Here we go again...another clean boost pedal. What's with the oversaturation of pedals that do nothing more than just make you louder? I mean after all, isn't that what your volume knob is for?
I'm here to say that not all clean boost pedals are created equal and that I have a new favorite. A few years ago, when Fulltone redesigned the Full-Drive and created the Full-Drive 3, it also revised the Boost side of the pedal. In doing so, they allowed the boost to be placed before or after the overdrive circuit and to be used independently. I was intrigued. I bought a Full-Drive 3. I didn't love the revised overdrive sound, but I LOVED the new boost.
For over a year now, I've had a Full-Drive 3 on my board, even though I'm using only the boost function. Luckily, Fulltone just released the boost as a standalone (and very small) pedal called the 2B. Say it out loud, it sounds like "tubey." The 2B is an amazingly small enclosure which measures in at just over four inches by two inches. With rear-mounted jacks, the 2B takes up minimal space on your board.
The 2B offers up to 20 decibels of boost. In technical terms, this happens to be a heck of a lot! For my uses, I set the dial between 9 and 10 o’clock and it provides the perfect volume increase for lifting my lead guitar parts in the mix. Unlike some other boost pedals, I found the 2B to be tonally transparent. I know that's a loaded word in the guitar effects, but what I mean is that when the 2B is placed at the end of your signal chain, you just get more of your un-boosted tone (assuming your amp has the headroom left).
The real magic of the 2B comes from the little knob labelled "dynamics." This knob controls a germanium diode limiter which according to Fulltone helps to reduce transient spikes. What this means with regard to playing and tone, is that the higher your set the Dynamics knob, the more consistent your boosted output gets. The sweet-spot for me is between 12 and 2 o’clock. When set in this range, Dynamics helps to smooth your pick attack and sweeten or soften the high end.
Of course, with 20dB of boost on tap, the 2B can also pummel the front end of your amp or other pedals. In this use, it was perfect for pushing my little Fender Vibro Champ into thick overdrive at "wife and the kids are asleep upstairs" volume levels.
But wait a minute, this pedal isn't true bypass? Nope, it's buffered bypass. It's a little shocking for a Fulltone pedal not to be true bypass—after all, they are the company that made such a big stink about true bypass way back when. But the2B features a great little unity gain buffer that will deliver your guitar signal safely and efficiently through a bunch of pedals and plenty of feet of cable.
What we like: The 2B is a great sounding boost, in a small package, at a (relatively) small price. The added feature of the great little buffer and the limiter circuit makes it stand out from the pack.