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Boost and Overdrive

Comparative Guitar Pedal Acquisition Strategy - 100 Medium to Large Pedal Edition

Bogner AmplificationBoost and OverdriveBuild Your Own CloneBYOCDelayDiezelDistortionElektronEmpress EffectsEVH GearFunction F(X)FuzzGamechanger AudioKeeley EngineeringMESA/BoogieMI EffectsModulationOrigin EffectsPitchReverbRock Fabrik EffectsStone Deaf EffectsStrymonTech 21 NYCThorpyFXTruetoneUtilityWampler+-
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As previously posted, my preferred pedal format is the compact / regular enclosure - ideally as close to Chase Bliss in design as possible - with multiple dials, voicing toggles and dual footswitches. There are moments though when 3-footswitch pedals - a la Empress, Eventide, Strymon and now Boss are advisable, and those are in the main the sorts of large pedals I use - the modulation, delay and reverb workstations. I also have some of the larger dual and multi-drive pedals, whose real-estate mostly justifies the larger form factor. If I can get the same sort of functionality in a smaller enclosure then so much the better. But if I want properly selectable multiple presets then 3 footswitches is a must, and properly in its most usable format in the new Boss 500 line. There are also Loopers and other more technical pedals which justify a larger footprint to fit in relevant displays, switches, dials, and of course those 3 footswitches.


There’s obviously significantly less larger pedals out there, and a lot less this wishlist which combines all sorts of Medium and Larger enclosure - with the Medium-size Strymons at the smallest here, and the Elektron Analog Drive at the largest. I still have the Analog Drive, but frankly it takes up too much floorspace unless it’s your one and only dirt-box. It certainly has sufficient range for that for the most part, but does not quite get close enough to the tone and timbre of my many preferred overdrive, fuzz and distortion pedals. So for now I prefer the variety - until such a time that someone can give me all or most of my favourite circuits in the one housing - again ideally 3-footswitch workstation style with lots of presets onboard.


There’s less of a selection, and less of these pedals on my active wishlist - as before ones that are not outlined are in the chain / collection already, cyan outline means still under consideration, while green means go - shortlisted for acquisition, although that does not always happen, as previously explained.


Pedals are listed alphabetically by brand, then pedal name



As I mentioned in the intro I have a number of larger drive and distortion pedals - a couple of Diezels, the Elektron Analog Drive, The Empress Heavy and Multidrive, MI Audio Megalith Delta and the Strymon Riverside and Sunset. Ideally I am looking for added versatility here - either a second channel-switch or boost switch, and plenty of voicing and EQ controls for variety. I am pretty well sorted as is, all the blue outlines are still under consideration, but I’ve already decided that I will be getting the new Origin Effects Revival Drive and the Wampler Triple Wreck too at some stage:

  • Bogner Ecstacy Red Overdrive
  • BYOC Crown Jewel Multidrive
  • Diezel Herbert
  • Diezel VH4
  • Diezel VH4-2
  • Elektron Analog Drive
  • Empress Heavy
  • Empress Multidrive
  • Function F(X) Clusterfuzz
  • Gamechanger Audio Plasma Distortion
  • Keeley D&M Drive
  • MESA/Boogie Throttle Box EQ
  • MI Audio Megalith Delta
  • MXR EVH 5150 Overdrive
  • Origin Effects RevivalDrive
  • Rockfabrik Mind Abuse
  • Stone Deaf Fig Fumb
  • Stone Deaf Trashy Blonde
  • Stone Deaf Warp Drive
  • Strymon Riverside
  • Strymon Sunset
  • Tech 21 NYC Q\Strip Boost & EQ
  • Thorpy FX Veteran Dual Fuzz
  • Truetone Jekyll & Hyde
  • Wampler Triple Wreck



My modulation needs are currently covered by the Boss MD-500 and the Chase Bliss modulation quadfecta, plus Tech 21 Roto Choir and TC Electronic Dreamscape - all of which I love. I already have a number of secondary fallbacks, including the Strymon Mobius, but am looking to definitely add the Empress Zoia this year, and the Strymon Flint and Lex have long been on my wishlist.

  • 3Leaf Audio Wonderlove Deluxe
  • Boss MD-500 Modulation Workstation
  • Dwarfcraft Devices Happiness Filter
  • EarthQuaker Devices Data Corrupter Frequency Oscillator
  • Empress Effects Nebulus Chorus, Vibrato & Flanger
  • Empress Effects Phaser
  • Empress Effects Tremolo
  • Empress Effects Zoia Multi-Effects Sequencer
  • Eventide H9 Max
  • Eventide ModFactor Modulation Workstation
  • Free The Tone Tri Avatar Chorus
  • Keeley Super Mod Workstation
  • KMA Machines Astrospurt Phaser
  • Neo Instruments Vent II
  • Spaceman Effects Explorer Deluxe Phaser
  • Spaceman Effects Voyager I Optical Tremolo
  • Strymon Flint Tremolo + Reverb
  • Strymon Lex Rotary
  • Strymon Mobius Modulation Workstation
  • Strymon Ola Chorus
  • Strymon Orbit Flanger
  • Subdecay Prometheus DLX
  • Subdecay Quasar DLX
  • Tech 21 NYC Roto Choir Rotary
  • Walrus Audio Vanguard Dual Phase



My rig is stereo and thus needs stereo delay and reverb at the end of the pedal-chain. I originally had the Strymon BigSky and TimeLine which are currently my secondaries, having been bumped by the Empress EchoSystem Delay and Boss RV-500 Reverb workstations. I am interested in acquiring a Boss DD-500 delay at some stage for occasional swap-out, as well as the Source Audio duo, the Strymon El Capistan and the brilliantly unique Meris Mercury and Polymoon. Also if Empress ever brings out a parallel dual effects Reverb, I would probably consider that too - oh and the GFI System Specular Tempus, which actually is the most likely next acquisition here - for occasional swaps with the RV-500. As before 'S' denotes Stereo in the above visual.

  • Boss DD-500 Delay
  • Boss RV-500 Reverb
  • EarthQuaker Devices Avalanche Run Delay + Reverb
  • Empress Effects EchoSystem Delay
  • Empress Effects Reverb
  • Eventide Space Reverb
  • Eventide TimeFactor Delay
  • Free The Tone Ambi Space Reverb
  • Free The Tone Flight Time Delay
  • GFI System Specular Tempus Delay + Reverb
  • Keeley Caverns II Delay + Reverb
  • Keeley Delay Workstation Dealy + Reverb
  • Line 6 DL4 Delay
  • Meris Mercury 7 Reverb
  • Meris Polymoon Delay
  • Pigtronix Echolution 2 Ultra Pro Delay
  • Red Panda Particle Granular Delay
  • Seymour Duncan Andromeda Delay
  • Seymour Duncan Silver Lake Reverb
  • Source Audio Nemesis Delay
  • Source Audio Ventris Reverb
  • Strymon BigSky Reverb
  • Strymon El Capistan Tape Delay
  • Strymon TimeLine Delay
  • TC Electronic ND-1 Nova Delay



I really like my utility pedals as compact as possibly, and in fact only have one of these listed in my active chain - the TC Electronic Ditto X2. I would have preferred a 2-footswitch compact version of this - I am sure it is within TC's capabilities and will materialise eventually - but there are numerous exceptional larger format loopers too - like the Pigtronix Infinity. I also don't see myself needing to jump up from the 7 EQ bands of the Boss GE-7 to 3 more in a pedal more than twice the size. The only one here that I am actively considering is the Meris Ottobit Jr - I will at some stage make it a priority to acquire that excellent smart trio of pedals.

  • Boss RC-30 Looper
  • Carl Martin Compressor Limiter
  • Carl Martin Noise Terminator Noise Gate
  • Carl Martin Tuner
  • DigiTech Trio+ Band Creator & Looper
  • Electro-Harmonix 22500 Looper
  • Electro-Harmonix Platform Stereo Compressor
  • Electro-Harmonix POG 2 Pitch-Shifter
  • Empress Effects Compressor
  • Empress Effects Parametric EQ
  • Hexe Bitcrusher III
  • Keeley Compressor Pro
  • Meris Ottobit Jr Bitcrusher & Sequencer
  • MXR M108S 10-band EQ
  • Orange Kongpressor Compressor
  • Pigtronix Infinity Looper
  • Radial Tonebone Bones Twin-City ABY Switcher
  • Sonuus Voluum Analogue Volume-based Effects
  • Strymon Deco Tape Saturation & Double Tracker
  • Strymon OB1 Compressor + Booster
  • TC Electronic Ditto X2 Looper
  • TWA Great Divide 2.0 Octaver
  • Walrus Audio Luminary Quad Octave Generator
  • Whirlwind Perfect Ten 10-band EQ
  • WMD Geiger Counter Pro


Big-footed players like Paul Gilbert prefer the larger format pedals with plenty of distance between footswitches on their pedalboards. While my preference will always be for multiple footswitches in as compact a form-factor as possible - ideally the regular size.


As stated though, for preset-loaded workstation-type pedals you really need 3 footswitches - so these larger pedals most definitely have a place in your chain - and particularly if you want stereo outs - you need the extra real-estate to accommodate the extra jack sockets. That said, I think you can do a lot more with two footswitches than is currently being done - with a combination of multi-taps, momentary stomps and using both footswitches together you can trigger a variety of functions - including stepping up through a limited number of presets. You could even double-tap to change direction - so there are various solutions already possible, which no one is putting properly into action yet. TC Electronic is doing lots of clever things already, but they currently have no dual-footswitch compact pedals - which could potentially give you presets on Flashback and Hall of Fame pedals - and make them properly usable for live action.


Generally though as I've indicated in earlier posts, pedals are consistently getting smaller and smarter. And I think they will get a good deal smarter yet in the next few years. Joel Korte at Chase Bliss Audio is leading the pack in many ways, but even he could do still more clever things with this footswitches. I say get rid of the 2-preset toggle and instead enable scrolling through presets by hitting both footswitches simultaneously - you may need some extra LED indicators, but I believe you could comfortable scroll through circa 6 presets in this manner. My Stone Deaf Tremotron has a similar system for presets and works quite well really.


More pedal-makers need to get smarter with the format - and combine analogue-through dry signal with just a digital-control and switching interface - a la Chase Bliss. Empress does very clever things with its EchoSystem and Reverb pedals - but in some ways its presets are both too few to cover all the algorithms and yet too many to recall easily!


Here's to more innovation in the future - more pedals with better signal-to-noise ratio - more silent running, with built-in noise gates, expression footswitches (MASH), preset selections and other smart multi-tap and momentary controls - the future looks very bright indeed - we just need more companies to step up and lead the way.

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Stefan Karlsson
Stefan Karlsson
Guitar Pedal X
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