Boss DS-1: The starting point for Distortion pedals

Boss DS-1: The starting point for Distortion pedals
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Boss DS-1 is the brand’s first distortion pedal and remains a stompbox icon. We review his history and why he earned the classic pedal spot.

History of the Boss DS-1, an icon of effects pedals

Boss DS-1 was born in 1978, being the seventh effect for guitars launched by the Japanese manufacturer since its inception in 1973 and the first for distortion.

Before their appearance, most distortion pedals were loud with poorly defined audio when high gain was given. Boss, with the circuitry of the DS-1 achieves a high gain saturation and rich in harmonics. Also, the pedal retains the unique characteristics of the guitar. Hard rock, metal, and punk styles began to flourish in the 70’s and 80’s, and the DS-1’s tone had a huge influence on these genres. 

Even today, that trend continues, and is the choice of many guitarists, making the Boss DS-1 sound a classic.

Over the years, it became an absolute icon among guitar effects pedals, beyond being an emulation of the natural distortion of a tube amp.

Check out our review of the best Free Guitar Effects Pedal Plug-ins.

You may also be interested in our review of the best cheap Overdrive pedals for guitar.

Simple and robust design

Compact and robust in design, its design withstood the test of time. Being its only changes almost imperceptible. They only changed the spring, the screw that holds the lid and the thickness of the silkscreen on the front.

After 42 years, the Boss DS-1 became the manufacturer’s best-selling pedal of all time. And even today, it continues to appear on the lists of the best-selling pedals in any of the largest online stores such as Amazon and eBay.

Its simplicity also comes from having only three selectors. One for the tone, one for the volume and finally the last one for the level of gain or distortion. If at the end of the day we were only looking for a “Distortion”, why would Boss fill us with knobs?

Also, if over the years it was a sustained success, why should they change it? Obviously the people of Boss preferred to maintain the criteria that every marketing manual dictates. It only limited itself to launching, later on, an “improved” version, the Boss DS-2 or a new edition of the DS-1 called the Boss DS-1x.

Don’t miss our note on the legendary Uni-Vibe guitar effect pedal.

Using the DS-1: video with 5 Tips

Boss DS-1, the validity of a classic

In times where technology overwhelms us, that an effect pedal with more than 40 years of history continues to be valid as the most iconic guitars, it means something. Great guitarists like Kurt Cobain, John Frusciante, Gary Moore, Robert Smith, Joe Satriani, Calvin Harris, Paul Banks and Steve Vai, wore it or are still on their pedalboards.

Resisted by sound purists, but not by the public, which after all has the last word, the Boss DS-1 is part of one of the most iconic guitar effects pedals of all time.

Boss DS-1 Price

Boss DS-1 has an average price of $ 50, it remains accessible to even the most amateur guitarist.

For more information, visit Boss web site.

Also check out best 12 tips and tricks to setup your pedalboard.

You can share opinions or also chat about this and more with other musicians in our comments section.


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Martin Olmos

Music is in everything I do, I live for music. I started as a consultant at Guitarriego, today I am dedicated to writing articles related to the history and business of music and the guitar, among other things. In addition, I have been in the online business for more than 10 years, both in business activities and on guitar sites. I have helped the growth of an important music forum carrying out strategic and commercial management.

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