Boost pedals rarely grab headlines, but they can are some of the most useful tools in a player’s arsenal. A boost pedal can do much more for your rig than simply raise the volume. They can also fundamentally change the way an amp and guitar react to one another.
Studio Blue’s Levana Audio understands the next-level things that a booster can do. The company, which hand-builds the pedals in Las Vegas with Israeli technology, also has experience with bringing studio-grade equipment to the gigging musician. And they’ve applied that experience to the EQ Booster, a pedal that can selectively boost a specific band of high-end frequencies to tailor your tone.
Good Things In A Small Package
At its essence, the Levana EQ Booster is a preamp built into a compact pedal. And it will actually work well with any instrument with a ¼” output to add clarity to acoustic guitars, basses, vocals, brass instruments and just about anything else you can attach at 1/4” jack to.
The EQ Booster uses five controls to achieve its tonal shaping. In addition to a conventional control for volume, there are knobs that alter the amount of low end (in the range of 40Hz-250Hz), high end emphasis (4KHz, 2KHz and 950Hz), a tone control for the high-end frequency you dial in, and another for the amount of gain applied to the signal. The Gain control is crucial to tailoring the pedal to the instrument being used, from dropping it lower for humbuckers or setting it higher for piezo signals. But it’s also capable of adding a sweet dollop of overdrive on top of the signal if the situation calls for it.
The true-bypass circuit is housed in what looks like a wooden casing, which is really a silk-screened piece of sturdy, weighty bent metal. And you’ll have to use the included 9V wall wart to power the EQ Booster.
The pedal’s ability to boost the most pleasing frequencies in the guitar’s signal is utterly astounding and it can give you an otherworldly amount of sustain, clarity and note separation where you need it.
Clear As The Deep Blue Sea
The EQ Booster often seems like more than the sum of its parts. The pedal’s ability to boost the most pleasing frequencies in the guitar’s signal is utterly astounding and it can give you an otherworldly amount of sustain, clarity and note separation where you need it. I wasn’t long into my experience before I was left wondering why I would ever want to turn it off.
Running a 2011 Fender Blacktop Telecaster into a Fender ’65 Twin Reverb reissue, the detail that the EQ Booster added at the 4KHZ range to the upper end spectrum was astounding. Picking nuance was much more pronounced and there was a perceptible increase in sustain that sounded beautiful. In some ways, it was if the high-end segment of the frequency spectrum had a life of its own as I moved through various Hendrix-inspired rhythm pieces. The pedal’s boost structure also meant that the Telecaster retained its characteristic springy lows in the mix. And after a while, the EQ Boosted version of the tried-and-true Telecaster and Twin combination made the bypassed signal sound almost stale in comparison.
The EQ Booster has a surprising amount of gain on tap, too. After plugging in a 1978 Greco EC-700, I cranked the Gain and Low controls and attacked with humbucker-fueled fury. The EQ Booster’s voice in these settings is definitely on the vintage side of things—more akin to a cranked, vintage low-power tube amp. And I noticed that some raspiness started to creep into the highs when the Gain control was approaching its maximum level. But one of the beautiful things about the Levana is that I could set the Tone range to either 950Hz or 2Khz keep the buzziness in check. If you’re less concerned about total clarity, the same buzziness can give the overdrive more of a cranked analog mixing console feel, and you can coax some really cool fuzz tones in Beatles’ “Revolution” vein.
The EQ Booster is an utterly fantastic pedal. The amount of fidelity it can add to the tone—in a fairly narrow EQ band—while keeping your original tone’s feel and vibe, is nothing short of remarkable. If you’re looking for heavy overdrive, you’ll probably want to look elsewhere. But quite simply the Levana EQ Boost it’s one of the best ways out there to add sparkle and clarity to an uninspiring tone.
you need to add some dimension and fidelity to your basic clean guitar tone.
you need gobs of onboard distortion.