Tone Building with Classic Boss Pedals

Hi all, it’s been quiet lately on Guitar Tone Overload, day job, family, you know the drill!

Here is a little experiment captured on video. There is so much “Boss bashing” by the experts lurking in forums, experts being ironic here of course, that I thought a little demo of an “All Boss” pedalboard would be fun.

Most of the pedals shown in this video are still available except for the HM-2 and the RV-3. The video is about tone building, I like how the CH-1, DD-3, RV-3 trio enhances the tone.

I feed various distortions to said trio and, as a bonus, I show how the good old HM-2 can be used as a booster. This pedal has gained legendary status as a booster in the realm of extreme metal, we can see why! As an aside, the HM-2 was also used by David Gilmour to boost his Big Muffs in the mid/late eighties (think Momentary Lapse of Reason).

Here is the video:

Steve Vai’s Stereo Setup

I saw Steve Vai for a master class in Sydney in 2012 and although I could briefly approach his pedalboard, I did not really understand the presence of two Boss DD-7 delay pedals and two amps.

Fast forward two years and Steve Vai explains his setup in this video, which I recommend watching. It is lengthy by Youtube standards but Steve Vai is always an inspirational speaker. The bit about the stereo setup is around 25 min. On a side note, towards the beginning of the video, he gets a pretty mighty tone out of a stock Boss DS-1 but I digress.

I have summarised Steve Vai’s stereo setup in this picture (click on the picture to zoom in):

Steve Vai's Stereo Setup-2

So basically the Boss CH-1 chorus is used to create a stereo image and each output of the pedal is connected to one Boss DD-7. The idea here is that you can have different delay settings for each side of the stereo image. Those settings can be wildly different or similar enough to fatten the tone. It provides a really nice stereo “wash” as the maestro puts it. Really cool idea!

In Steve Vai’s case The CH-1 is in the FX loop of the first Carvin Legacy amp, then feeds the DD-7s whose output is plugged into each return of the two amp’s FX loops. This means that only the power amp section of the second Legacy amplifier is used. See my previous post about using an effect loop for more information.

I use a Marshall JMP-1 preamp for recording direct and it happens to have a stereo effects loop, so I have recreated Steve Vai’s setup using a stereo Boss CE-3 chorus and two delay units: a Boss DD-3 and a TC Electronic Flashback X4.

From the “send” of the effect loop on the JMP-1, the signal goes into the CE-3. Each output of the CE-3 routes the signal to a different delay then the output of each delay goes into one of the “return” jacks of the JMP-1 effect loop.

The signal chain goes: guitar -> Korg Pitch Black Tuner -> Analogman modded TS9 -> Proco RAT 2 -> Marshall JMP-1 -> (in the loop) -> Boss CE-3 -> Boss DD-3 (right side) -> TC Electronic Flashback X4 (left side) -> Boss Micro-BR Recorder

Boss RC-1

The Boss RC-1 is the latest in the extensive range of Boss “Loop Stations”, and also the simplest: it sports one level knob (the level of the “looped material”) and an innovative loop visual display. An optional two pedal switch such as the FS-6 or FS-7 can be used to add “undo” and “stop” functions otherwise obtained by respectively pressing the main switch for two seconds and twice rapidly.

No multiple memory presets or USB interfaces, those are reserved for the more sophisticated Boss loopers (RC-3, RC-30, RC300, etc.). The RC-1 is designed to be simple and it’s a lot of fun. The audio quality is top notch and it is stereo. Without further ado, here is a little video I have recorded (the signal chain is stereo using my Marshall JMP-1 preamp):

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