The Lowly Distortion Pedal


Many times in life, you will go full circle. In the way back time, after my junky – impossible to play – Montgomery Ward guitar and amp got shitcanned, and a persnickety Ibanez V that was nearly impossible to keep in tune, and a lil’ Crate practice amp replaced it, I have been on a search for tone.

In this telling you can equate “tone” with “sound” and the sound I wanted was a crunchy metal sound. At the time, I didn’t know what that was, and I bought many pedals to chase this dragon before plopping down almost $600 for a good amplifier that had the sound in spades.

Fast forward a ton of years, and the rekindling of the guitar playing itch that captured my dreams in my late teens, and I now have:

  • A decent, properly sized amp for my office/den (15 W all tube Orange Rocker 15)
  • A great guitar (Charvel SoCal Pro HSH with a Floyd Rose)
  • A growing collection of pedals

My latest acquisition is also my least expensive (non-Behringer) pedal. $58 sent to Amazon got me a Boss DS-1 distortion pedal. This is not quite the same circuitry that was in the original, released in 1978, but the minor updates to the circuit that happened in the mid 1990’s. From what I can gather the changes add a bit more thickness to the middle of the EQ band. Whatever.

I plugged it in in front of my MXR Chorus, the Catalinbread Dirty Little Secret (red) overdrive, and a spring reverb.

It is a little much layered on top of the overdrive, but when I turn that off, it is, magic. A good crunchy tone. There are three knobs on it, one for tone, one for distortion, and one for the output level. As per the custom, I set the level so that the active and bypass are about the same level, and then I went fiddling with the two active controls.

Where I have settled in is the tone at about 11:00, and the distortion at 1:30 and it is just audible bliss.

Why did I buy it?

I had heard that the customer Waza-Craft division of Boss had released a version of the venerable DS-1, and I listened to some playing side by side of the two, and I thought that I might enjoy adding a DS-1 to my board. The DS-1w was about $90 more, and frankly, I didn’t think I needed it. $58 was a fair price, and I have to say that for an impulse purchase, it is likely to stay on my board.

Damn, this is some fun stuff to play with.

About the author


Product Manager in Tech. Guitar player. Bicycle Rider. Dog rescuer. Techie.

By gander


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January 2023

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