Monday, November 2, 2009

It starts with the letter T

Sonic Box, definitely not just a cool name. This outfit specializes in building a fantastic line of great sounding custom effects pedals. If you're looking to up your game and throw a little class into your setup this is most certainly the way to go. I will admit it is tuff to come across something special these days, with all the pedal companies out there it is hard to know who sports great sound and who is just looks. Luckily for us Sonic Box has both, exceptionally well built stompboxes with simple artwork that gets the message across sharply, and a sound quality that will shake your tone nerve to the roots. Like most of my favorite pedal companies Sonic Box is run by one man, Dmitry. The attention to detail and quality of these pedals have had us hungry for more, we cannot wait to hear what the rest of Dmitry's pedals sound like. For now we have a take on an old favorite, read on and enjoy.

Sonic Box
Custom Effects Pedals

T Boost
pure Germanium boost

Just look at this beauty of a stompbox, killer look, killer artwork, and sound to match. In the world of stompboxes there are many different kinds of pedals. Some focus on looks, building pedals with numerous buttons, giddy artwork, and blinking lights. Some pay no mind to looks and build simple looking boxes that run all muscle under the hood. Then every once and a while there is that beautiful in-between, those pedals that give a bit of both in a perfectly balanced package. When I first got the T Boost I couldn't stop just staring at it, the airbrushed graphics just jumped out from the enclosure, a real piece of art. Then I plugged it in and everything fell into place like a wonderful song. The T Boost is a Germanium booster based on the ever so famous Dallas Rangemaster. If you're reading this article and follow this blog chances are you know or have come across a Rangemaster yourself. Treble boosters are effects pedals that have a very distinctive sound, the treble booster is a pedal that has worked wonders for so many guitar players helping to create some of the most memorable tones in rock and roll history. It was the heavyweight guitarists of England that first popularized this simple and effective guitar pedal. It was cats like Eric Clapton, Brian May, Tony Iommi, Marc Bolan, Ritchie Blackmore, and Rory Gallagher (who is not English but Irish) who first brought some attention to the treble booster. These guitar giants would make their tones famous with this killer stompbox, knocking out some of the most memorable licks to ever fly out of a guitar amp. Throughout the years many different people copied, tried t copy, and took their own spin of this style pedal. I take my hat off to Sonic Box for one the best sounding treble boosters to ever land in our streets, studios, and pedalboards. So what separates this treble booster from the many that are out there today? What is it that makes this pedal so special? I will tell you what, let's take a look shall we? First let's start with the T Boost's looks, you cannot deny that is one sexy looking stompbox. There is nothing better than a pedal that not only sounds great but looks super hip. Everyone digs great looking gear no matter who you are. There is just something about cool looking gear that appeals to everyone. Next is the pedal's heart, the NOC OC75 Germanium transistor that gives it it's musical nirvana and magic. The first treble boosters used these exact and similar transistors. This is how the T Boost is capable of producing great sounding classic rock tones, woman tones if you will. Some cats hear "treble booster" and they think right away the pedal must boost the high tones of your sound. Errrr, wrong! You don't know how many cats I have ran into that have shined on this pedal before even trying it. The way a treble booster works is the higher the frequency or sound you put into it, the more DB's of great saturated boost you get. It works perfectly with your picking dynamics balancing the way you want your notes to ring out. It is amazing how tight the T Boost keeps lows and how great it sounds at both low and loud levels. Some of the newer treble boosters I have played sound great at low levels, it's when you turn things up that your eq goes to hell. The old school Rangemaster treble boosters did not have a switch, it was either on or off. The Sonicbox T Boost does sport a switch, sports a Range knob which works as a frequency control, and a Boost switch which is what gives you your level of grit, boost, and grime. You will be surprised just how many different tones you can get with these two controls. First we tested the pedal at high levels, bumping our English style amp into a slight overdrive and letting the T Boost take it further into tonal heaven. The sound was like an explosion of harmonics and tone, like it's always on the verge of going into a feedback frenzy but staying just outside of it to give you that special tone that works great with everything. This is a "more you put into it more you get" style pedal, by which I mean the harder you strum or strike your chords the dirtier your sound becomes. I'm a huge fan of the rhythm playing styles of Tom Petty and Neil Young, the way strike their chords to produce some dirty strings and some clean is freakin awesome! With the T Boost I'm able to have that kind of control over my playing and also get a great dirty tone when wanted, it is absolutely beautiful. You set the knobs to work with your picking style so you get the best possible sound out of your amp. Another sweet characteristic about the T Boost is it's ability to clean up by simply rolling off on your guitar's volume knob. This is one of the few pedals I have played that didn't rob me of my spice once rolling back the guitar's volume. The reason for this is because this is what it's built for, this is how a great treble works. This was also how I was able to get all my semi-clean tones, dirty rhythm tones, and lead tones. I set my main semi-clean tone with the amp alone, used the pedal to push me into my leads and overdrives, then used the guitar's volume to dial in everything in between. For a pedal with only two knobs it is extremely versatile. If you want an absolutely clean tone all you have to do is shut it off, a definite upgrade from the originals. If you think about it the concept of the treble booster is quite old school, it is one of the first devices used to achieve dirty gritty tones. Later pedals like the TS808 would come through for us, then distortion boxes like the DS-1, the Rat, and so on and so on. There are stompboxes that work to shape one particular sound, pedals that do many things, and pedals that can handle a few different areas. One really cool thing about the T Boost is it's ability to hand you different flavors by playing it through different pickups. After running the T Boost through some high gain settings we backed off a bit and played it through a completely clean Fender tone. Once engaged the T Boost added to the crisp, rich, and bright tones of the amp while keeping the lows tight and mids balanced. Through a Strat the sound stayed clean for the most part, dishing out hints hairy goodness. This sound works perfectly for music such as funk, blues, classic rock, and even jazz. I was blown away when I plugged my semi-hollow body and heard those thumpy, deep, and round jazz tones. The quality in the boost really enhances the spank, full frequency, and signature sound of the Stratocaster. Next I threw a clean booster in front of the T Boost, this pushed the pedal into an even richer fuller sound. Stacking it with another Germanium based stompbox really created some interesting and usable sounds. Just like one does with two Tubescreamers, or any other pedal. The more we pushed into the T Boost the meatier the drive got, rock and roll all the way. Next was playing the pedal through "Lady", my custom Tele, humbucker in the neck, single coil bridge, and push/pull Rothwell CLK knob for shaping different tones out if the bucker. When it comes to putting pedals through their paces there is no better guitar for the job than Lady. The T Boost passed with flying colors delivering some fantastic sounding clean, overdrive, and fuzz tones. You can really hear the characteristics of the Germanium transistor go to work, it fills the room with a sound Clapton would be proud of. As I moved up the neck and hit the higher frets I could hear the transistor do it's magic, it cut through the air like samurai blade. I love that Sonic Box stayed true to the vintage treble boosters of our day and at the same time added some much needed improvements. These old faithful little boxes that have made so many hits for us will always have a place in our rigs. As long as rock stays true there will be a need for pedals like the Sonic Box T Boost. Like I always say, "Let'em hear you scream!!!"

For more info on Sonic Box go to There are a handful of really cool pedals for you to check out there, we are stoked to try them all! Stay tuned for more info on Sonic Box to come in the near future. Oh yeah!!!!



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