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Seymour Duncan SFX-01 Pickup Booster Pedal Review

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Seymour Duncan SFX-01 Pickup Booster Pedal Review

I’ve been a fan of boost pedals for a long time and at the time of writing, the Moollon Signal Boost is my pedal of choice. I’ve always been intrigued about the SFX-01 though, mainly due to a specific feature incorporated into the unit; a resonance switch that lowers the resonant peak of single coil pickups, allegedly making them sound more akin to a humbuckers.

…If you’re after a versatile boost pedal that’s priced very reasonably (in the second hand market) you can’t go wrong with this unit…

Seymour Duncan SFX-01 Pickup BoosterWhilst recently strolling through Denmark Street and browsing Vintage & Rare Guitars, I noticed they had a used SFX-01 for sale (at a very low price), and I managed to purchase the pedal at a further discount due to the fact their card transaction machine was temporarily malfunctioning (they offered me a cash price – nice!).

Features:

A true bypass pedal, with a solid metal case featuring a standard stomp box footswitch.  For the pedalboard fans among us, the bottom of the pedal features a corrugated rubber pad that will need to be removed (brute force) and replaced with some sturdy Velcro.

The main feature of the pedal is the gain dial that allows guitarist to slam 6-25dB to the front of an amplifier.

The resonator switch is situated on the top of the pedal, to the right of the gain control. This switch has three settings;

  • Off (allowing for a simple gain boost without tonal colouration)
  • Position 1 – dropping the pickup resonance by 2-3 kHz, making single-coils tonally sound more like a vintage humbucker
  • Position 2 – dropping the pickup resonance by 3-5 kHz, making single-coils tonally sound more like a high-output humbucker.

Battery or 9V power operated and it comes shipped in a sturdy box with a printed user guide.

Ease of use:

Extremely easy to use; simply plug-in, set the desired boost level for your amplifier and rock out! Flicking the resonance switch is obviously straight forward enough, however you need to place the pedal first in the signal chain for the resonance drop to be implemented (not sure why this is – I just followed the user guide recommendations!).

Sound Quality:

I used this boost pedal with a 1979 Fender Stratocaster plugged into a Marshall Vintage/Modern 2266C. With the resonance switch set to the “off” position, the pedal works great as a clean boost. It has to be said, the amount of boost available from the pedal is unreal – it can really slam the front of a valve amp, and with my Marshall running in HDR (High Dynamic Range) and the pre-amp gain set very low, I managed to achieve some very thick overdrive sounds, all controllable from the guitars volume control.

The main reason I’ve always been curious about this pedal is because of the resonance switch. My Stratocaster’s bridge pickup is isolated from the tone controls on the guitar, meaning that at times, the pickup can sound a little bright and maybe a little weak for particular solo’s.

With the resonance switch set to Position 1, the change in the output tone was instantly apparent. It’s a very usable twist on the tone that seems to roll off the highs and boost the midrange. My favourite setting is in Position2 though; this takes off where Position 1 finishes and it really does darken up the tone of those bright single coils, alluding to the sound of a humbucker.

The pedal is very quiet, both when turned on and off.

Reliability:

This pedal was purchased second-hand and is still going strong. It feels very solid and going on Seymour Duncan’s reputation, I’m confident it’s been manufactured to high standards.

Summary:

If you’re after a versatile boost pedal that’s priced very reasonably (in the second hand market) you can’t go wrong with this unit. It feels solid underfoot, looks good, is very quiet, has tons of boost available and you have the added bonus of helping your single-coil equipped guitar sound like it’s loaded with darker sounding humbuckers. It really drove my amplifier into some very nice overdrive and Position 2 was great for thicker sounding solo breaks.

It’s a bit odd that the pedal needs to be placed first in the signal chain to make the most of the impedance switch functionality, and I can image some guitarists would potentially find that annoying if they have to re-arrange their pedalboard. However, the time spent re-arranging your board is more than likely to be worth it in the end, as this really is a cracking little pedal.

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About the author:

Sam is passionate about talking all things guitar related and started GuitarJar.co.uk to help encourage all guitarists in their guitar playing journey.

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