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Boss Guitar Effects Pedals

Updated on July 18, 2013

Boss Corporation

Boss is a manufacturer of effects pedals for electric guitar and bass guitar. It is a division of the Roland Corporation, a Japanese manufacturer that specializes in musical equipment and accessories. For many years Boss manufactured a range of products related to effects processing for guitars, including "compact" and "twin" effects pedals, multi-effect pedals, electronic tuners, and pedal boards. In more recent times, Boss expanded their products line to include Digital Studios, rhythm machines and other electronic equipment.

Boss DS1 Distortion Pedal
Boss DS1 Distortion Pedal


When Roland decided to form a subsidiary company dedicated to guitars in the early 1970s, they originally intended to call it MEG (Musical Engineering Group). Realizing, however, that Meg was a girl's name and believing this might dissuade male guitarists, they searched for a name that would connote power and mastership, and eventually came up with Boss.

The earliest Boss product was called B-100 The Boss, released in 1976. This came with a clip-on pre-amp and a pickup to amplify acoustic guitars. At this point the Boss company had not been formed and it was still technically a Roland product.

The first proper Boss foot pedal effect, in 1976, was called the CE-1 Chorus Ensemble, believed by many guitarists to be the "Holy Grail" of pedal chorus effects. It was a fairly large, AC-powered unit. It was popular with artists at the time such as Andy Summers and can be heard on various recordings.

Boss's line of compact pedals began in 1977 with the release of three pedals: an overdrive pedal (OD-1), a phaser pedal (PH-1) and a parametric equalizer called the Spectrum (SP-1). The Boss DS-1 was released the next year, in 1978. Also released in this year is the T Wah (TW-1) pedal. Their first compact chorus pedal (CE-2) came the next year (1979), and their first flanger pedal (BF-2) in 1980. In 1983 Boss released the DD-2 Digital Delay, the first mass-produced digital delay in a compact pedal format. In 1987 Boss released nine new pedals, including the Turbo Distortion (DS-2). The Metal Zone (MT-2) was released in 1991. The Heavy Metal (HM-2) distortion pedal was an integral part of the guitar sound of many styles of heavy metal music ever since. The pedals all share the same 'footprint', for compatibility with pedal boards.

Boss introduced COSM (Composite Object Sound Modeling), Roland's proprietary version of digital modeling technology, into their AC-3 Acoustic Simulator pedal in 2006. Boss has since released several pedals using COSM, including the FBM-1 '59 Fender Bassman pedal and FDR-1 '65 Fender Deluxe Reverb pedal, introduced at the Winter NAMM show in January 2007.

All Boss compact pedals use a "buffered bypass" type of silent foot switching utilizing Field Effect Transistors (FETs) to avoid clicks and pops. While not "true" bypass, the buffered bypass has the advantage of preventing signal loss due to long runs of cable, while keeping original guitar tone intact.


Boss BF3 Flanger
Boss BF3 Flanger

Boss compact pedals were originally produced in Japan, until circa 1990 when production moved to Taiwan. Some users claim there is a sound difference between the two, although there is no conclusive evidence to prove the superiority of either. Earlier units came with a metal screw securing the battery compartment, later models retained the metal screw, adding a plastic knob for tool-less battery removal. The labels on the bottom of the pedals come in several different colours including black, silver, green, pink and blue. Apart from this the basic design has remained unchanged for over 25 years.

The DS-1 Distortion, however, is an exception; the design has changed significantly twice throughout its lifetime. The first time was around 1994 when the Toshiba TA7136AP op amp was replaced with the Rohm BA728N. In 2000 the op amp was again changed. This time it was replaced with the Mitsubishi M5223AL. The latest op amp change occurred in 2007, when new DS-1 pedals began shipping with the NJM3404AL op amp.

In recent years older Boss compact pedals have begun to command a high premium on the used market. Some pedals, such as the relatively rare VB-2 Vibrato, SG-1 Slow Gear, SP-1 Spectrum, DC-2 Dimension C, PS-3 Pitch Shifter/Delay, PQ-4 Parametric Equalizer, and either of the two analog Delay pedals, the DM2 and DM3, are highly sought after by collectors.

The Boss Doctor Rhythm DR-110 drum machine was the last drum machine out of Roland to use analog sound synthesis to generate the drum sounds. After the DR-110, all Roland drum machines used samples of drums to produce sounds. The DR-110 is not easily incorporated into a modernized studio setup running MIDI but there are modifications available to sync the DR-110 to other gear. There are also modifications available in DIY formats to add tonal controls to the analog drum sounds on board the DR-110 that will give the user a wider range of sonic ability.

Boss Effects Pedals
Boss Effects Pedals

Boss Product List


BD-2 Blues Driver (Used by Billie Joe Armstrong)

DB-5 Driver

DS-1 Distortion (Used by Dave Navarro and Kurt Cobain)

DS-2 Turbo Distortion (John Frusciante and Kurt Cobain)

MD-2 Mega Distortion (Used by Mick Thomson) during "Iowa" only.*

DF-2 Super Feedbacker and Distortion

OS-2 OverDrive/Distortion

OD-3 OverDrive

OD-2 Turbo Overdrive

OD-1 OverDrive

OD-2r Turbo Overdrive

SD-1 Super OverDrive

SD-2 Dual OverDrive

ST-2 Power Stack (2010) "Stack amp in a stomp box."

PW-2 Power Driver

XT-2 Xtortion

FZ-5 Fuzz

FZ-3 Fuzz

FZ-2 Hyper Fuzz (Used by Fieldy)

HM-2 Heavy Metal

HM-3 Hyper Metal

MZ-2 Digital Metalizer

ML-2 Metal Core

MT-2 Metal Zone

DN-2 Dyna Drive

FBM-1 Fender '59 - amplifier simulation of 1959 Fender Bassman

FDR-1 Fender '65 Deluxe - amplifier simulation of 1965 Fender Deluxe Reverb


CE-1 Chorus Ensemble (used by John Frusciante)

CE-2 Chorus

CE-3 Chorus

CE-5 Chorus Ensemble (used digital components after 2001)

CH-1 Super Chorus (used digital components after 2001)

PH-1 Phaser

PH-1r Phaser

PH-2 Super Phaser

PH-3 Phase Shifter

VB-2 Vibrato

TR-2 Tremolo

PN-2 Tremolo/Pan

BF-2 Flanger (Used by Jason Newsted)

BF-3 Flanger

HF-2 Hi-Band Flanger

DC-2 Dimension C

DC-3 Digital Dimension a.k.a. "Digital Space D" later labeled.


RV-2 Digital Reverb

RV-3 Digital Reverb/Delay, with delay times up to 2,000ms. Used by Jonny Greenwood, Jonny Buckland, and Wes Borland

RV-5 Digital Reverb

RRV-10 Digital Reverb

FRV-1 Fender Reverb - amplifier simulation of 1963 Fender Spring Reverb

DSD-2 Digital Sampler/Delay

DSD-3 Digital Sampler/Delay

DM-1 Delay Machine

DM-2 Analog Delay

DM-3 Analog Delay

DD-2 Digital Delay (used by Tom Morello)

DD-3 Digital Delay

DD-5 Digital Delay

DD-6 Digital Delay - stereo pedal with longer delay times than DD-3

DD-7 Digital Delay

DD-20 Digital Delay


TW-1 T Wah

TW-1 Touch Wah

AW-2 Auto Wah

AW-3 Dynamic Wah

FT-2 Dynamic Filter

GE-6 Equalizer

GE-7 Equalizer

PQ-4 Parametric Equalizer

SP-1 Spectrum

AC-3 Acoustic Simulator

AC-2 Acoustic Simulator

CS-1 Compression Sustainer

CS-2 Compression Sustainer

CS-3 Compression Sustainer

EH-2 Enhancer

Pitch shift

PS-2 Digital Pitch Shifter/Delay

PS-3 Digital Pitch Shifter/Delay

PS-5 Super Shifter

PS-6 Harmonist (2010)

OC-2 Octaver a.k.a. "Octave" later labeled.

OC-3 Super Octave

HR-2 Harmonist


LM-2 Limiter

LS-2 Line Selector

NF-1 Noise Gate

NS-2 Noise Suppressor

PSM-5 Power Supply and Master Switch

RC-2 Loop Station

RC-20XL Loop Station

RC-50 Loop Station

SG-1 Slow Gear

TU-2 Chromatic Tuner

TU-3 Chromatic Tuner (2010)

TU-1000 Chromatic tuner

Twin pedals for electric guitar

OD-20 Drive Zone

CE-20 Chorus Ensemble

EQ-20 Advanced EQ

DD-20 Giga Delay

RC-20XL Loop Station

RT-20 Rotary Ensemble

RE-20 Space Echo

SL-20 Slicer

WP-20G Wave Processor

OC-20G Poly Octave

GP-20 Amp Factory

VE-20 Voice Performer (2010)

Compact pedals for bass guitar

BF-2B Bass Flanger

CE-2B Bass Chorus

GE-7B Bass Equalizer

LM-2B Bass Limiter

PQ-3B Parametric Equalizer

ODB-3 Bass Overdrive

CEB-3 Bass Chorus

GEB-7 Bass Equalizer

LMB-3 Bass Limiter Enhancer

SYB-3 Bass Synthesizer

SYB-5 Bass Synthesizer

Drum machines

Boss Doctor Rhythm DR-55 (analog)

Boss Doctor Rhythm DR-110 (analog)

Boss Doctor Rhythm DR-220 A/E (12bit)

Boss Doctor Rhythm DR-3

Boss Doctor Rhythm DR-5

Boss Doctor Rhythm DR-550 mkI/mkII

Boss Doctor Rhythm DR-660

Boss Doctor Rhythm DR-670

Boss Doctor Rhythm DR-770

Boss Doctor Rhythm DR-880

Multi-effects processors



GT-6 & GT-6B Guitar Effects Processor

GT-8 Guitar Effects Processor

GS-10 Guitar and Bass Effects Processor for Studio

GT-10 & GT-10B Guitar/Bass Effects Processor

GT-PRO Guitar Effects Processor (rack-mounted)

ME-5 Guitar Effects Processor

ME-8 Guitar Effects Processor

ME-8B Bass Guitar Effects Processor

ME-10 Guitar Effects Processor

ME-20 & ME-20B - Guitar and Bass Multiple Effects

ME-25 Guitar Multiple Effects (2010)

ME-30 & ME-30B - Guitar and Bass Multiple Effects

ME-33 Guitar Multiple Effects

ME-50 & ME-50B - Guitar and Bass Multiple Effects

ME-70 - Guitar Multiple Effects

RC-50 Loop Station

BE-5- 5 Special Selected Effects for Guitarists (Chorus, Noise Suppressor, Digital Delay, Overdrive/Distortion, Compressor)

BE-5B- 5 Special Selected Effects for Bassists

Digital studios

Boss Micro BR 4 track

Boss BR 532 4 track

Boss BR 600 8 track

Boss BR 800 8 track

Boss BR 864 8 track

Boss BR 900CD 8 track

Boss BR 1200CD 12 track

Boss BR 1600CD 16 track

Boss Loop Station on Amazon

Whats your favorite Boss Effects pedal?

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    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I found my older brother's Boss DS-1 after not being used for years and all I had to do was replace the 9V battery and I have to say it sounds great!! I use the DS-1 over my Dunlop Fuzz Face in my main rig now!

    • J-Shephard profile image


      6 years ago

      I have a DS-1 and I love it to get a smooth nice distortion.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I just have try the bass chorus and the bass overdrive: they are good, especially the chorus. For the distortion I prefer other effects, but it's my personal opinion based on my raw style...

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      boss DM.2 bass

    • guitaristic profile image


      7 years ago

      The Loop Station


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