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Boost and Overdrive

Jackson Audio's 4th Pedal - the Belle Starr Overdrive seems to be an Extraction and Extrapolation of the Amp-like MOSFET Boost Circuit from the Prism

BoostBoost and OverdriveEffects Pedal MakersJackson AudioOverdrive+-
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On my first coming across the brand new Belle Starr Overdrive - or signature pedal for Drew Shirley of Switchfoot, I immediately noticed the same Tone and Body controls from the Prism Boost, Buffer, EQ, Overdrive and PreAmp Pedal. The description then mentions the natural-sounding and amp-like tones of the MOSFET circuit - which kind of confirms its Prism-related DNA to me.


I’ve had the Prism Boost pretty much from launch, and it’s my always-on warming and dynamics-enhancing boost - near the start of my signal chain. While the Prism is so versatile that many players use two in their rigs - with one deployed as a boost, and the other as a core Overdrive.


Obviously there are limiting factors with the Prism as an Overdrive pedal as you don’t have a full taper on the gain, but a 3-way Low | Medium | High Gain toggle-switch. With the new Belle Starr, the Overdrive gets a full Gain control, while the Prism’s Boost knob is replaced by a more suitably named Volume control.


There are certainly likely other tweaks and refinements in the circuit to suit Drew’s playing preferences, but at its most basic level - the Belle Star definitely seems to be a Prism derivative to me.


In the wake of Spaceman’s recent more affordable Saturn VI $179 Standard Edition Harmonic Booster and Low-Gain Overdrive, it’s interesting to see Jackson Audio do a similar exercise with a more affordable and straight-laced $199 Overdrive of its own.


I already have and deploy the existing Jackson Audio Trifecta in my chain - the Prism Booster, Bloom Compressor, EQ and Blooming Boost, and Broken Arrow Programmable Overdrive and Boost. As with the Spaceman Saturn VI I feel the Jackson Audio Belle Starr is a good opportunity to get your foot on the ladder as such if you felt the previous pedals were too pricey, but neither of these new pedals is close to the best of what these highly innovative builders normally produce.


I don’t see the Belle Starr adding anything over and above my existing Jackson Audio trio, and I have more capable MOSFET-based overdrives already in my collection / Tone Library. For those who are just wanting to use the Prism as an Overdrive - then obviously you are saving $60 and getting more versatility specifically in the overdrive area - although you will forego the Treble Booster, JFET and Buffer circuits you get with the Prism.


The Belle Starr is certainly a decent sounding drive with plenty of versatility - and surely it will find plenty a happy home - for me though it does not fulfil the expectations I have for Jackson Audio pedals - I want more of what the Bloom and Broken Arrow have - the combined dual-footswitch mode selecting innovation - that stuff is truly next level - and all things considered, relatively fairly priced too.


I would much rather recommend you get the exceptionally great and more versatile Broken Arrow ($279) - unless you really do want things to be as simple as possible - and are not interested in state of the art hybrid analog circuits with smart digital controls!

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Stefan Karlsson
Stefan Karlsson
Guitar Pedal X
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