It's Good To Be the BOSS | Price Guide Trends

This article was originally published in Reverb's Your Guide to Gear: Trends & Stories From the Reverb Price Guide. That magazine, which we published earlier in April, covers price trends from across the music gear industry and shares the average going-rate for thousands of pieces of popular instruments. Click here to download your own copy for free.

Boss pedals are to guitarists what electricity is to modern humanity: a marvel we've come to rely upon and expect.

That classic stompbox silhouette. Those solid colors and unfussy controls. If you started playing guitar anytime from the '80s forward, a Boss was probably your first effect. If you play long enough, you'll own a fleet of them.

Because they're so ubiquitous, maybe you'd assume Boss effects aren't valuable. But that is where you'd be wrong.

From 2017 to 2022, the average used price of Boss effects rose 60% on Reverb, handily beating the norm. In fact, compared to the top 200 pedal brands, Boss pedals appreciated in value more than 160 others. And they did so despite the fact that, by order volume, they sell more than any other brand.

How? Because they're dependable but not boring, pioneering but not faddy, and, for as deep and wide as Boss' current pedal lineup is, the company has left a long line of discontinued collectibles behind them.

A Brief Boss History

Back in 1977, Boss released the first three effects in its compact pedals series that would revolutionize the pedal market: the OD-1 Overdrive, PH-1 Phaser, and SP-1 Spectrum.

At the time, the variety of effects was limited. Existing options could be expensive and built in unwieldy sizes. But these first compact entries from Boss changed all of that. With them, musicians could get previously unattainable sounds in affordable, gig-friendly packages.

Designed to be sturdy, lightweight, and small enough to fit easily into a guitar case, these new enclosures rewrote the standard for pedal-building and, in many ways, set the trajectory for the wide world of pedalboard-friendly effects we have today.

While competing brands flocked to create their own offerings in this compact form factor, Boss continued to break new ground. The GE-6 Equalizer, TW-1 T Wah, CS-1 Compression Sustainer, and the DS-1 Distortion—one of the most iconic pedals from Boss or any brand—came out in 1978. The NF-1 Noise Gate, SG-1 Slow Gear, and CE-2 Chorus closed out the decade.

The innovation continued as Boss brought newly created digital effects into the stompbox format: In 1983, the brand released the first-ever digital delay pedal (the DD-2). Four years later, it made the first-ever digital reverb pedal, the RV-2.

In the nearly 50 years after that first batch of small, ruggedized pedals launched in '77, Boss' compact lineup has included more than 120 unique models, with 50 in current production. When you split those into certain eras and countries of manufacture (like a '78-88, made-in-Japan model vs. a '94-Present, Taiwan-made variant) and add in Boss' non-compact effects formats, the brand has produced well over 300 pedals for fans to choose from.

Boss Pedal Appreciation Over Time

Like their die-cast aluminum enclosures, the value of Boss pedals has stood the test of time. Referring back to Reverb sales data from 2015 up through 2022, we see that even in this era of unprecedented activity and variety in the pedal industry, Boss effects have fared well against all the new competition.

The average price paid for one of Boss' first compact pedals—OD-1 Overdrive, PH-1 Phaser, and SP-1 Spectrum—rose by 99%, 88%, and 21%, respectively. (Don't be fooled by that modest-looking 21% increase for the SP-1. Already one of the most collectible early Bosses before 2015, it sold on average for $542.19 in 2022.)

Boss SG-1 Slow gear 2-year Price Guide graph
Boss SG-1 Slow Gear 2-year Price Guide graph. (Check it out for yourself here.)

The value of original DS-1 Distortions, produced in Japan between 1978 and 1988, rose by 96%. The SG-1 Slow Gear—which, like the SP-1, had been a collector's item before Reverb—rose by 83%, with an average sale price of $642.23 in 2022.

But it's not just the old vintage stuff that gets the love. The single-highest price increase has actually occurred for a late-'90s pedal whose reputation was entirely unremarkable until the last two years: the PW-2 Power Driver.

Described by some today as the "Boss Big Muff" and the perfect pedal for shoegaze, Brit-Pop, grunge, and other '90s alt-rock, most people before 2020 didn't describe it as much of anything. Released in 1996, discontinued in 1997, the PW-2 did not sell well when it was new, nor did it find many fans for the next two decades.

Boss PW-2 Power Driver 2-year Price Guide graph
Boss PW-2 Power Driver 2-year Price Guide graph. (Check it out for yourself here.)

But in 2020 and 2021, two opinion-shifting YouTube videos from We As A Company and JHS Pedals called the PW-2 one of Boss' most underrated creations. And then lots of people started to agree. Average prices for the PW-2 rose by 455% in the seven years between 2015 and 2022 jumping from $32.84 to $182.31.

Herein lies another interesting facet of Boss' value. Well over 15 million of the famously durable pedals have been produced. Even unsuccessful runs like the PW-2 (or, earlier, the SP-1) numbered in 10,000 units or more. The economy of scale allowed the pedals to be affordable when first released, which had ramifications on used prices as well.

The PW-2 got 4X more expensive, yet still averaged under $200. The FB-2 Feedback/Booster—a 2011 modern reimagining of the 1984 DF-2 Super Feedbacker & Distortion—increased in price by 300% in the past seven years. Yet it still averaged around $225.

Boss FB-2 Feedback/Booster 2-year Price Guide graph
Boss FB-2 Feedback/Booster 2-year Price Guide graph. (Check it out for yourself here.)

By and large, these are not mythical circuits. They're not Klon Centaurs or one-off builds with NOS capacitors. They're mass-produced tools whose appreciation in value seems to rely less on scarcity and more on honest popularity.

Of the top 100 most popular Boss pedals on Reverb in 2022, several others have more than doubled in price.

Despite such staggering statistics for Boss' appreciation overall, not every individual Boss effect has increased in value over the years.

Boss SG-1 Slow gear 2-year Price Guide graph
A selection of popular Boss pedals that have more than doubled in used price since 2015.

Some of Boss' aging multi-effects have fallen out of favor with players—the GT-10 Guitar Effects Processor has dropped in value by -19%, with the ME-25 Multi-Effect right behind it at -18%.

Another area of effects with an uncertain appreciation is Boss' synth-style pedal range. The SY-300 from 2015, reviewed at the time as one of the best "polyphonic pitch–tracking guitar synths," is down -29%. The SYB-3 Bass Synthesizer from the same year is now down by -2%.

The SY-1, released in 2019, has lost 22% of its used value, which, to be fair, is a common trajectory for a newly released synth. But what happens next will be a good gauge of the SY-1's staying power.

Boss FZ-2 Hyper Fuzz 2-year Price Guide graph
Boss FZ-2 Hyper Fuzz 2-year Price Guide graph. (Check it out for yourself here.)

Still, even these decreases in value across certain pedal models are quite small by comparison to the significant and surprisingly strong gains Boss has made during the same time period.

A complicated, expensive, or small-run boutique circuit doesn't automatically make a pedal more valuable to players than something that's solid, intuitive, and known to be reliable. Boss pedals, in fact, have appreciated at a higher rate than several of the boutique market's darlings.

Because of its steadfast longevity and commitment to a design that's now decades old, it might be easy to assume that Boss is one of the more middle-of-the-road effects brands. But what these statistics truly show is that the brand nailed the form 50 years ago and has proven ever since that you'd be a fool to discount the circuits inside.

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