Price paid: $ 100
Sound — 8
I use this with a PRS mahogany guitar and a Fender Frontman 212. I got the pedal to improve on the amp's gain channel, which is a bit muddy, although pleasing but only on the mellow Overdrive side. Has no range and is to aggressive at high settings. I orginally expected to replace the amp's Drive channel altogether, but the Boss doesn't really sound good on its own. With the knob all the way to Overdrive and not too much gain it sounds ok alone, but in general I only got satisfying results when using it as a boost on top of the gain channel with it set at a low crunch. It took a while to find it, but now that I know what to do I get a Killer tone that can range from classic rock to metal. The other cool thing about using it on top of the amp's Drive is that you get a variety of options. I can Switch from totally clean to crunch without the Boss and once I need a harder tone hit the pedal, then if I need a boost hit the Fender's boost footswitch and it increases the volume dramatically, but not too much to overshadow the rest of the band. All this while remaining pretty tight, as long as I don't push the gain past 4 on the Fender and about half at the most on the Boss. However, with a hollowbody I have the gain needs to be a good bit higher as the pups are weaker. It doesn't feed back uncontrollably though, no more than with just the amp.
Overall Impression — 8
After years of playing I've come to the conclusion that distortion boxes are really only good as a compliment to a good amp that already drives some. I would approach this stompbox no different than a tubescreamer, just more flexible. It only sounds good as a boost on top of your amp's overdrive. Don't buy this expecting to replace what you already got. But then again, this is among the very best stompbox distortions I've had. I tried it right alongside an Original Ibanez Ts9 in the store and found this was pretty much the same sound, with the addition of the harder edge distortion side. I got this to replace a DigiTech multieffects unit that crapped out on me. I first tried out several modelling units in the store and reached the conclusion that technology still doesn't come up with the perfect recreation of a good ol' fashion hard-driven tube amp, so to hell with it, I'll just to the traditional route on the cheap and get a good stompbox. If used properly, you can get a ripping distortion second only to an all tube amp and still better than those cardboard sounding models.
Reliability & Durability — 10
It's a Boss pedal, they're as tough as it gets. Yes, I have and will use without a backup. I can't speak to how Boss customer service treats you since I've never had to use them. But I've owned many Boss pedals, most bought used with chipped paint and scratches all over, and have yet to experience one fail.
Ease of Use — 8
It is self explanatory and very easy to use, but takes a little knob twisting to find a good sound. It is basically a combination of Boss' OD1 Overdrive and DS1 distortion pedals, with a knob to move between the two tones or get an in-the-middle blend. Comes with a gain, vol, color (to alternate between distortion and overdrive) and tone controls.