Pedals

I have a RC Booster. Do I really need an Atomic Brain?

1

I've been intrigued by the Atomic Brain or rather the Mystery Brain which I believe is Atomic plus a tape delay. I have RC booster as my always on pedal mostly used to change EQ and for occasional slight boost for all my different guitars. So how does the Atomic Brain compare with RC booster? Does it only compliment Gretsches or works equally with single coil Humbucks and P-90's loaded guitars? Would the move to an AB be a significant upgrade over the RC? Thank you!

2

From my own souvenir (don't have any of them currently): - RC Booster: very good EQ, boost and grit tool - Atomic Brain: grit, boost and chime magic

3

The Atomic Brain absolutely works on every guitar, and it's not in the least genre-specific.

It's not even primarily a boost (mine is set for the slightest hair over unity), nor does it exactly push highs. It's more the way it lifts, separates, clarifies, and magnifies. Your guitar actually gets more dynamic - not just boosted. There's more range available for picking and vol-knob dynamics.

What it adds for texture is not exactly grit, it's more ... maybe a touch of body and what seems like more sparkle. The "Abby" side (left stomp) provides even more more - which might push your amp a little harder, depending on how you have it set, but doesn't really get dirtier on its own. More of a clean boost...but also with the undefinable textural character which Tavo calls gritsch.

If you're familiar with exciters, it's not like that at all: it's not a fake high end that eventually grates on the ears. But you'd use it instead of an exciter. You know BBE's Sonic Stomp? It's more like that...but way more so.

All in all, the AB is just your sound, but MORE. Bigger, more impact, more authority. It's the today-I-am-a-man pedal. Turn it off and you turn wimpy with a little deflation squeak.

It's been always-on tone tonic for me for ... how long? Ten years, I guess?

I started with the very first version, mostly intended for Filter'Trons, to add the missing ingredient to a 6120 and a blond Bassman to get Brian Setzer's tone. (Tavo was really that specific with the original.) Then he tweaked some more to make it good with Dynasonics (and any other pickups), and called it the Atomic Brain.

I traded my original for that, mine in highly polished aluminum. Looks chrome, Gretsch knobs. It's one of the few pedals I'm sentimental about, and it will never go away.

Still, when the BS-301 came out, with the Brain circuit plus the tape echo emulator, I got that. Then I wanted to put the Brain half near the front of my signal chain, and the delay half near the end...so I beat Tavo up till he produced the version with an effects loop to make that possible, and that's what's on my board now. I don't know how, but I think the Brain circuit is better in the BS-301 than in the original Brain. (Tavo's told me why, but I don't remember. I don't have to remember, because he took care of it.)

I've ordered a limited-run candy apple red Brain, in the smaller-footprint box, to deploy on a different board. (It will also have the most recent/refined version of the circuit.)

Alas, I can't compare it directly with the RC Booster, because I haven't had one. I have the EP Boost, and it's nothing like that. (I use the EP for a warm mid boost on single-coils.) I have models of the RC in various modelers and multi-fx (which I know is not the same thing), but they're not Brainy.

Not knowing how your RC sounds with your guitars, I can't promise the Brain would be a significant upgrade. It's just as likely to be something new and different you couldn't have known you were missing. (Because, remember, it's not a grit machine, and the EQ is not variable. You do get a bass contour control, which is great for subtle low-end shaping.) It might kick the RC off your board - or you might end up using the RC for another purpose.

I can tell you that, yes, it works with any pickups. I have every flavor of Filter'Tron, both stock and TVJ & Seymour Duncan Dynasonics, HiLoTrons, lots of P90 guitars, mini-hums, Strats, Teles, and humbuckers of all sorts. I have 12-strings, basses, baritones, a tenor, and an 8-string. I use the Brain with all of them. It's just a condition of my being plugged in.

Not that it's a crutch or anything. I can unplug it anytime I want!

4

Here's a visual. If it's grit, it's not rocky grit, gravelly grit, pebbly grit, or even sandy grit.

It's more like salt. It's the universal spice that makes everything more toothsome, it preserves your tone, it provides some texture and grip - so you feel every note - and it sparkles.

5

Jeez now I want one. Though I believe Santa is busy working away on a Junior Barnyard for yours truly.

6

Good descriptions above. I’m not a rockabilly player and it’s an always on pedal for me too. It just enhances everything. Cleans sound fuller. Drives get a little extra bite. I was playing with a flanger this morning and was amazed how much better even that sounded with the Brain on vs off (I have an Atomic not Mystery Brain).

One tricky bit is that it is best to put it at the front of the chain. However I have a fuzz that refuses to have anything before it. A Wah that also likes to be first, but works after the Brain. And a crazy pedal by Death By Audio (Total Sonic Annihilator) that simply doesn’t work it the Brain is on in front of it. But those are typical issues with any pedals that like to be first in line.


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