10 Best Guitar Preamp Pedals of 2024

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We guitar players are fickle creatures, spending countless hours in our laboratories dialing in what we consider to be the ideal tone. Quite often, the first tool we use to shape that tone is our preamp pedal.

First, a brief introduction. Every amplifier has a preamp section. The preamp is the first part of an amp that your guitar interacts with, boosting the instrument's output signal up to line level, ensuring that it's audible and dynamically consistent- helping to create the instrument's fundamental tone.

Preamp pedals essentially mimic the preamp section of a guitar amplifier and can serve as a boost, overdrive, EQ, or even a direct output, so you can bypass the traditional amp altogether if need be.

We'll get more into the nitty gritty in the Buyer's Guide and FAQs, but first, we'll dive into our list of the best preamp pedals on the market today, starting with our top pick- the Benson Preamp pedal.

Quick Summary of the Best Guitar Preamp Pedals

  1. Benson Preamp (Best Guitar Preamp Pedal)
  2. LR Baggs Venue DI Preamp / EQ / Tuner (Best Acoustic Guitar Preamp Pedal)
  3. JHS Colour Box V2 (Most Versatile Preamp Pedal)
  4. Dunlop EP101 Echoplex Preamp Pedal (Best Budget Preamp Pedal)
  5. Revv G3 Purple Channel Preamp (Best Metal Preamp Pedal)
  6. Origin Effects DCX Boost Tone Shaper (Best Preamp Pedal for Vintage Tone)
  7. Tech 21 SansAmp Bass Driver DI V2 Pedal (Most Versatile Bass Guitar Preamp Pedal)
  8. Darkglass Vintage Microtubes (Best Preamp for Overdriven Bass Tone)
  9. Analog Alien Joe Walsh Double Classic Compressor / Overdrive Pedal (Best Compressor-Style Preamp)
  10. JHS The Clover (Best Preamp for '80s Tone)

Best Guitar Preamp Pedals

1. Best Guitar Preamp Pedal – Benson Preamp

Benson Preamp


  • Analog/Digital: Analog
  • Tube/Solid-state: Solid-state
  • EQ: 2-Band EQ
  • Input: 1 x 1/4"
  • Output: 1 x 1/4"

The world of guitar preamps, and guitar pedals in general, can get pretty confusing pretty quickly. Thankfully, our top pick for best preamp pedal keeps it simple.

The Benson preamp pedal is based on the boutique amp company's legendary 30-watt Chimera head and is a versatile pedal that provides a wide range of tonal options, from a super clean boost to warm gritty distortion. This pedal's bold harmonic presence is just as useful for saturating DI/solid-state setups as it is powering long signal chains.

Tube-like tone in a super portable solid-state pedal, the Benson preamp pedal is a must-have for guitar players on the go.

2. Best Acoustic Guitar Preamp Pedal – LR Baggs Venue DI Preamp / EQ / Tuner

LR Baggs Venue DI Preamp / EQ / Tuner


  • Analog/Digital: Analog
  • Tube/Solid-state: Solid-state
  • EQ: Bass, Low Mid, Hi Mid, Treble
  • Input: 1 x 1/4" (instrument), 1 x 1/4" (return)
  • Output: 1 x 1/4", 1 x XLR (DI out), 1 x 1/4" (send)

If you've ever plugged in an acoustic/electric guitar at a local venue, you know how tricky it can be to accurately capture the instrument's tone. It's usually too buzzy, too jangly, overwhelmed by piercing high-end or unstoppable feedback. That all changes when you plug into the LR Baggs acoustic guitar preamp pedal.

The on-board 5 band EQ controls allow you to dial in your acoustic tone to perfectly match whatever ensemble you're playing with and help contour your tone to the room you're playing in. An onboard Garret Null notch filter helps offset feedback issues.

Simply kick on the mute/tuner switch to kill your signal and double-check your tuning between songs. The LR Baggs preamp is a must-have for acoustic-slinging troubadours.

Looking for more choices of acoustic guitar pedals? Explore our list of best acoustic guitar pedals and find the perfect additions to amplify your playing.

3. Most Versatile Preamp Pedal – JHS Colour Box V2

JHS Colour Box V2


  • Analog/Digital: Analog
  • Tube/Solid-state: Solid-state
  • EQ: 3-band EQ, 3-band Shift Controls, Hi-Pass
  • Input: 1 x XLR-1/4" combo (mic/Hi-Z)
  • Output: 1 x 1/4" TS, 1 x XLR output

The JHS Colour Box V2 isn't just for guitar; it's also a preamp and EQ pedal for bass, a microphone, or any line-level sources. Based on vintage mixing consoles, this 100% analog stompbox features Lundahl transformers — a favorite of none other than Rupert Neve.

Baxandall-style tone controls allow you to dial in the warm, subtle textures synonymous with the iconic sound of plugging a guitar directly into a studio preamp.

Some of the top names in music use the Colour Box in the studio and on stage, acts like U2, Wilco, War on Drugs, Muse, and more, and you'll know why as soon as you plug in and experience the creamy saturation and analog console-style swagger.

4. Best Budget Preamp Pedal – Dunlop EP101 Echoplex Preamp Pedal

Dunlop EP101 Echoplex Preamp Pedal


Analog/Digital: Digital
Tube/Solid-state: Solid-state
Input: 1 x 1/4"
Output: 1 x 1/4"

The Dunlop EP101 Echoplex preamp pedal is a great way to add instant character to your guitar tone without breaking the bank. The Echoplex lets you add up to 11dB of warm gain to your sound, but this pedal is more than a simple gain/boost or overdrive pedal.

Based on the iconic EP-3 used by such legends as Eddie Van Halen, the EP101 captures the sweetened sound of the EP-3 preamp, utilizing the exact same signal path. For a vibrant boost that helps add a certain intangible "special sauce" to your tone, we recommend the Dunlop EP101.

5. Best Metal Preamp Pedal – Revv G3 Purple Channel Preamp

Revv G3 Purple Channel Preamp


  • Analog/Digital: Digital
  • Tube/Solid-state: Solid-state
  • EQ: 3-Band EQ
  • Input: 1 x 1/4"
  • Output: 1 x 1/4"

If you're looking for modern metal tones, the Revv G3 has you covered. Frequencies stay high and tight thanks to smart filtering that removes the mud without altering your fundamental or core tone. Chunky yet well-defined, the EQ controls allow for unique tone-shaping possibilities.

The Revv G3 is a pedal that sounds good just about anywhere you put it - in front of an amp, in an effects loop, before a modeling processor, or even direct into a cabinet modeler. Highly responsive and packing a formidable punch, the Revv G3 is a worthy addition to any metalhead pedalboard.

6. Best Preamp Pedal for Vintage Tone – Origin Effects DCX Boost Tone Shaper

Origin Effects DCX Boost Tone Shaper


  • Analog/Digital: Analog
  • Tube/Solid-state: Solid-state
  • EQ: L.F./H.F.
  • Input: 1 x 1/4"
  • Output: 1 x 1/4"

Inspired by a vintage preamp used on countless recordings from the 1960s and '70s, the Origin Effects DCX Boost Tone Shaper adds vintage warmth and analog color to your aural palette.

Through a precise and responsive level control and EQ, you can harness subtle boosts, tone-tweaks, and a classic “cranked console” saturation and overdrive.

Under the hood, the DCX Boost is all-analog and features a proprietary "Adaptive Circuitry," offering a pedal experience that adapts to your own playing techniques. You can choose between two Modes, EQ for a cleaner sound and OD to add some dirt, as well as three voice controls: Dark, Flat, and Med.

If you're looking to sculpt your tone straight out of the '70s, the Origin Effects DCX Boost Tone Shaper is the pedal for you.

7. Most Versatile Bass Guitar Preamp Pedal – Tech 21 SansAmp Bass Driver DI V2 Pedal

Tech 21 SansAmp Bass Driver DI V2 Pedal


  • Tube/Solid-state: Solid-state
  • EQ: 3-band EQ and frequency shift
  • Input: 1 x 1/4"
  • Output: 1 x 1/4", 1 x XLR, 1 x 1/4" (thru)

The SansAmp Bass Driver DI is a reliable preamp and direct box that offers a drive-in presence in a rugged, road-ready package. An XLR output allows you to send your signal directly to the front-of-house, or you can add color to any stale-sounding backline amp.

Thanks to this pedal's parallel output, you can do both, sending the effected signal to the mixer while feeding your bass amp with clean signal for stage monitoring.

The drive control is a signature feature of the SansAmp, making it easy to add subtle heat to your tone, or wooly distortion if you crank it. Presence control brings out harmonic overtones to "loudness" without adding much actual volume.

While most of our list has dealt primarily with guitar preamp pedals, there are plenty of options available for bass players. Maybe that's a list for a different day, but as a starting point, you really can't go wrong with the SansAmp Bass Driver DI.

8. Best Preamp for Overdriven Bass Tone – Darkglass Vintage Microtubes

Darkglass Vintage Microtubes


  • Tube/Solid-state: Solid-state
  • EQ: N/A
  • Input: 1 x 1/4"
  • Output: 1 x 1/4", 1 x XLR, 1 x 1/4" (thru)

You couldn't possibly expect a bass player to only include one bass-centric preamp on this list, could you? The Darkglass Vintage Microtubes pedal has been the choice of some of the world's best players, and for good reason.

Instantly bring legendary rock sounds back to life with the warm, incredibly realistic tube-like tone from this masterclass of bass pedal engineering. This pedal can be described best with one word: vibe.

You'll immediately recognize the organic compression reminiscent of classic tube amps and old-school tape machines. To add some mojo to your bass tone, be sure to check out this pedal.

9. Best Compressor-Style Preamp – Analog Alien Joe Walsh Double Classic Compressor / Overdrive Pedal

Analog Alien Joe Walsh Double Classic Compressor / Overdrive Pedal


  • Analog/Digital: Analog
  • Tube/Solid-state: Solid-state
  • EQ: 2-band EQ, tonal controls
  • Input: 1 x 1/4"
  • Output: 1 x 1/4"

Add some color to your pedalboard, quite literally, with the Analog Alien Joe Walsh Double Classic Compressor/Overdrive pedal. And as a matter of full disclosure, we couldn't help but put on 'Rocky Mountain Way' while writing about this pedal.

This pedal has a 100% analog signal path and features classic Amp circuitry that delivers the sound of various vintage tube amps. Its compression circuit is modeled after hi-fi studio rack-mount compressors.

Each effect is independently switchable, meaning the compression circuit is completely independent of the amp section, providing you full access to the compressed sounds, whether you want a straight tone or a tone with some amplifier color.

10. Best Preamp for '80s Tone – JHS The Clover

JHS The Clover


  • Analog/Digital: Analog
  • Tube/Solid-state: Solid-state
  • EQ: 3-band EQ, EQ switch, Low Cut
  • Input: 1 x 1/4"
  • Output: 1 x 1/4" ; 1 x XLR

May the luck of the Irish smile on ya! Based on a classic '80s preamp guitar pedal favored by The Edge of U2, among others, JHS's The Clover is one of those pedals you may just keep on all the time. Equipped to handle electric, acoustic, or bass guitars, this analog pedal allows you to choose from three EQ settings: Full EQ, No Mids, and No EQ.

No EQ mode removes the EQ circuit from your signal path for totally clean boosting, and an on-board Low-cut switch will tighten up your tone and reduce any unnecessary bass. A balanced XLR output allows you to send your signal directly to a modeler, mixing board, or recording console.

Best Guitar Preamp Pedals Buyer's Guide

This buyer's guide will help you know what to consider when purchasing a guitar preamp pedal.

Welcome to the Tone Zone

It may sound obvious, but the most important aspect of a preamp pedal is how it sounds. Or, more specifically, how that sound makes you feel. You'll want to determine whether you want a preamp pedal that provides distortion or overdrive. Some preamps specialize in clean tones, similarly to clean boost pedals, while others are known for their high-gain capabilities.

A flexible EQ control panel is always an enticing option, as it will help you shape your tone. And if you plan to use the pedal for direct recording or going straight into a PA system, you'll want to consider a preamp that can emulate the sound of traditional guitar cabinets.

The More You Can Do...

Versatility is another key attribute essential for any preamp. Boost, overdrive, tone shaping, or signal-splitting options are all useful options. But more importantly, you'll want to find a preamp pedal that can be used in various musical environments.

A 1/4" output jack is standard, but an XLR out would be very useful if you're planning on using the preamp as a DI for either a mixing board or audio interface.

A Name You Can Trust

You'll want to make sure your preamp pedal can stand up to the rigors of the road. Solid-state pedals are more consistent and reliable, as they often require less repair (which is mainly why all the pedals featured on our list are solid-state), but there are some fantastic tube preamps available, too.

All of the preamps featured on our list are from reputable manufacturers with years of experience and countless user reviews.

Price Point

You don't necessarily have to break the bank in order to get a reliable preamp pedal that you'll use for years to come. While there are entry-level options starting at around $50, but keep in mind that, for the most part, the old adage is true - you get what you pay for.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What exactly is a preamp pedal?

Over the years, there has been some confusion over what constitutes a preamp pedal, as many distortion pedals have incorrectly been marketed as preamp pedals. A guitar preamp pedal is a stompbox that shapes and enhances your guitar tones before the signal passes through an amplifier. And while it can provide various tonal adjustments, such as overdrive or distortion, the terms are not interchangeable.

When would I use a preamp pedal?

Preamp pedals are particularly useful when you want to fine-tune your sound and achieve specific tonal characteristics. Traditionally, they're placed at the front of the signal chain in order to help shape the rest of your sound."What's the difference between a preamp pedal and an overdrive or distortion pedal?

While both types of pedals can add gain to your tone, preamp pedals often offer more comprehensive EQ controls and can serve as the central tone-shaping unit in your setup. Overdrive and distortion are types of gain pedals that primarily focus on adding different levels of drive and saturation to your tone.

Can I use a preamp pedal with my amplifier that comes with a built-in preamp?

Sure you can. You'll only be further tailoring your tone. It's recommended to start with your amp's EQ as flat as possible so you can hear the true sound of the instrument. You can then start tweaking your preamp to dial in the desirable sound and use your amp settings to give your signal the final push.

Will I need to use a separate power supply for my preamp pedal?

Some preamp pedals can be powered using a standard 9V power supply, while others may require different voltage or come with various power options, including batteries or power banks. Always check the pedal's power requirements in the user manual.

Can I use preamp pedals in combination with other guitar effects?

Sure you can! Preamp pedals can be integrated into a pedalboard alongside other effects to create an elaborate signal chain that includes various tonal shaping and modulation options. Experiment with different pedal combinations to find out what works best for your taste!


Preamp pedals are an excellent addition to a pedalboard and tonal arsenal for those affectionally referred to as "knob tweakers." They can be an incredibly useful way to fundamentally shape your tone without cluttering up your signal chain.

For its simplicity, effectiveness, and of course tone, we recommend the Benson Preamp Pedal, one of the best guitar preamp pedals available today. If you're looking for more versatility and for a preamp that can be used on instruments other than guitar, our pick is the JHS Colour Box.

Like all things in music, taste is subjective, and you won't know which pedal is right for you until you plug in and try a few out for yourself. But if you're looking to add depth and color to your sound or add a bit more control to your backline situation, preamp pedals are the way to go. Happy hunting and happy playing!

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