Moog’s first boost pedal offers something you don’t always encounter in a boost pedal: subtlety.
Actually, the MF Boost houses two separate gain circuits, selectable via toggle: VCA mode provides hi-fi, crispy-clean boost. There’s little coloration—just a feeling of airier highs, firmer lows, and increased headroom. It doesn’t sound precisely like, say, clean mode on a Klon Centaur or a Z. Vex Super Hard On, but it’s a similar “low dose of steroids” effect that flatters many guitars, especially ones with old or old-style pickups.
Toggling to OTA mode summons a slightly louder and “furrier” flavor of gain. Both modes, though, are relatively restrained. VCA mode offers +6 dB, and OTA mode doubles that. Connecting an expression offers six additional decibels in either mode. That way, wherever you’ve set the MF Boost’s gain control becomes the minimum controller pedal level, with more boost available as you advance the treadle. It’s an ingenious arrangement that lets you fine-tune your gain range, making it easy to, say, pedal between rhythm and solo levels. The only downside of the scheme is that you must connect a controller pedal to wring that last six decibels out of the MF Boost.
This may or may not be an issue, since the focus here is on the subtler end of the boost spectrum. This pedal doesn’t attempt to bludgeon your amp like many boost circuits do. It’s more about artful fattening and burnishing. Among other things, the MF Boost can make you sound as if you’re playing louder than you are, mimicking a cranked amp’s compression. It’s a great tool if you need to practice or record more quietly than you’d like.
A level control lets you trim the output after driving the gain circuit. Again, subtlety prevails: Lowering it peels off only modest amounts of level. This makes perfect sense, given the MF Boost’s relatively restrained output and the fact that you need to slap the amp with force for the best results.
The tone control is a simple post-boost low-pass filter. As such, it doesn’t alter the boost character much—it just nixes highs. But it’s perfectly voiced for taming nasty top-end. I quickly settled into an intuitive workflow: Push the gain till the texture feels right, then lower the tone till any nasty treble frequencies vanish. It worked like a charm on my vintage Strat’s bridge pickup: Cranking the gain fattened the potentially weedy sound, but added a nasty edge. Adjusting the tone control removed the nasty, leaving just the awesome.
With its relatively modest output, the MF Boost is more of a tone conditioner than a tone changer. It can fatten, focus, and brighten without screwing up what you dig about your tones. The ability to control gain via expression pedal is unusual and potentially useful. The price is right at $149. Whoever voiced this pedal has good taste and good ears.