Field Test: Ernie Ball 40th Anniversary Volume Pedal and Xotic AC/RC-OZ Booster

We put new pedals from Ernie Ball and Xotic to the test.
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This anniversary edition of Ernie Ball’s classic volume pedal ($129 street) is a beautifully rendered unit that has been visually and mechanically updated to celebrate a whopping 40 years of EB volume pedals. So how do you go about improving on a classic that’s so ably stood the test of time? Well, the new pedal features include a stronger PVC-coated Kevlar cord connecting the rocker to the potentiometer, a 250kΩ pot that’s voiced for passive pickups, improved rocker traction for smoother volume swells, and a brushed black finish on the ultra-rugged extruded aluminum housing.

In use, I honestly don’t know what more you could ask from a volume pedal. The 40th Anniversary has a glass-smooth feel, and the tension of the rocker is so nicely dialed-in that you’re practically guaranteed to never have to struggle with a too fast or too slow response when trying to execute that perfect swell. The unit’s 2.2 lbs weight makes it pedalboard friendly too, which is just one more reason to consider this superb pedal if you’re seeking the utmost in foot-controllable volume.

Kudos Stronger design. Excellent sweep response. Tuner out.
Concerns None.



Stemming from Oz Noy’s preference for running an Xotic RC Booster into an Xotic AC Booster, the company put the two circuits together in a new, limited-edition pedal called the AC/RC-OZ ($196 street). Powered by a 9v-18v power supply (not included) or 9v battery, this pedal basically replicates how Noy sets up the two Xotics on his pedalboard: The RC is a clean booster designed to elevate the clean signal from your guitar to drive a subsequent pedal (or an amp’s front end) for increased distortion. By contrast, the AC is a higher-gain pedal that has enough range to cover boost up to full-on distortion.

In the AC/RC-OZ, both stages feature their own Gain, Volume, Bass, and Treble controls, and dual footswitches allow you to select them individually or combined. You can’t change the order of the effects—it’s always RC into AC—but it’s easy to set up very different levels of boost and distortion and switch between them as needed. I found that the AC side works beautifully for moderate up to fairly high levels of grind, and the sound is warm and dynamically responsive to guitar-volume changes. The 2-band EQ accommodates single-coil and humbucker guitars, and there’s a ton of volume available if you need it. For more sustain, click on the RC side and use its controls to push the AC into greater saturation, and without compromising the latter’s sweet distortion character.

In some cases, using the RC side by itself was perfect for kicking an amp already on the verge of distortion into wicked overdrive—which can be a cool way to go when the natural overdriven tone of the amp is preferable.

Either way, though, the AC/RC-OZ is a versatile boost/OD pedal that offers Xotic’s elegant form factor: Nice looking paint and knobs, blue and red LEDs on the small EQ controls to indicate which sides are active, and an aluminum housing that’s rugged and sensibly sized for most pedalboards.

Kudos Two excellent boost and distortion pedals in one affordable package.
Concerns None.