SKYBOOST (Black Arts Toneworks) Demo & Review

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Brian Johnston
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SKYBOOST (Black Arts Toneworks) Demo & Review

Postby Brian Johnston » Fri Aug 10, 2018 9:21 am

SOUND:
The YouTube video below demonstrates the SKYBOOST, a boost/overdrive/fuzz combination pedal with true bypass switching:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xJZmX_kX7X8&feature=youtu.be

Offering different capabilities with any modern genre of music, SKYBOOST is a very simple and highly usable pedal. It isn’t classified as high-gain, but it can be used to increase gain in a high-gain amp or pedal. The GAIN knob allows you to increase the harmonic quality of your tone when turned low, but increases saturation and fuzziness as you crank it up. I find that SKYBOOST actually adds an element of ‘life’ to a tone, whether using an amp with or without drive/fuzz/distortion pedals. The CONTOUR switch allows you to shift from a more bass-heavy tone to a more treble-enriched tone. The RANGE switch allows you to shift from a lower-gain (sweeter), which is cool if you want a good dose of fuzz that isn’t over the top, to a higher-gain (edgier) setting.

OVERALL IMPRESSION:
Known best for its super heavy and saturated sounding fuzzes and distortions, Black Arts Toneworks has a solid reputation in the industry. SKYBOOST actually is a calmer pedal within the family, although it offers some very unique qualities for those thriving on a cleaner tone (who want a bit extra boost or dirt when necessary) to those driving high-gain amps and tones looking for some boost or to add front-end definition and pizzazz. Definitely good value at $159 USD. In effect, you can get some very gentle full-range boost with nary a hint of distortion or fuzz, and all the way up to a very aggressive and clearly-defined fuzz. With its two EQ contours (a full-range and a treble emphasized boost) and two boost ranges (low gain and higher gain) there is a lot to work with regardless of the gear you’re using. The SKYBOOST definitely adds to the sound without distracting from the original tone, even when pushing the boost and fuzz (which remains very clear and defined, even when pushing the limits).

EASE OF USE:
Initially you should match the volume of your amp with the SKYBOOST engaged (via the VOLUME knob), and from there you add extra boost, fuzz, etc., as needed. The rest is hardly rocket science, although the range of what you can produce is significant enough and depending on your choices. The GAIN knob is very subtle from zero to even half-way, which range adds some dirt, but nothing over the top (good for a gritty clean or adding some definition to a higher-gain tone). Once you get to 3-o’clock the fuzz really kicks in, and once turned up full at 5-o’clock there is an even more significant difference in the fuzz, as though skipping a few steps into warp-drive. The CONTOUR switch shifts from more bass-heavy (flipped to the left) to more treble-emphasized (flipped to the right). There’s enough bass or treble at either end that you will need to adjust your amp’s bass and treble setting accordingly (unless you want a noticeable increase in bass or treble). The RANGE switch has low gain (flipped left) and higher-gain (flipped right). It’s not a high-gain drive as you would find on high-gain amps and some other pedals, but when placed in front of a high-gain amp you better turn down the amp’s gain, since it tends to drive such amps very hard and very well.

RELIABILITY & DURABILITY:
Black Arts Toneworks’ SKYBOOST is an average sized pedal, made of steel, and includes a standard lifetime warranty. The paint is smooth and slightly matt in appearance and feel (not glossy). The paint quality feels good and it would take quite a bit of abuse to scratch it off. The footswitch has a solid click and feels of good quality, as well. The two knobs (VOLUME and GAIN) are of plastic and sit far back enough from the footswitch. Then there is the LED and two switches (CONTOUR and RANGE) that also sit far back enough (the switches sit lower than the knobs and are protected in that regard, and the LED is relatively small and sandwiched safely between the two knobs). All lines (input/output/POWER) are located in the back, to save on pedal board space and to keep unwanted force or pressure away from a stomping foot. You cannot use a battery with SKYBOOST, but a 9v DC power supply (approximately 24mA).

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