Tag Archives: Overdrive

Boss DS-1X and OD-1X

The Boss DS-1X and OD-1X pedals were presented at NAMM last January and they have created quite a buzz since then. Thanks to Roland Australia, I have been able to test them and, well, the buzz is justified!


Based on Boss’s MDP technology (for Multi-Dimensional Processing), they are modern digital re-creations of the über classic DS-1 distortion and OD-1 overdrive pedals, the very first of their kind in the Boss line, both released in the late 70s. The DNA of those seminal stompboxes can be heard in those ‘X’ versions, but they go much further in terms of gain and EQ capabilities, these are 2014 pedals, not some sort of vintage simulations (and this is a good thing).

I will cut to the chase, here is where I think they shine and this applies to both of them:

– At full blast, they offer more gain that most Distortion or Overdrive pedals while retaining an excellent articulation. My Stratocaster has Kinman noiseless pickups which are not very hot (by design, it’s the blues set) and I often feel the need to use an overdrive to boost my distortion pedals. Not with the DS1-X or even the OD1-X, there is plenty of gain and sustain on tap, even with “vintage output” pickups.
– They clean up quite well when rolling off the volume on the guitar, except maybe at the highest gain settings with the DS-1X but that is to be expected. I have tried to demonstrate this in my videos.
– They have a very efficient 2 band EQ with a Low and a High knob, a plus compared to a lot of overdrive or distortion stompboxes which only have a tone knob.
– The tonal characteristics of the guitar still go through. I have tested them with a Fender Strat and a Gibson SG 61 Reissue, they clearly sounded different, even on high gain settings
– There was a time when mentioning “digital” and “distortion” or “overdrive” in the same sentence would make guitarists having instant fits but I suspect we will get none of that with the new Boss offering.

As I mentioned earlier, the remarks above apply to both models I think, let me go into what differentiates them.


Yellow Boss pedals are usually overdrives, the OD-1X is no exception, with a hint of sparkly finish. It sport four knobs: level for the output volume, low and high for EQ and drive for the amount of overdrive.

The drive is quite progressive going from a gritty not-so-clean tone to an all out nearly Van Halen-esque big rock tone. I find that with the gain at 3 o’clock (i.e 75 % or so), there is a sweet spot between clarity and sustain, it’s a very pleasing lead tone. Coupled with the aforementioned efficient 2-band EQ and a good dose of volume boost under tap, the OD-1X is a very versatile overdrive.

Tonewise, it is definitely related to the OD-3/SD-1/etc., it’s a Boss overdrive so if you are looking for something totally different, you might be disappointed (although it wouldn’t hurt to try it would it?). Apart from that, it is a top notch overdrive and it is hard to believe it is digital.


The sparkly orange DS-1X recalls the DS-1, the first distortion released by Boss and adopted by people like Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, Gary Moore (his early 80s strat Marshall tone was boosted by a DS-1), Kurt Cobain, etc.

It has four knobs: level for the output volume, low and high for EQ and dist to change the amount of distortion. And distortion there is, believe me, this would almost qualify as a metal pedal.

At low distortion (as shown in videos scattered around this post), it is already quite grittier than the OD-1X. At 3 o’clock, it’s already in the realm of high sustain, searing leads. At full blast, it’s very distorted which makes it a very versatile little beast. The EQ section is very efficient and my little Fender Champ has never been capable of generating so much bass!

Despite the amount of distortion on tap, I found that a Strat remained a Strat and a Gibson remained a Gibson. It also cleans up quite well depending on your guitar and pickups, akin to a good amp. The tone is reminiscent of the DS-1 but with more body and a more amp-like quality (rather British if you follow my drift). As such, this is quite a different beast and you might like it a lot better than its venerable ancestor.


I was reasonably impressed with the pedals released by Boss in the last few years (especially the BC-2) but not entirely enthralled. Well, they definitely have their mojo back with the DS-1X and the OD-1X, it pains me to have to give them back! Even if the vast majority of boutique stuff is analog nowadays, a few companies have started pushing the digital envelope a bit further recently, and I must say that Boss has just joined them in a spectacular fashion.

Happy New Year and more Soul Food Action

First of all, Happy new year filled with cool guitar tones!

The Soul Food from Electro-Harmonix continues to intrigue, the sub 100 dollars Klon Centaur clone has been attracting a lot of attention.

Mike Piera aka Analogman himself shows in this video the difference (or rather the lack of) between the two models. The effect guru is even giving some insight as to how the pedal is built at the beginning of the video, very cool:

Digitech Bad Monkey Overdrive: Cheap but not Cheap Sounding

I have featured a number of expensive and less expensive Tube Screamer alternatives over the past year and I thought the Bad Monkey’s turn was long overdue.

It is not really a secret: the Digitech Bad Monkey is an excellent overdrive used by a number of pros, check out Phil X’s videos and you will hear it in action quite often.

As always, I have recorded two videos showing the Bad Monkey in action (see below). They will show how you the beast fares with Single Coil pickups as well as Humbuckers, acting as main overdrive against a clean amp, or as a boost against a distortion pedal.


But before watching the videos, let’s introduce the Bad Monkey. It is a green pedal featuring one input and two outputs. It is not stereo though: one output features the unfiltered sound of the overdrive while the second one features an emulated speaker cabinet output so that you can plug the pedal directly into a mixing desk or a sound interface. It is actually a common feature on Digitech pedals and you can hear a quick demo of the MIXER output after the videos, at the end of this post.

Clearly inspired by the Ibanez Tube Screamer in terms of overall tone, the Bad Monkey features a Gain and a Level setting. But it also features something that most overdrive or distortion pedals desperately need: a 2-band EQ. Instead of the measly Tone control often found on other pedals, the Bad Monkey allows you to tune the Bass and the Treble frequency of your tone. This is a big plus and the only overdrive pedals to feature an effective EQ (that I know of) are the Xotic models such as the BB Preamp.


For this first video, I have used my Stratocaster. This shows how the Bad Monkey sounds against my reference overdrive, an Analogman modded TS9. After comparing the two pedals, I show how the 2-Band EQ can give some “body” to the tone. I found the bass control surprisingly effective with my little Fender Champ which only has an 8″ speaker. At the end of the video, I show how the Bad Monkey can be effectively used to boost a distortion pedal, a good old Pro Co RAT 2:

In this second video, I have used my Gibson SG 61 Reissue, equipped with the stock Classic 57 Pickups. Again, the Analogman TS9 was used as a reference:

Note that for these two videos, I had a Boss RV-3 plugged after the overdrive pedals. It was set on a short Room Reverb (mode Room 2). The amp was my trusty 74 Fender Champ miked by a RODE NT-4.

Direct use

I could not resist and tried the Bad Monkey directly plugged into my Boss Micro-BR.

Here is the reference tone of Strat plugged directly into the “line” input (not the guitar input):

Audio MP3

And now, here is the Bad Monkey with its normal output plugged into the line input of the Micro-BR:

Audio MP3

Pretty bad!! That is what you get when you plug a distortion/overdrive directly into a board.

And now, here is how the MIXER output of the Bad Monkey sounds like (the settings were Gain on Full, Bass and Treble at 2, Level at 1o’clock):

Audio MP3

It is actually not bad at all, I was pretty surprised in a sense that it is usable although a bit dark sounding, but it is definitely not just a gadget. It sounds quite good with the gain on minimum as well, it gets you a usable Jazz/Blues type of tone.


The Digitech Bad Monkey is a great alternative to a Tube Screamer. Actually, more than an alternative, I think it can complement a Tube Screamer really well. I don’t think it sounds quite as smooth as my Analogman TS9 but the 2-Band EQ and the Mixer output makes it really versatile. It is also excellent used as a booster. The best thing is its price, just check it out!

Big Rock Tone with a Telecaster and Two Overdrive Pedals

While doing some research for an upcoming post about Eric Clapton’s “Woman tone”, I ended up trying my 1978 Telecaster with a setup I had just previously used with a Stratocaster. It had nothing to do with Clapton but I liked the tone and it reminded me how efficient a Telecaster can be to get a good biting rock tone. I also found that by rolling off the “Tone” control on the guitar, things got even more interesting. Here is the result (setup details and settings after the video):

The setup is 1978 Telecaster, bridge pickup -> Boss SD-1 with Tone at zero, Drive at 2 o’clock, Level at 3 o’clock -> Analogman TS9 with Drive at 3 o’clock, Tone at 9 o’clock, Level at noon -> 1974 Fender Champ set clean. A zest of compression and plate reverb were added in Cubase, and here you are: a nitty gritty dirty rock tone full of sustain, Telecaster style, coming out of a very small amp.

For those of you having a “squealing” problem with the bridge pickup of your Telecaster while using a lot of gain, I advise you to have the pickup wax potted by a professional. It did wonders to my Telly.

For those of you interested in fattening their Strat or Tele tone, don’t forget the Pro Co RAT 2.

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