TC ELECTRONIC Classic Booster + Distortion and Classic Sustain + Parametric EQ

Guitarist Orren Merton reviews TC Electronic''s Classic series of effects pedals, the Booster + Distortion and Sustain + Parametric EQ.
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Guitarist Orren Merton reviews TC Electronic''s Classic series of effects pedals, the Booster + Distortion and Sustain + Parametric EQ.
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Like the Classic Sustain + Parametric EQ pedal, the Classic Booster + Distortion is a rugged reissue of a vintage 1970s stompbox from TC Electronic.

TC Electronic enjoys a well-earned reputation for its highly sought-after analog guitar pedals. I recently spent some time playing my Koll Tornado guitar through reissued copies of two pedals introduced in the 1970s, the Classic Booster + Distortion ($395) and Classic Sustain + Parametric EQ ($395). Each furnishes a ¼-inch TS input and a ¼-inch TS output. A top-mounted footswitch lets you activate or bypass the effects. Along with an Output Level knob for adjusting volume, each pedal has a Noise Gate knob for adjusting threshold. The noise gate''s fixed attack and release times are optimized for the specific pedal.

Turbo Boost

The Classic Booster + Distortion pedal combines two effects you''ll find in every guitarist''s pedalboard, along with a noise gate to help clean up any residual noise from the rest of your effects. In the Boost position, the Boost/Distortion toggle switch can either give your signal a constant push to increase the overdrive of a tube amp, or can provide an occasional boost to push a riff or solo over the top (see Web Clip 1).

The only way to increase the amount of boost is to increase the overall gain; you can''t adjust the boost independently, as you can with some stompboxes. You can, however, adjust the boosted signal''s tone with the Bass and Treble controls. The effect can function either as a treble boost or as a more full-range boost (think Tony Iommi or Brian May). Although being able to dial in a precise boost volume would have allowed me to use the effect more subtly, I enjoyed the breadth of tone that the Bass and Treble knobs offered. The boost effect gave my clean tones just the push they needed to launch into overdrive.

The Distortion knob lets you adjust the signal from subtle warmth to a full-on rock growl, attaining a very usable and pleasing classic ''70s sound. It doesn''t achieve the disemboweling levels of gain popular in modern metal, but it doesn''t sound grainy or fizzy, either. Its distortion would be a good choice for classic hard rock or for searing lead lines against a relatively clean or lightly overdriven rhythm.


The Classic Sustain + Parametric EQ pedal provides a compression circuit and a single band of parametric equalization. Stompbox compressors often have much faster attacks than outboard studio compressors, making them better for retaining picking transients. Consequently, they''re coveted by funk and country players, who often rely on compressors to even out their fingerpicking or to add an initial thud to the attack of a razor-sharp funky guitar track (see Web Clip 2). Stompbox compressors are also prized for their ability to increase sustain, even on weak notes.

For controlling the compression amount, the pedal has a single Sustain knob; as with the noise gate, attack and release times are fixed. However, TC Electronic definitely poured some magic sauce over the compression circuit, because it sounds absolutely fantastic. Through a clean amplifier, the pedal gently evened out my picking dynamics; at higher sustain levels, it gave me that initial funk thud. Combining the sustain with overdrive gave me almost EBow-like notes.

The pedal''s Freq Center knob lets you set the parametric EQ''s frequency, and the Function knob determines how much you boost or attenuate that frequency. Pressing the High Q button selects either a very narrow bandwidth (Q) for notch or peak filter effects or a wider bandwidth for a more general boost or cut.

The parametric EQ was most useful for notching out unwanted ringing and other troublesome frequencies. The narrow Q was simply too narrow for a general boost or cut, and the wider Q was too wide; I almost felt that the pedal was competing with my amplifier''s EQ controls and they were canceling each other out. As a notch or peak effect, however, it was very effective for tailoring my guitar''s tone in combination with the amp''s EQ.

True Classics

The Classic Booster + Distortion and Classic Sustain + Parametric EQ sound terrific, and they would be useful and valuable additions to any pedalboard. They aren''t cheap, but if you''re looking for a pedal that can handle boost and distortion or one that offers compression and single-band EQ, you should give TC Electronic''s Classic reissues a serious look.

Value (1 through 5): 3

TC Electronic