In this review we will be checking out the BOSS DS-1 Turbo Distortion pedal. Tone Start will be covering everything you need to know about the pedal before you go out and buy it. We will be checking out its features, sound, performance, durability, and provide you with our overall opinion on the pedal.
If you have any experience or knowledge about guitar pedals then you would have most-likely heard about BOSS. BOSS are responsible for manufacturing a wide-range of effects pedals for both the guitar and bass. The company was founded back in 1973, and is a division of the Japanese manufacturer Roland Corporation. Many popular artists are affiliated with BOSS products, including big names such as Steve Vai, Eric Johnson and John 5.
The DS-2 Turbo Distortion offers two modes of distortion which can be easily switched between using the stomp pedal. BOSS have gone one step further and added a built in remote jack which can be connected to an external footswitch, allowing users to fully customise their pedal boards and providing instant hands-free switching at any time. The three main controls are familiar to any guitarist: Level, Tone and Distortion. These can be adjusted in any combination in both modes 1 and 2, with the option of switching the additional Turbo function in either.
With two modes and three main controls for each, the DS-2 offers a wide range of distortion. In mode 1 it can produce a warm and creamy overdrive, perfect for mellow bluesy rhythms. With added Turbo it’s great for grungey rhythm parts when you’re looking for that classic 90s sound. In average settings the DS-2 provides a chunky distortion that isn’t going to drown out your lead, while cranking up the distortion produces a slightly over-driven sound reminiscent of late Nirvana and Foo Fighters. Soloing in mode 1 can be just as rewarding as crunching out power chords - even with low volume the sound remains crisp and clear with a smooth bluesy overdrive that stands out from the rhythm section.
Mode 2 is best for leads as the upper-mids are boosted while the low-mids are toned down. This gives the user a boosted overdrive with plenty of trebly bite. With a bit of tweaking of the knobs, mode 2 can take you from crunch and fuzz solos to screaming face melters. With humbuckers, this pedal is pretty flawless, producing a consistent chunky distortion. However if you’re using a single coil pickup, it can sag a bit in mode 2, with the distortion lacking that all-important punch. With a good solid humbucker the DS-2 offers perfect lead sounds with a timeless feel - think Frusciante’s solos in Scar Tissue or Dani California.
The Turbo option adds a whole other dimension to each mode. While it can add a raw edge to the mellower mode 1, it really shines when added to mode 2. It gives a big dirty overdrive boost which stands out from even the rockiest of rhythm. With the added Turbo comes added versatility, and this mode can take the DS-2 out of the 90s rock and grunge sound and transport it to the realm of metal. While it can’t compete with purpose-built metal pedals, it certainly packs a punch if you’re looking for a raw metally sound. If you want to play hardcore or death metal, you’re better off looking elsewhere. What’s great about the DS-2 is that even with the massive boost Turbo provides, it won’t mess with your EQ and avoids any high-pitched squeely distortion, allowing your own guitar style to shine through.
BOSS is known for the durability of its products, particularly its pedals, and the DS-2 does not disappoint. It’s made with BOSS’s classic metal design and feels indestructible. While the knobs may get damaged by excessive battering, the main body of the pedal will stand up to even the most wild of stomping. It can take literally decades of use and abuse for the DS-2 to break. But with the BOSS warranty you can be safe in the knowledge that BOSS will fix or replace any faulty pedal for up to five years.
The battery provided with the pedal is not the best available and it’s worth shopping around for something more powerful. After all, the pedal is only as powerful as the battery inside it. With constant use a standard battery will last about 10 hours in the DS-2, but as the power weakens
so will the volume of the sound, so make sure you carry spares with you. Alternately, you can use an AC adapter. The best to use is BOSS’s own adapter as others can produce an off-putting fuzz over your distortion. If you leave the jacks in the pedal it will drain power, so it’s especially important if you’re using batteries to unplug all your jacks when you’re finished.
The DS-2 provides a solid and versatile distortion pedal that offers a huge scope for different sounds. It covers everything from poppy indie rock to crunchy metal, but if you’re after a super-smooth fuzz-free sound or raging death metal then this isn’t the pedal for you. It’s so easy to use that you can dispense with the user guide as soon as you get it out the box, as the control knobs are simple and minimal. That said, the combinations of Level, Tone and Distortion are endless, which means that it can take quite a bit of practice to get the full potential out of this pedal. Ultimately its forte is the sound of 90s grunge and rock, bands like Nirvana, Red Hot Chilli Peppers and Sonic Youth. For this reason, it can produce a distortion that sounds generic, but after mastering the controls it can open up a world of different tones.
Considering the quality and versatility of the DS-2 it is surprisingly inexpensive, and it’s durable design means that it won’t need replacing for many years. Overall, the DS-2 offers a great stand-alone distortion, perfect for both a beginner looking to replicate the classic sound their favourite bands as well as a more advanced guitarist wanting to develop their own style.
Agree or disagree with our review? Let us know what you think in the comments below!
Alex is a man of many talents. He’s been playing music since he was young, and has been the main content writer at Tone Start for the past few years. Alex loves to play around with different styles of music and enjoys listening to anything from country to classical.