Guitar Preamp Pedal

The Top Guitar Preamp Pedals of 2023


If you’re a guitar enthusiast seeking the best guitar preamp pedals to enhance and control your tone, this article will be your guide. We’ll delve into the best guitar preamp pedals available in 2023, helping you find the perfect pedal to suit your musical needs.

In this comprehensive guide, you will learn:

  • The features and specifications of top preamp pedals: Each pedal has its unique specifications and features. We’ll walk you through them, helping you understand what makes each pedal stand out.
  • Why each pedal is worth buying: We’ll share the reasons these pedals are loved by musicians and why you should consider adding them to your rig.
  • Who each pedal is perfect for: Not every pedal suits every player. We’ll outline who would benefit the most from each of these preamp pedals, ensuring you choose the right fit for your playing style and needs.

Whether you’re just starting to explore the world of preamp pedals or looking to upgrade your current setup, the list above represents the best the market has to offer. From enhancing your tone and pushing your amp harder to dialing in your perfect sound, these top-rated preamp pedals have you covered.

What are the Best Guitar Preamp Pedals in 2023?

  1. Boss AD-2
  2. Xotic BB Preamp v 1.5
  3. JHS Color Box V2
  4. LR Baggs DI Session
  5. Catalinbread Epoch Boost EP-3
  6. Diezel Herbert Pedal 2-channel
  7. MOOER M999 Preamp LiveX
  8. EarthQuaker Devices Arrows V2 Preamp
  9. Origin Effects BassRig Super Vintage

1. Boss AD-2

Authentic Acoustic Enhancement
BOSS AD-2 Acoustic Preamp Guitar Pedal
5.0

The Boss AD-2 is a phenomenal preamp pedal for acoustic-electric guitars that focuses on sound processing. It enhances the authentic acoustic sound while providing multiple parameters for sophisticated under-the-hood processing.



Why We Love It:
  • Sophisticated sound processing
  • Notch filter for instant feedback reduction
  • Beautifully recreates your guitar’s natural tone
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Technical Features:

  • Nominal Input Level: -20 dBu
  • Input Impedance: 10 M ohms
  • Bypass: Buffered

Review:

The Boss AD-2 truly shines when it comes to enhancing the authentic acoustic sound. It does a fantastic job of replicating the resonance characteristics of an unplugged acoustic, making it a must-have for all acoustic guitarists.

Its advanced BOSS sound processing provides a smooth sound. The reverb feature is also impressive and adds depth to your music, providing you with great tone-shaping possibilities. Whether you’re in the studio or on stage, you’ll want this preamp pedal on your pedal board.

Verdict:

If you’re looking for a preamp pedal to provide an authentic acoustic sound, the Boss AD-2 is an excellent option. Its sophisticated sound processing and feedback reduction are unmatched in the market.

This Preamp is Perfect For:

This pedal is perfect the acoustic-electric guitar. So if you want to enhance their guitar’s authentic acoustic sound and add depth to their music, this is one of the best acoustic guitar preamp pedals for you.

2. Xotic BB Preamp v 1.5

Overdrive with Character
Xotic V1.5 BB Preamp Pedal
5.0

The Xotic BB Preamp v 1.5 pedal packs quite the punch with its powerful overdrive and tone-shaping capabilities. The combination of a boost and overdrive makes it ideal for artists seeking to create music that ranges from clean tones to thick sustain.



Why We Love It:
  • Delivers an extensive range of sounds
  • Maintains a clean signal when the pedal is off
  • Offers a 30dB+ clean boost for overdriven tones
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Technical Features:

  • Inputs: 1 x 1/4″
  • Outputs: 1 x 1/4″
  • True Bypass
  • 9V DC power supply (sold separately)
  • 6mA power usage
  • 2-band EQ

Review:

The Xotic BB Preamp v 1.5 offers a significant level of tonal control and provides a remarkable degree of boost. The pedal’s ability to retain the original tone of the guitar (thanks to the 2-band EQ), while allowing you to shape it further, is a major advantage. The overdrive isn’t harsh or overpowering but rather smooth and rich, making it ideal for blues and rock music. The true bypass feature also ensures that your tone remains intact even when the pedal is not in use.

This pedal stands out as a fine example of Xotic’s commitment to delivering exceptional sound quality and versatility.

Verdict:

The Xotic BB Preamp v 1.5 provides an excellent combination of boost and overdrive in a compact design. This pedal delivers rich and warm tones that are ideal for various music styles. It’s a must-have for any guitarists seeking to add character to their sound.

This Preamp is Perfect For:

This pedal is perfect for guitarists who require a diverse range of sounds and appreciate the convenience of having a boost and overdrive in one unit. It’s particularly suitable for blues and rock musicians due to its smooth and rich overdrive.

3. JHS Color Box V2

Studio Grade Preamp
JHS Colour Box V2 Preamp Pedal
5.0

The JHS Color Box V2 is a pedal that pushes boundaries, transforming your guitar's signal to emulate the sound of a vintage studio console. It is designed to give you an array of tones from clean boost to overdrive, distortion, and even fuzz. The Color Box V2 comes with a host of controls, such as Master, Pre-Vol, and Step, giving you complete control over your sound. Plus, its silent switching feature ensures no unwanted noise during performance.

Why We Love It:
  • Why We Love It:
  • Emulates the sound of a vintage studio console
  • Provides an array of tones from clean boost to overdrive, distortion, and fuzz
  • Eliminates unwanted noise during performances
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Technical Features:

  • Preamp, EQ, DI, and Fuzz pedal
  • Inputs: 1 x 1/4″, 1 x XLR
  • Outputs: 1 x 1/4″, 1 x XLR
  • True Bypass
  • 9V DC power supply (sold separately)

Review:

The JHS Color Box V2 is not just a preamp pedal—it’s a tone-shaping machine. This pedal’s innovative design allows you to emulate the classic, analog tones of vintage consoles, an ability that is rare in the pedal world. Its controls are user-friendly, and the build quality is top-notch, as expected from JHS. The silent switching feature is highly appreciated in live performance scenarios, and the pedal’s input mean you can attach an instrument or mic.

Verdict:

The JHS Color Box V2 is more than just a preamp—it’s a complete sound-shaping tool. This is perfect for guitarists who want to experiment with their tone and aim for a vintage, console-like sound. It’s a little pricey but absolutely worth it for the tonal versatility and quality it offers.

This Preamp is Perfect For:

The JHS Color Box V2 is perfect for guitarists who love experimenting with their sound and appreciate vintage, console-like tones. It’s also ideal for those who require a noise-free performance, thanks to its silent switching feature.

4. LR Baggs DI Session

Acoustic DI and Saturation Device
L.R. Baggs Session DI Acoustic Guitar Preamp Pedal
5.0

The LR Baggs DI Session is an acoustic DI pedal that melds a pristine acoustic guitar direct box with studio-quality compression EQ. It also features the famed analog saturation of LR Baggs, adding extra warmth and richness to your sound.



Why We Love It:
  • Analog Saturation enhances warmth and harmonic content
  • Natural compression / EQ smooths out common problem frequencies
  • Ground lift switch effectively eliminates ground-loop noise
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Technical Features:

  • Variable high-pass filter
  • All discrete signal path
  • XLR and quarter-inch outputs
  • Compression EQ
  • 48V phantom power
  • 9V battery or 9V DC powering options

Review:

The LR Baggs DI Session is a winner when it comes to delivering studio-grade sound in a live setting. Its analog saturation and compression EQ features work together to smooth out problem frequencies and add warmth, delivering a beautifully clear and harmonic-rich sound. The variable high-pass filter attenuates extraneous low frequencies.

Verdict:

If you’re an acoustic guitarist seeking studio-quality sound, the LR Baggs DI Session is a great choice. With its unique features and durable construction, it’s a tool that delivers on its promise of enhancing your live sound.

This Preamp is Perfect For:

The LR Baggs DI Session is perfect for acoustic guitarists seeking to boost their live sound with studio-quality effects. It’s also suitable for audio professionals who need a reliable DI box with added sound enhancement features.

5. Catalinbread Epoch Boost EP-3

Sculpted Tone, Unparalleled Clarity
Catalinbread Epoch Boost Effects Pedal
4.5
$151.73

The Catalinbread Epoch Boost EP-3 is more than just a boost pedal. It is an exact EP-3 circuit recreation, featuring the very same preamp, the exact same boost circuit, and operating at the same 22 volts. The Epoch Boost gives you just the EP-3 experience minus the tape echo.



Why We Love It:
  • Features the exact same preamp and boost circuit of the Echoplex EP-3
  • Unparalleled headroom and clarity
  • Switchable hi-Z input buffer
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Technical Features:

  • NOS Orange Drop capacitors
  • Output mixer stage
  • Boost control

Review:

The Catalinbread Epoch Boost EP-3 has truly made its mark as an amazing tone-sculpting tool. Its faithful recreation of the EP-3 circuit, combined with a hi-Z input buffer and NOS Orange Drop capacitors, delivers unparalleled headroom, clarity, and tonal versatility.

Verdict:

The Catalinbread Epoch Boost EP-3 is a must-have for any musician looking to add the legendary tone of the EP-3 to their arsenal. Its exceptional build quality, true-to-original circuitry, and broad tonal possibilities make it an excellent investment.

This Preamp is Perfect For:

The Catalinbread Epoch Boost EP-3 is perfect for guitarists who are fans of the legendary Echoplex EP-3 sound and want to incorporate its tone into their own playing. It’s also an excellent choice for musicians looking for a versatile boost pedal that offers a range of tonal options.

6. Diezel Herbert Pedal 2-channelMB

Iconic Heavy Gain Preamp
Diezel Herbert Overdrive Preamp Effects Pedal
4.5

The Diezel Herbert Pedal 2-channel captures the monstrous high-gain tones of the legendary Diezel Herbert amplifier in a compact pedal format. Its full set of tone controls and foot-switchable mid-cut circuit offer unparalleled tonal flexibility, providing access to a broad spectrum of finely crafted sounds, from sparkling clean to devastatingly heavy.



Why We Love It:
  • Captures the monstrous high-gain sounds of the legendary Herbert amp
  • Comprehensive controls for fine tonal adjustments
  • Provides a broad range of sounds, from clean to devastatingly heavy
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Technical Features:

  • 100mA
  • Normal and Midcut Master controls
  • Midcut Intensity controls
  • Gain, Bass, Middle, Treble, Presence, and Deep controls
  • 12-18VDC
  • Inputs: 1 x 1/4″
  • Outputs: 2 x 1/4″

Review:

The Diezel Herbert Pedal is renowned for its ability to deliver the intense, high-gain sounds of its namesake amplifier. With its comprehensive tone controls, it offers immense versatility and precise adjustability. The pedal’s high-quality build ensures its durability and longevity. Some users may find the myriad of controls a bit overwhelming, but the tonal reward is worth the learning curve that comes with with guitar preamp pedal.

Verdict:

The Diezel Herbert Pedal 2-channel is a high-gain powerhouse that offers an impressive range of tones in a compact form. Its flexibility and authentic Diezel tone make it a valuable addition to any pedalboard, particularly for players seeking to add some heavy gain tones to their sound.

This Preamp is Perfect For:

This pedal is ideal for rock and metal guitarists who crave the heavy, precise, and richly detailed tones synonymous with Diezel amps.

7. MOOER M999 Preamp LiveX

Versatile Digital Preamp
MOOER Preamp Model X Dual-channel Preamp Pedal
4.0
$142.99

The MOOER M999 Preamp LiveX is a highly versatile digital preamp pedal that provides 12 independent preamp channels with intuitive switching controls. It's designed with live situations in mind, featuring global controls for fast setup and programmable effects loops for external effects integration.

Why We Love It:
  • Features 12 independent preamp channels for a broad range of tones
  • Provides intuitive controls and easy setup
  • Comes with programmable effects loops and tone-capture capabilities
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Technical Features:

  • 2 preamp channels
  • Input: 1/4” mono audio jack
  • Outputs: 1 x 1/4” mono audio jack
  • USB: Type-B Female Connector
  • Power requirements: 9V-12V DC 1A

Review:

The MOOER M999 Preamp LiveX is a comprehensive and versatile preamp solution. The twelve preamp channels, along with the pre/post boosters and noise gates, provide a wide variety of tonal possibilities. It also features robust construction, ensuring durability for gigging. Some users might find the user interface somewhat complex, but the quality and diversity of sounds more than compensate for it.

Verdict:

With its diverse range of tones and adaptable controls, the MOOER M999 Preamp LiveX is a practical and versatile option for guitarists in live performance situations. Its feature-rich design provides significant value, making it a worthy investment for any gigging musician.

This Preamp is Perfect For:

Gigging guitarists seeking an all-in-one solution for a wide array of tonal requirements will find this preamp ideal.

8.  EarthQuaker Devices Arrows V2 Preamp

Simplistic Preamp Booster
EarthQuaker Arrows V2 Preamp Booster Pedal
3.5
$109.00

The EarthQuaker Devices Arrows V2 Preamp is a straightforward preamp booster that can enhance your guitar's midrange, tighten up the bass, and add sparkle to your overall tone. With just a single control, it is extremely easy to dial in.

Why We Love It:
  • Single control for ease of use
  • Boosts gain, enhances midrange, tightens bass
  • Convenient for pedalboard placement
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Technical Features:

  • Preamp Booster
  • Analog
  • Inputs: 1 x 1/4″
  • Outputs: 1 x 1/4″
  • True Bypass
  • 9V DC power supply
  • 2mA power usage

Review:

The EarthQuaker Devices Arrows V2 Preamp is a minimalist preamp booster pedal that delivers more than it seems. Despite its single control knob, the Arrows V2 offers impressive tone enhancement capabilities, making it perfect for those who value simplicity without compromising performance. However, some users might desire more control options.

Verdict:

With its simple design and impressive tone enhancement capabilities, the EarthQuaker Devices Arrows V2 Preamp is an excellent tool for guitarists seeking a quick and efficient way to boost and enhance their tone.

This Preamp is Perfect For:

Guitarists who appreciate simplicity and those looking for an efficient way to add punch, clarity, and sparkle to their tone will find the Arrows V2 Preamp a fantastic choice.

9. Origin Effects BassRig Super Vintage

Authentic Vintage Tone
Origin Effects BASSRIG Super Vintage Bass Preamp Effects Pedal
3.5
$495.00

The Origin Effects BassRig Super Vintage is a bass preamp pedal designed to emulate the tone and feel of classic Ampeg® SVT valve amplifiers. With its full valve amp-style signal path, dedicated class-A preamp and push-pull output stage, it offers a range of vintage tones.



Why We Love It:
  • Emulates the tone and feel of classic Ampeg® SVT valve amplifiers
  • Features full valve amp-style signal path
  • Offers a range of vintage tones
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Technical Features:

  • Bass preamp pedal
  • Analog
  • Drive, Output, EQ, Gain, Blend controls
  • Inputs: 1 x 1/4″
  • Outputs: 1 x 1/4″
  • True Bypass
  • 9V DC power supply

Review:

The Origin Effects BassRig Super Vintage offers an impressive emulation of the classic Ampeg® SVT valve amplifiers. Its authentic vintage tone, along with responsive controls, provide bassists with a variety of rich and dynamic sounds. Some users might find the pedal a bit pricey, but its quality and performance justify the investment.

Verdict:

If you play the bass guitar and you’re seeking the rich, dynamic, and complex tones of vintage valve amplifiers, the Origin Effects BassRig Super Vintage is an excellent choice. Its high-quality construction, authenticity, and performance make it a fantastic addition to any bass rig.

This Preamp is Perfect For:

Bassists who crave the authentic vintage tones and complexity of classic Ampeg® SVT valve amplifiers will appreciate the Origin Effects BassRig Super Vintage.

Buyer’s Guide: Choosing the Best Guitar Preamp Pedal

Tone Shaping Capabilities

A preamp pedal’s primary role is to shape your guitar’s tone, meaning it can drastically alter your sound. The best pedals allow you to fine-tune the characteristics of your guitar’s voice. Elements like EQ settings, gain control, or even unique features like cab simulation or multiple channel options can open up a world of tonal possibilities.

The EQ controls help you control the balance between the bass, mid, and treble frequencies, offering you a range of sound from warm and rich to bright and sharp. Gain control, on the other hand, allows you to manage the level of distortion in your sound. The higher the gain, the more distorted and ‘gritty’ your output.

Some preamp pedals come with cab simulations, offering an emulated output that imitates the sound and character of different speaker cabinets.

Multiple channel options allow you to switch between different preamp settings, offering a lot of versatility. For instance, you could set one channel for a clean tone and the other for a high-gain tone, allowing you to switch between different sounds during a performance easily.

Compatibility

The preamp pedal you choose should match the instrument you plan to use it with. While some pedals are designed specifically for electric guitars, others might also cater to acoustic guitars or bass guitars. Ensure that the pedal you choose will not only connect with your instrument physically but also complement its tonal characteristics.

For acoustic guitars, you would typically want a guitar amplifier that can capture the nuances of your guitar’s natural sound. Some acoustic preamp pedals come with special features like built-in microphones or piezo pickups to enhance the sound further.

Construction and Durability

The road can be a tough place, and, like all guitar amplifiers, your preamp pedal needs to be up to the task. It should be robust enough to handle being stepped on repeatedly and resilient to the occasional drink spill or sudden impact.

Look for a floor pedal with a rugged, all-metal construction, as these tend to be the most durable. Also, consider the quality of the knobs and switches. They should feel solid and responsive, not loose or flimsy. A quality preamp pedal should feel like a long-term investment that will serve you reliably for years to come.

Ease of Use

Despite the intricate technology inside, a good guitar amp should be user-friendly on the outside. It should be simple enough for you to dial in your desired tone quickly and efficiently, even in the middle of a performance.

Look for clearly labeled controls and a layout that makes sense to you. You shouldn’t have to pull out the manual every time you want to adjust something. Some pedals even offer preset options, so you can save your favorite settings and recall them instantly when needed.

Connectivity

Today’s preamp pedals come with a variety of connection options. Besides the standard instrument input and output, some might offer balanced XLR outputs for direct connection to PA systems or recording interfaces.

Headphone outputs can be useful for silent practice, while a USB connection can enable direct digital recording and sometimes even allow for firmware updates or deep editing through companion software.

An effects loop could be another beneficial feature. It allows you to place other effects pedals either before or after the preamp section, such as an overdrive pedal, a chorus pedal, or a compression pedal, giving you more control over your pedal chain.

Looking for a good guitar cable? Check out this article.

Budget

While we all dream of unlimited gear budgets, the reality is usually different. It’s important to set a reasonable budget for your preamp pedal – especially if you’re a beginner electric or acoustic guitarist. Higher-end pedals may offer more features and better build quality, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find a quality pedal at a lower price.

When setting your budget, consider your specific needs and professional requirements. A home recording enthusiast might not need all the features of a top-of-the-line preamp pedal designed for touring musicians. Conversely, if your career depends on your tone, it might be worth investing a bit more.

Remember, the goal is not to find the most expensive pedal but the one that offers the best value for your specific needs. Take your time, do your research, and choose wisely. Your perfect guitar tone is worth it!

Finding the Best Guitar Preamp Pedal: Frequently Asked Questions

What does a guitar preamp pedal do?

A guitar preamp pedal is an essential component in a guitarist’s signal chain. It boosts the raw signal from your guitar to a level that can be processed by the rest of your effects pedals and amplification system. It also has a significant impact on your tone by shaping the initial character of your sound through EQ controls and gain settings. Some preamp pedals even mimic the sound characteristics of specific amplifier models.

Do guitar pedals need a preamp?

Not all guitar pedals need a preamp, but having one can make a huge difference in your guitar sound. A preamp pedal can provide a clean boost, enhancing the guitar’s tone and preparing it for further processing by subsequent pedals in the signal chain. For acoustic guitars, an acoustic guitar preamp is particularly beneficial as it can refine the raw, often flat sound that comes from an acoustic guitar pickup.

What type of pedal is a preamp?

A preamp is a type of boost pedal, but instead of merely increasing volume like a traditional boost pedal, it shapes and enhances the tone of your guitar signal. This is achieved through the use of EQ settings and gain control. Some preamp pedals also offer additional features, such as cabinet simulation or multiple channel options for even more tonal flexibility.

Where do you plug in a preamp pedal?

Place your preamp pedal early in the signal chain. It typically comes after any tuners (such as a chromatic tuner) or compressors but before your modulation, power amp, and time-based effects like chorus, reverb, and delay. This placement ensures that the preamp shapes your guitar’s raw tone, which is then processed by your other pedals. However, the placement of a preamp pedal can vary based on personal preference and the specifics of your rig. Experimentation is key to finding your ideal sound.

Final Thoughts

Selecting the perfect guitar preamp pedal is a significant step toward achieving your desired sound. The influence these devices can have on your tone, whether you’re jamming at home, recording in the studio, or playing a live gig, cannot be overstated. Our top ten list provides a broad spectrum of preamp pedals, each offering unique features and tonal possibilities to meet various musical styles and needs.

In this article, we’ve delved into the world of preamp pedals, exploring their features, their functionality, and their impact on your sound. We’ve also presented some vital factors to consider when buying a preamp pedal and answered some common questions.

The most important takeaway is that the best preamp pedal is the one that fits your personal needs, playing style, and budget. Regardless of whether you’re a beginner or an experienced pro, investing in a high-quality preamp pedal is an excellent way to elevate your guitar playing and truly make your sound your own.

So, consider your options carefully, keep our buyer’s guide in mind, and happy playing! With the right chair, every practice or performance can be a more comfortable, enjoyable experience.