BOSS DS-1-review

BOSS DS-1 Distortion Pedal Review (2019)

The classic BOSS Distortion DS-1 pedal will give you an excellent, intense distortion effect on the guitar sound or your keyboard’s sound. Unlike many flat and dull distortion effects, the BOSS Distortion DS-1 accurately reproduces all the subtleties and shades of the dynamic game at any volume.

With BOSS DS 1 Pedal you get:

  • Classic distortion effect from BOSS for guitar and keyboard;
  • Reproduction of the shades of the dynamics at any level of loudness;
  • Regulators for distortion, scale, and tone to adjust the superior sound to satisfy your taste.

Legendary distortion pedal

The pedal, to which this review is dedicated, has acquired the status of legendary by guitarists. It has been produced since 1978, and it is still trendy and relevant nowadays. The world-famous guitarists have it in their arsenal. Also, with DS-1, you can receive a quality guitar sound despite its rather low price and simplicity of settings.

Initially, the BOSS DS-1 was released in Japan, and these pedals are considered classic. But today, this model, as well as all new products of the BOSS company, is published in Taiwan.

There are many disputes among guitarists about the difference in the sound of these pedals. Some argue that the difference in sound is tremendous. So they try to find an original Japanese BOSS DS-1.

However, others are quite satisfied with the quality of new copies, and they consider that the difference in sounding is too exaggerated.

For a long time, I also believed in a stereotype that the modern BOSS DS-1 did not give a classic sound. Until I saw how guitarist Steve Vai played at a concert on the usual stock DS-1, and it sounded terrific. It must be remembered that the main thing is the ability to play, and not the price of the equipment:) The rates for old Japanese copies are quite high. Whether it is worth overpaying, you should decide.

BOSS DS-1 is familiar to almost every guitarist, the classic distortion effect in a guitar pedal format. Only three control knobs – for the effect volume,  the level of overload, and the timbral color.

The battery slot is located under the pedal switch, and you can replace it quickly and without a screwdriver. By the way, it has minimal power consumption, and the battery is perfect for long-time usage. The design is classic, like all BOSS effects – compact, reliable, light, and easy to configure. DS-1 will perfectly fit into your pedalboard, and will not take up much space.

Many beginners speak badly about this pedal and criticize it for a flat sand sound. They do not understand why professionals prefer to use this pedal.

As a rule, their main mistake is connecting it to the budget transistor amplifier. And it does not sound. BOSS Distortion DS-1 was designed to drive the tube guitar amplifier, and it sounds quite different from it.

When you connect the BOSS DS-1 to a clean channel, for example, the Fender Twin amplifier, you get recognizable and well-read in mixed distortion. It is perfect for both guitar – rhythm, and guitar solo parts.

The pedal is pretty demanding to the amplifier, and what is suitable for it will be better told by the experience of use.

Also, a pleasant moment of using BOSS DS-1 is that it can be “warmed up” by another overdrive pedal and get an additional level of overdrive and compression for solo.

We used Fender Blues Junior IV amp, BOSS DS-1, BOSS SD-1 for an additional boost, and a little bit of the BOSS DD-7 delay effect to the test sound. The result surprised us, and we were enjoying the play and the sound for 30 minutes.

About the sound

The BOSS DS-1 gives a strong classic distortion effect and sounds good with guitars equipped with humbucker pickups as well as a single coil. The pedal responds well to the volume knob on the guitar and, by slightly adjusting the volume, you can reduce the level of overdrive.

The best position of the tone control can be called at 9 – 12 hours. The sound becomes a bit too sharp. However, when playing in a group, an additional edge of sound brightness can become a positive moment, and you will not get lost in the mix.

The sound is a classic distortion effect and is suitable for rock, hard rock, and heavy metal styles. For more extreme styles, it does not fit. It’s better to choose other pedals, which leads to more evil sound.

BOSS Distortion DS-1 is an excellent example of how you can get a professional guitar sound for little money. Be sure to try this pedal and, perhaps, you will keep it in your arsenal for a long time.


  • Good sound;
  • Easy to set up;
  • Safe construction;
  • Compact size


  • Few sound options.

Specifications of BOSS DS-1 Distortion

Nominal input level-20 dBu
Input resistance1 M ohm
Nominal output level-20 dBu
Output Impedance1 k ohm
ControlsPedal switch
GAIN knob
TONE knob
LEVEL knob
ConnectorsINPUT jack: 1/4-inch phone type
OUTPUT jack: 1/4-inch phone type
DC IN jack
IndicatorCHECK indicator (Used for indication of check battery)
Power SupplyCarbon-zinc battery (9 V, 6F22) or Alkaline battery (9 V, 6LR61)
AC adaptor (PSA series: sold separately)
Current Draw20 mA
Expected battery life under continuous useCarbon: Approx. 24.5 hours
Alkaline: Approx. 44 hours
*These figures will vary depending on the actual conditions of use.
AccessoriesOwner's manual
Leaflet ("USING THE UNIT SAFELY," "IMPORTANT NOTES," and "Information")
Carbon-zinc battery (9 V, 6F22)
Width73 mm
2-7/8 inches
Depth129 mm
5-1/8 inches
Height59 mm
2-3/8 inches
Weight360 g
13 oz

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