buffer is a well-built mini pedal that offers you a variety of boosted tones with one simple control. It can be used for bringing back some lost frequencies on long cable runs, or even to push your tube amp beyond its breakup point, hitting that sweet tonal spot.

Best Budget
TC Electronic Rush

TC Electronic Rush

A sturdy choice booster for transparent boost.

TC Electronic is one of the top brands for offering quality tools for musicians, and this booster pedal is no exception. Besides featuring durable construction, you get clean gain at an impressively low price.

The TC Electronic Rush is a straightforward boost pedal that comes in a very durable enclosure, with a bit of a vintage flair to it. We put it into our signal chain while using our Fender Strat guitar and Twin Reverb amp to test it out.

We tried this pedal at first by playing a series of chord progressions and then stepping on the switch to simulate a clean solo situation. With a nice and clean 20 dB of boost, the TC Electronic Rush let the true quality of our Strat shine through for single lines on clean.

While boosted, we also tried a few double stops and spacious arpeggios and liked how this pedal responded across the entire frequency range. From our bass notes on the lower strings all the way to high notes way up on the neck, we felt that this booster is far better than its small price tag suggests.

We then paired it with our Boss Super Chorus pedal and added a bit more reverb directly from our amp. We really liked the boosted tone we got. The Rush Booster can be your go-to boost, as it delivers a transparent tone and also pairs well with other effects units.

Although this is a cleaner boost, we liked how it sounds when combined with our Ibanez Tube Screamer, offering a great solution for rock or blues solos. We tried this combination with overdrive as well as more aggressive distortion and got great results for a variety of contexts. In short, a simple transparent boost that gets the job done in style.

Verdict: The TC Electronic Rush is a plain boost pedal that features a very durable metal enclosure, and has a vintage look and feel. This pedal offers you a transparent boost with great build quality, and for a low price.

Editor's Choice
Keeley Katana Clean Boost

Keeley Katana Clean Boost

A superior pedal for the discerning musician.

Keeley is regarded as one of the best pedal makers, with unique designs that excel in quality. The Katana is further proof of that solid reputation and comes with a unique design feature as well as great tone and fantastic build quality.

The Keeley Katana Clean Boost is versatile with an elegant and seamless design in a rugged enclosure. It comes with an Internal Power Supply Boost that turns your 9V into 18V for high headroom.

We tried this pedal with our Gibson Les Paul going into our Twin Reverb amp via our pedalboard. After stepping on the single switch to activate the unit, we moved the side-mounted speed knob with our foot in order to adjust the gain. This unique design feature gave us real-time and hands-free control that can be of great use during a song, without the need to bend down or stop playing for gain adjustments.

We loved how smooth and progressively this knob increased our gain, with no bumps or unpleasant surprises. Although it took us a few tries to get used to moving the knob around with our foot, we got a good feel for it after a few minutes to take full advantage of this great feature.

Besides giving plenty of clean gain, the Keeley Katana can also go into saturated territory. We got a taste of this by pulling out the speed knob with our hands, where the boost went up to 30 dB. This was a great feature to kick into sustained solos in the middle of a show while making sure you are truly cutting through on the mix.

This pedal also comes with metal film resistors and caps, which gave us ultra-low-noise operation at all times. The Keeley Katana also offers true bypass switching and operates via a 9V battery or DC adapter. In short, a fantastic boost for discerning professionals who value quality.

Verdict: The Keeley Katana Clean Boost is a versatile pedal with an elegant and seamless design in a rugged enclosure. It comes with an Internal Power Supply Boost that turns your 9V into 18V for high headroom.

Also Consider
Xotic RC Booster Classic 20th Anniversary Pedal

Xotic RC Booster Classic 20th Anniversary Pedal

A classic booster with tons of flexibility.

Xotic is a respected pedal maker based in California. They released a limited run of the RC Booster to celebrate its twenty years. This pedal is truly versatile and gives you tone-sculping options not commonly found in transparent boosters.

The Xotic RC Booster Classic 20th Anniversary Pedal marks the two-decade celebration of an iconic boost stompbox. It comes with its original black-and-white design and four knobs to give the user versatile boost options for a variety of uses and contexts.

We plugged the Xotic RC Booster Classic into our Twin Reverb amp while using our Strat and got 20 dB of transparent boost with the Gain set low. One of our favorite features on this pedal is the adjustable ±15 dB two-band EQ, which makes it stand out from other boosters. By using the dedicated treble and bass knobs, we were able to fine-tune our sound depending on the use and context.

To push the versatility of this pedal even further, Xotic included a Gain knob. Past the 12 o’clock mark, we were able to get some fatter tones, ideal for thicker rock or blues soloing. We also liked how the Gain knob acted when we paired this pedal with our Tube Screamer, as it added another layer of punch to our sound.

The Xotic RC Booster Classic also got the job done when we used to send our amp into rich overdrive. Besides, it also paired up well with just about any pedal we combined it with, making it a good choice for players of any style.

The pedal comes with true-bypass switching and runs via a 9V battery or AC adapter that you must purchase separately. And to keep it truly special, Xotic only produced 1000 units of the RC Booster Classic. In other words, act fast!

Verdict: The Xotic RC Booster Classic 20th Anniversary Pedal is a limited-production pedal that celebrates an iconic booster. With its original black-and-white design, two-band EQ, Volume, and Gain knobs, this pedal gives you a transparent boost and is a versatile choice for all types of guitarists.

Also Consider
TC Electronic Spark Mini Booster

TC Electronic Spark Mini Booster

A simple booster that delivers great tone and convenience.

TC Electronic is one of the go-to companies for guitarists, particularly when it comes to effects. The Spark Mini Booster offers you a transparent boost in a very compact, well-built, and affordable mini format.

The TC Electronic Spark Mini Booster comes with PrimeTime switching, TC Electronic’s own technology. This particular feature gives the option to either have the switch permanently on (latching) or to keep it on while you hold it down (momentary).

This mini pedal gives you 20 dB of clean gain, and we loved how simple and unassuming it is. We were able to fit in our very cramped pedalboard, as this pedal is tiny. However, don’t confuse small with weak, as this pedal showed us how sturdy and well-built it is from the moment we held it.

We tried this pedal with our Fender Stratocaster going into our pedalboard and then to our Twin Reverb. We used it in conjunction with several of our other effects, including various chorus, flanger, and reverb stompboxes. The Spark Mini Booster gave a strong signal and transparent tone at different levels.

While playing with some tracks, this pedal was a great tool to go from playing rhythm parts to the main melody and soloing, all in clean. We particularly liked it paired with our TC Electronic Hall of Fame Reverb on a funk track, in position four of our Strat.

In short, a sturdy and compact pedal that can give you a transparent boost that is useful in a variety of situations. This pedal offers a straightforward boost and nothing else, so if you need extra features, consider other options.

Verdict: The TC Electronic Spark Mini Booster comes in a compact form factor and gives a simple single-knob design that gives you up to 20 dB of boost. It comes with TC Electronic’s PrimeTime switching, so you can use it in either latching or momentary mode, and also gives you true bypass switching.

Also Consider
Fender Engager

Fender Engager

A booster that allows you to fine-tune your tone.

Fender needs no presentation among musicians. With over seven decades of excellence, this company is a relatively new player when it comes to mass-produced pedals. The Engager is a great booster for folks that like to take control over their tone, with the quality and tradition that this Fender provides.

The Fender Engager is a durable and convenient pedal that allows you to shape your boosted tone any way you want it. The first thing we liked about this pedal is how sturdy it felt, with a light, anodized aluminum enclosure. Besides, it features an ingenious and convenient 9V battery compartment that makes it easy to quickly swap batteries.

We plugged the pedal into our Roland JC-120 amp while playing our Strat and right out of the gate, we loved it. This pedal allowed us to go a bit further for conveniently sculpting our boosted tone thanks to its 3-band EQ. Each gives you 12 dB of cut or boost on each frequency band, which significantly enhances the versatility of the Engager Boost.

It also comes with a mid-frequency toggle that allowed us to sculpt our tone even further. For instance, to change our midrange at 800 Hz, all we had to do was keep the toggle in the up position and then use the knob to either boost or cut. On the other hand, we placed the toggle on the down position to boost or cut at 400 Hz.

One of our favorite uses of the Engager Boost came when we combined it with our EHX Big Muff Pi fuzz. We placed it in front of the fuzz in order to be able to fine-tune our tone and have greater control over it. This application was perfect to kick into gritty solos with a more sculpted sound.

With selectable true/buffered bypass and LED-backlit knobs, this booster is a good choice for folks that are more detail-oriented with their sound. However, some users may want to opt for a simpler and smaller unit.

Verdict: The Fender Engager is well-built, convenient, and enables you to shape your tone with a 3-band EQ and switchable toggle for selecting the middle frequency. With a sturdy aluminum enclosure and ingenious 9V battery compartment, this pedal gives you great tonal flexibility and 20 dB of boost.

Also Consider
Friedman Buxom Boost Pedal

Friedman Buxom Boost Pedal

Clean but with a fat low end if you want it!

Dave Friedman has been at the forefront of rock amplification for well over two decades. With clients such as Eddie Van Halen and Jerry Cantrell, Friedman is considered a true guru and has now brought us a pedal that delivers that same level of detail and know-how.

The Friedman Buxom Boost Pedal is a well-designed and well-built boost that gives you plenty of choices to dial and enhance your tone. It comes with a 3-band EQ that allowed us to shape your tone perfectly for different contexts and uses.

Using our Strat in our Twin Reverb, we got a powerful boost that stayed true to the character of our instrument. We used different combinations on the three-way EQ and then flipped the EQ Bypass switch to completely remove the dialed tone and go back to transparent performance. We found this feature to be very useful, as we got two settings that can be used with the simple flip of a switch.

One of our favorite features on the Buxom Boost is the Tight knob. With a simple twist, we got punchy lows that added a lot of depth to our tone. We found this to be perfect for solo performers as it adds a defined fatness to enhance the overall tone of the instrument. We tried this feature with both our Strat and Les Paul, and although it sounded well with both, we liked how it paired with the forward twangy character of our Fender the best.

The Tight Knob was also great when we paired the Buxom Boost with our Tube Screamer. With higher distortion settings, we got a tone that was punchy with tons of defined low end that was perfect for heavy riffing. In short, a fantastic pedal for folks that like to go in deep.

Verdict: The Friedman Buxom Boost Pedal gives you a transparent boost while allowing you to dial and enhance your tone. It is especially good for handling and sweetening your low end, and comes with a 3-band EQ, offering great flexibility.

How to Choose the Right Clean Boost for You

A good clean boost is a simple yet extremely useful way to make your tone stand out when needed. Many of these units typically feature a single knob that provides up to 20 decibels of extra volume. Others offer greater control over your tone and may appeal to guitarists who like to go into the nuts and bolts of tone, frequencies, and more. 

Regardless of the type, these pedals can be useful for a variety of uses and scenarios. The most obvious is to provide a boost for a solo, melody line, or any other moment when the guitar needs to rise above all else and deliver a musical statement. 

Besides that, they can also help you restore some of the frequencies that commonly get lost with long cable runs. Furthermore, they can also be of special use when stacking them with other pedals. This makes these pedals that much more useful, as some of them combine particularly well with distortion units.

Single-Knob Designs

There are plenty of boosts that come in a single-knob design and nothing else. This makes them some of the most compact and simplest pedals you could ever have. But even with one knob, a good boost can give different but no less useful results depending on where on the dial you set the knob.

Versatile Designs

Although not an official category for this type of pedal, we’re using the term versatile designs to include any model that offers more than a single knob operation. In addition to the obvious, there are pedals that also allow you to have control over the EQ, and may come with other useful features like a buffered and true bypass.

Boost pedals that offer you a two or three-band EQ give you the option to dial the sound just the way you want it. Some models even allow you to pick between set frequencies and the boost or cut them in order to offer greater control, particularly in the mid frequencies. Other booster models give special attention to the low end, which may appeal to many players.

Amount Of Gain

Possibly the most important part of choosing a boost is knowing how much gain you really need. It’s difficult to add a high amount of gain and keep it clean, so typically for a more transparent you want to expect somewhere around 20db. If you want to go higher, expect some amount of coloration.

Final Thoughts

Like a lot of guitarists, we’ve often found ourselves guilty of complaining about our tone and immediately running to the nearest computer to look for a new amp, when simply adding a clean boost pedal to the signal chain would have tightened things up and increased the volume, while maintaining all the detail. 

In our hunt for the best, we identified three clear winners, starting with our Top Pick, the JHS Prestige Buffer. This mini pedal not only looked great, but performed just as well. We found it to be really easy to use with its single knob control, and with the dial set to just under the 30% mark, it gave us tons of color and character. 

Our Best Budget Pick, the TC Electronic Rush, is the one you want if you’re trying to get the job done with the minimum possible spend. We loved its true bypass switching, which kept our signal chain intact when the pedal was off, and because it offered a massive 20dB of additional clean gain, we had absolutely no problems cutting through a busy mix with the Rush activated. 

Lastly, our Editor’s Choice winner, the Keeley Katana Clean Boost impressed the entire KGR across the board. The internal 9 to 18v conversion gave us massive headroom, and the clever side mounted speed knob meant it was fully foot controllable. 

  • Rodrigo Sanchez

    Rodrigo is an award-winning songwriter (Best Popular Song Of 2018 for Ibermúsicas), and has worked with the prestigious EMI Music Publishing Latin America. He has production credits on artists such as Descemer Bueno, and has also composed alongside Grammy and ASCAP award-winners such as Sebastián De Peyrecave and José Luis Morín. For over ten years, he's been an editor/writer for Recording Magazine, and spent a year as head of translation for Brazilian magazine Musica & Mercado.

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