Price paid: $ 259
Purchased from: Guitar Center
Sound — 8
Sound: I've read a few reviews that knock the Boss for overtaking the natural sound of the guitar. I can't help but picture all of their level knobs being turned up full tilt. Each stomp pedal has a level knob which dictates how strong the given effect is and maxing out on an effect is likely to reduce your sound quality. This is true of the other adjustment knobs as well, maxing out is likely to seriously alter your sound. There are instances where you'll find reduced sound quality and I can't say it is easy to overcome without experiencing your pedal and knowing how things interact with one another. The top knobs affecting tone, compression, and noise suppression allow you to greatly influence the tone that comes out of the amp, although I feel as if they are overshadowed by the pedal options and thus mistaken for unimportant.
Overall Impression — 9
Impression: I want to buy this pedal for you. Though not the best in any single effects category it's the overall package that got me. Fresh out of the box I could use it without feeling a lack of control. I didn't necessarily feel a command of the Boss but I didn't feel hopeless either. The most valuable aspect of this multi effects processor is the ability to make your guitar really sound like almost anything you listen to. For example, one day a few years back I came across Da Funk by Daft Punk and went right to the pedal. If you want a taste of how dynamic the Boss can be find Da Funk on imeem and skip to 2:26. If you're curious it's Muff/square distortion (pedal 1) low level, phaser (pedal 2) low level, and ring mod (pedal 4) tweaking your foot around to the beat.
Reliability & Durability — 9
Reliability & Durability: In my experience the Boss is a beast. There are 20 knobs and 4 pedals on the face and in 3 years I've discovered how hard it is to wear any of them down. The knobs don't come loose or pop off, at all. I've seen friends stomp on the face while walking through my room in the dark, I watched my dad drop it down the stairs moving me out of college, and on a few occasions my 12x6x6 room amp has fallen off the desk right onto it. It'll last.
Ease of Use — 10
Ease of Use: The Boss ME-50 is very user friendly on a couple different levels. Three stomp pedals isolate major functions (1. Distortion, 2. Modulation, 3. Delay) and reduce the chaos involved in choosing from literally thousands of options on your hands. Independently each stomp pedal corresponds to eleven variations of the broader function. Variations are selected by turning a knob just above each pedal to the clearly labeled variation of choice. Each option is then able to be substantially tweaked by adjusting a series of knobs located just below the variation knob. Distortion can be manipulated by adjusting 4 corresponding knobs while modulation and delay are adjusted with three. Naturally each stomp pedal can operate by itself or in conjunction with the others. A 4th foot pedal is stationed to the far right of the Boss and serves a dual purpose. At first it is volume control where pressure on the toe end increases volume and pressure on the heel end decreases it. However, once fully tilted at the toe end, an added touch of pressure will click on the red light signifying your volume pedal is now an expression pedal. In expression mode a new set of variations (Wah, Resonance, Voice, Ring Mod, +1 Octave, -1 Octave) are available and function independently exactly like the stomp pedals. Navigation through the options is as simple as turning the knob just left of the foot pedal. Just like any other foot pedal this allows you to manipulate your sound by rocking your foot back and forth. At the top of the Boss are settings which do not correspond to a pedal (Tone modification, Compressor, Noise suppression, Reverb, Master Level). These are again adjusted by turning a knob.