The Dallas Rangemaster Treble Booster

by Jim Button
Dallas Rangemaster Treble Booster | Boost Guitar Pedals

The Dallas Rangemaster Treble Booster has been used by the great and good of rock: Jimmy Page, Ritchie Blackmore, Rory Gallagher, Tony Iommi, Marc Bolan, Brian May...rumour even has it that Eric Clapton used one on several tracks of John Mayall's Bluesbreakers With Eric Clapton - the famed "Beano" album.

Released in 1966, the Rangemaster Treble Booster was effectively a germanium-based pre-amp in a simple box that would sit on top of your amp. Consisting of one germanium transistor (typically a Mullard OC44 or NTK275), three resistors and four capacitors, it sums up the simplicity of the era's guitar equipment, but the sound it was capable of producing...well, let's just say it made more than one guitar legend!

The idea behind the Dallas Rangemaster was to bring upper-frequency clarity to typical British amps of the day, which tended to be on the darker side. The "growl" of the pushed germanium transistor running into the first tube in an amp's pre-amp section not only adds grit and texture to the final sound, but it provides the amp with an EQ'd sound and light compression. 

The germanium transistor asymmetrically clips the signal in a relatively smooth way, which the amp's pre-amp valve then builds on by clipping the peaks on the other side of the waveform. The result is a smooth, compressed signal which works wonders when the volume is then turned up.

What Are Clipping Diodes? | Boost Guitar Pedals

Read: What Are Clipping Diodes?

Treble Booster?

Interestingly, the name is a bit of a misnomer - it's not just a case of simply boosting the treble frequencies. Instead, the upper-mid and lower-treble range "feed" the pedal and dictate how much boost it produces: the more high-end signal, the more dBs of gain. There is also no cutting of the bass frequencies as you find in something like a Tubescreamer. 

The result is an extremely responsive tone with plenty of texture, zing and girth - a perfect match for an overdriving Marshall!

What Are the Alternatives to a Dallas Rangemaster Treble Booster?

You can buy an original 1960s Dallas Rangemaster Treble Booster today for around £2,000, which is great if you want a piece of history. But if you're chasing the tone itself then I strongly recommend the following pedals:

Tate FX Hot Coals Germanium Rangemaster Transparent Front | Boost Guitar Pedals
Tate FX Hot Coals Germanium Rangemaster Transparent Front | Boost Guitar Pedals
Tate FX Hot Coals Germanium Rangemaster right - Boost Guitar Pedals
Tate FX Hot Coals Germanium Rangemaster left - Boost Guitar Pedals
Tate FX Hot Coals Germanium Rangemaster front context | Boost Guitar Pedals

TATE FX Hot Coals Germanium Rangemaster

£149.00

NOS Germanium Rangemaster with Full Range Mode...

The Tate FX Hot Coals is a Rangemaster-style germanium boost, made with NOS UK military-spec germanium transistors and NOS USSR germanium diodes for temperature stabilisation.

Based on the classic Dallas Rangemaster, the Hot Coals takes the best parts and expands on it - notably including a toggle to switch between the classic treble-boost and a fuller-range setting for those occasions when you don't need all that treble!

Full of muscular sounds, this is a brilliant Rangemaster-style pedal with incredibly organic germanium tones.

Features:

  • Classic Rangemaster-style germanium boost
  • Switch between original treble-boost circuit and modern-style full range character
  • Handmade in the UK
  • Power: 9v power adaptor, centre-negative (not included)
View Details

Since I started stocking the Tate FX Hot Coals, it's become difficult to unplug this pedal from my setup. Based on the Dallas Rangemaster, it brings just what I want to my sound: plenty of cutting mid-range and high-end clarity. It's difficult to express in words the grin this simple one-knob pedal puts on my face!

Stuart Tate of Tate FX explained to me how he uses the best components he can find: "The Hot Coals uses NOS UK military-spec germanium transistors with NOS Soviet-era Russian germanium diodes for temperature stabilisation. It's based on the classic Dallas Rangemaster Treble Booster. The switch toggles between the classic treble frequency boost and a fuller frequency boost."

FORMULA B Fuzz Rangers front transparent | Boost Guitar Pedals
FORMULA B Fuzz Rangers front transparent | Boost Guitar Pedals
FORMULA B Fuzz Rangers Context Left | Boost Guitar Pedals

FORMULA B Fuzz Rangers

£175.00

Legendary Boost & Fuzz In One Pedal!

The Formula B Fuzz Rangers takes two iconic circuits and encloses them in a beautifully finished chassis, with vintage-style controls. With the option to run the Fuzz or Boost independently, it's an incredibly flexible pedal for your pedalboard, but where it gets interesting is that there's a toggle to set the direction of the signal. You can choose whether to run the Boost into the Fuzz, or vice-versa. The results differ dramatically...

Fuzz

The Fuzz circuit is based on the silicon Fuzz Face, using a pair of NOS military-spec BC108 transistors and carbon-layer resistors. It sounds great on its own, and reacts really nicely to your guitar's volume pot - as Fuzz Faces do. Running the Fuzz into the Boost gets you a clearer tone with plenty of gain to push your amp, showcasing all that lovely Fuzz Face breakup.

Boost

The Boost circuit is based on the Dallas Rangemaster Treble Booster, with silicon BC549 transistors to reduce compatibility problems (polarity, power etc) with the Fuzz circuit. Uniquely, there's a toggle switch to shift the Boost emphasis between Low, Mid and High frequencies, making it more flexible than a traditional Rangemaster. Running the Boost into the Fuzz saturates the input of the Fuzz Face and gets you a rich, warm, super-fuzzy character which responds well to how you set the EQ toggle.

More than simply for fans of Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan, this pedal will serve you well with its vintage vibe and tonal flexibility.

Features:

  • Dual-channel pedal with independent Fuzz and Boost circuits.
  • NOS BC108 transistors and carbon-layer resistors on the Fuzz side.
  • Silicon-based Rangemaster circuit on the Boost side for greater compatibility with the Fuzz.
  • Effects Order toggle switch enables you to run the Fuzz into the Boost, or the Boost into the Fuzz when both channels are activated.
  • EQ toggle allows you to emphasise Low, Mid or High frequencies on the Boost side.
  • Handmade in Todi, Italy
  • Fuzz, Level, Boost, EQ toggle & Effects Order toggle controls
  • Power: 9V power supply, centre-negative (not included)
  • Current draw: 10mA
View Details

The Formula B Fuzz Rangers has become one of our bestsellers almost overnight. Combining the classic silicon Fuzz Face circuit with a silicon version of the Rangemaster Treble Booster (for stability when run together with the fuzz), it's a serious bit of kit that brings all the character of the Rangemaster circuit but adds a Low/Mid/Hi toggle to focus in on certain frequency ranges.

So grab yourself a Marshall (other amps are available...), a Tate FX Hot Coals or Formula B Fuzz Rangers, your favourite guitar and 30 minutes to yourself, and see if you can unplug this pedal afterwards. Our bet is that you can't!

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