We all know Seymour Duncan as a big name pickup manufacturer, but now the company is also making an impression on the pedal front too. We've had a fair few of their pedals at GI Towers lately and they have never failed to impress. In this review we are looking at their new Pickup Booster, with SD's knowledge of Pickups this is clearly a pedal that will be close to their hearts!
The Pickup Booster claims to “boost your signal without altering the character of your sound while also allowing you to access different pickup tones with the flip of the Resonance Switch.”
The pedal looks great and hard wearing offering all the usual features, works from a step-down power supply or 9 Volt battery, plus comes as a standard size so it won't take up too much pedal board space. It’s a real “plug in and play” pedal with simple controls: a main gain control and a Resonance switch with three different settings. Be sure to check out the video to hear it for yourself as I go through each of the settings in detail.
The idea of this pedal is to maintain your guitar's natural tone while adding some muscle and fatness. I used my custom shop US Strat for this with stock pickups. The Gain control ranges from 0db up to 25db, Seymour Duncan has added a discrete push-pull output stage that gives increased drive capability, the idea being that even with the Gain knob down at 0db and a long cable run, your signal chain will sound cleaner. It's a True bypass pedal too, meaning it shouldn’t suck any of your natural tone. Plugging straight in and not making any adjustments, I did notice an immediate increased output and a slightly improved clarity of tone.
The Resonance Switch makes the pedal interact directly with your pickups, allowing those with single coil pickups the option to flick a switch and make them sound like a vintage humbucker. With the switch set to 0 it gives you a transparent boost to your signal, so you could put it at the front of your chain to drive the rest of your pedal board with greater signal headroom, or at the end to drive long cable runs back to your amp. Setting the switch to position 1 shifts the resonant peak of a single-coil down, which should thicken up your tone. This is a very dynamic setting and putting one into the front of a valve amp will allow you to stay clean until you start to dig in, or alter the volume on your guitar. With the resonance switch set on 2 this delivers the fatness of a high output humbucker, resulting in a meaty, saturated tone great for solos.
This is a very versatile pedal. It does what it says on the tin, but with a little time spent and some tweaking you can make it work in many different ways. The Gain control alone gives you plenty of tonal qualities and dynamic variations. The Resonance switch is very good and works just as claimed. I really could have been fooled into thinking I was playing a guitar with a humbucker when I flicked the switch, once again with adjustments on the Gain control you can go from old school crunch, to modern day filth!
With all these possibilities and big leaps in tonal qualities it would be easy for the original tone and quality of your guitar to be lost. However, this is a very transparent pedal, and I never felt like it was taking away from my original tone, just adding and boosting my foundation with something truly pleasant and musical. This is a fantastic sounding, dynamic pedal. My only thought is that it's slightly geared towards those who use single coils, I'm not sure how it would react to an already humbucker loaded guitar and what it would bring to the party. Plenty of boost, that's for sure.