The World's FIRST Multi-era Treble Booster
Treble boosters - simultaneously boosting gain and the high end of the tonal spectrum, whilst attenuating lower frequencies - have always been an integral part of Brian May's signal path, from Queen's earliest recordings to his current stadium-sized setup and the 2019 "New Horizons" single, and are an essential tool for any guitarist wishing to achieve a focused, cutting, overdriven sound, with clear note definition and string clarity.
The BMG TREBLE BOOSTER CLASSIC is a elegant and compact, multi-mode foot pedal designed by British electronics guru, Nigel Knight of Knight Audio Technologies, that combines three separate, uniquely voiced circuits that faithfully replicate Dr. May's most recognisable tones from the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s, providing modern guitarists with the opportunity to select the distinctive sound of their favourite May-era, at the flick of a switch and the turn of a level control, either to emulate the maestro or to explore their own new musical horizons.
Decades of Tone
Thanks to the unique access provided by his long term tech, Pete Malandrone, the sound representing each decade has been meticulously modelled after the actual vintage equipment used by Brian May during each period of his stellar career - his dynamic, germanium Dallas Rangemaster from the 1970's, the orange label, silicon BC149 transistor powered booster installed on his pedal board throughout the 80's, and an original 1998 Greg Fryer strap booster. Every possible technical nuance of these contemporaneous processors has been analysed in order to recreate the original circuitry and realise an astonishingly authentic reproduction of their tonal responses and output profiles.
Proudly made in England, the Treble Booster Classic is built into a compact, rugged, solid die-cast aluminium case and features a heavy-duty 3PDT footswitch for reliable, sustained use, true-bypass switching with LED status indicator, internal battery compartment, 9VDC socket for pedal-board power supplies, high quality Neutrik 3 pole jack sockets and a level control topped with a RS-style aluminium knob, so there is no mistaking the heritage of the tones therein.
Operating the BMG Treble Booster Classic
The BMG Treble Booster Classic is easy to set up and use.
With power supplied by an internal 9 volt battery (included) or via the 9VDC socket (mains adapter NOT supplied), plug your guitar into the ‘IN’ jack and plug the ‘OUT’ jack into your amplifier.
It is essential that the Treble Booster Classic is the first unit in line after the guitar in the signal chain (if you are using a radio system, then the TBC must sit between the guitar and the transmitter pack).
For a thorough explanation of the science behind this, please see the section below.
Select the era that represents the sound you wish to use via the slide switch on the top right-hand side.
The three position switch has three decades - 70's, 80's and 90's - marked on the right hand side with three corresponding icons - treble clef, solid star and outlined star - on the left hand side. These icons match the icons printed around the LEVEL control which indicate the point where the level (or gain) of the Treble Booster Classic matches that of the original vintage unit.
- To match the tone and gain of Brian's earliest treble booster, simply slide the switch to the uppermost 70's position and rotate the level control so that the red dot indicator on the knob lines up with the treble clef.
- For the eighties tone and level, slide the switch to the centre 80's position and rotate the level control all the way clockwise so that the red dot indicator lines upon with the solid star.
- To emulate Brian's nineties sound, slide the switch to the bottom 90's position and rotate the level control so that the red dot lines up with the outlined star.
Obviously, these settings do not have to be strictly adhered to. They are simply there as guides to indicate at which point you will be enjoying a response exactly the same as Brian had all those years ago. The BMG Treble Booster Classic has more gain available than the original Dallas Rangemaster and Strap TB so you can adjust the level to suit your own sound and style or amplifier requirements.
Remember to unplug the input jack when not in use if you are running an internal battery to preserve battery life.
An insight into the dark art of Treble Boosting a Red Special
By Nigel Knight • November 2018
First and foremost, this is a treble booster, and so should sit first in line after the guitar in the signal chain. There has been much debate over the years as to why the TB should sit first so, to explain why, let’s start with the guitar itself...
Any Red Special-influenced instrument, in most modes of ‘BM’ style operation, employs at least two single coil pickups in series, whereas most single coil-loaded guitars configure them in parallel. This has the benefit of increasing the output level of the guitar, which helps drive the AC30s (or equivalent) further into saturation. In addition to this, in a number of switching set-ups, the pick-ups' polarity provides ‘humbucking’ qualities, thus reducing hum and noise.
The theoretical downside is that it also increases the overall impedance of the guitar which renders it more susceptible to ‘tone sucking’ if plugged into a low impedance load. Now, most guitar amplifiers and effects stomp boxes are designed to offer the guitar a relatively high impedance load (at least 500Kohm for some stomp boxes and 1Meg ohm or more for amps). Alas, the humble treble booster has other ideas, as it sits far lower than that at less than 100Kohm.
Now, here’s why the treble booster must come first, straight after the guitar (and when we say straight after, we mean STRAIGHT AFTER, so if you are using a radio system, then the TB must sit between the guitar and the transmitter pack).
So, the guitar is high Z (impedance) and the TB medium Z. Under normal circumstances the treble booster would just suck the high frequency detail from the guitar and that’s just what it does when the guitar is at full volume. The volume pot is fully open, and the low Z load of the TB drags down the high frequency detail of the Red Special. This is what provides the creamy, warm, fully distorted tones we all love. However, when Brian backs off the guitar’s volume, the signal distorts less and cleans up to his renowned glassy tones. This happens because the guitar’s volume pot is wired to effectively provide the pick-ups with a constant high Z load, whilst driving the TB with a varying source impedance. So, when the guitar volume is backed off, the guitar’s pickups see a high Z load, but the TB ‘thinks’ it’s being driven (pushed) by a low Z source, and so the TB can’t suck the high frequencies any more and delivers the glassy cleans.
So, it is imperative that you make sure the guitar and the TB can ‘talk’ to each other and interact with each other, because that is where the magic happens.