In this article for today, we’ll go over the very best 12 Mini/Small Distortion Pedals available in 2023. The article brings you a dozen hand-picked options and the information you’ll need to equip yourself with to make an informed decision.
We could’ve pointed at one, but unfortunately, there’s no universal best distortion pedal. Instead, the requirements of individuals determine which distortion pedal suits them best. In this article, you’ll get to read about the pedals we’ve carefully selected, keeping diverse needs and requirements in mind.
For those of you who are new to effect pedals entirely, the purpose of effect pedals is to collect the signal from your musical instrument and reproduce an enhanced or altered signal based on the nature of the pedal.
Distortion pedals provide a heavier, enriching effect ideal for hard rock and heavy metal music. Mini pedals typically have fewer options but are dedicated to their cause, and thereby a great way to start for beginners.
With the wide variety of pedals and the sheer competition from known and unknown brands, it’s no surprise that the market is beyond flooded with options, but before you start feeling overwhelmed, know that the purpose of this article is to reduce the confusion significantly.
We’ve streamlined it all for you, and each of the effect pedals on the list is exceptional and the best in its way. We’ve only selected the finest brands, including Ibanez, MXR, Xotic, Wampler, TC Electronics, NUX, Nobels, Darkglass, and Stax.
The world of distortion effect pedals awaits. Let’s rock on through. Our quest starts now.
Do mini pedals sound as good as regular ones?
The mini pedals sound just as good as regular-sized effect pedals. In fact, in some ways, they’re better than their larger counterparts. They produce the same sound while having a much smaller form factor. Obviously, this factor also makes mini pedals weigh less and easier to carry.
The smaller size also means that you’ll be able to pack a greater number of these pedals on a pedal board than regular-sized pedals. Plus, most mini pedals host fewer features, which means they pack less confusion and quite possibly carry a much smaller price tag.
Although some debate can be stirred as to what size of effect pedals are best, the general consensus is that Mini pedals are the perfect place to start for beginners. These pedals are simplistic and mostly do precisely what they’re made for.
12 Best Mini/Small Distortion Pedals 2023
1. Ibanez Tube Screamer Mini
Contrary to size, this mini green effect pedal packs quite the punch.
Ibanez was founded in 1908 by Hoshino Gaggi. Initially, the company was popular for being one of the major sheet music distributors in the city of Nagoya, Japan. Ever since Ibanez has become one of the world’s finest manufacturers of Music Instruments.
The company’s music equipment is the preferred choice for Megastars like Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, Paul Gilbert, Paul Waggoner, Martin Miller, Tom Quayle, Paul Stanley, Yvette Young, Scott LePage, Jake Bowen, Lari Basilio, Tim Henson, and many more.
- Hardware, Layout, Build Quality & Dimensions
Encased in a solid green exterior, the mini effects pedal has 3 control knobs, an LED indicator, and a footswitch to sum up the front of the device. There’s a single input socket on the right panel and a single output on the left of the device. The rear panel hosts a ‘Power’ socket. The device has a solid exterior, and the paint job has a high-quality gloss finish. The pedal measures 15.24 cm x 10.16 cm x 7.62 cm and weighs 0.136 kg.
- Control Knobs
The pedal keeps the same 3 controls as the original Tube Screamer, but 2 of the 3 control knobs are much smaller in size, allowing for the much smaller form factor. These control knobs are placed at the device’s top-right and top-left corner. These controls can adjust the ‘Level’ and ‘Tone’ of the effect, while the larger, more prominent control knob sets the pedal’s ‘Overdrive’ effect.
- Power & LED Indicator
The device can be powered by a DC 9V AC center-negative adapter and requires a current of 18mA@9V to function. The mini pedal allows true bypass, a handy inclusion that may be considered a Gig saver. A bright red indicator is placed in between the 2 smaller control knobs. This indicator lights up to denote power. There is no battery compartment, so the pedal may only be powered via a power supply.
Character & Sound:
The pedal, indicative of its name, is essentially a shrunken-down version of the iconic Tube Screamer, especially in terms of sound. The mini carries the same classic Tube Screamer sound but has an extra bite. This mini pedal produces a crystal clean tone and a surprising punch ideal for rock n roll music.
The mini effect pedal packs great effects in a compact package. The device is built like a tank. The pedal allows true bypass, which is a very handy feature indeed. The device is versatile, easy to use, and provides excellent value for money.
Some users have pointed out that there is room for improvement regarding the Level control knob. The device packs fewer features than the original effect pedal of the same name. Some pedals at the same price point offer more features. There’s no battery power option.
2. MXR Timmy Overdrive Mini
Here’s a minuscule pedal from MXR’s custom shop range that packs a serious punch.
Being the brainchild of Paul Cochran, the world-renowned pedal manufacturer, the original Timmy Overdrive unit would be manufactured by hand. This would make production slower, and the Timmy Overdrive pedal hard to come by.
To overcome this issue and to match the sheer demand for these wonderful overdrive pedals, MXR decided to collaborate with Paul. The product of this joint effort is the “Mini” version of the Timmy Overdrive that’s as good as the original but takes much less space on your board.
- Volume & Gain
This mini pedal features four control knobs. To the bottom left is where you’ll find the master “Volume” that helps the Timmy Custom Shop pedal cut through the mix. The “Gain” control is where all the magic happens. Start from the far left and turn the knob slightly up to the 10 o’clock position for a little bit of dirt. This setting is ideal for crunch tones. As you move in a clockwise direction, more distortion is added to the tone, so you can throw in some pinch harmonics to make that guitar squeal.
- Bass & Treble
You also get a two-band equalizer on this little wonder pedal from MXR. The pedal is wired, so the “Bass” control is pre-gain, whereas the “Treble” control is post-gain. Add low-end girth using the Bass knob when the gain is set low. The treble control can help control how bright you want your tone to be at higher distortion settings. Furthermore, contrary to standard equalizer controls, the Bass and Treble knobs won’t boost but only cut the relevant frequencies.
- Clip & Footswitch
The “Clip” button at the top is very unique. You can toggle between “Light Compression,” “Wide Open,” and “Compressed” settings using the switch. The first mode is all about uneven clipping with mid-level saturation and an ever-so-gentle compression setting for a wider sound. The bigger-sounding Wide Open setting is ideal for more headroom and subtle saturation. In addition, this setting provides symmetrical clipping, much like the Compressed mode, that offers a lesser headroom but heavy distortion.
- Connectivity & Technicalities
The 9V power input is top mounted on this unit, while there’s an instrument input on the right panel. To the left is the output jack for connecting to the next effects unit or a guitar amplifier. The single foot switch activates or bypasses the effect. The Timmy Overdrive pedal has a true hardwire bypass. With an input impedance of 400kΩ, the unit has an output resistance of 1kΩ. Finally, the Gain can be set between 3 dBV and 43 dBV.
Character & Sound:
This little pedal produces the best results with a clean or semi-clean tube amplifier. Keep the Gain knob anywhere between 10 o’clock and noon for a slightly dirty rhythm tone. Loop it and bust a face-melting solo by cranking the knob fully clockwise. The cut-only Bass and Treble controls allow decent tone shaping.
Guitar enthusiasts will greatly benefit from Paul Cochran and MXR joining forces. The Timmy Overdrive is now readily available and comes at an affordable price. With two equalizer controls and plenty of Gain and Volume, this pedal is great for rockers everywhere.
Although the Treble and Bass controls are wired to be cut-only controls, maybe an option to boost the concerned frequencies would be a good addition. The Timmy Overdrive unit measures only 1.75 inches by 2.25 inches by 3.6 inches, so the pedal isn’t battery-powered.
3. Xotic EP Booster Mini Boost
This classic-looking mini effect pedal is the company’s top-selling product to date.
Xotic has always constructed its equipment with premium quality, extraordinary durability, and great functionality in mind. Each component is thoroughly tested by engineers to ensure that the company’s equipment only provides artistically satisfying sound.
In 2009, Xotic experienced a surge in popularity in the market. As a result, the increasing demand for Xotic products forced the company to the decision of moving out of a garage in the San Fernando Valley to production offices located in Van Nuys, California.
- Design, Layout & Dimensions
This offering from Xotic bares a classic look owing much to the use of black and silver. The face of the pedal hosts a transparent control knob, with an LED indicator just beneath, followed by the prominent mention of the model, company, and country of manufacturing. The Footswitch at the base balances the design as it lands on the silver border that goes around the face of the device. You’ll find 2 quarter-inch jacks on the left and right sides and a power socket at the device’s rear side. You’ll find a ‘Dip switch at the base of the device.’ The pedal measures 8.89 m x 3.81 cm x 3.81 cm and weighs just over a quarter of a kg at 0.260 kg.
- Gain Control & Dip Switch
The transparent ‘Gain’ control knob looks unique. You can adjust the device’s Gain by turning this knob on either side. At its default settings, the knob produces a minimum of +3dB. The tiny Dip switch segment houses 2 switches labeled ‘1’ and ‘2.’ Switch 1 is for ‘Bass Boost,’ while the other switch is for ‘Bright.’
- Footswitch, LED indicator & Power
The Footswitch is essentially an ‘on/off switch’ for the ‘Effect.’ It can be used to activate the effect or deactivate the effect, allowing ‘True Bypass.’ The LED indicator is a ‘Power status’ indicator and lights up blue when the device is powered on. The effect pedal can be powered by a 9V DC power supply and requires 5mA of current to function properly.
Character & Sound:
This offering by Xotic is based on the Preamp section of the iconic Echoplex, a classic delay unit. Xotic noticed that many users of the Echoplex only used its preamp for its noticeable saturated tone and decided to incorporate the tone and character of the Echoplex into this mini-effect pedal. When the knob is pointed at noon, you’ll get a clean boost with a subtle volume nudge. Turning the knob to its right extreme will introduce a nice well-defined saturated driven tone, and to the left extreme will allow a great volume boost.
This effect pedal from Xotic adds a great thickness to your sound. You’ll also be getting Echoplex sound. The pedal incorporates a classic design and has a very strong build. The simplicity of a single ‘Gain’ control knob makes this device an excellent choice for beginners.
Although the device packs fair value, the price will exceed expectations for many. You’ll be able to find effect pedals with the same specs for much less or pedals with more features available for the same price. Some users have complained that the pedal isn’t very powerful.
4. Wampler Plexi-Drive Mini Overdrive
Here’s a Wampler pedal from the lab of the ever-so-creative Mr. Brian Wampler.
Over the years, the Plexi-Drive pedal has evolved in its shape, controls, and capabilities. This Mini overdrive pedal is a condensed version of the original and much larger Plexi-Drive Deluxe that has a dual footswitch design and lots of knobs and switches.
In this minuscule iteration, you get much of the same flavors of distortion but in a smaller housing that will easily fit on even the most cramped pedal boards. And, of course, with a smaller form factor comes a much more affordable price tag.
- Volume & Gain
At a glance, this pedal will seem simple with just three knobs on the user interface but bear with us. The rather obvious “Volume” knob controls the pedal’s volume. The “Gain” knob is how the Plexi-Drive earns its stripes. Moving this knob counter clockwise intensifies the overdrive. For sight crunch, keep the Gain knob at a lower setting.
The pedal provides lots of tone-shaping options. The “Tone” knob helps you set the representation of the bass or treble in your overall sound. Moving the knob to the left will enhance the bass, while turning it up will create a brighter, more open sound.
- Bass Switch
You’ll also find a couple of switches on the Plexi-Drive Mini that provide more tone-shaping options. Firstly, the “Bass” toggle switch brings into play a change in the input capacitor to give the user more control over the lower end. The switch helps toggle between bass boost and bass cut modes. This feature can be used in several ways depending on the Gain setting. At lower levels of Gain, the bass boost works better and vice versa. You can manipulate this switch to make your distortion sound tighter.
- Mid Switch
Another exciting feature on the pedal is the “Mid” switch that alters the Gain stage and equalizer settings. Turn the switch on to experience more distortion and greater presence of the middle frequencies. The sonic changes experienced by flipping this switch are reminiscent of how a Wampler Tumnus pedal would sound when placed before a Marshall “Plexi” amp.
- Power & Connectivity
This compact unit is too tiny to fit a battery in. However, the Plexi-Drive Mini can be used with a power supply that delivers anywhere between 9V & 18V. Towards the right is the solitary input jack with a quarter-inch output jack on the opposite side.
Character & Sound:
You can conjure all sorts of distorted tones with this little bad boy. The more seasoned guitar players will quickly pick up on what the name represents. “Plexi” refers to the infamous Marshall 100-watt Tube Amp Head that played a big part in shaping the overall sound of rock and roll. From British crunch tones to all-out gut-busting distortion and everything in between, the Plexi-Drive Mini will add an authentic Marshall sound to your current setup.
This uniquely designed pedal from Wampler delivers with great accuracy the sought-after tones emanating from the Marshall 100-watt head. Not only can you dial as much distortion as you desire, but the Tone knob and cleverly engineered Bass and Treble switches help further tweak your sound.
Can’t take anything away from how well this miniature pedal is set up. However, the Wampler Plexi-Drive Deluxe would be a better option for those who hunger and thirst for more. You not only get additional equalizer controls but an extra Boost switch, too.
5. TC Electronic Spark Mini Boost
The pearl white and subtle gold color really make this pedal pop from the rest.
Kim and John Rishoj founded TC Electronics in 1976. The company owed much of its initial success to its SCF (Stereo Chorus Pitch Modulator and Flanger). Since then, TC Electronics has gone on to produce music equipment that has inspired musicians all over the globe.
In 2017, the company was accredited with the ‘Guitar Invention of the Year’ award to accompany the multiple Awards it received at NAMM’s ‘Hall of Fame’ in 1985. Musicians such as George Michael, Mike Patron, Imogen Heap, and John Petrucci all prefer TC Electronics equipment.
- Looks & Feel
The bold design, coupled with the white and gold color, really makes this pedal a sight to behold. The labels for the control knob, footswitch, input, and output have all been incorporated into the design. The device measures 10.16 cm x 6.35 cm x 5.59 cm and has a weight of 0.227 kg, similar to most mini-effect pedals. The top of the device features a big ‘Level’ control knob, an LED indicator, and a ‘Footswitch, while the sides host quarter-inch jacks for ‘Input’ and ‘Output.’ You’ll also find the ‘Power’ socket on the right side, just above the Input jack.
- Level Control, LED Indicator, Footswitch & Power
When the booster is activated, the large Level control knob can be used to set the level. The LED indicator between the control knob and footswitch serves as a ‘Power’ status indicator and lights up when the device is powered on. The ‘Footswitch’ can be clicked to turn the pedal on or off, but it also has a second function. The footswitch can also be held down to activate or deactivate the ‘PrimeTime’ mode. The pedal can only be powered by a 9V power supply.
Character & Sound:
This effect pedal provides a clean boost. This TC Electronic offering can raise the volume of your sound by 20dB impressively. You’ll notice an increase in drive as you rotate the single-level control knob rightward, making this pedal especially great for solos.
The royal design and colors look great. The build quality and materials used are great too. The design is compact, so it’ll save space on the pedal board. The ease of use this device brings makes it an ideal option for beginners and those who prefer simplicity.
This TC Electronic effect pedal can only be powered by a power supply. There’s no battery compartment. The pedal lacks some crucial features offered by the larger original Spark Booster, so the company sacrificed functionality while deciding to release the smaller-sized variant.
6. NUX Horseman Overdrive
The company called NUX is certainly no slouch when it comes to pedals and effects processors.
The Horseman Overdrive is by far the best pedal in NUX’s catalog. You guitar veterans out there will surely know what the think tanks at NUX were going for with this pedal. If you were on the verge of spilling your life savings to get your hands on a Klon Centaur Overdrive pedal, think again.
The carefully named “Horseman” pedal mimics the classic Centaur from the 1990s with extreme precision. And where the Centaur costs thousands of dollars, this little noise box from NUX comes at a jaw-dropping price of less than a hundred bucks.
- Treble & Gain
This three-knob unit can quickly become your go-to pedal for heavy metal and beyond. The “Treble” and “Gain” knobs work slightly differently from what you may have seen on other overdrive effects units. Firstly, the Gain knob will control the overdrive of just the low-end and middle frequencies. The Treble control, on the other hand, will affect the gain of just the treble frequencies. The great thing about this option is that this individual control over the frequency spectrum delivers more girthy overdriven tones.
- Output & Modes
The third and final knob on the pedal is for the “Output” level and acts as a volume control for the Horseman Overdrive. There’s only a single footswitch on this tiny metallic box. However, there’s more to it than meets the eye. While the switch activates and bypasses the unit, you can long press it to enter the Horseman Overdrive into its “Silver” mode.
- Gold & Silver Modes
NUX has managed to put in two separate modes in this tiny unit. Gold is the Horseman pedal’s default mode which recreates the sounds reminiscent of the vintage golden Centaur unit from decades ago. But if you’re looking for an additional gain stage that offers a wider range, the Silver mode is just what you need.
Simply plug your guitar into the input on the right panel and hook the pedal to an amp through the quarte-inch output towards the left. The top-mounted power input accommodates 18V giving the pedal more headroom. Apart from the pedal’s undisputed ability to offer almost unlimited overdrive, the Horseman is equally effective as a clean boot pedal. Simply keep the gain at a lower setting and increase the pedals Output.
Character & Sound:
Measuring just 2 inches by 3.7 inches by 2 inches, you’ll be surprised at what the Horseman delivers regarding sound. If you’re going for the big, expansive overdriven tone, you’ll be amazed at what this unit can do. The sound isn’t muddy, and you get great tonal articulation with an immensely thick low end.
It’s pretty amazing how such a compact unit gets you so close to the Klon Centaur’s tone we’ve all grown to love. With two separate modes and independent controls over different frequency ranges, you’ll surely get your money’s worth with the NUX Horseman Overdrive pedal.
Not to take anything away from this minuscule pedal, but when you have something this loud on your pedalboard, there will be substantial noise. Be sure to have a decent noise gate next to it to quell any unwanted tonal artifacts. Other than that, the Horseman is surely worth checking out.
7. MXR M293 Booster Mini Boost
This no-nonsense mini pedal comes in a sick-looking brushed metal look.
In 1972, more than 50 years ago, Terry Sherwood and Keith Barr co-Founded MXR. The Company is thereby one of the most well-established in this entire list and is considered by 1 of the 3 most prestigious music equipment companies in the world.
MXR musicians include the likes of Billie Joe Armstrong, Josh Paul, Tom Morello, Jim Root, John Petrucci, Billy Gibbons, and Slash. Globally acclaimed bands such as Metallica, Trivium, and Smashing Pumpkins prefer using music equipment by MXR.
- Appearance & Build Quality
The metallic silver look is indicative of the heavy-duty materials and the solid build quality. It is shaped like most other mini-effect pedals but feels great in hand. At first glance, you’ll also notice that the face of the pedal carries 2 prominent shiny black control knobs, followed by the ‘MXR’ and ‘booster’ logos and then a shiny chrome footswitch with an LED indicator just below. The device’s right hosts a quarter-inch Input jack, whereas the quarter-inch Output jack can be found on the left side. The device’s base is plain except for a smaller ‘MXR’ logo and 4 plus-screws for all 4 corners to securely fasten the device.
- Control knobs, Footswitch & Power
The pedal comes equipped with 2 control knobs for ‘Volume’ and ‘Tone.’ The Volume control knob can raise the boost level to +2dB. The Tone knob can be used to roll off higher frequencies. The Footswitch can turn the effect on or allows bypass. The blue LED indicator will light up when the effect is active. The ‘Power’ socket is located at the rear of the device, and you can power this offering by MXR via an MXR Brick Series power supply or a 9V Dunlop power adapter (ECB003). The device has no battery compartment and cannot be powered by a battery.
Character & Sound:
The MXR M293 combines two classic MXR pedals, the Echoplex Preamp and the Micro Amp. The 23dB clean boost you get with this tiny booster pedal is great, as it allows you to position the unit anywhere in your effects chain for great tonal results. You can also try placing your M293 near your distortion pedals to add compression and tightness. The pedal responds well to delay and reverb effects too.
Built like a tank with premium materials, the mini pedal provides a variety of impressive combination drive tones. The device gets great compression from the Echoplex side. You’ll also be getting substantial tone control. The MXR offering introduces a nice body to the single coils.
The hidden trim pot, placed within the chassis of the pedal, can prove to be a real hassle to reach. The task can become increasingly difficult when you’re on the go. You feel that a dedicated knob could’ve really eliminated the problem.
8. Nobels ODR-Mini Overdrive
The German brand Nobels has created many versions of the ODR overdrive pedal over the years.
The vintage ODR-1 was released in the early 90s when the pedal was manufactured in Korea. Production was later shifted to China to keep the cost under control. The layout, colors, and graphics may have changed with every repetition, but the essence hasn’t changed.
The internal circuitry has now found its way into a much smaller housing that delivers the same overdriven goodness from year past. The older units were much bulkier, and the knobs and controls weren’t sturdy. However, the modern Mini version will impress you in various ways.
The pedal has a simple layout with three knobs to adjust different parameters. Starting from the right, you’ll find the “Level” knob that acts as a volume control for the pedal. You can use this control to cut through the mix. Next is the most essential “Drive” control to vary the amount of saturation or drive.
The commonly seen Tone knob is missing on this overdrive pedal. You’ll find a “Spectrum” knob on the ODR-Mini instead. The clever wordplay suggests that the knob must have something to do with various tonal frequencies. On closer inspection, you’ll notice how the lower end and low mids are enhanced when the Spectrum knob is moved counterclockwise. Setting the knob anywhere before the noon position creates a warmer sound, ideal for blues. As the knob is moved past noon, you’ll hear a harder tone that works best for rock music and metal.
- Sound Samples & More
Although using the pedal is a walk in the park, you’ll find plenty of very usable sound samples in the documentation that comes with the unit. You can dial in anywhere from “Crunchy Blues,” “Standard Blues,” and “Standard Blues Solo” effects to more aggressive “Hardrock Rhythm” and “Hardrock Solo” sounds. In terms of the I/O options, the pedal has a quarter-inch input and output jack on either side and a top-mounted power input that takes in 9V. Darkness can be misleading when you’re on stage, but the ODR-Mini, as cool as it is, has glow-in-the-dark knobs to help you navigate with ease. Finally, the ODR has a true bypass which can be toggled when the solitary footswitch is pressed.
Character & Sound:
ODR mini offers a lot of low-end emphasis when activated. Apart from the wide overdrive range available to the user, the pedal’s Spectrum knob makes it equally suited to different genres of music. There’s also a slightly larger ODR-1 variant that offers a bass cut switch to make the tone sound a lot tighter.
With plenty of gain to excite the metalhead in you and as exciting Spectrum control to manipulate different frequencies simultaneously, the ODR Mini will surely be the apple of your eye. Blue, Jazz, Rock, Metal, regardless of what you fancy, this Nobels unit is for you.
By and large, the pedal does a great job of dishing out tight overdriven tones. The only drawback, perhaps, is the knobs. While they’ve got glow-in-the-dark markers, a neat feature, they’re not very sturdy and are easily knocked out of position inadvertently.
9. Darkglass Microtubes B1K Distortion Mini
This futuristic-looking pedal comes with a hidden pack of features that may surprise you.
In the year 2009, a Chilean Engineer, Douglas Castro, founded Darkglass Electronics. The company’s headquarters are located in Helsinki, Finland. The company is among the youngest to have its product on this list, which is an impressive feat.
Darkglass’s product line is impressive, to say the least. It includes some stunning effect pedals primarily made for bass guitarists. Some cater to overdrive, while others are geared toward compression and Fuzz. Darkglass pedals always cause a stir in the market, and this one is no different.
This black brick-shaped mini pedal incorporates a design that makes it stand out. The matte black paint job adds subtlety to the overall look, and the silver concentric knob truly stands out, mainly while emitting dim blue light. The left and right sides host the quarter-inch ‘Input’ and ‘Output’ jacks. You’ll also find the ‘power’ socket on the right side of the device. The top side of the device hosts the previously mentioned concentric knob, a prominent ‘B1K’ logo, and a Footswitch. The unit measures 10.16 cm x 5.08 cm x 4.45 cm with a weight of 0.204 kg.
- Concentric Control, Footswitch & Dip Switches
The concentric knob hosts controls for ‘Level’ and ‘Drive.’ The Level control can be turned in either direction to adjust the Overdrive signal’s volume. The Drive control lets you adjust the saturation amount of the Overdrive signal. The footswitch can be used to activate or deactivate effects. The ‘Dip’ switches allow you to pick between ‘Grunt’ and ‘MBoost’ effects. Grunt adds a lot of thickness to your sound by providing a low-end boost. MBoost, on the other hand, allows you to cut through the mix by introducing a 6dB subtle boost (300 Hz to 1 kHz).
- Hidden Controls, Power & Technical Features
Removing the magnetic base lid allows you to access the device’s hidden ‘Blend’ and ‘Tone’ controls. The Blend control determines the wetness or dryness of the signal, and the Tone control allows you to adjust the high frequencies. Turning this control knob, left produces a brighter sound. The device has an Input Impedance of 1 MΩ and an Output Impedance of 1 kΩ. The effect pedal from Darkglass consumes approximately 17 mA of current and can be powered via a Center Negative 9V DC power adaptor.
Character & Sound:
Although the B1K is a stripped-down version of the larger B3K and the behemoth B7K, the pedal sounds similar. You get the same boomy lows and gritty character from your bass guitar but in a much smaller packaging. Use the Blend control to throw more of the unprocessed signal into the mix for a thicker, layered sound. Cranking up the Tone knob for slap-style bass makes for an extremely enjoyable experience.
The device looks absolutely stunning with the matte finish, the contrasting color of the concentric knob, and the subtle accent light. The design looks futuristic, and the amount of functionality this device brings to the table makes it hugely versatile.
The fact that the pedal comes with ‘hidden controls’ won’t be appreciated by everybody. Some users have argued that it would’ve been more practical had the hidden knobs been added to the face of the device. The effect pedal is priced towards the expensive side.
10. Stax Guitar Booster
The little-known Stax company has a wide range of pedals.
You can commonly find other units from the same brand on Amazon and Ali Express. Chances are that when you search for a mini booster pedal on any of these platforms, you’ll come across several Chinese pedals with similar layouts and designs.
Most of these units are designed by a generic manufacturer and sold by emerging Chinese brands like Amoon, Rowin, and Donner. The internal circuitry is the same, while the user interface has slight design changes.
- Volume & Gain
The pedal features three smaller knobs and a larger “Gain” knob. The Stax Booster does what it says and boosts your signal with the help of the “Volume” and Gain controls. You can use it in scenarios where you want a passage of play to cut through the mix, such as a guitar solo. The pedal works great with clean tones and crunch tones.
The two remaining smaller knobs act as a dual-band equalizer. The “Bass” controls the lower end. To dial in a bass enhancement, turn the knob clockwise. Move the knob in the other direction to cut back on the bass. The “Treble” knob, on the other hand, will add brightness to your tone. Keep the pedal off and set all other effects units in the chain. They activate the booster and set the Bass and Treble controls to achieve the desired sound.
- Other Stuff
This cool-looking booster pedal runs on 9V and isn’t battery-powered, so be sure to purchase an adequate power supply. Plug your guitar into the input jack on the right panel and link it to other pedals or an amplifier as the signal exits from the single output jack to the unit’s left.
Character & Sound:
This booster pedal doesn’t sound bad by any stretch of the imagination. With everything pointing to the 12 o’clock position on a clean channel, the pedal provides a decent boost without adding much gain. The pedal works equally well on an amp’s crunch channel, applying the same principle of adding boost without many colorations.
The unique selling point of this mini pedal is its ability to boost any signal you throw at it and still sound great. And the great thing is that it costs almost nothing, so you get one just for the heck of it, and who knows, it might end up as the main booster pedal on your board.
One downside of the pedal isn’t its functionality but its after-sale support. Being a generic brand, Stax doesn’t have strong backing regarding customer support. But at this price point, you might as well purchase another unit rather than try to approach the company to fix the one you own.
11. Wampler Tumnus Transparent Overdrive
This Wampler effect pedal brings a ton of functionality comparable to larger effect pedals.
In 2007, Wampler Pedals was founded by Brian Wampler, a hobbyist, at the age of 7. The company is based in Martinsville, Indiana. Wampler found its Initial success by introducing effects pedals for bass guitars and electric guitars but soon started producing guitar amplifiers as well.
Astonishingly, Brian Wampler began making effects pedals from his garage. These pedals were primarily sold online. 2 things have stayed the same to this day: Brian still designs Wampler pedals himself, and his company still relies heavily on selling online.
- Design, Appearance & Construction
With a glittering gold paint job and a subtle little interesting sketch near the center, this effect pedal is a sight to behold. This gold bar will definitely pop out of the crowd on most pedal boards. The sides of the pedal house have 2 quarter-inch ‘Input’ and ‘Output’ sockets. The pedal’s ‘Power’ socket is located at its rear. The top of the pedal is where you’ll find all the action. You’ll find 3 conveniently placed control knobs, followed by the sketch with ‘Tumnus’ printed in the middle and an LED Indicator just below. After that, there’s the ‘Wampler’ logo along with the country of origin mentioned in small text. To sum up the panel, you’ll find a chrome footswitch that adds to the device’s overall look. The device measures 8.89 cm x 3.81 cm x 3.81 cm and weighs 0.386 kg.
- Volume & Treble Controls
The 3 control knobs at the top of the front panel are for’ ‘Volume,’ ‘Treble,’ and ‘Gain.’ Like all distortion pedals, the Volume control knob adjusts the level. However, unlike most distortion pedals, this volume control remains relatively low even at its max. This is so you get space that acts as a boost pre-gain. The Treble control knob introduces the top-end, which is especially useful when you use the pedal for its Overdrive or Pre gain boost.
- Gain Control, Bypass, LED Indicator & Power
The Gain control knob introduces dirt and grit to the signal. If the knob is turned to its left extreme, you’ll experience a fatter tone with a fantastic boost. You’ll start getting magnificent thickness as you turn this knob clockwise. This is what made this pedal so popular. The Footswitch activates the effect or seamlessly allows bypass. When the effect is on, the LED Indicator will light up accordingly. The device is powered only by a 9V DC power adaptor.
Character & Sound:
You’ll get great rhythm sound when the controls are closer to the left extreme. As the gain control knob is turned rightward, you’ll notice a powerful crunch sound. When the treble control knob is pointing at noon, and the gain knob is turned to zero, the pedal will introduce drive. You’ll get a really clean sound when the gain control is in the 10’o clock position and the treble control is pointing at noon.
The sheer number of features this mini pedal packs is astounding. You’ll be able to play with many combinations and the pedal’s overall versatility. The gold brick look makes the device stand out. The pedal features a robust build quality.
Normally when you think of a mini pedal, you think of simplicity, and the fact that this pedal oozes complexity may force many, including beginners, to look elsewhere. Some may argue that the pedal brings great value for money, but it is on the pricier side for a mini pedal.
12. NUX Mini Core Brownie Distortion
Here’s another great pedal from the NUX range that is equally gifted as others on the list.
From wireless guitar systems, amplifiers, effects pedals, full-fledged effects processors, electric drums, keyboards, and more, NUX has quickly found a large following all over the world. Their products offer a great blend between modern ingenuity and affordability.
You’ll be pleasantly surprised once you get past the uninspiring brown exterior of the Mini Core Brownie distortion pedal. The limited controls on the pedal provide a wide array of possibilities and professional-grade sound suitable for studio recording and live applications.
This tiny pedal runs on 9V, so you’ll need a center negative power supply. The Mini Core has an input jack on the right and a quarter-inch jack on the left panel, like most micro-sized pedals. In addition, the pedal has a true bypass. Pressing the footswitch turns the pedal on and off.
- The Layout
There’s nothing out of the ordinary when it comes to the user interface. The pedal offers three knobs. The “Tone” knob allows you to cut or boost various frequencies. Turn it up to increase the treble and rotate it anticlockwise to enhance the bass. The “Level” knob controls the pedal’s volume, whereas the “Gain” knob controls the amount of distortion.
Character & Sound:
The Brownie Distortion pedal recreates classic distorted tones from the 1970s when rock and roll music was thriving in the UK. The Tone control helps add warmth to the overall sound. Moving the Tone control past noon brings in some fascinating harmonic overtones. You can dial in almost tube amp-like distortion from this little NUX pedal.
There’s an extremely vast range of distortion that you can dial in by manipulating the Gain control. The Tone knob offers lots of brightness and warmth depending on the need of the hour. The volume knob effectively helps cut through the mix. In addition, the pedal is extremely affordable.
What this pedal can do in under hundred bucks is a lot more than what some more pedals can dish out, and that’s a broad distortion range. Remember to keep a noise gate unit around and a power supply, too, since the compact size eliminates space for a 9V battery.
As you’ve gone through today’s selection, I bet you now understand how fun overdrive pedals can be. Most overdrives have a similar layout, but the internal circuitry sets them apart from each other.
If you’re a newbie and have just entered the world of overdrive/boost pedals, starting with something easier to manage is a good ploy. You can take your pick between any of the single-knob pedals we’ve discussed above, including the Xotic EP Booster or the TC Electronic Spark Mini. The MXR M293 and the Microtubes BK1 from Darkglass offer slightly more tone shaping with their dual knob designs.
Next, we enter into the realm of overdrive pedals with a three-knob layout, each with its own way of managing the tasks at hand. The NUX Mini, Wampler Tumnus, and the ODR Mini from Nobels are all great choices.
If you’re looking to find a cheaper alternative to the Klon Centaur, getting the NUX Horseman OD is a no-brainer. If that’s not your cup of tea, you can try the mini version of the classic Tube Screamer by Ibanez.
Finally, the MXR Timmy Overdrive, the Stax Guitar Booster, and the Wampler Plexi-Drive take the cake when it comes to the most detailed layout and availability of controls to boost your signal every which way you prefer.
Sultan Zafar is a guitar player from Islamabad, Pakistan. He has been playing music with various mainstream musicians for over 20 years. He is a song writer and music producer. These days he spends his time exploring different music genres and collaborating with fellow musicians on various projects. Read more..