DS-1 Distortion review by Boss

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  • Sound: 9
  • Overall Impression: 8
  • Reliability & Durability: 10
  • Ease of Use: 8
  • Reviewer's score: 8.8 Superb
  • Users' score: 7.9 (442 votes)
Boss: DS-1 Distortion

Price paid: $ 35

Purchased from: Guitar Center

Sound — 9
Because I truly wish to inform you good people in my review, this will be the most descriptive and elaborate piece of my review, but, I will first explain many of the controversies when it comes to the DS-1, and why many people despise it, or in my case, enjoy it. I read several reviews on not only this website but also many others on the internet, and A LOT of these reviews detested the trebley sound that emanates from it, a paper thin distortion that sounds like the equilization got screwed in to a squeal. I could not understand why at first so many people dislike the treble of this pedal. ( The tone knob typically would increase the treble dramtically when turned clockwise.) At first I had to ask myself, "Does The Music I play sound bad? What with all these people hating a pedal I love?" I typically have my tone at about 2 o' clock, and many other reviewers said that the treble was just unbearable when used at that config. So, I decided to dig deeper. I decided to watch some youtube videos in my research and found the answer. Watching someone review the DS-1 on youtube, I finally realized that paper-thin distortion that so many critisized, it really sounded bad, much more treble that I had on my own set up, even though this mans tone was set around 11 o' clock, it made finally clicked. Now, I will explain why, and to the best of my ability. A lot of it has to do with your set up. My own set up is my Epiphone Les Paul Standard, an Alesis Strat (that I do not use now that I have my Les Paul), the DS-1, and an Orange Crush 15 watt practice amp. What most advanced guitarists know is that your amp, guitar, and pedal all affect your sound. But subtle things go a long way. My Les Paul of course has humbuckers, and this is one of the largest factors in the different sounds between Strats, Ibanez, and Les Pauls, and is why some get a VERY trebley sound. Because my Les Paul has mohagany, not maple, it has a much deeper tone, that and the humbuckers make very thing more crunchy and deep. This alone means in order to get the crunchy yet punchy sound I want from my Les Paul, I need to set the tone up more. Single coils will naturally have that brighter and almost fuzzier effect, as they do on the neck Pick-up on my strat (its bridge is a humbucker) so, if you are using sigle coils, OF COURSE it will sound paper thin with the tone being jacked way up. For some, this automatically turns them off the DS-1. Next the amp. My Orange Crush is by no means bad when Brand New, but it is banged up, and ever since I spilled milk on it a couple months ago, it has gotten muddy and almost has a wah effect that resonates from it. This is not as bad as it seems however. I can still find the sounds I need, but for this pedal, a tip from another review I read, setting the level up on the pedal ALL THE WAY and then simply reducing your amp volume brings more of that eq and nearly eliminates all muddiness from your sound. Before I finish with my sound, I want to explain the real difference in guitars, a lot of the more advanced guitarists will think of this as a big DUH! but I beg of you to not critisize the newer musicians. You all know that guitars of more expense and value will have a different quality, a better quality of sound than their cheaper counterparts. It is a subtle yet important thing to realize that not only does the quality of sound increase, but the type of sound wil grow distant in an exponential manner. My Les Paul is perfect for the DS-1, and therefore I reccomend it to anyone with one. As for you Fender and Ibanez customers, purchase at you own risk. Your sound can differ from my own in MANY ways. As for myself, I can play any of my own music on it, being a punk rock and alternative guitarist, this thing suits my every need, atleast with what it is that I have in my set up. Keep in mind it will differ for everyone. I play (besides my bands own music) Green Day, Blink-182, Rancid, Anti-Flag, Guns n Roses, Dead Kennedys, The Clash, The Ramones, The Subhumans, and The Sex Pistols, this pedal, although simple is diverse enough for all those bands. This pedal will also suit anyone Who does classic rock, ska, rock, soft rock, or even classical, to a degree. As for more hardcore, metal, and screamo, you probably would require the Metal Zone or Metal Core. They are both very good pedals, and have oodles (yes, I said oodles) of distortion. The Mega Distortion is also fairly good, but does consequently have a lot of noise. All in all, I LIKE the sound I get from this pedal, it suits me fairly well, and has that crunchy and punchy sound my band needs. It can get noisy, but using that tip I mentioned (lowering amp volume, raising level on the pedal to FULL) you can reduce the noice and reduce the muddiness.

Overall Impression — 8
I play almost anything I can learn, but mostly I focus on punk rock and alternative, and this pedal most definitely meets my sound requirements, not only have I found the sound I needed but I also have gotten rid of what little muddiness that it has. Mind you there are much, much better pedals out there, next one on my list is probably the OD-3, but that is open to change. All in all, this pedal is quite possibly the best buy for it's price. I am not saying this pedal is absolutely amazing, because it is not, it's sound quality can still be muddy, and will make buzzing noises, but that may be because of my jacked to hell amp. I have been playing for the better part of 3 years, and practice about 4 hours or so everyday, regardless of how much homework or what ever that needs to be done, music is my life, and my guitar is my companion in it. I have no other gear mainly because I have been selling and saving to get a halfstack or a large tube amp, as I have heard tube amps sound much less muddy with the DS-1, and have seen and heard it on you tube. It can sound VERY VERY VERY good with the right set up. If this were stolen or lost, I would not replace it, not because it is a bad pedal, but because I know that as a gigging musician. I will eventually need a better pedal that will bring out the best part of Les Paul. I love that I can get my bands sound, crunchy and punchy, from this pedal, but I hate that it was not as simple as it should be to find it. My favorite feature would be the level, it seems the eq improves as you raise it. I compared it to the other Boss pedals in Guitar Center that day, but because I already was getting my new Les Pual, I could not get the OD-3 as well. You will find this pedal good only if you follow my info from the sound section, I implore you to really think about it, because you will end up hating it if you do not have at the least a Les Paul or a better amp. It seems that with Fenders this pedal delivers a bad paper distortion, and it simply sounds BAD. Try out this pedal before buying with your own guitar, if it sounds very harsh and thin, then ADJUST THE TONE KNOB! That will fix the problem if you dislike the trebley sound. With my guitar, it does just fine however, as with the tone knob at 2, it does not sound half as bad as a Fender at 11. There are better choices out there, but if you are on a budget and just need a half decent pedal, this is your best bet.

Reliability & Durability — 10
This is a Boss pedal, if anything it is reliable. It has a steel casing, and I have allready tripped over, dropped, hit, stepped on, and scraped this thing, it's sound still screams warm crunchy and bright tones from my Les Paul. My band has not started gigging just yet, but we will by the end of the summer. I have gigged before by myself, but these were small events. In other words, I would certainly gig with this pedal, just bring that spare 9V just in case.

Ease of Use — 8
I will start my elongated and elaborate review by saying this, it is a Boss, simplicity is it's calling card. There are three knobs, the tone, level and distortion factors that make the pedals sound. The manual will help some of you newer guitarists, it explains how to keep the pedal in good condition and how to use it. The specs of this particular pedal are: The level knob The tone knob The distortion knob Input and output jacks Footswitch AV adapter jack VERY simple, to say the very least. The manual also displays several sample settings to give you an idea of what you will need to achieve your perfect sound. That is where the "ease" of use shall fall oh so short. Finding the right and correct sound for your tastes from the Boss DS-1 will be hell if you do not know where to start, and also, if you don't know what to do, you will hate this pedal like many others out there do, because you will critisize the aspect of most importance in a pedal.

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