What Makes Boss BD-2 Blues Driver a Great Overdrive Pedal?

What Makes Boss BD-2 Blues Driver a Great Overdrive Pedal?
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The Boss Blues Driver BD-2 pedal is one of the best overdrive ever made, review, specs, characteristics and our opinion of this great affordable guitar effect.

Let’s talk about the Boss Blues Driver

In 1995, Boss released the BD-2 Blues Driver overdrive pedal. While it wasn’t an immediate hit, over the years, it has grown in popularity among guitarists from novice to pro all around the world. But why a blues pedal at that time?

The mid-90s were a unique period in the music industry. Grunge and alternative rock had become mainstream, the pop world was dominated by the Spice Girls and the Backstreet Boys, and hip-hop was experiencing a golden age. This era brought extreme diversity in popular music and a wide range of guitar tones, from clean Britpop sounds to heavy grunge and metal distortions.

Within the guitar gear world, the 90s saw the emergence of boutique pedal companies like Fulltone, ZVex, Analog Man, and Way Huge. These companies started to change the landscape of guitar pedals forever. In this context, the Boss Blues Driver (BD-2) was introduced, designed to replicate the tone of a vintage Fender tube amp being driven into smooth, natural distortion with a hint of fuzziness. This distinctive sound was difficult to achieve without cranking up a tube amp to high volumes, making the BD-2 a versatile option for bedroom practice, gigs, and studio work.

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The Blues Driver was marketed as a pedal that could capture the touch and response of a vintage tube amp. While not a boutique pedal in the sense of being handmade or produced in small quantities, it was part of the trend toward specialized and niche guitar tones. This trend continued over the years, making the BD-2 a beloved and popular pedal that remains in production to this day.

Also, we recommend the Joyo American Sound, and cheap but great Fender Amp-in-a-box pedal.

An overdrive used by several great guitarist

Throughout its existence, the Boss Blues Driver BD-2 has been used by a wide range of musicians, including Mike McCready from Pearl Jam, Billy Joe Armstrong of Green Day, and Joe Bonamassa, among others. To understand what makes this pedal truly great, let’s delve into some circuit details.

The Circuitry of the Boss BD-2 Blues Driver

The Boss Blues Driver BD-2 circuit includes:

  • A buffer circuit leading to a discrete op-amp circuit, replicating the function of a traditional op-amp with transistors.
  • A Fender-like tone stack with fixed values.
  • Clipping diodes to create distortion.
  • Another discrete op-amp.
  • A simple tone control to adjust highs.
  • An EQ circuit boosting the bass frequencies.
  • A buffer for electronic switching.

Boss Blues Driver, a versatile Overdrive

Contrary to some myths, the Boss Blues Driver BD-2 is not limited to blues tones. It’s versatile enough to produce light crunch and even metal-like distortion when dialed in appropriately. It’s not to be confused with the Blues Breaker pedal, as they are distinct circuits. The impact of the diodes within the BD-2 circuit is often overestimated, as the main distortion comes from the interaction between op-amps.

Characteristics of the Boss BD-2 Blues Driver

The Blues Driver praised for its warm, smooth, and creamy tones. It offers a unique richness and depth that set it apart from other pedals. With its three simple knobs for level, tone, and gain, it’s easy to find the desired sound. Despite not being a budget pedal, the Boss BD-2 is more affordable than many other overdrive pedals, making it a valuable option for its price point.

One of the most intriguing aspects of Boss’s engineering is their ability to create distinctive ways of distorting the guitar signal. The Boss Blues Driver BD-2’s design serves as a great platform for modification, appealing to those who enjoy experimenting with pedal designs.

The Boss Blues Driver BD-2 pedal is one of the best overdrive ever made, review, specs, characteristics and our opinion of this great affordable guitar effect.

In conclusion, the Boss BD-2 Blues Driver is a pedal that has stood the test of time due to its unique tonal characteristics, versatility, and affordable pricing. Its design and circuitry have made it a beloved choice among guitarists, transcending genres and finding a place in both studios and live performances.

If you’re interested in understanding the technical details, experimenting with different circuit variations, and exploring its sonic possibilities, the Boss BD-2 Blues Driver offers a world of exploration for guitar tone enthusiasts.

Another great Boss pedal is the Boss DS-1: The starting point for Distortion pedals.

3 Ways To Use the BOSS Blues Driver BD-2w o BD-2

Among all the Boss pedals, the one that stood out to us the most, in terms of its versatility and how well it adapted to different styles of guitar playing, is the BOSS Blues Driver Waza Craft BD-2w. So, we want to take a look at three different things we think this pedal does really well and why you might want to consider either a standard Blues Driver BD-2 or the Waza Craft BD-2w version in your rig.

The Waza Craft version has a Custom mode where the mid-range response is a little flatter, and the tone control isn’t as sharp and spiky, which can be advantageous for certain amps, guitars, and rigs.

  • Subtle Pre-EQ Boost
  • Volume Control Cleanup
  • To give fatter sound in distorted tones
3 Ways To Use the  BOSS Blues Driver BD-2w o BD-2: Subtle - Pre-EQ Boost
- Volume Control Cleanup
- Thickening Agent for Dirty Tones

Subtle Pre-EQ Boost

The first way we’ll explore using the Blues Driver is in its standard mode -in the BD-2w-, essentially as a subtle pre-EQ to give our guitar a slight push to help it cut through the mix when playing single notes. The tone control can sound quite trebly, but around the middle, it does the job without needing much level or drive. Of course, you can adjust the drive to your taste if you desire more sustain and gain. The idea here is to transition from a clean edge-of-breakup sound to a slightly driven tone that enhances your guitar’s natural characteristics.

It’s also wonderfully touch-sensitive, responding to changes in playing articulation, which means you can get different shades of overdrive without cranking the drive control.

Volume Control Cleanup

The second impressive feature of the Blues Driver is how well it cleans up with your guitar’s volume control. This is especially useful if you have a single-channel amp. You can achieve a clean sound with the volume down and a dirtier sound when you roll it up.

Using Gibson guitars that have a volume knob for each pickup, you can get a cleaner sound on the neck pickup keeping the volume down, while retaining the ability to kick in more overdrive with the bridge pickup with the volume all up. It’s a classic trick to achieve tonal versatility.

You may be interested in Behringer Guitar Pedals: great cheap effects pedals.

To give fatter sound in distorted tones

The third way we love using the Blues Driver is running it into an already dirty and greasy amp setup. This adds a thickening quality to your tone, almost like a “cornstarch guitar tone.” We prefer the custom mode -in the BD-2w- for this, as it doesn’t overly emphasize the mids and high mids, making it suitable for an aggressive guitar tone. Simply set the tone to your preference, keep the level at about halfway, and crank the gain control for an incredible amount of sustain.

The resulting sound can have fuzz-like qualities, and you’ll need to adjust the drive control to match your pickups and amp gain levels.

Our opinion on the Boss Blues Driver BD-2 / BD-2w

We find the Boss BD-2 Blues Driver to be an exceptional pedal that exemplifies versatility and quality. Its ability to transform from subtle, clean tones to raucous, fuzz-infused distortions is truly remarkable. One standout feature is its responsiveness to the guitar’s volume knob, allowing for nuanced control over the level of distortion. Whether you’re seeking to recreate vintage blues sounds or exploring the outer edges of sonic experimentation, the BD-2 delivers with finesse. Its enduring popularity in the guitar community is a testament to its enduring excellence, and it remains a go-to choice for guitarists looking to elevate their tonal palette.

If you use a Blues Driver and have some sweet tips and tricks to share, please don’t hesitate to put them in the comments section below.

For more information visit Boss website.

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Federico Valle

I've been a guitarist since I was 13 years old, which means 30 years with music. I studied guitar construction for three years. Also, I am a gear enthusiast with a collection of guitars that cover practically all styles. In addition, I owned more than a hundred guitars.

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