best amp in a box pedals 2

Updated on 09.27.2018

We recently posted an all-encompassing article focused on high end, Dual Gain Stages Overdrive Pedals with a Boost Footswitch. Even though they belong to that category, we decided to keep the “Amp-in-a-Box” style stompboxes for a separate post, because they are not quite the same… here we go then!


Some players don’t have access to the amplifiers they want, but can still have access to those tones. These options are designed to nail the tone of some legendary amplifiers – in stompbox format. They offer extensive control over pretty much every parameter.

Also, don’t forget that clicking on the gallery’s thumbnails opens a YouTube Video and that the pedals are organized in order of “perceived popularity.”

ZVEX Box of Rock (Vexter Series $219, Hand Painted $349)
The Box of Rock was designed to nail the sound of a dimed Marshall JTM45 – and does so pretty convincingly. The controls couldn’t be simpler – Drive, Tone, Volume, and a single volume knob for boost (which can boost up to 50x from unity gain, that’s A LOT of boost!).
The mojo in this pedal is really in the interaction between the Drive knob and your guitar’s volume control – just like old Marshalls. Even when maxed, the ‘Distorton’ (their words!) never seems to get smeary or harsh.

Bogner – Ecstasy Blue ($299.99)
You can tell how much love Bogner put into truly making these pedals echo their amplifier counterpart. All Class A design lends a true amp-like feel and response to the Ecstasy Blue. It’s got a warmer overdrive sound, with a nice emphasis in the mid-range.

A variety of tone shaping features are available like Mode, which selects between the Blue or a Plexi-like gain structure, Variac can introduce more gain and compression, PreEQ works like a presence switch, and Structure lets your choose between different EQ curves and gain structures from different models of the Ecstasy amplifier.

Carl Martin PlexiTone ($266)

Yet another offering from Carl Martin packing the sound of a legendary British amp into a stompbox. The Plexitone serves up medium-high gain sounds via 2 footswitchable channels and a 3rd channel offering up to 20dB of clean boost.

There is a single gain knob for the crunch and high-gain channels, and they share tone and output volume controls. The boost is a single volume knob, just like the AC-Tone. Its power supply runs at 9V changed via a DC/DC converter to (+-12V)  dual supply, which allows extra headroom.
Bogner – Uberschall Pedal ($249)
A really high-gain pedal from Bogner, based on their infamous amplifier of the same name. While it kills at metal and heavier styles, that’s about all it can do. No pedal can truly emulate an amp, but this one gets really close. It uses only Class A circuitry, and definitely goes to 11.

Bogner – Ecstasy Red ($299.99)
The Ecstasy Red channel in a stompbox format designed with Class A circuitry to give a truer, more amp-like response. It slays at mid-gain stuff (it emulates the same amp as the Ecstasy blue, but has more gain), it’s great for hard rock and metal.

A variety of tone shaping features are available like Mode, which selects the type of EQ curve, Variac can introduce compression, PreEQ works like a presence switch, and Structure lets you choose between different EQ curves and gain structures from different models of the Ecstasy amplifier.

Xotic AC Plus Boost/Overdrive ($196)
Another AC-30-in-a-box with a detailed control scheme to let you dial in exactly the tone you want. Channel A has fairly simple controls – with gain, tone, and volume. A switch lets you toggle between more of a clean boost sound than an overdrive.
Channel B is a bit more elaborate with a 3-band EQ and gain and volume knobs. The ‘Comp’ switch selects between hard or soft clipping, letting you dial in your preferred flavor of overdrive. There is also a switch to select the order of the tone stack, making the pedal able to work with pretty much any setup.

Bogner – La Grange ($249.99)
One of the top Plexi-style pedals available, the La Grange features a ton of tone shaping options. Channel A is a standard 3 knob overdrive (Distortion, Level, Tone), and the Boost function is a single control. Toggle switches take it a step further with options for Distortion, Presence, Variac, and Structure change the dynamics and response of the pedal.

An expression pedal can be used to control gain settings in real-time. Channel blend simulates jumping the channels of old Plexis, and the Variac and Headroom switches change the headroom and response.

Carl Martin AC-Tone  ($266)
The AC-tone is designed to get the chimey, low to medium gain overdrive everyone has come to know and love from beloved Vox amps. There are 2 channels as well as the boost, giving you 3 total channels.
The controls are dead simple – gain for both channels, a shared output volume and tone via the Cut knob, and a boost volume. 20 dBs of clean boost are on tap to send your sound into the stratosphere.Its power supply runs at 9V changed via a DC/DC converter to (+-12V)  dual supply, which allows extra headroom.

J. Rockett Pedals – Tim Pierce Signature OD/Boost ($259)
Designed by master session guitarist Tim Pierce, this solid little pedal from J. Rockett Audio Designs emulates one of Pierce’s favorite amps – the little known Naylor SD60. The warm, smooth overdrive sounds produced are versatile enough to stand alone, or make any amp sound better.

It’s got a lot of gain available without being too over the top, and features a ton of headroom so you can really push the level. The most unique feature is the “Power Amp” control, which adds a tonal element akin to cranking the master volume on an amplifier.

Mad Professor – Twimble ($229.95)
A stompbox take on one of the most mythical amp of all time, the Twimble is an upgraded version of Mad Professor’s Simble, with a boost channel. Both channels can be stacked or run independently.

Unique controls give you extra tonal options. Sensitivity acts like a gain control, also effecting the compression of the clipping. Accent adjusts for brightness and pick attack, and Contour acts as an EQ. The Hot/Cool control adds +10dB or +6dB of gain, respectively.

J Rockett – Led Boots ($259)
Another J Rockett signature overdrive, the Led Boots recreates Phil Brown’s signature Marshall sound. The Led Boots is really warm, and pairs well with single coil pickups and mini humbuckers. It takes a bit more tweaking with standard humbuckers, but it can get there. The channels are independent and can be stacked.

Aspen Pittman – Duo Tonic ($349 approx. used)
The Duo Tonic is a hybrid tube-solid state pedal. Due to this design, it offers a genuinely transparent overdrive that plays well with whatever guitar/amp setup you rock. The marriage of tube and solid-state technology is a great hybrid. It might sound bland to some, but this is one of the most interesting options on this list due to its circuit design. The main channel features controls for drive, tone, and volume and the boost channel is quite versatile. It runs at 12v for a little more headroom, and though the solid-state section comes first, you can really push the tubes and get Channel 2 cooking. While the boost has no footswitch, it blends well when engaged.

Finally, we should also mention the Atomic Amps Ampli-Firebox (created in collaboration with Studio Devil), which is a slightly different beast: a digital overdrive with boost stompbox that gives you the advantage of giving you access to nine presets instantly using the toggle switches on the pedals, and a host of other tone shaping features including cabinet impulse response IR loader, effects and several amp emulations through the software editor. This pedal uses the same technology of the company’s Amplifire, at about 1/2 the price. – by Brandon Stoner