Guitarist earl slick once schooled me that all I needed to get a clear, soaring lead tone out of a Vox AC30 was my fingers. “Just set up the amp’s volume, and then turn your guitar Volume up or down to get what you need,” he said.
I felt so stupid. Like “Duh” stupid. But, for me, it has never been that easy to crank up my guitar Volume knob for solos and back it down for rhythm parts. I’m extremely excitable onstage—and clumsy with my guitar’s controls—so pedals have always come to my rescue. But Earl had a massive point about a good tube amp—why color the sound with an overdrive or distortion pedal (unless you want to), when the amp itself will deliver a pretty stunning and organic lead tone?
Well, all I can say is, “Thank goodness for clean-boost pedals,” and my current favorite for walloping the front end of my AC30 is the USA-made Bright-Eye Clean Boost/Buffer ($155 street). This mini pedal takes up precious little real estate on my pedal-board, it delivers up to 20dB of boost with its adjustable Boost Volume knob, a Shaped Mode decreases highs if my boosted tone gets too sizzle-y (there’s also a Flat Mode), and the photocell-controlled footswitch is dead quiet.
The Bright-Eye’s boost is thick yet transparent, and articulate enough to clarify every note of fast runs or open chords. I like the Shaped Mode best, because I tend to run my guitar a tad bright, and having a stout and less steely tone for solos actually helps the parts break out of a band mix, as well as making the roar easier on the audience’s ears. If you’re not an Earl Slick, the Bright-Eye is a marvelous option for getting heard with but one stomp of your foot.
KUDOS Ballsy or transparent boost. Small footprint. Rugged.