Noise Boyz Review
The DS-1 Distortion from Boss is one of the pedals that really made Boss famous, and has been used on more records and tours than any of us could ever count.
If you’ve been to a concert, read a guitar magazine or had a jam session with anyone, there’s a good chance you’ve seen this pedal in one form or another.. The DS-1 Distortion from Boss is one of the pedals that really made Boss famous, and has been used on more records and tours than any of us could ever count. Today’s model is a “vintage” one from the 80’s or 90’s, which are supposedly better than the new versions, according to pedal experts, but we set out to find out for ourselves if the myth is really true.
Tone, Level and Distortion make up the simple and oft-copied control section of the DS-1. There’s plenty of volume available in the Level’s range, as well as a good amount of dirt to play with in the Dist knob. The Tone control is the tricky one here, and is on just about every DS-1 I’ve ever played. Once it gets past about noon or 1:00, the treble takes over, and not necessarily in a good way. While these older models aren’t AS harsh, they still make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up, and your eardrums wince just a smidge. If you like a little more low-end in your drive, then this pedal is perfect for you, as it will crank out some massive tones without all the high end when the Tone is dialed back.
This Japanese version is the from the first series of DS-1s ever made (1978-1994), and the clarity, tone and low-noise make it an all-around winner of a pedal. This version of the DS-1 utilizes the Toshiba TA7136AP op-amp for clear chords and an almost transparent feel at low settings, and has a warmer distortion overall. A great pedal that sounds good at low and higher gain settings, the tones are gritty yet smooth, and can be used for excellent lead parts and solos. There’s an earlier silver screw version that uses the same IC, and it is considered to be THE DS-1, but this version sounds pretty damn rad.
The later versions that don’t contain the sought-after chips are a lot of fun to have modded, and are cheap enough to use as a guinea pig if you want to try your hand at modifications yourself as well, without fear of breaking the bank (or a vintage pedal). Inexpensive, built to last and able to sound really good, the DS-1 Distortion is a staple pedal that’s not going away, whether you want it to or not. Fun to play, relatively easy to mod if you want to get your hands dirty and try your luck at electronic engineering, and easily recognizable, this bright orange beauty is sure to go down in history as one of the most popular, paid for and sought-after pedals ever (well, the early ones, anyway). Make sure to keep your Tone dialed back, and keep on rocking the DS-1 from Boss!
1 x 1/4"
1 x 1/4"
How It Works
Choose a Plan
Pick how many pedals you want to try a month, from one to three.
Play Them All
Try every signal-chain you can imagine until you find the tone that’s right for you.
Keep, Swap, or Buy
Keep the pedals you rent for as long as you want. Love them? Buy them. Hate them? Swap them.