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Thread: Volume boost pedal question

  1. #1
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    Default Volume boost pedal question

    Just wondering how folks who successfully use a DI and a boost have gone about doing it. Right now I'm using a BOSS EQ and a Para DI. The Para is my pre-amp and the BOSS EQ is functioning as a volume boost. I have a K&K Twin professionally installed in my Brentrup F5. Lately, however, I feel like the sound coming through the BOSS is just a bit more shrill and harsh than I'd like. I've attached pics of both with the settings I tend to use as my baseline. Anyway...pedal acquisition syndrome has been gnawing a bit at me and I'm wondering what others have been doing recently w/r/t pre-amp and boost. I've got a friend who swears by her Baggs Venue, but I've heard mixed reviews (FWIW, I don't care about it's crappy tuner feature since I also run a seperate tuner pedal in my rig).

    A couple of things that bug me about my set-up is that the Para DI is just really confusing. Admittedly, I don't tweak it much, but there is nothing intuitive about it IMO. Second, by using the EQ as a boost, I'm inherently having to change the tone from what is coming through the PA with the "boost" off, which kind've bugs me. Maybe I should just look for a clean boost pedal?

    There's a guy near me selling a used ToneBone Radial PZ for $150 and I know they get a lot of love here on the Cafe and include a volume boost. Also considering a Red-Eye.

    We tend to play breweries and bars and run our own sound. And since I'm sure someone will complain about running a nice mando through a DI, let me just say I am much happier playing this way in the environments we play - I have no desire to play into a mic.
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  2. #2

    Default Re: Volume boost pedal question

    The only way you can use the EQ as a boost without changing the frequencies is to set the EQ flat. The setting you have in the picture is cutting volume.

    IMHO, the Baggs has more EQ than you will ever need, and most don't really understand how to use it properly, myself included. If you need radical EQ you have the wrong pickups as your source. At this point, I'm a believer in two trains of thought when amplifying acoustic instruments, the minimalist school with something like a RedEye or SunnAudio Stage1, or the tech wonderland of the Tonedexter.

    If you have the right pickup, the former, if you don't, the latter.
    Silverangel A
    Michael Kelly LSFTB
    Arches F style kit
    1913 Gibson A-1

  3. #3

    Default Re: Volume boost pedal question

    I'm a pickup guy too, for similar reasons.

    Your sound isn't the pedal, it's the EQ curve you have selected.
    The fundamental of a mandolin G string is 196 hz, the E is 659hz.
    Your EQ curve will make the mando sound exactly like you say, shrill and harsh.

    If you simply set all the sliders on the BOSS to +3db, you would get something resembling a 3db boost. But it wouldn't be exactly flat, would look more like a suspension bridge (one of the dirty little secrets of graphic EQ).

    I can recommend the MXR pre as a simple solution, it has an on/off switch, is flat and clean, and the amount of boost is on a knob. That's the simplest cleanest solution. Red-eye would also do it, lots of love for them around here.

    I use a flat boost, 3db is all I really need. And I run a compressor too (mild compression at 2x), makes it easier on the sound guy to get me into the mix where he wants.

    I have been pretty vocal myself about multi-pedals lately, as an easy way to get all the effects you could want. Both Zoom and Helix have worked well for me (that's a lot of flexibility on price), and have a wide variety of EQ and effects. Both allow you to combine para EQ with graphic EQ, and have boost pedal functions too. If you want to add some reverb, compressor, or delay, or virtually anything else, it's there...

    I you want to stick with analog, the red-eye is the most popular choice around here.

    I would keep the BOSS though, and use it as a high-pass, set everything to flat except put the 100hz all the way down, that will reduce thumps from the pickup (if you are having that problem - try it and see).
    Trinity College TM325 Octave Mandolin (converted to 4-string tenor guitar).
    Eastman MD-605SB, MD-604SB, MD-305, all with Grover 309 tuners.
    Eastwood 4 string electric mandostang, 2x Airline e-mandola (4-string) one strung as an e-OM.
    DSP's: Helix HX Stomp, various Zooms.
    Amps: QSC-K10, DBR-10, THR-10, Sony XB-20.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Volume boost pedal question

    Thanks for the responses! So, the problem I have with setting everything flat (by which I'm assuming you mean "put all the sliders in the middle") is that adding much of anything to the low end generates an omnipresent, echoe-y, whooshy background noise as well as the pick thumps that kurth83 mentioned. That's how I arrived at the settings I have...basically trying to keep it from being too shrill and having all that extraneous low end thump and whoosh.

    Honestly, I didn't really set out to use the BOSS EQ as a boost because I wanted a lot of EQ options, instead, I went with this set-up because a lot of folks on the Cafe have suggested it in older threads on this topic as a really cheap way to get a decent boost, since you can usually buy a used BOSS EQ for $50 or less on eBay or Craigslist. I am such an ignorant novice when it comes to all things involving musical electronics that it may actually be too complicated for me!

    Kurth83, is this the MXR pedal you were suggesting?

  5. #5

    Default Re: Volume boost pedal question

    It's this one (MXR M133 micro amp):

    https://www.sweetwater.com/store/det...in-boost-pedal

    Most ppl around here use the red-eye though.

    Looking again at your settings, you have the bass turned all the way down on the Para DI too.

    I might know what the whoosh is, I got something like that using a big triangle pick on a pickup. I think it was amplifying the pick scraping across the strings on each note. It was a phuffy whoosh for each note picked, so I changed picks and it got a lot better. I switched to a smaller triangle (BC TP-60). BC's also glide over strings smoother, so they eliminate the whoosh I was getting with the big primetone triangle.

    Put another way, A big and/or rounded pick is almost certainly going to give you that whooshy sound, a smaller, pointy-tip pick, made from the smoothest material available, is the solution I found.

    Getting a pickup to sound good is always a journey, I have never met one that didn't need some help. Once dialed in they are great.
    Trinity College TM325 Octave Mandolin (converted to 4-string tenor guitar).
    Eastman MD-605SB, MD-604SB, MD-305, all with Grover 309 tuners.
    Eastwood 4 string electric mandostang, 2x Airline e-mandola (4-string) one strung as an e-OM.
    DSP's: Helix HX Stomp, various Zooms.
    Amps: QSC-K10, DBR-10, THR-10, Sony XB-20.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Volume boost pedal question

    What you might want if you don't want the sounded altered when you boost is a clean boost with no EQ. The Fire Eye Red Eye has a nice one built into what is essentially a DI/preamp, The MXR mentioned is good, and my favorite right now is the Fire Eye bright eye, which is an excellent clean boost and does not color the tone. I use it for both fiddle and mandolin that go through the same board with wireless.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Volume boost pedal question

    Maybe someone with a Tonedexter will join in this conversation. I have witnessed great guitar tone from them using a most horrible under saddle pickup( ok, I'm biased, all of them sound horrible) but the Tonedexter takes a nice mic tone and teaches the machine to duplicate it with any piezo. If I had a bunch of instruments to amplify Id take a long look at one of these.

    Because I had DAzzo pickups in half a dz guitars already, I've gone the simple Sunnaudio Stage DI route, because the tailored to the instrument Dazzos provide a signal that needs no or little EQ.

    But think of having to amplify a guitar, a mandolin, and a fiddle at the same gig. Just call up the right preset and go.
    Silverangel A
    Michael Kelly LSFTB
    Arches F style kit
    1913 Gibson A-1

  8. #8

    Default Re: Volume boost pedal question

    Yeah, Tonedexter is the easy button... If you like your acoustic tone, one and done. :-)
    Trinity College TM325 Octave Mandolin (converted to 4-string tenor guitar).
    Eastman MD-605SB, MD-604SB, MD-305, all with Grover 309 tuners.
    Eastwood 4 string electric mandostang, 2x Airline e-mandola (4-string) one strung as an e-OM.
    DSP's: Helix HX Stomp, various Zooms.
    Amps: QSC-K10, DBR-10, THR-10, Sony XB-20.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Volume boost pedal question

    Again, thanks for the responses. I think I'll give the Fire Eye Red-Eye a try. I've spent a solid hour reading the archives and it seems to get universal priase around here both for its sound and ease of use. I've seen video of the TD and have read many threads discussing its brilliance...BUT...I am intimidated by the set-up process. Hell, the mic I have isn't even that great (a Shure 57 that a buddy of mine with more gear knowledge than I described as "a lemon") so I'm not sure I'd want to train a TD to replicate it.

  10. #10

    Default Re: Volume boost pedal question

    The Fire Eye Red Eye is a great piece of gear and dead simple to use. It actually does have a very simple tone control on it that is very effective, especially for dialing out any harshness without getting into messing with individual frequencies. It allows control over the amount of boost, too, and the boost itself is very clean and does not add unwanted tonal changes to your core sound. In addition, the preamp and DI is outstanding for the price and size. I have used one on my live fiddle/mandolin pedal board for a number of years, and in places as far from me as Nashville, TN. Many sound guys over the years have approached me to compliment my sound and wonder what it is that I am using. The Red Eye is the key. I don't think you could get a better preamp/DI without getting into an Avalon U5 or Reddi, and those are considerably larger and more expensive by hundreds of dollars.

  11. #11

    Default Re: Volume boost pedal question

    And, I should add, I do still also use the Fire Eye Bright Eye, but only because I have that at the beginning of my effects chain, and the Red Eye at the end, as a DI. I can use boost at both ends of my effects, but each sounds different because of where they are placed. I use the Red Eye to boost if I want to boost the entire signal chain, including effects like delay or reverb, or the Bright Eye at the beginning to boost the raw signal coming into the board, thereby not boosting as much the reverb, delay, or other effects. Best of both worlds. But for a simpler set up, the Red Eye will do everything you need it to given it's small size.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Volume boost pedal question

    +1 on the RedEye. I use mine at least once a week with usually treble boost turned completely off, volume boost for solos about 10%. Fits compactly into my case pocket along with a 10' cord. I usually ask the sound person to roll a little off the top end and add just a hint of reverb and compression.
    Being right is overrated. Doing right is what matters.

  13. #13

    Default Re: Volume boost pedal question

    Sounds like some good advice here.

    I come from three and a half decades of the gigging electric guitar world, so I've got a lot of effects experience. I like compression on my clean leads, and I use a Cusack More Louder for my clean boost. I have no idea how it will work for mando, because I've never used it for that. But I love it for guitar. One knob. Just "louder".

  14. #14
    Registered User Perry's Avatar
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    Default Re: Volume boost pedal question

    Quote Originally Posted by illinoisfiddler View Post
    The Fire Eye Red Eye is a great piece of gear and dead simple to use. It actually does have a very simple tone control on it that is very effective, especially for dialing out any harshness without getting into messing with individual frequencies. It allows control over the amount of boost, too, and the boost itself is very clean and does not add unwanted tonal changes to your core sound. In addition, the preamp and DI is outstanding for the price and size. I have used one on my live fiddle/mandolin pedal board for a number of years, and in places as far from me as Nashville, TN. Many sound guys over the years have approached me to compliment my sound and wonder what it is that I am using. The Red Eye is the key. I don't think you could get a better preamp/DI without getting into an Avalon U5 or Reddi, and those are considerably larger and more expensive by hundreds of dollars.
    The Red Eye pre-amp is a fantastic piece of gear. After 100+ gigs I can also say it is reliable , consistent and as noted stupid simple. The boost is VERY clean...same exact sound just louder. The one tone shaping knob is amazingly effective.

    I have a Red Eye Twin and switch to the unused channel for silent tuning. I like to use a clip on and not a stomp box. Red Eye does have an effect loop so you could silent tune on a single channel Red Eye using a tuner stomp box through the effect loop.

  15. #15

    Default Re: Volume boost pedal question

    As much as I love the RedEye. I have not used it since I got my SunnAudio Stage 1 DI. The overall sound is just better. Noy dramatic, but audible. The SunnAudio folks are from a stusio gear design background, and they do not use a transformer. A really good transformer can cost $200 on it''s own. I've used them in passive step up transformers for very low output turntable cartridges. RedEye found a decent one for I think $20. I've told the SunnAudio folks they need a boost function. That is the big drawbact to them. But if quality of sound is paramount, the SunnAudio unit does sound better. You would then need a boost run through the FX send/return of the SunnAudio, and it would have to be the same high quality or you would defeat the purpose.
    Silverangel A
    Michael Kelly LSFTB
    Arches F style kit
    1913 Gibson A-1

  16. #16

    Default Re: Volume boost pedal question

    I'm sure the SunnAudio is good, but they are 300-500 and not a compact pedal format (with boost). Honestly if I was going that route I would just go right to an Avalon U5 or Reddi, which I am pretty sure would blow it away, but much larger, more expensive, and no boost. The Red Eye is the right piece, at the right price, in the right format for most live players. And I don't roll all the treble off because I want that more "violin-y" tone rather than the kind of electric-violin tone you get when you roll it all off.

  17. #17

    Default Re: Volume boost pedal question

    I will point out, the RedEye was developed because a fiddle player wanted it, so it is no surprise it works well for mandolin.Never heard an Avalon or Redi, just Manley, Apogee, and Great River pres. The SunnAudio Stage 1 DI has the same quality studio sound. They don't skimp on parts quality. For $300 I consider it a bargain. Before I heard it, I was a RedEye poster boy. Still have one.

    As in all things, you pay your money and take your chances. I also had SunnAudio put their blender DI in a box so we could blend two guitars at an open mic I host. We A/Bd it against two or three pres that were there that night, from Baggs and Fishman and a Red Eye. It was unanimous as to what sounded best. No one product is going to do it for everyone. The boost issue has been addressed in a new prototype. I'm just bringing up an alternative product that works exceedingly well for me.

    Disclaimer: they gave me a tee shirt.
    Silverangel A
    Michael Kelly LSFTB
    Arches F style kit
    1913 Gibson A-1

  18. #18

    Default Re: Volume boost pedal question

    Quote Originally Posted by Br1ck View Post
    For $300 I consider it a bargain.

    Disclaimer: they gave me a tee shirt.
    For $300 bucks I'd at least hope they'd take me to the Men's Wearhouse..................

  19. #19

    Default Re: Volume boost pedal question

    In br1ck's defense, the Sunnaudio IS only just a little more than the Red Eye street price, but I really like the format, sound and features of the Red Eye.

  20. #20
    Registered User John Bertotti's Avatar
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    Default Re: Volume boost pedal question

    You have a K&K why not use the pre amp made for it by K&K. You may find it is all you need.i
    My avatar is of my OldWave Oval A

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  21. #21
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    Default Re: Volume boost pedal question

    I've read a ton of old threads on this topic and was just waiting for Br1ck to chime in and suggest a SunnAudio

    FWIW, I looked at their website and decided I'd go with the thing that seems to offer the best combination of being widely praised and super-easy to use, thus, the RedEye. I also was looking for something with a built-in boost feature. Of course I appreciate great sound, but we play almost exclusively in bars and breweries through a PA that is not exactly high-end. As such, there are practical constraints with regards to justifying an extra hundred here and there in the quest to perhaps gain a bit of tonal improvement that will likely never translate to our environments. But, who knows...if I hate the RedEye I guess I might sell it and the Baggs Para to fund a ToneDexter, which, if it proves unsatisfactory, might be sold to buy a SunnAudio. However, I'd be happy to just find the RedEye answering my prayers. I'm going to set up our PA in my basement this weekend and play around with it.

    As far as the K&K pre-amp, lack of a boost and lack of enthusiasm over the years on these boards just led me to bypass it. I'm not sure anyone has ever really condemned the product outright, but the RedEye seems to get a LOT more love.

  22. #22
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    Default Re: Volume boost pedal question

    I have had several preamps over the years, but have been using the RedEye for years now. I did wire in a micro switch for a mute in mine.
    THE WORLD IS A BETTER PLACE JUST FOR YOUR SMILE!

  23. #23

    Default Re: Volume boost pedal question

    I had the K&K Pure preamp, and it wasn't bad, but it had some wonky EQ controls better suited to guitar. In addition, it isn't a DI unless you get the XLR version. Personally, I think the Red Eye trounces it in terms of flatness of signal and dynamics. The Red Eye is razor flat from sub harmonic tones to the limit of human hearing (and beyond), which translates to a smooth midrange and more natural pickup sound.

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  25. #24
    Registered User John Bertotti's Avatar
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    Default Re: Volume boost pedal question

    Quote Originally Posted by illinoisfiddler View Post
    I had the K&K Pure preamp, and it wasn't bad, but it had some wonky EQ controls better suited to guitar. In addition, it isn't a DI unless you get the XLR version. Personally, I think the Red Eye trounces it in terms of flatness of signal and dynamics. The Red Eye is razor flat from sub harmonic tones to the limit of human hearing (and beyond), which translates to a smooth midrange and more natural pickup sound.
    Never heard of Red Eye but never quite got to where I wanted to jump on the K&K pre. Thansk for the heads up!
    My avatar is of my OldWave Oval A

    Creativity is just doing something wierd and finding out others like it.

  26. #25

    Default Re: Volume boost pedal question

    Not saying it is a bad pre. I used it with a K&K in my mandolin, and it worked ok. But had to EQ the heck out of it to get it to sound good. The Red Eye is much better, IMHO. And a better format for those of us who use a pedal board, or otherwise just want to throw down one box and plug and play.

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