The clean boost is one of the simplest and most straightforward effects you can add to your pedalboard. Its mission is simple: boost your guitar’s signal.
Clean (or transparent) boosts function as inline preamps that allow players to hit the front-end of their amplifiers harder, resulting in a more gain-heavy sound, without having to crank their amp’s volume to neighbor-disturbing levels. For this reason, clean boosts are often paired with overdrive pedals for an extra-hot and heavy sound.
A clean boost can also help compensate for signal degradation and loss—also known as “tone suck”—that can happen as a result of a packed pedalboard. Even when turned off, older, vintage pedals (from the days before true bypass) still pass signal through the circuit without triggering the effect, which can degrade the quality of your tone to varying degrees. Tone suck can also affect those who tend to use longer cables.
Note: If you’re suffering from substantial tone suck, you might consider investing in a buffer pedal.
Some boost pedals will include more tone-shaping options to add color, but most clean boosts feature a simple volume knob and footswitch.