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If you’ve ever played solo gigs, you may have come to the realization that a bit of percussion could help fill out your sound. But what is one to do when their hands are already preoccupied with playing another instrument, like the guitar?
Fortunately, genius minds have come up with the proper solution by means of the acoustic stomp box. Give these acoustic stomp boxes a try the next time you need some percussion in your sound.
Wazinator Baby Grand – Best Overall
One of the absolute best acoustic stomp boxes on the market is the Wazinator Baby Grand. While more inexpensive acoustic stomp boxes can certainly be found, the Baby Grand has a few things going for it that make it one of the best options available.
By far the biggest benefit here is the fact that the Baby Grand has an intuitive design that is compact and comfortable. It utilizes an elevated single block of Oak wood about the size of a bar of soap, upon which the foot taps down.
Unlike other stomp boxes, the Baby Grand has a wide and sturdy base made of aluminum. This has been equipped with gripping feet to ensure that the stomp box doesn’t move or scratch the surface of an uncarpeted floor.
To use the Baby Grand, all you need to do is plug in a standard 1/4” cable. There is no onboard EQ, so some fine-tuning and gain staging may be necessary at the mixer.
Another massive benefit here is that the Baby Grand is small enough that it could easily be transported in your guitar case without much of an issue.
Ortega Guitars Horse Kick Pro – Best Premium
Don’t mind paying a little extra to get the best stomp box money can buy? The Ortega Guitars Horse Kick Pro (see price on Amazon, Guitar Center) provides excellent function while packing in a few extra features that make its price worthwhile.
Most stomp boxes provide a basic function of providing 1 sound when the box is stomped on. The Horse Kick Pro, on the other hand, has up to 5 different sounds that can be used, all available at the turn of a dial.
These sounds are essentially digitally recorded samples that will make a sound each time the stomp box’s trigger is engaged. The sounds you’ll be able to use include:
- Bass cajon
- Kick drum
The Horse Kick Pro features a housing made of Sapele, with gripped rubber teeth applied to the bottom to prevent slipping. To use, all you need to do is plug it into your signal path, directly after the instrument.
The Horse Kick Pro also has a convenient output level knob so that you can make sure the signal is loud enough. It’s also designed to eliminate feedback, which can be a concern for those playing acoustic instruments.
Logjam Microlog – Best Budget
Want to add some percussion to your mix without having to break the bank? The Logjam Microlog is an excellent option that is also quite affordable.
As you might guess by its name, the Microlog is quite a compact unit and has a solid construction and design. It has a unique curved wedge shape that fits the foot surprisingly well, with rubber teeth applied to the bottom to prevent slippage.
One of the best aspects of the Microlog is the fact that it uses a passive piezo pickup to translate its sound. What this means is that you will never have to worry about having batteries or a power supply on hand to use the Microlog.
Unfortunately, what this also means is that you may have to run the Microlog through a preamp with some EQ to get as large of a sound as you want. But this shouldn’t be too much of an issue for somebody who already has and uses that kind of equipment when performing out and about.
Logjam Terl Bryant Rattlebox
Could you use a bit of snare in your mix to add to your kick drum stomp box? The Logjam Terl Bryant Rattlebox is one of the best options on the market for this application.
This stomp box is crafted of quality Sapele and Birch, and is equipped with actual snare drum wires. What this ultimately means is that the sound it produces is about as close to the actual thing without playing a real snare drum.
The Terl Bryant Rattlebox is fairly wide compared to other stomp boxes. In fact, many demos show the Terl Bryant Rattlebox actually sitting on top of a 14” snare drum with some room to spare.
At the bottom of the Terl Bryant Rattlebox, Logjam has applied a rubber layer of gripping teeth. While some movement will always be a factor, this helps cut down on quite a bit of slippage.
To use this, all you need is a simple 1/4” cable. No additional power is required, which is a massive plus for those who like to keep their rigs simple and light.
Meinl Percussion Pickup BassBoX
Are you looking for a stomp box that is more reminiscent of a traditional kick drum with regard to how it’s used? The Meinl Percussion Pickup BassBoX (see price on Sweetwater, Amazon) is a fantastic offering that stands alone in its uniqueness.
One of the first things you’ll notice with the Pickup BassBoX is that it’s actually much larger in size compared to the other stomp boxes in this article. However, this serves several serious purposes, with the biggest being the depth of sound it produces.
Many stomp boxes fall a bit short with regard to the oomph of the kick sound they can produce. The Pickup BassBoX is crafted from Birch, and its larger cavity is able to emulate a very large punch.
Part of this is due to the fact that the Pickup BassBoX is designed to be used in conjunction with an actual bass drum foot pedal. The Pickup BassBoX comes included with an L-shaped beater, which conveniently attaches to any bass drum foot pedal you may have lying around the house.
Because it’s equipped with a piezo pickup, you can easily send its output to a PA. It even has a level knob so you can control how loud its signal output is.
Looking for a stomp box that can be played with all parts of your foot for additional beats? The Logjam Prolog (see price on Sweetwater, Guitar Center) has a unique shape designed specifically for this purpose.
One thing you’ll notice with many stomp box designs is that they tend to not be the most ergonomic or practical in their actual utility. The Prolog changes all of that by reducing the angle of the point where the ball of the foot strikes while also providing an elevated pad area for the rest of the foot to sit on.
Ultimately, what this means is that the Prolog is much easier to use over longer periods of time and is far more comfortable to use for somebody who plays when standing. It also means that the heel can become involved as the entire unit serves as a kick drum trigger.
Meinl Percussion MPS1
Want a traditional stomp box design that also provides the capability to adjust its output level? The Meinl Percussion MPS1 (see price on Amazon, Guitar Center) is worth checking out for anyone needing some kick drum sounds in their mix.
This stomp box is crafted from Mahogany, which helps to give its acoustic resonance a bit of a warmer and darker tone. Using it is a breeze, as it has jacks for both input and output.
This means you can either plug your instrument into the MPS1 and run it in your signal chain. Alternatively, by using the output jack only, you can use the MPS1 independently, which may be preferable for most people.
The shape of the MPS1’s wedge is suitable for those who prefer standing while playing as well as those who sit. It has a thick rubber layer at its bottom with gripping teeth to help cut down on movement.
Logjam Logarhythm Mk4
Compact stomp boxes have their place, but some people prefer to have a larger housing to tap their foot on. The Logjam Logarhythm Mk4 (see price on Sweetwater, Guitar Center) is much wider than the average acoustic stomp box.
If you’ve taken the time to look at the other offerings from Logjam featured in this article, the Logarhythm Mk4 is roughly twice the width of the aforementioned Microlog. This is great because it gives you flexibility in your foot positioning, which can help mitigate fatigue during long gigs.
The Logarhythm Mk4 features a rounded edge, with the top at a slight angle so that the foot can tap without it feeling unnatural. Plus, its larger size can help to emit a bit of a deeper sound.
This stomp box is completely passive, utilizing a piezo pickup to transfer its sound to an electric signal.
Logjam Travelog 2
In comparison with other Logjam models, the Travelog 2 seems to fit between the Microlog and the aforementioned Logarhythm Mk4. Where other models feature Birch, the Travelog 2’s construction is crafted entirely of Sapele, and is given a darker stain finish.
Like the other Logjam offerings, the Travelog 2 has a piezo pickup to transmit its electric signal. A layer of rubber teeth is applied to the bottom to ensure that the Travelog 2 stays in one place during use.
Meinl Percussion BassBoX
If you’ll recall the aforementioned Meinl Percussion Pickup BassBoX, this will seem very similar. That’s because the BassBoX is essentially the same thing, just without a pickup.
The BassBoX is constructed of Baltic Birch and is sizable enough to produce the low kick drum boom you’ve been looking for. Despite being without a pickup, some crafty microphone placement may be all you need to get its sound through a PA.
With that being said, you will need a kick drum foot pedal. The BassBoX comes with a special beater that allows you to play as intended.
Ortega Guitars ANNAlog
This stomp box is crafted from solid Cherry and has an etched design that anybody can appreciate. But we as musicians know that aesthetics aren’t everything, and the ANNAlog certainly delivers on its intentions.
The ANNAlog is crafted to be in the shape of a wedge, which will suit players who sit and stand. It’s equipped with a piezo pickup, along with a volume knob, and input/output connections so that you can run it in your instrument’s signal path.
What To Look For When Buying An Acoustic Stomp Box
Buying something that you’ve never bought before can always seem like a daunting process. Nobody wants to waste their money on something that falls short of the mark of their expectations.
If you aren’t sure what makes for a worthwhile stomp box, the following informational points can help. Everybody’s needs are different, but you can use these points of thought to figure out what acoustic stomp box is best for you.
How much are you willing to spend on an acoustic stomp box? This should ultimately be the first question that you answer for yourself.
The reason for this is that your budget will dictate the range of offerings that are realistically available to you. Fortunately, acoustic stomp boxes tend to be quite affordable, which is part of their appeal.
The most you might ever spend on an acoustic stomp box is around $200. However, it isn’t uncommon to find models that are below $100.
Figure out your budget and from there, you can go on to weigh out the offerings and features between different models.
Size & Shape
One of the biggest things to consider is the actual shape of the stomp box. This will determine whether the stomp box is comfortable to use over long durations of time.
Nobody likes to finish a gig only to find that their foot is absolutely wrecked with pain. A stomp box that puts the foot at a weird angle is sure to cause such aches that could be avoided or diminished with a better design.
Even keeping the foot at rest at an unnatural angle will take its toll after some time.
Take into account whether you primarily play standing up or in a seated position. When you try these stomp boxes out, make sure that you can emulate your playing style to the best of your ability.
In the long run, something that becomes uncomfortable to play is likely going to be used less than something that is comfortable.
Method Of Use
Another thing you will want to take into account is how the actual stomp box is played. Most acoustic stomp boxes simply require the player to tap their foot on the actual box.
However, as you’ve seen in this article, that isn’t always the case. Some models do require you to have an actual kick drum pedal, which may be an additional purchase that you might not have planned for.
Similarly, you’ll need to decide whether you want a box that produces natural tones or utilizes recorded samples that get triggered with each foot tap.
Manage Your Expectations
One of the most important things you will need to keep in mind is that acoustic stomp boxes could very well underperform compared to your expectations. While these devices are designed to emulate different percussion elements (most often a kick drum), they are only a workable solution at best.
If the stomp box is equipped with a passive piezo pickup, you will likely need to treat the signal to get it to the depth and volume you are looking for. A preamp with some sizable boost/gain is often needed, along with an EQ to shape its sound.
Does It Make More Sense To Buy A Stomp Box Or An Actual Kick Drum?
If you find the sound of stomp boxes to be less than average, it might make more sense to purchase an actual kick drum. These come in all sizes, with miniature kick drums still providing a hefty punch.
Best Brands For Acoustic Stomp Boxes
There is a wide range of different manufacturers producing acoustic stomp boxes. While it’s nice to have options, it can make things more tricky for somebody who isn’t familiar with the market.
The following brands are worth seeking out when you are looking for an acoustic stomp box. Even if you don’t go with these brands, you can use their products as a benchmark to measure against other stomp boxes.
Any average musician who is even vaguely familiar with the world of drums and percussion will likely recognize the name, Meinl Percussion. The company is one of the industry giants in the percussion niche, especially where its cymbals are concerned.
Meinl Percussion has been crafting products since 1952 and has gained one of the best reputations in the industry. Given that the company is such a giant, it makes sense that its acoustic stomp boxes are well worth anyone’s time and money.
Since 1994, Ortega Guitars has been producing a wide range of instruments outside of just the guitar. While the company may not be a household name compared to Fender or Gibson, Ortega Guitars is highly reputed for its acoustic guitars, many of which have traditional, classical influences.
It isn’t always a grand slam when a guitar company ventures into other niches, such as guitar pedals. But since Ortega Guitars is owned by Meinl Percussion, the knowledge resources of guitarists and percussionists combined are what makes their stomp boxes so worthwhile.
Top Acoustic Stomp Boxes, Final Thoughts
Thanks to the invention of the acoustic stomp box, any musician can incorporate elements of percussion into their performance. These handy devices are quite a practical solution for anyone who needs to conserve space on the stage and in transport.
Plus, acoustic stomp boxes tend to be quite affordable for the average musician, which is always a plus. Plug one of these into your mix and you’ll soon find that your audience is more engaged with your performance.