I recently had the luxury of spending a few weeks with all three of the new Bearfoot Red Rooster Boosters. Each of Red Roosters is capable of hitting the front end of your amp (or pedal for that matter) with up to 33dB of boost. According to Bearfoot, that is the rough equivalent of adding a preamp tube stage to your amp. None of the three are “transparent”—they are voiced to add extra gain in the upper mids to help your guitar cut through a dense mix.
Keep in mind that I ran them into low-wattage amps (AC15HW, Princeton Reverb and Vibro Champ), but to my ears they seem to boost cleanly until between 11:00-1:00 o’clock. Beyond 1:00 o’clock they start to add dirt of their own. But they are also adding a ton of output at that point so it’s possible my amps were just out of headroom. Either way, once things get gritty, you can still clean up by rolling off your guitar’s volume or lightening your pick attack.
As for the differences between the three, the late Ken Fischer of Trainwreck Circuits described them as the difference between brands of preamp tubes. For example, RCA vs. Mullard for the NOS crowd or EHX vs. JJ for those of us with shallower pockets.
To my ears, Red Rooster Number One seems brightest, with more highs, upper mids and some bass cut. I preferred this one with humbucker-equipped guitars and it also excels at driving other pedals, especially higher gain pedals.
Red Rooster Number Two seems to boost the lower mids and offer less of the upper mids and highs. As such, it’s great for running a Strat or Tele into a black face amp.
Finally, Number Three is the boldest of the trio. It seems to scoop the mids ever so slightly, but it also seems to add more of its own grit. I loved this one running into the Top Boost channel of my AC15HW. Paired with my Reverend PA-1 RT (which has Filtertron-esque pickups) it was fun for gritty British Invasion tones.
What we like: What’s not to like? Three great flavors of boost that are all voiced to help your next solo rise above the din of your raging bassist and Neanderthal drummer.
Build quality: Like all Bearfoot pedals, the Red Roosters are hand-built and hand-painted in the US and will stand the test of time.
Value: $150 is a little steep for a booster, but again these are quality BJF designs and they are made by hand in the US. I can’t really complain.