The Hidden Sounds in Your Boss Pedals

Boss effects pedals have been a mainstay with guitarists for being nearly indestructible and their wide availability. However, due to the vast amount of pedals available today, and the constant evolution of guitarists’ tastes and tones, many of our once-beloved Boss pedals have been shelved for the latest “boutique” devices that are tickling our ears. But now it’s time to dust off those un-modded classics and wrest from them some new sounds that may earn back some real estate on your pedalboard.

DS-1 Distortion: One Angry-Sounding Fuzz Pedal

First introduced in the late 1970s during the non-master volume years, the DS-1 Distortion was one of the first pedals that gave guitarists the sound of a high-gain amplifier without having to crank their stacks to ear-splitting levels. But the pedal’s razor-sharp high end and the strong tonal character it imparts to your sound have made it a love-it-or-hate-it type of device. Thankfully, there is a way to harness all that nastiness and get fuzz tones that are as confrontational as they are inspiring.

Crank That Gain
The first step is simply "diming" the gain control. Any lower than full-on and you may find yourself in less-than-stimulating distortion territory.

Crank That Volume
Because this sound works best with a dirty amplifier, go ahead and give your amp everything the DS-1’s got with the volume wide open. Keep in mind, though, that the pedal’s volume knob does change the sound quite a bit. Experiment with it to find the shade of grit that’s right for you.

Crank That Tone… No, Really
The tone knob on a DS-1 is much maligned past the 12 o’clock setting for the way it introduces a piercing high end. But in this case, that treble is what gives this tone its teeth. Go ahead and crank that puppy up for a ratty and ear-splitting fuzz tone that’s sure to cut through any mix.

DD-7 Delay: Artificial Double Tracking (ADT)

The DD-7 is arguably the most powerful pedal in Boss’ DD series. It boasts a wealth of options for getting analog, pristine digital, reverse delay, modulated styles, and more. But the stereo outs make this pedal capable of a trick many players overlook: artificial double tracking, or ADT.

ADT is a way of getting the sound of two guitars out of a single performance. Using the DD-7, you can give the pedal a stomp and begin wondering why the band is paying the other guitar player.

Gotta Love Running in Stereo
To get the best results, you’ll want to run the left and right outputs of the DD-7 in to two separate amplifiers, or, if you’re recording direct, into separate inputs of your interface, panned hard to each side. The technique will work in mono, but the effect is greatly reduced.

Dialing It In

  • Level or blend: About 50% wet and dry

  • Repeats: Set to a single repeat

  • Time: This can vary a bit depending on how “loose” you want the performance to feel. I’d say somewhere around 50ms. At this point, the effect is slow enough to fatten the tone, but faster than a standard slap back.

  • Mode: This is completely up to you. But you may prefer a warmer-toned repeat to offer a little variation.

Kick the Pedal On and Go
This effect works great whether you want to leave it on to give your sound a consistent thickening throughout, or to kick it in for certain sections of a song, conjuring a powerful punch that widens the band’s sound.

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GE-7 Graphic Equalizer: Completely Customizable Boost

The GE-7 is an affordable pedal that should be required gear on every pedalboard given how versatile it is. Want to eliminate frequencies that are feeding back or switch guitars onstage without any output or tonal change? Do you like the distortion from your favorite stomp, but wish is had a little more low end? Or are you looking for a clean boost that you can tailor tonally in detail? The solution to all of these predicaments is the GE-7. The latter example is the one we’ll tackle here.

Turn It Up!
Between each of the seven EQ bands’ boosts and the master level control, the GE-7 offers up to +30 dB of clean output. That’s more than enough to boost your tone over the band, or push your dirty amp into thick overdrive. Go ahead and shove all those sliders to the top to get boosting!

Keep What You Like, Lose the Rest
Once the pedal is cranked, you can start bringing down the frequencies you aren’t looking for. Too muddy sounding? Bring down the 100 and 200 Hz sliders. Too piercing? Do the same to the 6.4 kHz control. With the GE-7, you get to decide exactly how your clean boost sounds.

TU-2 & TU-3 Tuners: A Must-Have Multi-Tool for Every Pedalboard

Of course, you already know that the Boss TU series of tuners are bullet-proof and accurate tuning devices that work great as a signal mute. But did you know that these little white boxes will also drive long cable runs and power multiple pedals on your pedalboard? Well, they can.

You Already Own a Great Buffer
Many players today are scrambling to buy a buffer to keep their signal pure through an extensive chain of true bypass effects. But the TU pedals, which are probably already in their collection, have a good quality buffer built right in. Put one of these first in your chain and send a good, strong signal to your amp.

True Pedal Power
There are a great many players who use the TU tuners religiously but still don’t know that there is a 9-volt output on the back. Once you have the tuner powered up, you can run a daisy chain cable out of the tuner to power up to 200mA worth of your other pedals. This is great if you ran out of space on your pedalboard power supply, or if you’re in a quick grab-’n’-go situation.

Every guitarist in the world is chasing tone. Whether you’re after the “perfect” sound or something brand new and refreshing, there is sure to be a pedal that does it in the market somewhere. But why shell out the extra cash when you probably already have a great Boss pedal somewhere in your collection that will take care of the job?

Dig through those old Boss effects and find unique ways to use them. Go crazy with maxing out the knobs. You won’t hurt anything. Pull those old pedals off the shelf and give them another chance. You may just be surprised by what you find hidden inside.

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