Other Equipment

Let’s talk micro pedals


Inspired by a comment Proteus made over in http://gretschpages.com/for...

there are so many vendors with SO many models. Where do you start?

Well, where do you start? Which micro-pedals do you figure are worth a look and which are definite passes?


Recently purchased a Donner Fuzz from Amazon. It works, but I don't have any other fuzz boxes to compare. For $29.00, I thought it worth the try.


And? What'd you think? I have a JHS MiniFootFuzz that I like a lot, but it was a bit more than $29.


I'll share what little experience I have with Micro pedals :

-Snouse black box mini : extremely well made clone of a V1 Marshall Bluesbreaker overdrive pedal. You'd wish every pedal was made like this, it's virtually indestructable and infinitely repairable if need be. I have one, and I don't think it's leaving my board any time soon. Extremely useable not-so-clean boost, mild overdrive, fattener-upper for wimpier pickups (strats!), etc...

-Mooer "Blues Crab" : same thing, but a lot cheaper, and built a lot cheaper and less sturdy. Functions much the same, you only have to keep an eye on the treble control a little more because it will get harsh if you turn it up too much. Still a great circuit though, and good value for money, even if a not so well aimed stomp with a heavy boot might destroy most of it.

-Truetone "pure tone buffer" : very small, cheap, and totally transparent to my ears. Once you have four or five true bypass pedals on your board, worth the price of admission. Doesn't add the typical glassy hardness you can get from some buffers.

-Xotic EP booster : not crazy expensive, extremely simple and sturdy, very small. Supposedly inspired by an EP-3 Echoplex 's preamp, critics say it hardly is in practice. Good little FET booster, doesn't play as nice with some rigs/guitars as it does with others. Quite a few people use it as an "always on" preamp, others as a booster. I used mine for a year or two before I sold it, FWIW.

I have a little bit of experience with the Chinese made mini pedals you can get under different brand names, often for $20 or even less, on Ebay, Amazon, or Aliexpress. They're extremely tempting for the low prices (and free shipping more often than not). They can be good clean fun too, but I've found that while some of them are good, most of them get harsh or annoying a lot faster than the originals they're based on, a lot of them are hissier and noisier, and when the initial "wow, $20!!" honeymoon is over, you start noticing some kind of unpleasantness about them.


Didn't you use one or two of the Hotone mini pedals with the fancy clear knob once, Walter? Those are not overly cheap. Do you remember them?


I think Tavo tried one and felt it was useful for chucking into a lake.


Didn't you use one or two of the Hotone mini pedals with the fancy clear knob once, Walter? Those are not overly cheap. Do you remember them?

– sascha

Yes! I had their delay for a while, when I tried to make my board as small as possible. Sounded great actually, but it's TOO mini, to the point where it's annoying to adjust, and it didn't play nice with the power supply I was using at the time. But not a bad sounding pedal at all.


Ive never used these pedals, but the Price and sound coming out of these mini pedals isnt all that bad.


This thread, and a few other converging factors, have me thinking I need to pick up one of these Minotaur ODs


Picked up a TinyTune Kliq tuner a few months back. I've got it on my second board. So far I really like it. Seems to be pretty accurate.

Here it is compared to a regular sized pedal.


The only one that I have is my Xotic EP Booster. As noted above, it adds the special seasoning to your tone that makes you not want to turn it off once you have it on.


Speaking of mini boost, I just got this little one.


That mini-Spark is better than the big one IMO! Great pedal.

I might have mentioned in the other thread that the BJF One Control pedals are a bit of dark horse. The only shop here which stocked them had to sell them off very cheaply because nobody knew what they were. So I scored a Strawberry Red Overdrive and a Purple Humper and they are very, very good. Since then I also bought a Lingonberry OD which is surprisingly good.

It looks like it only has three controls but it also has a bass trimmer accessible on the side - you don't have to open it up. And believe it or not but you can fit a 9V battery inside these tiny pedals. The box is CNC carved out of billet aluminium and the lid fits beautifully. It doesn't really matter but I like these because they sound good.


I'm watching this with interest. Other than Xotic EP booster and SP compressor - and Wampler Tumnus - I don't have any minis. I'd like to have a very compact (and very affordable) mini board. Guess in addition to those I'd need a moderate-to-fairly-strong overdrive, a trem, a delay, and a reverb. (Though I have the TC Hall of Fame, which isn't BIG.)

I don't have to be completely stringent about the mini-ness of every pedal either: a dual purpose pedal that took up twice the space of a mini would be fine (like maybe even the Strymon Flint, which knocks off trem and 'verb).

Don't need flange, chorus, or wah. A Muff-ette would be nice. And geez, if there's a mini that combines a few modulations (vibe and rotary, mostly, but you'd surely get chorus in that too), that would be attractive.

What seems most attractive to me about minis, though, would be cheap-but-good varieties of drive and amp-in-boxes so you could have a slew of them for every flavor.

In that connection, the Tone City line being flogged by Andertons in the UK via the Captain and Chappers' Ütube "show" piqued my attention. They demo a bunch of them in two hour-long episodes I confess to having watched...

And, Jimmy, you apparently have a lot of dirtdrivestortionfuzz pedals. How do you deploy them in actual use? Are particular combinations on a pedalboard? How do you decide when to use what, and in what way? SOMEtimes you describe what you like about one or another, and give some sense of their sound and application - but others you just "like" or don't...and I don't know what they were for, how they sounded, why they work or didn't.

More detail?


My problem with mini pedals is usually lack of control. They're so small, either only 1 knob fits on it, or 2 knobs are so close together or so small (mini-pot shafts) that they are hard to adjust.

I have a mini tuner (Turbo Tuner), which is fine, because it does one thing, no control required.

I have a Lovepedal Picklevibe, which I love, but there's no depth control... luckily, it sounds good as is.

I recently tried a Tone City Tiny Spring reverb, which was very good, but it didn't like line level signals (I put my reverb in the effects loop).

EP Booster was cool. Ended up selling it tho- as a booster, it added bass (by design), and I don't really believe in "always on pedals" for tone shaping ... I think you should love the sound of the amp BEFORE pedals, and not need something "always on".

I'm sure I've owned others, but in the end, the lack of control (oh- and I HATE internal trim pots) and, frankly, the SIZE (any pedal narrower than my actual shoe doesn't really save pedalboard space, because I have to place them far enough apart as to not accidentally hit TWO of them), made me realize that the regular Boss/MXR size is small enough.

I DO still like the mini-tuner tho, it's on the corner of my board so it's easy to not hit anything else, and the Pickle Vibe I don't use live, so it doesn't matter.

Altho I have been eyeing the Tone City Golden Plexi, for higher-gain sounds, but again- I wouldn't use live, it would just be for at home when I want to get my shred on LOL.


The Donner fuzz pedal seems sturdy enough. It's a rebadged Mooer. I've never used a fuzz before so I don't have a point of reference. The basic sound is distortion and even more distortion. Great sustain. I've only used it once in a live situation and it didn't seem to cut through the band's sound but perhaps I need to tweak it some more. The small controls don't bother me.

The packaging is very impressive!

I've got a TC Electronics Poly Tune mini which is fantastic, so long as its used indoors. Outside it is impossible to see.


Well don't forget the TCminis - I use their Mini-Flashback (usually on slapback setting) and it's simply brilliant.

Tim I enjoy trying and building overdrives, as may be evident! It all came about when I started playing rockabilly and tried a few different amps, most of which had no "overdrive channel" as they were kind of old school. The first OD pedal I ever liked was the Matchless Hotbox because it actually is part of an amp. Now I (still) have a Badcat Two-tone - much the same circuit but better filtered so a touch twangier than the old Hotbox with a Gretsch. I still love that pedal but it's huge. It sounds great with any guitar I plug into it.

So now I have a couple of amps I love. I have three guitars - my beloved 6120 SSLVO, a RI Gibson ES-225 and a CS Strat. Apart from the Two-tone no OD sounds great with each guitar. I have particular sounds I want from each guitar, so try to find the "perfect" OD for each guitar. At the moment my favourite for the Gretsch is the Rockett Majestic. As you know I don't like a lot of drive. I want just enough to get a hint of compression and lots of bite. I want a very full sound with a tight clear low end so that I can boogy woogy in a rockabilly band, but fat trebles for double stops. Not too fat so I can do my Scotty Moore picking - similar to Travis picking. The bass strings twang and when I bend an A on the third string, 14th fret it gets very vocal and singy. I still like my Fetto but am really enjoying the Majestic right now - I can get a lot of great tones with it.

The Majestic sounds very good with the Gibson but the Gibson sounds better with one of my home-brews. With the Gibson I still want twang but I really like how aggressive this guitar can sound. I also love those honking Beatles sounds with the P90s. I love the earthy, bitey sounds I can get with this guitar. So the OD I made for this guitar is very similar to the Majestic but is a bit dryer and less compressed.

The Strat needs a lot more help! The Dude is great because it has more mids and a clean low end but dirtier high end. With the Strat i like to get a bit more Gilmourish - not as dirty and fuzzy but still very vocal. I love the bridge pickup on Strats but it does sound quite thin! Also the Strat is the guitar I like to use for those ethereal reverby, delayed sounds, as you might hear in The Church (band, not venue). I used to play in a band where I used a Strat and delay for big, aggressive pissed off U2/Church sounds. So I want growl with clarity and fullness. I love the Skreddy P19 with a Strat so I'm trying to get that tone but with a twangy bass.

Does that explain it Tim?? I'm not sure what else I can say - apart from just that I love finding sounds.


That gets it, Jimmy. Good info, thanks.


Just remember that these mini size pedal boxes use up the EXACT same size foot print of a regular MXR Phase 90 size pedal box w top mount jacks. (there's always "that" guy who will turn their pedal board into a jigsaw puzzle to prove a point but rarely are they actually players that gig; On a stage, with an audience, that isnt in their house.. Even more rare if they are a guitarist that is singing w a mic in front of them w the pedalboard below)

Also mini boxes will have a different response to some degree than full size boxes based on some simple electronics principles, and yes I guess you can make up the treble/presence loss at the amp but not really.. the pedal itself is responding differently. How can it not. look at a simple principle of capacitance and the physical relationship of components crammed the Fk together on a mini circuit board, often times in multiple tiers, not just speaking about a side by side relationship of components and their capacitance loading capabilities. (I am no electrical engineer, nor do I play one on television).

If I am absolutely or even remotely wrong in my theory here,as I often am when it comes to actual electrical principles beyond a soldering iron and spray gun...

then I'll just stick to the fact that mini pedals looks stupid, do not save you any real estate what so ever and anybody that performs w boots cannot look at an audience, sing into a mic while playing a guitar and positively stomp those gimp-ass mini pedals.

*Capacitance of two parallel plates

The most common capacitor consists of two parallel plates. The capacitance of a parallel plate capacitor depends on the area of the plates A and their separation d. According to Gauss's law, the electric field between the two plates is:https://web.pa.msu.edu/courses/2000fall/PHY232/lectures/capacitors/twopla1.gif

Since the capacitance is defined byhttps://web.pa.msu.edu/courses/2000fall/PHY232/lectures/capacitors/twopla2.gif one can see that capacitance is:

Thus you get the most capacitance when the plates are large and close together. A large capacitance means that the capacitor stores a large amount of charge.

If a dielectric material is inserted between the plates, the microscopic dipole moments of the material will shield the charges on the plates and alter the relation. Materials have a permeability e which is given by the relative permeability k, e=ke0. The capacitance is thus given by:

All materials have a relative permeability, k, greater than unity, so the capacitance can be increased by inserting a dielectric. Sometimes, k is referred to as the dielectric constant of the material. The electric field causes some fraction of the dipoles in the material to orient themselves along the E-field as opposed to the usual random orientation. This, effectively, appears as if negative charge is lined up against the positive plate, and positve charge against the negative plate. In the figure to the right, the blue material is the dielectric.


FWIW, a Shrunken Brain is the cornerstone of my micro-board, because it puts two pedals worth of goodness into the footprint, and cause Tavo's right, if you've got top-mounted jacks, the overall space used is pretty close to the same.


I see what you mean Tavo, but you càn fit more minis on a pedaltrain nano than you can full-size pedals, especially with something like those ultra flat EBS cables. And a nano is what I take on flying gigs - Cioks power underneath, half mini/half regular pedals on top. I have a flightworthy case I can check my guitar in, and the nano fits in my onboard clothing/etc... suitcase.

And what you say about having to aim for the switch on a mini pedal on stage is true as well, but I don't do all that much switching during songs, it's more of a "I'll turn this on for this tune", so that kind of works.


There are definitely downsides to the dinky ones. God help you if you want to change a setting between songs. You better have a magnifying glass, a flashlight, tweezers, and three hands to hold all the above.


I see what you mean Tavo, but you càn fit more minis on a pedaltrain nano than you can full-size pedals, especially with something like those ultra flat EBS cables. And a nano is what I take on flying gigs - Cioks power underneath, half mini/half regular pedals on top. I have a flightworthy case I can check my guitar in, and the nano fits in my onboard clothing/etc... suitcase.

And what you say about having to aim for the switch on a mini pedal on stage is true as well, but I don't do all that much switching during songs, it's more of a "I'll turn this on for this tune", so that kind of works.

– WB

I'm gonna figure out a way to move my bigsby to turn on and off 3 things only; Tremelo, delay, reverb,, then I never have to look down past my fretboard. :)

ps. not talking about full size pedals in my comment above. just a comparison between side jack minis w standard right angle patch cables and industry standard small box w top mount jacks. There is a .jpeg on here somewhere w a side by side pic and measuring tape to prove it.

I know we can be creative to save space, I do it too. I have left my pedaltrain grande far behind now that I am traveling 2hrs each way every sunday to my present gig w a station wagon, 4 people, a kick drum, highhat,accordion, bass amp (he's gone mini w a mesa d800+) & my quilter block of sand. We keep an extra upright, my extension cab and the rest of the kit in a side closet to the stage. rough life I know I know..but the travel and space in the car suck so bad the only space avail for a pedal board is a mini but no mini pedals (there is a bald spot on my board for a "mini" stomper that is only an fxloop for switching from electric to acoustic when that happens)

@bax yes those little black nylon trimmers on deck are completely useless tweaking live. Especially cuz some dummy puts ultrabright LEDs on a few pedals so the pedalboard is blinding if you kneel downPerfect though for the periphery when stuck on the mic.


Does a Shrunken Brain sound like an Atomic Brain? The AB is biggish...

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