The 5 Best Guitar Preamp Pedals – Our Pick
A guitar preamp is one of the essential parts of every guitar chain, which has a drastic impact on tone shaping. This article explains what they are and which are the best ones to use.
That’s why it’s something you will find in any signal chain of every guitarist in the world. In most cases, it comes as a part of a guitar amp, along with power amp. However, you can also find it in the form of a single unit, whether it’s about a rack unit, pedal, or something third.
Later on in this article we’re going to explain exactly what a preamp is, the difference between preamps and power amps, and the overall benefits of using a good preamp.
For starters, let’s go through our round-up list:
The Best Guitar Preamps
1. Diezel Zerrer 2-Channel Preamp
If you are looking for a pretty serious piece of gear, this is one of the best preamp pedals you can find on the market. The first thing you’ll notice is that we are talking about a two-channel unit, so you can switch between your rhythm and lead settings in such a convenient way. Both channels have separate control and what you can find there is a bundle of typical amp controls, such as Gain, EQ controls, Volume, Presence, Master etc.
The Diezer Zerrer comes with two footswitches, one for a convenient channel switch, while the other one is a bypass switch. One of the best things about this preamp is that it gives so many options when it comes to connectivity. On the backside, you will notice a full load of inputs and outputs. They allow you to use this unit in any way you want, whether it’s about live performance, studio recording, or just a simple practice session with headphones.
2. JOYO JF-13 AC Tone Vintage Tube Amplifier Effects Pedal
Essentially, preamp pedals aren’t much different compared to classic distortion or boost pedals, so many players also use such units as preamps. The JF-13 is somewhere in between and if you are looking for a classic vintage VOX amp tone in a cheap way, this is the product for you. The pedal is simple and super-compact, while the sound characteristics are more than decent.
In terms of control, you will find nothing but common knobs. There are two rows and six knobs in total. The upper section includes typical EQ controls, while the lower one comes with Level, Voice and Drive knobs. You can manipulate a lot with them and find that legendary AC30 tone with ease.
The pedal is well-built and the company claims you will find nothing but quality components inside the housing. More importantly, the pedal is super-easy to use and features really compact dimensions. It is a perfect addition to your pedalboard, especially if we consider that it features a true bypass.
3. Revv G3
A great balance between price and quality is probably the main reason why this pedal is so popular among guitar players. Simply, you will hardly find a pedal at this price range that offers such a high level of versatility and sounds really amazing at the same time. The key feature of this small preamp unit is a small toggle switch in the middle, which allows you to choose between three aggression levels. In that way, you can calibrate the gain knob and make this unit suitable for any music genre.
Other than that, this is a typical preamp pedal, which comes with typical EQ controls, as well as with Gain and Volume knobs. This unit is compact and fits any pedalboard. Also, it will sound great whether you’re about to use it as a preamp pedal and go directly into a cab simulator, or you want to use it as a typical distortion pedal. You won’t be disappointed in any way.
4. JHS Clover Preamp/Boost
Many guitar players like to keep things simple and if you are one of them, this is the preamp pedal for you. With this unit, you won’t get any fancy control options. You won’t get an overdrive either. On the other side, you will get a superior EQ section, which includes several knobs and switches. Besides typical EQ knob controls, there is also a nice rotary switch, which lets you choose between three different EQ modes – Full EQ, No Mids and No EQ.
In order to make this pedal even more versatile, the manufacturer has also installed a small Low Cut switch, which cuts bass frequencies and tightens your tone even more. All these EQ controls make the JGS Clover suitable for any type of guitar, whether it’s about acoustic, electric, or even bass guitar. To make things even more convenient, the manufacturer has installed a balanced XLR out, so you can go directly into a recording device, mixer or a modeler.
5. Orange Bax Bangeetar Guitar Pre-EQ Pedal – White
This is a type of preamp pedal that can be used in any way you want. You can use it in front of your amp, you can go directly into PA, or use it for direct recording. There is a classic output, as well as a Cab Sim out, but that’s not the only reason why this pedal is so amazing.
The best thing about this pedal is the EQ section, which is really amazing. Unlike most other products on the market that come with a typical 3-band EQ, this one is far more complex. Of course, there are knobs for lows and highs, but middle frequencies are where things become really interesting. Three knobs cover mid ranges. Besides the typical Mid knob, there are also Q and Freq knobs, which allow you to do all kinds of fine tunings and control the bandwidth.
Besides this amazing EQ section, you will also find typical Volume and Gain knobs, while another amazing thing is that you can also count on a boost switch and buffered bypass. We also like the fact that this pedal comes with an internal charge pump, so you may count on an 18V performance from a 9V power source.
What is a guitar preamp?
As we’ve just mentioned, a guitar preamp is one of the most critical parts of a guitar chain, which gives the core sound of your guitar. The signal that is picked by a pickup is weak and pretty anemic and what a preamp does is a boost of a guitar signal to “line level”. This means it makes it loud enough to manipulate with it and create specific colors and character. In short, it raises the signal to the audible volume. Furthermore, it also comes with a compressor, which is critical in terms of dynamical consistency.
What is the difference between preamps and power amps?
While a preamp is among the first things in a guitar signal chain, a power amp is among the last ones. A power amp goes not only after a preamp but also after all effects. While a preamp amplifies the signal to “line level”, a power amp amplifies volume to a “stage level”. Such a boosted signal then goes to speakers and that’s the final “product” of a guitar chain.
What are the benefits of a guitar preamp?
Even these days, most players use classic guitar amps, which consist of both preamp and power amp. However, more and more guitarists are switching to separate units. Such an approach provides a much wider tonal diversity, as it allows players to combine different preamps with different power amps. Such flexibility is definitely one of the biggest benefits of a separate preamp.
Another obvious benefit is the size. Guitar amps are usually bulky, while a separate preamp can easily be found in the form of a pedal, which is highly beneficial if you’re on a constant move. Such products aren’t any different from other pedals and can easily fit any pedalboard.