In GI issue 19 Rick Graham was so impressed with Tech 21's Boost Distortion and Boost Overdrive pedals that we dialled-up two more for him - a fuzz and a chorus. Can the New Jersey-based manufacturer maintain such a high standard right across the range?
Regular readers (you are regular readers I hope?!) will recall that in issue 19 I reviewed two US-made Tech 21 pedals - a Boost Distortion and a Boost Overdrive, concluding that they were really excellent stomp boxes of the highest quality.
To save you nipping back to issue 19 to read the earlier reviews just now, let me repeat here what I said about the technical details they share. Maybe after you've read this issue's reviews, then you can go back to hear for yourselves why I liked the previous two so much!
So, to recap, like all of Tech 21's pedals, the company says its Boost Fuzz is constructed using high quality individually-selected, hand-biased, discreet components, aimed at delivering optimised performance with studio-quiet operation. The distinctive feature of all the 'Boost' range is a very useful boost function.
TECH 21 BOOST FUZZ
The Boost Fuzz features four main rotary controls which are, from left to right: Level, Tone, Drive and Sag, with the Boost control being located directly underneath these. It delivers up to an impressive 21dB of clean boost, which can be used independently from the actual effect itself. It is a true post-boost, which means that it raises the level of the original signal, without smothering it in unwanted distortion. In use, the Boost Fuzz pedal seems to me to take us back a decade even further than the Boost Overdrive - to the 1960s, in fact.
Right from the outset the Boost Fuzz did an exceptionally good job of recreating that classic creamy germanium fuzz sound. Tweaking the tone control allowed for a variety of different fuzz sounds and with the help of some suggested settings supplied with the pedal, it was easy to recreate the sounds of some classic but different sounding fuzz pedals. It's easy to hear the wide ranging fuzz tones simply by sweeping the tone control from min to max. The Sag control really works well with this pedal and allows for a very pronounced pick attack, resulting in a remarkably dynamic and organic sounding tone with seemingly endless sustain. Pair this up with a slightly overdriven amp and you're in Hendrix territory in no time at all!
Lots of pedals today claim to recreate the classic germanium fuzz sound but very few are actually capable of doing a good job of it. I'm happy to report that Tech 21's Boost Fuzz,on the other hand, does it exceptionally well, making it a sure fire winner for those with their ears firmly hooked on those unique '60's sounds. A superb pedal!
TECH 21 BOOST CHORUS
The Boost Chorus pedal features six main rotary controls which are, from left to right: Mix, Tone, Speed, Pre-Delay, Level and Depth Controls. The Mix allows you to control how much of the chorus sound you want i.e. min is dry and max is wet. Speed control is the speed of the chorus effect. Next is the Pre-Delay, which alters the chorus range to produce effects from flange/chorus, to regular chorus, to chorus/doubler. The Level control offers increasing amounts of boost to
compensate for the perceived volume loss with the chorus. Finally, the Depth alters the chorus depth. The pedal also features a bonus in the Multi Voice switch, which allows for multiple chorus voices of an ensemble-style effect.
The main focus behind the Boost Chorus is the recreation of the rich and smooth sounding Chorus effects prevalent in the '70s but adding some new features that allow the pedal to achieve slapback, echo, flanging and doubling effects.
Once again, the pedal immediately impressed. This one delivers high quality, beautifully full and rich chorus effects with pristine sound quality. While it's relatively simple to get your head around, there is plenty of room for creating a wide variety of effects too, so it comes in very handy to refer to the suggested settings that Tech 21 have provided. You'll find settings which emulate some of the classic pedals of that era, such styles as CE-1, CE-2, Micro Chorus, Small Clone, Poly Chorus, Tri-mode Chorus amongst others. The multi-voice switch proved to be a great extra, adding dimension and thickening the sound with additional choral voicings. This seemed to work very well with an overdriven signal.
The Boost Chorus by Tech 21 is quite simply a fantastic Chorus pedal. I'm at risk of repeating myself, but what else can I say? All four of these Tech 21 units were simply of the highest quality. Not the cheapest but clearly among the best pro units around.