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DIY 01 - Modding the Boss DS-1 Guitar Pedal

Thu, 2012-11-15 12:28 -- Marc

DIY Series - Modding Boss DS-1 Guitar Pedal

  1. Modding The Pedal
  2. Pre Modification Summary

Here we have the Boss DS-1 Distortion pedal. This pedal is one of the biggest selling pedals of all time and has been used by many artists over the years. In a way this is Boss' signature pedal, from its build to its functionality, you can pretty much know what to expect from Boss products after using this.

There are three adjustable features of this pedal:

Level, tone and distortion.  From this you can already gather that this pedal is easy to use: one of the many reasons it is a lot of peoples first pedal.

The build quality of this pedal is typical Boss, basically indestructible, I have never come across a broken Boss pedal but I am sure they exist, they are just rare, probably collectors items!

Now, how does this pedal sound?

This question is not as easily answered as thought, and why is that? Here are the two main reasons that I will try go through:

    Set up

Like most Boss pedals there are different versions of this pedal, three to be exact (not including mods!) Two of these models are made in Japan while the most recent and currently in production one is from Taiwan.

The current model of the DS-1 (MIT) often gets criticised as being far too trebley and weak, for this reason many people either upgrade of modify their DS-1. However a lot of the treble is down to the set-up of the user and is not completely down the the pedal itself. This is where your actual guitar set-up comes into it, I know that all pedals are affected by the guitar and amp used, but often this is overlooked by people when using the DS-1. Naturally, the treble boost  when increasing the tone on the pedal is much more pronounced on single coil guitars. This needs to be considered when setting up your amp, search for the right sound and spend some time with it. What is the point on splashing out for a new pedal if you don't spend some time with it and experimenting?!

If too much gain is used on this pedal it can lead to a sound a bit like a shit fuzz pedal. Compensate again with the amp settings, or if you have more than one guitar, swap them around and see the difference, remember that humbucker pickups (commonly found on Les Paul style guitars) help beef up the sound and have less treble naturally than single coil pick-ups.

The main reason however that this pedal is more popular than the older versions is simply down to one thing, price. While experimenting with this pedal will yield decent results that are good enough to take on the road, either of the other pedals (earlier versions) offer more clarity and and tone without the problems of increasing treble and shit fuzz gain settings.

The problem is they are both quite expensive especially the original MIJ DS-1. I unfortunately own the most up to date (and worst) version of this pedal and recently sold my Boss MD-2 and have been thinking a lot lately about what I am going to do for an alternative distortion.

So, what is to be done? There is one great thing about owning this particular cheap pedal that is currently produced, and that is that there are tons of mods that can be done to them to help and improve the sound for relatively minimal outlay. So here I am with my Boss DS-1 MIT, and a few spare quid put to one side for pedals.

Basically I am going to mod this pedal like a mofo and then let you decide what you think of this pedal pre and post mod. Keep your eyes peeled for updates on which mod I will be performing and hopefully a set of instructions for the DIY'ers out there!

Back with more soon,



Antoinette Moore
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