Pedals

NABPD: A Boost from Amazon

1

Unboxing #1.

At our house we've fallen into the trap of the Great Hel-Mart of the Air, and make semi-regular Amazon orders for ... well, basics. Paper, ink, padded mailers, vitamins and supplements, small parts, you name it. The shipping is free and stupid fast, and it's just so darned convenient.

So I slipped the Amazon Basics Boost pedal into Saturday's order, and here it is already. The padded envelope shown came in a box with other stuff.

The only new information: inscription reveals that the pedal is manufactured by Shenzhen Flanger Musical Instruments Co., Limited, at F/5, Tower D, Hongtaifu Bldg / Bao'an District / Shenzhen, China 51801.

2

That’s it. The world is no longer how we knew it.

3

Unboxing #2.

Not the most bespoke packaging one can imagine (nothing like Hotone's gorgeous Apple-like boxes, much less Chase Bliss's dyed wooden boxes with their wood-burned logos, hand made around the Korte family table in Minneapolis).

But there is a nice little manual. The English section is 18 pages long, pages 3-6 filled with warnings and disclaimers. Then a drawing of the pedal with the components labeled, and a single page with instructions for use. Two more pages of brain-death: "Risk of Suffocation!" "Connecting to power supply" / "Switching on/off". ("Set the volume controls DRIVE of the product to 0. Press the On/Off switch to switch the product on/off. The indicator light switches on/off accordingly. Slowly raise the volume to the desired level.")

Finally a single page on "Adjusting sound."
Bass knob: Sets amplification level of low frequency in the signal
Drive knob: Sets volume level of the signal
Treble knob: Sets amplification level of high frequency in the signal

After that, TWO pages on Cleaning and Storage. ("Risk of electric shock! Unplug the product before cleaning. Do not immerse the product in water or other liquids. Never hold the product under running water.")

Then, 4 pages of Declarations of Conformity (FCC and Canada IC), a page of specs (really, it takes 300 mA to run this thing? I doubt it.) A note that it has true bypass (finally a bit of real information), and a page with links for Feedback and Help. (I don't think they mean that kind of feedback.)

So yeah. Maybe they are thinking of rank raw pedal beginners with most of this.

5

So what's it like?

It's a lot like a mini pedal. 3.7 x 2 x 2.08" (9.4 x 5.1 x 5.3 cm), says the spec page. Weight 6.26 oz / 177.5 g. Not the lightest mini I've ever hefted, far from the heaviest. (Xotic's must be cast iron.)

Nice (but thin) rubber pads on the bottom, spanning the width of the case at top and bottom - and presumably hiding the screws. I suppose I should peel them off to open the case for a guts shot. Maybe later. (I could decide to return it.)

You know how potentiometers in upscale gear are often praised for the "smooth viscuous feel," with just the right amount of resistance to imply quality? These don't do that. They don't continue to spin with angular momentum after you give them a twist, and they don't have no resistance, but they turn mighty easy. Freer than most pedals, and an especially dramatic contrast to yesterday's NPD (an FEA compressor), whose tall machined billet knobs sit atop pots with greater-than-usual resistance to rotation.

The knobs here are plastic, pressed on. No setscrews.

The footswitch isn't the most resistant to pressage I've ever felt (that honor goes to v1 examples of many EarthQuaker pedals, which took serious down-force and made a resounding click which would disrupt any acoustic performance - other than a percussion ensemble, assuming you stomped the pedal in time). To be polite, we can say it takes positive force to actuate the stomp on the Boost. No sock-friendly soft-toucher here, that you might accidentally engage or disengage by accident. No SIR.

The pedal appears nicely made. Crisp printing on a satiny white paint job with a perfect smooth surface, hiding no flaws in metal prep. (Unlike most boutique pedals.)

6

If you open it up and pull the pcbs out, you should find “NUX” printed on there. These appear to be the same NUX mini core pedals that also get rebranded as Kokko. I find it interesting that Amazon can rebrand these and sell them for a good bit less than the NUX pedals sell for.

7

How does it sound?

I thought you'd never ask.

It adds little if any noise, beyond that expected from boosting.

Its behavior is not at all like the Xotic EP boost, though it's possible to get one setting on the Amazon which sounds like one setting on the Xotic - details to follow.

The Xotic's default tone is warm and fat and gooey in its default settings. Engaged, with the gain at minimum (7:00 on the dial), the Xotic is barely louder than pass-through, and completely clean. (If your original tone was a bald man, the Xotic at minimum is a bald man with a fatter head.) Through 9-10:00 on the dial, the Xotic is mostly a clean boost, though it grows a subtle shadow of hair on its way. As you rotate toward noon, more hair grows till it's a Marine a couple weeks after the induction shave. From there to max, the Xotic grows still more hair, ending at an mid-60s Mad Men business cut.

The Amazon, by comparison, has more hair than that with the dial at 7:00 minimum rotation - and is louder than the Xotic at max. Unless you're differently calibrated for the clean-dirty continuum than I am, it's not a clean boost at all. (Though I suppose it does resemble turning a clean amp to the point where it starts to crunch a bit.) And from there on out, it just gets hairier. It never makes it to long-hair hippie fuzz, skipping over that bit of tone evolution to pass through most of the 70s classic rock era. You know, pretty hairy. Cranked Marshall.

In that context, the tone controls are very useful. They're voiced well to fatten/thin or brighten/darken the fundamental voice of the pedal to tweak any guitar (singles or buckers) to fit in any setting where the amount of crunch is suitable.

Given that it is what it turns out to be (a low-medium gain crunchbox), does it sound good? Damn good. Better than any sub-100.00 dirter I'm familiar with, and competitive with some boutique gear. If the tone controls were parametric, you could probably dial it in to emulate a wide range of popular pedals - and even as is...it's pretty nice. Even (given that there's always some hair) reasonably transparent. You don't stomp it and wonder where your tone went.

The one setting where it sounds very close (but not identical to) the Xotic? With the Drive all the way down and bass boosted to about 1:00, it sounds mighty close to the Xotic with its one knob cranked full clockwise. The Xotic has a bit more detail and refinement that can't be emulated by playing with Treble on the Amazon - but not anything even an experienced Xotic user would notice except in a side-by-side comparison.

Nother words, it picks up almost exactly where the Xotic ends, but with more tone control. And the total amount of "boost" available is considerably more here than from the Xotic.

Since the length of the hair and the volume are directly linked - controllable only by the Drive knob - it might be hard to deploy as a conventional drive pedal. Just as in an amp, you get the hair with the volume. If you wanted to use it as dirt, with complete volume control, you'd have to put something after it to control its output.

But it certainly would "push the front end of the amp" admirably. (How that will work on the lo-buck practice amps and digital modelers much of the market for a 25.00 pedal might use...is an open question.)

With the appropriate tone knob tweaks, the Amazon Boost could also serve the same role as a classic treble booster.

My bottom line: it's a fine boost if you want the minimum boost level to be fairly substantial, and always to include hair. It is nicely responsive to the guitar's volume knob (for "cleanup"), but even at its minimum setting, it's not quite possible to roll the guitar's volume back to sound exactly like the guitar sounds, at full, with the pedal disengaged. There's still a little extra grit. (Though not unpleasant. Actually sorta clarifying.) It is NOT a clean boost.

And it's a fine dirt pedal. Overdrive, amp-in-box, cruncher. Nicely responsive to dynamics and guitar knobs. Plenty of range for tonal shaping. If you can live without master volume - to get its gainier tones at lower volume - it's the cat, with whiskers, in pajamas.

So dang.

8

Unboxing #2.

Not the most bespoke packaging one can imagine (nothing like Hotone's gorgeous Apple-like boxes, much less Chase Bliss's dyed wooden boxes with their wood-burned logos, hand made around the Korte family table in Minneapolis).

But there is a nice little manual. The English section is 18 pages long, pages 3-6 filled with warnings and disclaimers. Then a drawing of the pedal with the components labeled, and a single page with instructions for use. Two more pages of brain-death: "Risk of Suffocation!" "Connecting to power supply" / "Switching on/off". ("Set the volume controls DRIVE of the product to 0. Press the On/Off switch to switch the product on/off. The indicator light switches on/off accordingly. Slowly raise the volume to the desired level.")

Finally a single page on "Adjusting sound."
Bass knob: Sets amplification level of low frequency in the signal
Drive knob: Sets volume level of the signal
Treble knob: Sets amplification level of high frequency in the signal

After that, TWO pages on Cleaning and Storage. ("Risk of electric shock! Unplug the product before cleaning. Do not immerse the product in water or other liquids. Never hold the product under running water.")

Then, 4 pages of Declarations of Conformity (FCC and Canada IC), a page of specs (really, it takes 300 mA to run this thing? I doubt it.) A note that it has true bypass (finally a bit of real information), and a page with links for Feedback and Help. (I don't think they mean that kind of feedback.)

So yeah. Maybe they are thinking of rank raw pedal beginners with most of this.

– Proteus

It will add much-o to the resale value when you decide to flip it if you have all of the original packaging.

9

Good for you, you jumped right in the pool!

Still waiting for my NOS Punch Factory Comp. It's not coming Amazon or Walmart.com, but Canada Post.

It might be here by the end of the week, but then again, it now depends on the USPS during Election Week.

I'll probably get someone's Ballot instead, from China.

We bought a business in Shenzhen back in the day. It was still the Wild West mid-late 90's. Fun to travel there.

Epicenter of the Chinese Capitalism.

10

If you open it up and pull the pcbs out, you should find “NUX” printed on there. These appear to be the same NUX mini core pedals that also get rebranded as Kokko. I find it interesting that Amazon can rebrand these and sell them for a good bit less than the NUX pedals sell for.

There's nothing in the current Nux Mini Core line comparable to this. There are several dirt pedals (Horseman Klone, Morning Star [JHS Morning Glory knockoff?], Tube Man [presumably a Screamer], Brownie [amp-in-box?] but their control complements are all some variation of Drive / Level / Tone.

This pedal has Drive / Treble / Bass. I don't say it can't be based on one of those circuits, but it can't be a simple re-brand. It could be based on the Mini Core's one-knob Lacerate FET boost - this does sound FETty - but this adds the two tone knobs.

Again, not a direct re-brand, at least of anything in the current Nux line.

As for "how can they do it cheaper," who knows? At the level of visible hardware, the Nux pedals have nicer knobs (can't tell if they have setscrews). I wouldn't expect the internal construction to be much different. Maybe cheaper pots/jacks - but you can't get much more economically efficient than PCB construction.

Maybe Amazon bought in sufficient volume to get a sacrificial cost, or the pedal deal was part of a larger agreement to buy other products made by Shenzhen Flanger. (And I don't know that the other AB pedals are made by this company.)

Also, I don't see any visible evidence that Nux is related to Shenzhen Flanger. Neither of Nux's addresses (https://www.nuxefx.com/comp...) match Shenzhen Flanger's, and there's no obvious connection between the companies. Nux is one of three divisions of Cherub, and there's no mention at Cherub's sites of Shenzhen Flanger. Their other two divisions appear to be Cherub (as a brand name) and Musedo.

Searching "Shenzhen Flanger" shows various other products at Amazon, and links to a home page showing Kokko pedals - which does have the Boost, configured as Amazon's. So that's a hit. I just don't find a connection between Cherub/Nux and Shenzhen.

11

It will add much-o to the resale value when you decide to flip it if you have all of the original packaging.

HE HAS THE BOX!

That's what I was thinking too.

12

Thanks for a great review.

13

I recently bought a cable tester (for a job I quit today) and the documentation had an unusual way of wording the consequences of abuse. It listed all the things that would happen if you DISOBEY the instructions. That's probably a popular word over there. Fortunately, the cable tester works well, so I'm not tempted to disobey the manual's directives.

14

If you open it up and pull the pcbs out, you should find “NUX” printed on there. These appear to be the same NUX mini core pedals that also get rebranded as Kokko. I find it interesting that Amazon can rebrand these and sell them for a good bit less than the NUX pedals sell for.

There's nothing in the current Nux Mini Core line comparable to this. There are several dirt pedals (Horseman Klone, Morning Star [JHS Morning Glory knockoff?], Tube Man [presumably a Screamer], Brownie [amp-in-box?] but their control complements are all some variation of Drive / Level / Tone.

This pedal has Drive / Treble / Bass. I don't say it can't be based on one of those circuits, but it can't be a simple re-brand. It could be based on the Mini Core's one-knob Lacerate FET boost - this does sound FETty - but this adds the two tone knobs.

Again, not a direct re-brand, at least of anything in the current Nux line.

As for "how can they do it cheaper," who knows? At the level of visible hardware, the Nux pedals have nicer knobs (can't tell if they have setscrews). I wouldn't expect the internal construction to be much different. Maybe cheaper pots/jacks - but you can't get much more economically efficient than PCB construction.

Maybe Amazon bought in sufficient volume to get a sacrificial cost, or the pedal deal was part of a larger agreement to buy other products made by Shenzhen Flanger. (And I don't know that the other AB pedals are made by this company.)

Also, I don't see any visible evidence that Nux is related to Shenzhen Flanger. Neither of Nux's addresses (https://www.nuxefx.com/comp...) match Shenzhen Flanger's, and there's no obvious connection between the companies. Nux is one of three divisions of Cherub, and there's no mention at Cherub's sites of Shenzhen Flanger. Their other two divisions appear to be Cherub (as a brand name) and Musedo.

Searching "Shenzhen Flanger" shows various other products at Amazon, and links to a home page showing Kokko pedals - which does have the Boost, configured as Amazon's. So that's a hit. I just don't find a connection between Cherub/Nux and Shenzhen.

– Proteus

I guess I named the wrong NUX series. It’s the SE Mini series. I’m sure this is the same one. (I can’t seem to get a photo to load, but just search for Nux se mini booster.)

There is a YouTube review of the Drive pedal where the pcbs are removed to reveal the NUX branding.

My understanding of Shenzen is that it is made up of many interconnected companies that both create their own brand of products and also provide components to other brands.

NUX is known for inexpensive, good-sounding pedals, so it’s no knock on the Amazon ones. I expect they will hold up as well as the NUX pedals, which is why they won’t be on my live board.

15

speaking of cheap shit for fun.. I just spent $199 bucks on a complete guitar that gets good reviews, sounds good and feels good. Spaulted maple top to boot.. my good buddy talked me into it. It arrives this week. I hope I hate it but it will probably be better than my dipinto.

Tony was very convincing with his southern accent and killer riffs. (I know you're gonna get gas for one hhaha)

16

speaking of cheap shit for fun.. I just spent $199 bucks on a complete guitar that gets good reviews, sounds good and feels good. Spaulted maple top to boot.. my good buddy talked me into it. It arrives this week. I hope I hate it but it will probably be better than my dipinto.

Tony was very convincing with his southern accent and killer riffs. (I know you're gonna get gas for one hhaha)

– TheNocturneBrain

I thought about it, I always wanted to try a 335 w/o breaking the bank. Be sure to give us a review.

If they made a "proper" jazz box, it would be on it's way to my house right now.

17

I should admit I bought a whole set of Amazon Basics RCA-style Hi-Fi cables for my Acoustic Rig and the Recording gear a year ago...

They're just fine... 5 footers...15 footers.

19

Yeah, the business relationships are far from transparent. As this thread has teased out, if we're more than passingly interested in the sources and versions of these pedals, we'll have to parse things more finely.

The Boost, at least (the only pedal I have) is NOT a part of the current Nux Mini Core series. (I haven't compared the other AmaBasix pedals to the Mini Core series, so I can't generalize about them.)

As TresMellow points out, the Amazon Boost is from the Nux Mini Core SE series, which is no longer marketed under the Nux name. (I'm guessing "SE" means "special edition.") It might have been a first pass at minis on Nux's part. My hypothesis of the moment is the current Mini series represents an evolution over the SE products, and that Nux then turned the SEs into their OEM product - at a lower cost, and available for branding by anyone who buys enough.

So the Amazon pedals are Nux-branded inside, but from a series no longer marketed under the Nux name...while the current Nux Mini Cores are a different thing.

Maybe. I guess it ultimately doesn't matter.

20

maybe the Amazon pedals are a way of shifting inventory of the pedals sold as part of the discontinued Nux line? this is not uncommon in other fields of consumer electronics. everybody wins: Nux gets rid of inventory which, if taxation there is anything like here, is a taxable asset and Amazon has another way to drive traffic to their site/app.

21

so lets talk about Fender's pedals being made by Strymon.... discuss

23

I thought about it, I always wanted to try a 335 w/o breaking the bank. Be sure to give us a review.

If they made a "proper" jazz box, it would be on it's way to my house right now.

– ruger9

I already popped out the cheap metric posts and put in regular gibson steel pots w a gotoh nashville bridge. I'll have to swap in tuners. Its no where near the top end ES335 I had by Tokai but its fun and sounds ok w whatever mystery wood its made from. Its fit and finish are not shabby but not to epiphone standards yet the binding is done extremely well. I've yet to take it out into direct sunlight w the readers on haha and examine it carefully. I pulled it out of the wrap, walked it over to the bench and did the bridge swap before I played it. Plugged it into the bassman and had a short go w it until I was frustrated by the instrument going out of tune. so I dress the nut and put tuners in if I have some that fit. I'm not spending any money on this or I'm an idiot. :)

24

I got a very similar looking "boost" mini pedal off Ebay once, labeled "Koko boost". It doesn't do unity gain, and even at minimum settings it's a lot louder than is practical for me from a boost pedal.

25

I got a very similar looking "boost" mini pedal off Ebay once, labeled "Koko boost". It doesn't do unity gain, and even at minimum settings it's a lot louder than is practical for me from a boost pedal.

Yes, that's the same one. It's a good crunchy overdrive, but not practical as a boost. Big volume jump at minimum. And without master volume, you can't get its complete range of dirt without also getting louder.

Still, it sounds good.


Register Sign in to join the conversation