Sweepable boost pedal lends power and tone shaping versatility.

The Mission Engineering V-Boost Red is something of a wolf in sheep's clothing. From the outside, it looks like a wah, but inside there’s a powerful boost circuit that can transform your tone. According to Mission, the V-Boost Red adds a little more clipping than the “Black” version, making it a capable replacement for a low-gain overdrive pedal. Like most of Mission's products, the build quality is superb.

The documentation rates the maximum boost at 15 dB, but to my ears that was a conservative estimate. At times, the V-Boost felt too powerful. (Though heavy rock players are bound to dig it.) A more gradual sweep and lower maximum output would make the V-Boost perfect for low-to mid-gain applications like alt-country crunch or classic-rock leads, though it’s nearly there. It works well with other pedal too. When placed in front of a Visual Sound Route 66, the V-Boost blossomed the already rich harmonics without loosing any crispness on the high end.

Test Gear: Fender MIM Telecaster, Louis Electric Tremoverb, Visual Sound Route 66


Solid construction. Doesn't diminish higher frequencies.

Sweep could be more gradual. An enormous amount of signal boost.




Ease of Use:



Almost six decades after forming the short-lived Rising Sons, the two legends reconvene to pay tribute to the classic blues duo of Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee on the warm and rootsy Get on Board.

Deep into Taj Mahal and Ry Cooder’s Get on Board: The Songs of Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee, percussionist Joachim Cooder lays out, letting the two elder musicians can take a pass through “Pawn Shop Blues.” To start, they loosely play around with the song’s intro on their acoustic guitars. “Yeah, nice,” remarks Mahal off-handedly in his distinctive rasp—present since he was a young man but, at 79, he’s aged into it—and Cooder lightly chuckles. They hit the turnaround and settle into a slow, loping tempo. It’s a casual and informal affair—some notes buzz, and it sounds like one of them is stomping his foot intermittently. Except for Cooder’s slide choruses, neither guitar plays a rhythm or lead role. They simply converse.

Read More Show less

The emotional wallop of the acoustic guitar sometimes flies under the radar. Even if you mostly play electric, here are some things to consider about unplugging.

I have a love-hate relationship with acoustic guitars. My infatuation with the 6-string really blasted off with the Ventures. That’s the sound I wanted, and the way to get it was powered by electricity. Before I’d even held a guitar, I knew I wanted a Mosrite, which I was sure was made of fiberglass like the surfboards the Beach Boys, Surfaris, and the Challengers rode in their off time. Bristling with space-age switchgear and chrome-plated hardware, those solidbody hotrod guitars were the fighter jets of my musical dreams. I didn’t even know what those old-timey round-hole guitars were called. As the singing cowboys Roy Rogers and Gene Autrey strummed off into the sunset, the pace of technology pushed the look and sound of the electric guitar (and bass) into the limelight and into my heart. Imagine my disappointment when I had to begin my guitar tutelage on a rented Gibson “student” acoustic. At least it sort of looked like the ones the Beatles occasionally played. Even so, I couldn’t wait to trade it in.

Read More Show less

Need an affordable distortion pedal? Look no further.

We live in the golden age of boutique pedals that are loaded with advanced features—many of which were nearly unthinkable a decade or so ago. But there’s something that will always be valuable about a rock-solid dirt box that won’t break your wallet. Here’s a collection of old classics and newly designed stomps that cost less than an average concert ticket.

Read More Show less