DS-1 Distortion review by Boss

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

Price paid: $ 20

Purchased from: A friend

Sound — 8
This is a noisy pedal, at least when I use it. My rig consists of a Mustang II amp, and I use the Fender Deluxe '59 preset on that, with the gain all the way down. A Fender American Deluxe Stratocaster SSS. A Korg Pitchblack tuner, an Original Crybaby Wah pedal, an Ibanez JD-9 overdrive, a Dunlop DC-Brick, and the DS-1. By itself, the DS-1 can be thin sounding, however, I keep my gain around 11 o'clock, and my tone at 9 o'clock. It has a good thick, chunky sound in its sweet spot, but can sound tinny and thin with tone turned past 12 o'clock. I use this pedal in combination with my overdrive, and I have to say it emits a great and powerful distortion. I myself play anything from jazz to metal. I bought this because hey, it was 20 bucks, and I wanted to get kind of a distortion to play along to songs by bands such as Tool and Pantera, and it sounds great alongside the songs. I can say that I would hardly ever use this without my overdrive, and anyone interested in purchasing this should purchase a nice, mid quality Overdrive at least. Such as the Boss SD-1.

Overall Impression — 8
If this was stolen, I would probably end up buying a Keeley mod along with my next purchase of one. It is a great pedal, but the Seeing Eye Mod on this pedal can unlock it's full potential. However, it's amazing as a stock if you have a nice Overdrive to kind of push it further. I hate the tone control on this pedal, it seems too precise, and just a little too far clockwise can make it sound paper thin. But if you find that sweet spot, it'll definitely show you you got some bang for your buck.

Reliability & Durability — 10
It's an extremely durable and heavily built, this thing is built to withstand some brutal conditions. It is litterally a brick. And I like that in a stompbox. I would definitely use this in a gig without a backup, of course I'd bring a better distortion, more in the high end, depending on what I was going to play, but it's great and reliable if it's what you plan on using.

Ease of Use — 10
The DS-1 Distortion pedal is just screaming simplicity. It has three knobs, a tone knob, a level know which is essentially volume, and distortion knob AKA gain. The only thing slightly confusing to beginners of Boss pedals is the access to the battery. Which was no problem for me.

1 comment sorted by best / new / date

    This might be one of the best-built, worst sounding distortion pedals ever. many of the reviews here are done by new guitarists (you can tell by the equipment you see listed: Squier, Line 6, Epiphone, etc.) who haven't yet learned what good tone sounds like, and they're just impressed that this pedal works and produces distortion that's different from their amps. I've been playing for many years, have had MESA/Boogies,Marshalls (the tube amps, not the silly solid state MG stuff), Laneys, and others, and I will tell you that the Boss DS-1 is a sucky, buzzy distortion that's great for beginners but anybody who's serious about tone would avoid it. Now for the good news: It takes modifications nicely. I have a Boss DS-1 that was modified with the Monte Allums tri-gain rectifer mod and this pedal is now one of the best I have ever heard. It could easily hold its own against "boutique" pedals costing $100 more. The nasty fizz is gone, and the distortion is creamy and full of harmonic overtones. My advice: pick one up for cheap on e-bay, get it modified, and love it to death.