Boss is a great brand for pedals. They have been around for a long time (since the 70’s) and Boss pedals are known to be reliable, functional and compact – allowing you to easily travel with it.
Boss is one of the go-to companies when it comes to reliable pedals for guitar, bass or any other instruments for that matter.
Boss was one of the first companies to produce small footprint pedals for instruments. Way back in the ‘70s when they first introduced their pedals to the market. With it making a splash. Today they are synonymous with sturdy, robust and reliable pedals.
You really can’t walk in any music shop around the world and not find a Boss pedal in stock. We can say they are a trademark in the music business like Mercedes is for cars, or Milka is for the chocolate industry.
This article will cover their beginnings, their position in the world today. Will write about an array of models they offer. Are they good distortion pedals? Where are they made? And some other things you should know about Boss pedals.
So here are the topics we will cover
- Why Are Boss Pedals Good?
- Where Are Boss Pedals Made?
- Boss Distortion Pedals; Any Good?
- 10 Most Popular Boss Pedals
- Early Beginnings Of Boss
Why Are Boss Pedals Good?
Boss pedals are good because they are reliable and roadworthy. They are simple, but come in a huge variety of models, to suit everyone’s taste.
The enclosure is rugged and compact, and basically indestructible at normal use.
And while they may look simple, these pedals offer some of the best value on the market.
So with that durability, simplicity, yet sophistication, they set a standard on the market that many companies copied from the beginnings to this day.
Even on dim-lit stages, you’ll probably recognize the classic look of Boss pedals. They are iconic in their appearance. They have excellent tones throughout the range.
Which is from basic units such as Boss SD-1 to boutique Waza Craft models. So something for everyone. They can be pretty affordable for beginners or hobby players, but also for professional use in the studio or on worldwide tours.
Boss pedals are the most copied pedals in history. Whether big companies take their basic design and twist it a little to make their own, or stomp box hobby makers.
I have a friend who is building his own pedals. Now he has his own designs, but the first pedal he ever built, no surprise here, was a clone of BOSS OD-3.
Are BOSS Distortion Pedals Good?
BOSS has great distortion and overdrive pedals in their lineup. Most BOSS distortion pedals offer crunchy, clean tone and high sustain at any volume.
They are great if you like to play heavy distortion like metal or rock songs. The two industry greats are Boss DS-1 distortion pedal, and Boss OD-3 overdrive pedal.
And when it comes to distortion pedals, it would be a sin not to mention Boss MT-2, companies second most popular pedal, right after the DS-1.
It’s affordable, and works even with the cheap transistor amp, delivering punch sound to your playing.
On the other spectrum, the Waza craft pedal offers a boutique experience, at a reasonable price. The Boss BD-2w is designed by the master engineers at BOSS in Japan. It’s made with an ear for highly refined sound.
Whether you use it as an overdrive or simply as a boost on your already overdriven sound, the sound of this analog circuitry is hard to beat.
And there are many drive Boss pedals on the market, to go through all of them would not fit in this article, but here is a list of my 5 favorite Boss drive pedals you just have to try;
- Boss BD-2 Blues Driver
- Boss DS-1 Distortion
- Boss OD-200 Hybrid Drive
- Boss MT-2 Metal Zone
- Boss OD-3 OverDrive
I owned all of these pedals from the list, some I still own and play daily. You just can’t beat this iconic pedal at their price point. Not to mention, never had any trouble with either of them.
Where Are Boss Pedals Made?
BOSS pedals are made in Taiwan, Japan, and Malaysia.
First BOSS pedals were originally produced in Japan, until circa 1990 when production moved to Taiwan. From that point on the production was in Taiwan with some small exceptions.
But in recent years older Boss compact pedals have begun to command high prices on the used market. So Boss realized that the craving for the vintage ones is a great opportunity to come up with a new line of pedals.
That happened in 2014 when Boss released the Made in Japan, Waza Craft line of premium pedals.
They are built with high-end components featuring reissues of highly sought after vintage Boss effects such as the CE-2W Analog Chorus, DM-2W Analog Delay, and DC-2W Dimension C among others.
“Waza” means “art” and “technique” in Japanese. And with that in mind, these pedals have been made by the master engineers at Boss in Japan to deliver a premium tone using highly refined analog circuitry.
In 2019, with the arrival of DD8 Digital delay pedals, Boss moved production from Taiwan to Malaysia.
10 Most Popular Boss Pedals
1. Boss CE-2 chorus
The Boss CE-2 has to be a unanimous pick for the best Boss pedal ever. Only with two knobs, the Boss CE-2 literally shaped the sound of an entire decade. It’s impossible to imagine where the ’80s would be without the chorus.
And where chorus world would be without the Boss CE-2. The lush and space full tone of the pedal set the direction for what was expected from an analog chorus as soon as it was released in 1979.
Players immediately take its rich sound to their sound. It was discontinued in 1982 and replaced with CE-3, which caused demand to increase, prices to boom, cementing the CE-2 status, as one of the best pedals of all time.
2. Boss DS-1 Distortion
Like I said earlier, BOSS DS-1 was, and it always will be every beginner’s first choice when starting out playing rock music. This pedal is just hard to beat. It’s nowhere near the most sophisticated, best-sounding pedal out there.
But it’s the best bang for the buck. And the list of giants who use it for all around the music genres is endless. To name a few; John Frusciante, Kurt Cobain, Steve Vai, Robert Smith, the list goes on. So it’s no surprise this is the best-selling pedal of all time.
3. Boss MT-2 Metal Zone
Much like the DS-1, Boss MT-2 is a really versatile pedal, which has almost as many haters as fans. As previously described, it’s a no-brainer when it comes to playing metal without a quality high-gain amp.
4. Boss GE-7 Graphic equalizer
The Boss GE-7 is an industry-standard pedalboard EQ. From its introduction back in 1981, it stayed in this exact format to this day.
With many competitors out there today, it still holds its own, with clear, instant sound, and durability. And with an army of celebrity users such as Slash, David Gilmour, and The Edge.
5. CS-3 Compression Sustainer
Boss CS-3 is a compact compression pedal that first appeared on the market in 1993. Even though the CS-3 doesn’t have deep customization or high-end sound, its simple design and great sound will almost certainly be enough for most purposes.
The pedal is also popular among guitarists due to the addition of tone control. As a compressor pedal, it does what it’s supposed to do, and does it really well at an affordable price.
6. Digital Delay DD-7
Boss Digital Delay DD-7 pedal is an upgraded version of the DD-3, DD-5, and DD-6 versions. Boss really took the best features and functionalities of each pedal and compiled them together into this one-of-a-kind pedal.
So it’s built on the legacy of all others before it. The newly added function of the hold mode, allows you to record nearly 40 seconds of input, which is fantastic for creating a loop-type performance. With all this, we can say for this one, that it’s a legend in the making.
7. Boss RC-3 Loop Station
Boss RC-3 Loop station pedal is capable of storing up to 99 loops, which should be more than enough for the beginner, as well as intermediate and advanced players.
It offers recording storage of up to three hours. And, the pedal’s auto-recording function is very impressive.
This gives the user the ability to begin playing, without physically switching on the pedal. It’s a great tool for creative guitar players who want to expand their comfort zone and go beyond.
8. Boss TU-3 Tuner
Even in today’s massive tuner pedal market, amongst many fine competitors, the BOSS TU-3 is still the biggest selling tuner pedal of them. And it’s the one most often seen on the pedalboards of the guitar giants.
9. Boss TR-2 Tremolo
First saw the introduction in the early years, as a PN-2Tremolo/Pan, but was discontinued in 1995. Ironically, it was only a couple of years after the PN-2’s discontinuation that the vintage gear revival really took hold and guitarists began once again to crave the old-style tremolo effect, thanks to the “brit-rock” movement of the mid-’90s.
Boss responded by releasing the BOSS TR-2. To this day remains a faithful industry standard of how a great tremolo should sound.
10. Boss BD-2 Blues Driver
And last on this list is my personal favorite. BOSS BD-2 Blues Driver pedal is affordable, and yet can compete against much more expensive boutique pedals in terms of sound.
Transparent and non-invasive, with just adding a little zing to your existing sound. For me a must-try for every Blues guitarist out there.
Early Beginnings Of Boss (The History)
When Boss emerged on the market in the ’70s, they brought many new effects to the table, other companies weren’t offering. And with that, they changed the course of the music, and with that guitar industry for the better.
Even though various stompboxes were available to players back then, there weren’t many companies producing full effects pedal ranges. Some companies were offering a small lineup of pedals, but it mostly just boost and fuzz pedals, which were the most simple ones to produce.
CE-1 chorus was their first pedal offering, introduced in 1976. It was based on the circuit found in Roland‘s JC-120 Jazz Chorus amplifier. Offering modulated tones, this pedal provided a fresh new sound that many players from that era never experienced before and it was a breakthrough.
Following that in 1977, they introduced 6 new pedals to the market; TW-1 Auto Wah, OD-1 Overdrive, PH-1 Phaser, GE-6 Equalizer, CS-1 Compressor, and SP-1 Spectrum.
This mix of pedals was a true statement of intent from Boss. At that time they didn’t know, but they created effects that would set a path for many new guitar players emerging on the music scene.
And with those offerings, they cemented their name in the music business industry. They succeed in their mission to create stompboxes that are compact with robust enclosures while being sturdy and portable.
Those things were like a gift for above for touring musicians, which had a lot of trouble before with unreliable and fragile pedal units that were available at that time.
Some of these models became legendary, and today are very sought after and collectible.
But one model, in particular, Boss, released in 1978, would become the best-selling pedal of all time. It was Boss DS-1. It was known for its great high gain sounds, with that flashy orange enclosure.
Reading this you most probably went, yes I had one. I did too. I have great memories tied to DS-1.
It was my first distortion pedal when I started playing in high school. And playing Pearl Jam, Guns’n Roses, or Metallica riffs on that pedal was a true game-changer to me in my journey of becoming a guitar player.
From here on Boss was basically set a standard for the whole industry, and from this point forward all eyes were on them, leading the stompbox market to the future.
Nowadays there are many companies building guitar stompboxes. Some made extremely cheap with plastic enclosure, some really expensive boutique pedals – with the best materials out there.
We can say the competition is strong. But only one company emerges always on the top, and it is Boss. Numerous of their pedals are still to this day industry-standard, copied by many.
And with innovation and new technologies they are integrating into their today’s production I don’t see this changing any time soon.
So if you are a beginner, intermediate player, or touring professional, Boss pedal will always be a great investment. And if you already haven’t I encourage you to go and try as many as you can, you won’t be disappointed.