NAMM 2024: Catalinbread has unveiled the Naga Viper MKII, a newly improved take on their treble booster pedal, inspired by the classic but unwieldy vintage Dallas Rangemaster units much loved by the likes of Brian May, Rory Gallagher and the godfather of metal guitar, Tony Iommi.
Now, the treble booster is one of the oldest outboard effects in electric guitar, but that doesn’t meant to say it can’t be modernised. At least, that’s the theory, and Catalinbread has taken a second pass at the circuit, swapping out the transistor to make it hotter – always music to our ears – and also helpfully adding an attenuator control, which should make this an even more practical option for your pedalboard.
The addition of the attenuator dial is in recognition to what the treble booster’s role was in the first place; to boost your guitar amp, hitting the front end hard and giving it something to think about.
Once upon a time, this would be all you had, just the Rangemaster treble booster trying to eke more gain out of the amplifier, but in this golden age of guitar effects pedals, chances are, there will be more drive pedals in your signal path. This allows you to fine tune the amount of gain that is being fed into the pedal, allowing you to preserve some of the tonal character of the pedal.
Other controls include Heat, which is effectively a gain control. Set it low and the pedal will behave like a “slightly dirty boost”. Crank it and the pedal will introduce some overdrive of its own, which might be handy if your amp is super-clean with plenty of headroom.
The Boost dial controls output volume, and here is where you’ll get the benefit of that hotter circuit delivering more boost to your amp. Catalinbread says the Boost dial wooshes as you turn it up just like the original Rangemaster units, which sounds nice.
Range, meanwhile, adjusts how much bass is let into the booster. Set it fully counterclockwise for full-frequency response and more gain, and turn clockwise to start trimming some of that low-end. The gain will reduce accordingly but this makes the Naga Viper MKII’s sound more like the original vintage units.