The Spark Mini is the stripped-back little brother to the Spark Booster by TC Electronics. It features just one knob that can dial in up to 20dB of clean boost, and like most TC pedals the Spark Mini is true bypass. It comes in a white enclosure with a classy gold graphic that will be sure to keep your Instagram pictures looking sharp!
There are a lot of boosts that act more like a low gain overdrive, adding a bit of grit to your signal even at low volumes. Then there are other boosters that also add color to your tone and are often best used as a tone-enhancement pedal rather than a straight up boost. While both of those styles of boosts have their uses, I wouldn’t call them clean boosts. The Spark Mini though is literally just a decibel boost and is about as clean as it gets.
Let’s talk about using the pedal. As a simple one-knob pedal the Spark Mini is so straight forward to use. The thing with pedals like this is that it’s all about where you place the pedal, not necessarily how the knob on the pedal is set. There are three main ways to integrate a boost like the Spark Mini:
- Use it with a clean amp that has some headroom available and place it after your overdrives or at the end of your chain. With this method you will literally get a straight volume boost with no coloration. This is really useful for clean solos or if you just plain want more of what you’re hearing.
- Take an amp that is at the edge of breakup and boost it with the Spark Mini. The boost will push your amp to break up further and will often result in a really nice natural overdrive from your amp that lets the amp’s voice really shine.
- Place it before another overdrive to push it. In this way the Spark Mini will act as a gain boost for whatever overdrives come after it. This is a fun way to get more grit from your other pedals. The way your amp is set will come into play here too and you may get a combo of more pedal gain AND more amp gain. Depending on what you’re looking for that could be awesome or it might be too much.
My favorite way to use the Spark Mini is sort of a combo of my 1st and 2nd examples above. I place it after my overdrive and before my delay & reverb pedals, set my amp on the edge of breakup, and use the Spark Mini as a clean boost for those parts that I don’t really want to go for an all-out overdrive (I’ll ride the volume on my guitar to manipulate how clean or dirty my amp gets when I use the Spark Mini).
One thing I’m always looking for with gear is for stuff that packs a great value per dollar and square inch. The Spark Mini is one of those pieces of gear that I’d say is an incredible value. It’s mini enclosure, low power draw (40mA), and accessible price (just $50) make it a pedal that almost anybody can fit into their pedalboard. In fact, many other comparable pedals cost 2-3 times as much. Don’t just take my word for it, check it out yourself. The nice thing about this pedal is that most major stores will likely have it in stock, so get out and play one for yourself!