Posts Tagged ‘booster’

Before I got my Aracom PRX150-Pro, to get grind, I used a variety of overdrive pedals. But now that I have a great attenuator that allows me to get my amps in their sweet spots without stepping all over my band, I’ve been making lots of use of clean boost – namely, the Creation Audio Labs Mk.4.23 – to push my amp into overdrive, plus get a bit of a volume boost. I use overdrive pedals far less now, but I do use them when I want a different color to my overdrive tone. But I’m curious – especially after seeing Peter Frampton’s small board – what people prefer. So here’s a poll…

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5 Tone Bones - Gear has stellar performance, value, and quality. This is definitely top of the class, best of breed, and it's a no-brainer to add this to your gear lineup!

GeekDriver by the Original Geek

The GeekDriver by the Original Geek

Summary: Is it a booster? Is it an overdrive? No! It’s the GeekDriver.

Pros: From gorgeous, slightly fat boost to searing, face peeling overdrive with tons of overtones and harmonics, this pedal does it!

Cons: None.


  • Hand-wired and soldered in the US
  • Volume, Treble, Bass and Gain Controls
  • Neutrik and Switchcraft jacks
  • True Bypass

Price: $205 direct

Tone Bone Score: 5.0. I’m absolutely blown away by this pedal! I can’t say for sure, but this is a pedal that I’d almost always have on.

I don’t give 5 Tone Bones away lightly. I have to be so totally blown away by some gear that I have to give it my highest rating. When I first heard the GeekDriver on Geek’s Premier Guitar Video, I immediately became intrigued. Then when I finally met the Geek himself at the shop he shares with Tonic Amps, and he demonstrated the GeekDriver in person, I knew I had to have one, so I told him I wanted one, and tonight I picked it up.

What exactly is the GeekDriver?

As the Geek will tell you, the GeekDriver is based upon the ColorSound Overdriver that was popularized by Jeff Beck. At its core, it’s a clean booster, but the Gain knob changes the game significantly, giving you anywhere from mild breakup to ugly, snarling dog overdrive, replete with tons of overtones and harmonics. At high gain levels, it’s like the ugly dog that’s so ugly you can’t help but love it, if you catch my drift.

One thing’s for sure, it’s not transparent, nor is it meant to be. When active it adds a slight compressive fat boost at all volume levels. The effect is incredibly subtle, almost visceral, in that  you “feel” that coloration more than you hear it. This aspect alone made me give this pedal the 5 Tone Bones. The effect is so sensual and appealing. I know I’m using a lot of flowery adjectives here, but it’s because it’s so hard to articulate the emotional effect that compressive boost has on me. When I get that feeling, I know I’m onto something good.

Then you turn the gain up, and in addition to that colored boost, you get layers of overdrive which become this ugly fuzz as you increase the gain that’s total ear candy. But despite the cacophony of distorted signals, the tone is still incredibly defined and articulate. Unlike a pedal like the OCD which can get pretty muddy when you crank the gain, the GeekDriver just oozes thick fuzz, but never gets muddy. Nice.

How it sounds…

In a word, it sounds awesome. It is very hard to describe what it actually sounds like. It’s like a colored overdrive with fuzz attached. In any case here are a couple of clips (BTW, both clips were recorded at bedroom level using my Aracom PRX150-Pro attenuator. That thing ROCKS, retaining all my tone and dynamics):

In this first clip, I was just noodling, switching back and forth a couple times between the clean tone of my amp and the GeekDriver. Note that I set the Gain pretty high on the GeekDriver on the first section to show how ugly it can get – I love that sound!

In this next clip, I start the solo out only with the GeekDriver, with a very light pick attack. In the second part of the solo, I add my Abunai 2 to the chain to demonstrate how delicious the GeekDriver sounds when another overdrive pedal is stacked on top of it.

I believe the GeekDriver was meant to be stacked. I placed it first on my board, then ran my Tone Freak Effects Abunai 2, and my Creation Audio Labs Holy Fire after it. With both pedals, the GeekDriver just FREAKIN’ ROCKED THE HOUSE!!! Oh, it’s sounds f-in’ awesome by itself, but used as a “base” pedal in front of another OD or distortion pedal, and the mix is like nothing you’ve experienced!

Overall Impressions

As you can tell, I freakin’ love this pedal! I’m not surprise why Jeff Beck dug the original ColorSound Overdriver. This is definitely Geek’s unique take on that classic pedal, and what a unique take that is! It may not be for everyone, especially if you’re looking for a transparent boost. But if you’re looking for something totally different from your typical boost or drive pedal, the GeekDriver has a voice all its own. Like I said, it freakin’ rocks the house!

About the Original Geek

Meeting Geek was pure serendipity. I originally was going to Tonic Amps to meet Darin Elingson about his cabs and Fane speakers. I didn’t know the Original Geek shared a shop space with him. That’s serendipity for you.

For those who are familiar with Jeff and his creations, he is known as “GeekMacDaddy,” and for years, his pedals have been by GeekMacDaddy. But his company has gone through a recent name change, and is now known as the “The Original Geek.” But who cares about the name? I certainly don’t. I just know his pedals kick f-in’ ass!

For more information, and to order one, go to http://www.geekmacdaddy.com.

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Tone Freak EffectsI love serendipitous moments, when I stumble upon something new when I’m doing something else entirely. Such was the case of me stumbling upon Tone Freak pedals. I was seeing if the domain name “tonefreak.com” was taken, and at the top of the search results was Tone Freak Effects. You know me and overdrive and distortion pedals. I LOVE ‘EM! And Tone Freak Effects specializes in two kinds of overdrive, two kinds of distortion pedals, plus a buffer/booster and a really nice trem pedal.

The OD and distortion pedal clips I listened to demonstrate a very diverse set of pedals that have a classic character, but also sound fairly unique as well. For instance the Abunai 2 clips sounded a lot like a classic Tube Screamer – nice and open – but with a bit more low-end while maintaining that openness. In fact, all the pedal clips I listened to portrayed familiar OD and distortion sounds, but were also wonderfully different in very good ways. This could likely be because almost all the pedals are the result of collaborations with various guitarists.

No matter, these pedals sound awesome!

I’m particularly interested in the Buff Puff, a signal buffer, plus a clean boost. The buffer is on all the time, and helps restore the signal loss that can occur in a long effects chain. When you switch the pedal on, you get some clean boost. Not sure how many dB, but that is something that I find totally cool. In addition to my love for OD pedals, I’ve really started getting into clean boost – not just to up my volume, but to also slam the front-end of an amp. It’s wonderful!

Anyway, check Tone Freak Effects out at: http://www.tonefreak.com!

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Creation Audio Labs Mk.4.23 Boost

Creation Audio Labs Mk.4.23 Boost

Creation Audio Labs Mk 4.23 Clean Boost

Summary: Truly flat EQ response, zero coloration, clean boost pedal that takes your tone and gives you more, much more of it. Can be used as a simple clean booster, or can slam the front of your amp with up to 24dB of gain.

Pros: Does only one thing: It boosts your signal, giving you more cleans, or slamming your preamp tubes into sweet, singing, sustaining distortion. No bells and whistles, just a single volume knob. Super cool stainless steel finish, with backlit lettering.

Cons: None.

Price: $149 direct


  • From zero to +24 dB of transparent boost
  • No tone coloration
  • No signal distortion
  • No phase reversal
  • True bypass with quiet switching
  • Ultra quiet 9v power supply included

Want a pure boost pedal? One that just does what it’s supposed to do? Simple to use? Doesn’t add its own “character” and just gives you more of your own tone? Look no further. I don’t say these words lightly either. All those things are true!

When Anthony Bonadio of Reason Amps first told me about the Creation Audio Labs Mk 4.23, I was really taken by the emotion in his voice when he described the pedal, and his claim that it was the best boost pedal he’d ever used. That’s saying a lot coming from a man who rarely uses pedals. And when he offered to send his to me to try with the Reason SM25 amp I recently reviewed, I just couldn’t wait until it arrived. It arrived today, and now I understand why he feels the way he does about the Mk 4.23.

Playing it through the Normal (clean) channel of the SM25, it does what it’s supposed to do: It boosts your clean channel. It was what I expected, so it was a bit boring, though I was impressed by the fact that there was no snap, crackle, pop when I kicked it in, and it just simply gave me more of my clean tone. But where this pedal really shined was when I kicked in the Bright and StackMode channels of the amp.

Talk about a visceral response! I can’t even describe the feelings I experienced as the pedal slammed the preamp tubes, and made the amp produce sweet, singing sustain that lasted for days! I always knew that the amp could produce incredible distorted tones, but with the boost engaged, I could hear additional harmonics and overtones issuing from the amp that up until that point I had never heard! On top of that, I never lost a bit of tonal clarity, even when I had the volume knob dimed and was creating that scooped, snarling dog buzz. That’s certainly a testament to the quality of the amplifier and complex and sophisticated sounds it can produce, but it’s also a huge testament to Mk 4.23 that can push the amp into that organic, high-gain overdrive. OH MY FREAKIN’ GOD!!!

I tested the pedal with humbuckers and single coils, and it was interesting to hear the difference in how the pedal performs with both. With humbuckers, the volume boost is less dramatic, as humbuckers send a lot of gain by default. But the effect was by no means displeasing. Where I didn’t get a significant volume boost, I got a lot more gain, driving the preamp tubes even harder. The sound was absolutely delicious! In fact, it drove the amp into feeding back, even a lower volumes! How cool is that?!! The guitar I used has tons and tons of sustain, but with the amp slammed, the sustain went on and on and on. And with that much gain, the compression from the power tubes just gave the signal balls of steel. But wait! There’s more!

With my Strat, the volume boost effect was dramatic; perfect for pushing your volume into great lead levels to get over the top of a mix. I didn’t get as much drive into the preamp tubes, but I wasn’t expecting that in any case. And yet again, the booster just took my tone, and simply gave me more of it.

So as you can tell, I REALLY like this pedal. I love what it does in a big way. But here’s another thing to love about this pedal: Its price. Creation Audio Labs got tired of using middle men and retailers that would price the pedals out of many players’ budgets, so they decided to only go direct. So what used to be a $260 pedal is now only $149. Buy it direct from Creation Audio labs!

In closing, after I return this pedal to Anthony, I’m going to buy this pedal. After just using it for just a short time, I’m confident in saying that this is a pedal that will always be on my board.

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