This is no ordinary boost, and built in the USA by a sound engineer, Jim Hagerman. And as I tweaked the knobs I knew there was something unique about this boost pedal. Depending on where you place the Ungain knob (relative to working with a clean vs. dirty amp, or single coils vs. humbuckers), there is a wide range of sound characteristics that can be achieved. When turned low, just at parity, the tone livens up (clears up), which means an improved tone without any boosting. So far, so good. The clarity achieved with this pedal is due in part of the buffered bypass when not in use, but also that it adds no color when on. As you add boost slightly to the signal and beyond parity (knob rotated counterclockwise with this pedal), the tone seems to expand in scope while adding some dB in the mix. Once past 2-o’clock (for humbuckers) or 12-noon (for single coil), there is an obvious overdrive occurring with the boost. This is exemplified in the accompanying demo, as I work with clean, crunch and hi-gain amps, and with single-coil and humberbucker guitars.
As Jim Hagerman explained, “all boosts end up getting dirty at some point, even those running at 18V. This one (the Hagerman Boost) falls apart very nicely. At maximum gain it can only handle 300mV input and remain clean – that would be with single coils. A humbucker would start to clip, but you also would not need as much gain for a given output. It will push 6Vpp (peak-to-peak) output cleanly. That's a lot!”
He further adds, “6Vpp is signal amplitude. Single coils put out roughly 0.15 units. Humbuckers 0.6 units. The boost will amplify cleanly to a level
of 3.0 units. That's 5 times higher (louder) than a humbucker. The Hagerman Boost can amplify 10x. At maximum gain it turns a single coil signal of 0.15 units into one with 1.5 units.”
The Hagerman Boost produces clean, noise-free gain using expensive matched JFET pairs; consequently, the discrete circuitry “delivers pure amplification,” which helps to preserve your guitar’s tone. But what makes this boost even more appealing is that you can have a Broadband Boost or a Treble Boost. The Broadband option (Tone button pushed down) seriously fattens up the tone, making it ideal for single-coil or thin sounding pickups, for fat creamy leads or to add some serious bottom end to heavy riffing. The Treble Boost sounds incredible for crunch and riffing, and will cut through any mix. It offers a high-pass corner at 700Hz and is dialed in just right. I’ve worked with other treble boosts and there’s always as issue of dialing in to that sweet spot, whereas the Hagerman Boost delivers very well in that regard and without any thought.
Jim Hagerman claims this is the highest performing silicon boost pedal you can buy, and he may be right on that front. For $129 USD this is one great sounding Boost that behaves a little differently from other boosts I’ve experienced. I also find the overall boost range very usable. Placing the Ungain knob at parity or up full provides a very suitable dB gain without sounding ridiculous (some boosts go to such extremes that you never would use the top half, unless you wanted to dominate your drummer, bassist and keyboardist). Although it pumps out upward of 19dB, the volume does not become over-bearing.
I already reviewed the Hagerman Tube Overdrive and the Hagerman Phase (also silicon-based), and both definitely are studio grade and should be investigated, as well. The size of a regular pedal, the Hagerman Boost comes with a 10-year warranty and requires 9V to 12V input (negative center pin) while consuming only 7mA of power.