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Boss DS-1 Distortion Pedal Reviews

4.5 stars based on 56 customer reviews
Questions about the Boss DS-1 Distortion Pedal?

Questions about the Boss DS-1 Distortion Pedal?

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Sweetwater Advice

  • Ashton Vaudt

    This pedal packs a lot of punch in a small container. Being one of the most affordable distortion pedals on the market, the Boss DS-1 is not only found on my pedalboard, but it's also found on pedalboards of the some of the bigger names in the industry. I can get anything from a light bite to a crunchy growl from this pedal. If there's a workhorse distortion pedal, it's the Boss DS1.

  • from January 16, 2017

    Boss DS-1 Distortion Pedal

    I purchased this item for my son for Christmas. He absolutely loves it!!! Quote - "this is awsome!" Also, great service! And the candy in the box was a nice little surprise!!!

  • from Pittsburgh December 6, 2016Music Background:
    vintage rock'n'roller


    Running a Gretsch 7680 Super Axe through this into a 1958 tweed Bassman. Built-in phaser in the Gretsch is ON, built-in compressor is OFF. Amazing sound. As good as I could have wanted and better than expected. Not used to saying that!

  • from Louisville, Ky October 15, 2016Music Background:
    pickin for over 35 years

    killer pedal

    I have this pedal with the JCM mod, wow!!! what a killer pedal, sounds great thru my Blackstar club 40 and Gibson Les Paul Studio Pro.

  • from PA October 14, 2016Music Background:
    Long-time guitar player


    This pedal does everything I want it to do for great distortion sound---levels, & tone---without all the.
    "fancy" features that some other distortion pedals have. Paid a very reasonable price for this pedal, too!

  • from Ohio September 17, 2016Music Background:
    Retired circuit performer

    The "Go To" Distortion Pedal

    Been using boss ds1 since high school. Finally got around to replacing my 30 year old pedal, sounds just as good as my old one.

  • from New York August 11, 2016


    Love this pedal, vintage distortion from the 70s/80s/90s. I don't know why it is so cheap, I mean $49? Are you kidding me? It's a no brainer. This pedal is a must have for any rocker out there. It's a staple in my lineup. BOSS generally makes pretty good pedals I must say. I put my tone, level & distortion all at 12 o clock (or halfway) & I just rock. I play a lot of punk stuff, Kurt Cobain went as far to say that he thought the DS-1 was largely responsible for his tone. I think he's right, I nail Nirvana songs with this pedal.

  • from Baltimore August 10, 2016Music Background:
    Guitarist, sound engineer, writer

    Closest thing to the infamous "Screamer"

    I love this thing! Amazing range, very tweak able, I'm just learning some of the tones and sounds I can get out of it, but the sky's the limit. Great pedal!

  • from August 18, 2015

    the one

    This is my 2nd one. Just love the sound of this pedal.

  • from Penn Yan, NY July 23, 2015

    Boss DS 1 Pedal

    Well worth the money. It is truly a great pedal. I am glad t o have it on my board.

  • from greencastle, PA July 20, 2015Music Background:
    Newly starting, into Nirvana and 90s grunge

    Boss DS-1

    I'm new to pedals and wow is this one great. It gives me the distortion I want when I'm playing. Great price too and amazing customer service. I would definitely recommend this to whoever needs a good distortion pedal for the price.

  • from Planet Earth March 9, 2015Music Background:
    lots o' stuff

    Good Pedal To Start Out With

    This is my first distortion pedal. I really don't use it anymore just because I'm getting into more sophisticated and intricate sorts of pedals ie. Wampler, etc., but for starting out dude this pedal rocks. I layer it on fuzz and boost and compressor and man it screams. Great tone control too. Lots of those highs or keep it bassy. In any event, grab one of these if you're more of a novice perhaps.

  • from Clearwater Beach Florida December 8, 2014Music Background:
    Pro Musician 25 years

    Rock solid!

    This pedal is by far one of the great classics from Boss. Its a must have for a nice addition to the board setup. And its a pedal that can take anything you want to throw @ it... For the price you can't beat it, I am glad I have it. Sweetwater has your back for all your musical needs.

  • from Tucson October 19, 2014Music Background:

    With a mod this pedal rocks

    If you want one pedal to replace your Fuzz, Overdrive and Distortion pedals get this DS-1 and do the Fromel Supreme modification. Granted the mod costs 20 bucks and takes several hours soldering in new components but when you are done you have a very sweet pedal that can do smooth Fuzz, good overdrive and very controllable dirty distortion.
    Blew me away, could sound almost as good as my Keeley Fuzz Head and my Fulltone Full-Drive 2. What a bargain!

  • from United States July 22, 2014Music Background:

    Great Pedal

    This is my first pedal, and I really enjoy the sound of this pedal and how easy it is to set it up.

  • from SoCal June 6, 2014Music Background:
    Hobbyist, church band member, playing for 35 years.


    I grew up listening to 60's and 70's rock, and THIS is the sound. I've got a Boss ME-50 multi-effects unit that has a DS-1 setting, but this totally blows it away in sound quality and tone because it's the real deal. Highly adjustable and you can get great sounds of it all over the dials. I absolutely love this pedal and it far surpasses anything else I've ever played. I even use it on the dirty channel on my Marshall DSL and it just enhances that already-great sounding channel and adds harmonics and a whole different dynamic.

  • from Provo, UT USA May 4, 2014Music Background:
    Amateur Musician.

    Amazing pedal at a great price, and fantastic with a Strat!

    This distortion pedal does the job and does it well. I'm really an "effects processor" kind of guy. I have an old Peavey Tube/Fex and Eleven Rack. I love them, but you always have a bit of delay (latency) when switching between effects or features. This creates a challenge when you're the only guitarist in a band and you have to be able to switch between a clean tone and a distorted one instantly. I've purchased "boutique" pedals before and been very disappointed in them in the long run. Many of them sound great at low volumes but fizzle out at high volumes. I'm driving a 4x12 cabinet with a Mesa Boogie 50/50, as many of you know, the louder you get, the better the sound gets. You really have to drive those tubes to get that rich, creamy full body sound a tube amp provides. I'm using a Fender Stratocaster and really like to use the neck and center pick up. I've struggled to find a good distortion pedal that will give me the right amount of gain while maintaining the rich full tone the neck and center pickup provide. The DS-1 really delivers! Sadly I've spent over 100.00 in the past for pedals that go flat when I need them to deliver. So even at 49.00 I was skeptical of the DS-1. After having used it, am surprised to say it's the best value to performance item I have ever purchased. Everyone should own this pedal.

  • from Dallas, TX April 4, 2014Music Background:
    Hobbyist, home studio and production, experienced player

    Great pedal

    I bought one of these used, but wanted to throw my review up here since I usually do business with Sweetwater. I am running this through a POD HD500 with an HSS strat and none of the distortion pedals on the POD were giving me exactly what I was looking for, so this is a nice addition. If I pull the distortion all the way back and set the tone about halfway it cleans up nicely and gives me a sound much like you;d get from Frusciante's tone. If I switch over to the neck pickup and set my guitar volume down a few notches, and pull the tone down on the guitar, it gives me a nice bluesy characteristic. I was using compression pedals to boost my cleans and add that bite, but this pedal doesn't need it. I also tested some Nirvana riffs and it distorted quite well without sounding shrill or too sharp - it sounded like Nirvana. This pedal is very versatile and will work well in a large variety of settings, whether you are playing funk, blues, grunge or anything in between. I wouldn't recommend this pedal for thrash metal.

  • from Castro Valley, CA January 2, 2014


    Just got this today, and it is just plain awsome. I play through an AC15 and needed a distortion pedal since the amp doesn't have a distortion channel. I play pop punk like blink 182, and the pedal helps get that modern sounding distortion. You can also get many versatile sounds.

  • from Indianapolis, Indiana September 2, 2013Music Background:
    hobbyist, Composer

    A Classic and still very current!

    A classic pedal! 49 dollars! Enough said!!

  • from United States October 18, 2012Music Background:
    Pro Musician, ( Imperfect Journey).

    Great tone

    I have had this pedal in the 80's, it sounder great then and it sounds great today. I have distortion pedals in the price range of $50- $200. Take away the price tag this is my do too pedal. It has great over tones. You will be able to get the sound you are looking for. You just can't beat A classic.

  • from Waterloo Ontario September 20, 2012Music Background:
    Hobbyist gigging musician


    My favourite distortion pedal. I own quite a few, this and a tube amp is :-)

  • from United States April 2, 2012

    Fantastic Service

    I'm happy with the product, the service has been excellent.
    I liked the extra that they put on every order.

    Estoy contento con el producto, el servicio ha sido excelente.
    Me ha gustado el plus que le ponen a cada orden.

  • from March 26, 2012

    Happy with product

    They called and varified my order mailed it immediately and it was exactly what I ordered, along with a few sweets. Totally happy and will do business again

  • from Australia December 4, 2011Music Background:

    Is this THE best distortion pedal out there..?

    I will start by saying that I've been playing guitar professionally for many years and guitar for 26 years.
    I've tried all sorts of boutique boxes and then some (I used to own a music store so that helped) and having just bought me a DS-1 I am totally blown away by it. This, and the SD-1 are the two BEST pedals for drive I've ever played, period. I would never even think about modding them becasue I think it would ruin their beautiful tone. If you are a good guitar player, and your rig is good. You will sound brilliant using these two boxes. THANK YOU BOSS! I also found that it doubles as a suistainer, too, which is very cool. The knobs seem to work differently than in any other pedal I've used before. You will see what I mean if you turn the volume to 0 and check it against any other Boss pedal.

  • from October 24, 2011

    This place is awesome

    Fast delivery and the best customer service i've ever seen

  • from Wisconsin May 1, 2010Music Background:
    Student, Hobbyist, Performer

    Greatest Pedal Ever!

    For a pricee like this you will never get a better pedal! This is the best distortion pedal made in my opinion. I use this pedal everyday and for almost every song. I play punk rock and you can really get that Blink-182 style punk sound from this pedal.

  • from Cleveland, OH USA January 15, 2010Music Background:
    Hobbyist, home-recording

    My first pedal

    I bought one of these 10 years ago, I was 15 and wanted a distortion pedal, best $40 I ever spent. All the other pedals near this price range were cheap plastic junk, but my DS-1 is still going strong to this day (a bit chipped up from abuse, and drawn on with permanant marker for my settings, but works fine!). Great for all the punk and rock bands I've been in. Since then, I've bought 8 more BOSS pedals, and have an SD-1 on the way. Love it!

  • from Covington, IN USA December 23, 2009Music Background:
    guitarist, daw production, student, intermediate, hobbyist, bassist

    A great cheap pedal

    Wow! You really can't get a better pedal for the price. This will probably always be the best pedal $50 and under. It is great for a good ac/dc and zeppelin classic rock tone, along with the classic Nirvana sound. It can even get into a bit of a Metallica tone if the drive is turned up all the the way and mids are scooped. Great overall guitar pedal.

  • from Canton, Ohio June 4, 2009Music Background:
    Guitarist, Pianoist, Synth-lover, Drummer, Recording, mainly student though

    Perfect Distiortion Pedal

    This pedal offers an amazing range of distortion, depending on your style. It's not your hardcore metal distortion, but it'll provide a nice rock distortion that will knock your socks off. If you are new to guitar, this pedal can give you a head start.

  • from Manila, Philippines May 25, 2008Music Background:

    Great pedal and best deal at Sweetwater

    I'm a pro-musician and I do mod lots of pedals. The Boss DS1 has a good tone of its own as stock. But modding it will unlock its full potential. I always mod all my DS1 pedal. It has three gain options namely the Hi-gain, the crunch distortion and the FAT OD that sounds like Boss discontinued od pedal SD2. All three gain tones sound smooth that I can set the tone knob at 2-3 o'clock. It also blends well with my other Boss pedals like CH1 and DD3.

    BTW, I always buy at Sweetwater. With Free shipping, get your Boss DS1 as in right now! Sweetwater has the best deal.

  • from Maryville,TN baby!Whoooo! October 21, 2007Music Background:
    In three bands, Electric, acoustic, bass, vocals, missionary

    phenomenal service

    I really wanht to brag on the sweetwater service. As soon as I ordered, they sent me an e-mail congratulating me on my purchase, they called my house less than 5 minutes after I ordered. I had never experienced anything like sweetwater's service. oh yeah, and here's a plus - FREE SHIPPING!

  • from Boscawen, NH July 14, 2007Music Background:
    Own/Operate Online used gear vacuum tube business

    The Best!!

    I love this pedal - Over the years Boss has slightly changed this pedal - This is the 3rd Opamp used in the DS1. I like the current production DS1s the best. They have a sharp upper midrange with a very clear, open dynamic tone. Not as much mids as a SD1 or DS1 - still very full. I use this through the clean ch of a Marshall JCM900 with 6L6 Groove Tubes reissue GE Power Tubes and reissue Mullard GT12AX7M along with a Mahogany custom hamer that has JS Fred Pickups. I set the tone on the DS1 and 55% - the Gain at 65% and the volume at 50% - You have to really dig into your strings - the tone is very dynamic and Satriani Like. The DS1 also mixes well with effects - I use a CH1 or a CE5 Chorus and a DD3 Delay. This is my favourite pedal - From classic rock to metal it really delivers

  • from Whitewater, WI May 27, 2007Music Background:
    Recording Engineer and I'm in a band

    The best

    I've owned this pedal for slightly over two years. Still sounds exactly like new. Plus, it has Boss quality. I stomp hard and it has maybe 3 very small paint chips. My friend also has this pedal, and loves the sound. I personally think this is the best distortion pedal in any price range.

  • from 61 M, Gulberg III, Lahore, Pakistan. May 23, 2007Music Background:
    Engineer & hobbyist guitarist for the last 27 years.

    No more looking around this is it what you ever wanted.

    I bought this pedal a long long time ago probably in 1984. When I heard this pedal for the first time it simply astonished me to the highest degree due to its so smooth, screaming and unbelieveable sustaining sound. I use it at various settings and it gives you a perfect sound whether it is hard rock or soft distortion situation it handles all of them so well. It is evident from this fact that its now more than 20 years has passed & I have never replaced it with another one simply because it is so versatile and simple to use. As now I am no more a teenager so I now mostly sets its Drive at 3 & Tone at 10 O'clock and it produces mellow and soft distortion for chords and solo work as well. I also have Boss Heavy Metal and Ibanez Sonic distortion pedals but I love this pedal a lot and I always feel comfortable with it because its sound variety & quality is simply the best. The current draw of this particular pedal is very nominal so no worries if you are using battery it would last quite long. As far as durablilty is concerned believe me I have no words to describe it as it never caused me any trouble for the last two decades. I recommend everyone to check out this pedal and I hope it won't disappoint you. Thanks & regards.

  • from Baltimore, MD October 7, 2006Music Background:
    Pro Musician, Recording Engineer

    My Favorite Rock 'n' Roll Distortion Pedal

    I've owned my DS-1 for about 10 years, and I have to say it's the most versatile distortion pedal I've ever used, on-stage or in the studio.

    When used with an amp's clean channel, it has the most useful range of gain of any pedal I've ever used... from tasty subtle crunch, to sweet singing gain. With the 'Dist' control on max, and the 'Tone' at 9 o'clock, I can only describe the sound as a candy-sweet tone that's not over-saturated. For my tastes, it's a great tone for rhythm or leads.

    When used in front of an amp's dirty channel, I use it mainly as a subtle gain boost. With all controls set below 12 o'clock, it compresses the signal just a bit, and adds a nice touch of sustain for solos.

    I've used the cheapest and the most expensive distortion pedals/pre-amps over the years (tube and solid state), and this one has remained my go-to for a long time. In my opinion, it's very versatile, and works best in front of an awesome tube amp. I've never tried to achieve the modern metal sound with this pedal, so I can't comment on whether or not it's useful in that application. However, if you're looking for a way to expand your amp's tonal range, give this pedal a serious look.

  • from Fort Wayne, IN September 20, 2006Music Background:
    Active Musician

    A Test Of Time

    I have been using the BOSS DS-1 Distortion pedal for as long as I can remember!! It is a very well built and reliable pedal. It can be clean or down right dirty whenever the music calls for it.
    It is very easy to use and is of the highest quality! This is only the second DS-1 I have ever had to buy in a 20 year period and trust me my first one got a real work-out on the road.
    This pedal is a "Must Have" for anyone looking for a High Quality Distortion stomp box for an unbelievable price!!
    Thank-You to Boss and Sweetwater..

  • from Chatham IL June 23, 2017Music Background:

    Great pedal for a great price

    A great sounding pedal for a low price

  • from February 27, 2017Music Background:
    Been playing since 1986.

    Use it for what it was made for...

    ... which is a boost for a tube amp. Plug this thing into a solid state amp and it'll sound like sandpaper rubbed over your private parts, which might be the sound you're looking for. But put it in front of a decent tube amp and you'll see why it's still around after 30+ years.

  • from Twin Cities, MN November 26, 2012Music Background:

    Partially flawed, but still an affordable classic

    Much maligned, and even more celebrated, the Boss DS-1 has been around for over 30 years now. It's been used by guitarists like Cobain and Satriani, and you can have one all for your own at $50 or less. Oh, and BOSS pedals are also some of the most durable on the planet, so it will still work 30 years from now.

    If this pedal cost more, my gripes would be more severe. It has low output (you need to turn the Level up pretty far to match your clean tone). It can sound a bit thin and harsh on the high end. And the tone control doesn't really allow you to fix any of those problems.

    But for most non-professionals, it will absolutely get the job done. Probably the most recognizable guitar pedal and a virtual must-own, even if you don't always love it.

  • from Denver January 26, 2012Music Background:
    22 years' hobbyist, street jammer

    Rock tone, and nothing but...

    This pedal is so pure. Its circuit has remained virtually unchanged since 1978, when it was designed to emulate the cranked-stack distortion sounds of that era--think all those great albums by the Ramones, 'Pistols, early Judas Priest, etc.--the cutting edge of the time. In front of a good tube amp, you get exceptional dynamics and huge warmth and sizzle. Personally, I plug it into the clean channel of my BDRI, turn the "level" knob all the way up to drive the preamp, turn the "gain" knob to saturate to taste, and keep the "tone" knob either at 10- or 2 o'clock. No, it won't make my Fender sound like a Marshall. It's just good-old-fashioned diode-clipping goodness, and does what it does best when it interacts with your guitar and amp to help you create your signature sound (hey, Kurt Cobain couldn't go wrong!). I might mod it later on with germanium diodes, but it is fine the way it is, too.

  • from Long Island, NY January 13, 2012Music Background:
    gigging musician, home recording

    A Classic

    Classic sound, perfect addition to my pedal board. Fits right in with the vintage pedals I have.

  • from Manchester, NH USA April 24, 2008Music Background:

    Great Pedal

    It has great highs on lows, but lacks on the middle sounds. Its great for that hard rock feeling and for those who enjoy softer sounds. Alone the pedal sounds good and with an overdrive playing the sound will blow you away.

  • from Connecticut February 7, 2007Music Background:
    guitar and vocals


    I do vocals and guitar
    in a 3 piece band this pedal is my main stomp box
    (GREAT FOR NIRVANA) easy to use and tons of settings with tone knob.

  • from September 11, 2016

    Boss DS-1 distortion pedal

    Very satisfied with the DS-1.

  • from April 4, 2014

    The price was right

    works fine

  • from Joliet, Il July 11, 2013Music Background:
    Retired Gigging Musician. Serious Hobbyist.

    Classic distortion!!!!!!!!!

    I primarily use this pedal with an EPI Les Paul and a Marshall JCM900 quarter stack (2x12 celestions) for classic rock type distortion. Turning down the tone control gets me a really sweet fusion sound (a.k.a. Alan Holdsworth) with substantial sustain. Good all round distortion and for the price more satisfying than a lot of boutique pedals

  • from NC May 30, 2009Music Background:

    Good All-Around Pedal

    This pedal is just about everything a beginner needs in an overdrive pedal. It can go from a mild overdrive to fuzz with the twist of a knob. My only complaint is that if you turn up the distortion high, there is a lot of hissing, but if you have a filter pedal that shouldn't be a problem. Great value and a great pedal!

  • from Buffalo, NY October 29, 2006Music Background:

    Boss DS-1 Distortion

    For 40 bucks, the Boss DS-1 is the best Distortion value on the market!

    The Boss DS-1 has been found on the pedal boards of George Lynch, Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, Eric Johnson, and Curt Cobain, among others. It produces everything from subtle clipping to extreme distortion. It has a fairly tight bass response with a sharp treble attack and what sounds to be a mid-boost in about the 800 khz range. With the DS-1’s tone and drive knobs rolled back and your guitar set to the neck pickup, you can get a singing, sustaining sound reminiscent of Eric Johnson’s instrumental version of “Cliff’s of Dover?. Turn up the DS-1's gain and treble and switch to the a bridge HB Pickup and you are in 80's Metal Territory!

    Because of it’s low price, the DS-1 is the ideal distortion pedal to use for experimentation in do it yourself modifications (DYI). There are plenty of DS-1 DYI circuits readily available on the net and, even if you totally screw it up, you’re only out $40!

  • from Philly July 27, 2013Music Background:

    Distortion DS-1

    A bit rough for me, but I had to use it to see. Garcia used one,and he never sounded too rough.

  • from Salt Lake City, UT June 7, 2016Music Background:
    student, performer

    My First Distortion

    Don't take the 3 star rating as bad. This is a great pedal to start out with. I only rate it as three because once you start comparing it to some boutique and higher end pedals, it doesn't do the job. But if you're just starting out, barely joined a band and need to switch between clean and distortion, or if you're a parent looking to buy your budding guitarist a distortion pedal, this is a great pedal. I'm grateful to have played on this pedal for a number of years.

  • from Plummer, Idaho March 28, 2015Music Background:
    hobby guitarist

    good but not great

    Should have spent a few extra bucks and gotten the OS2, but this is a good pedal for the money. It's been around for 30 years and works like it's supposed to.

  • from Oklahoma August 19, 2016


    Not a very good pedal out of the box. But if you take out the clipping diodes (d4,d5) sounds sooo much better it'd get 5 stars all day if it came stock like that.

  • from CO February 21, 2011Music Background:
    Recording engineer, Pro musician


    Stock, this pedal sounds like a chainsaw. I get amazed at all the reviews here. Sorry to disapoint but I just think this thing sounds very harsh. However, replacing the stock components with better ones makes this pedal shine. I like the durability of Boss but unless it's modded it nothing more than an expensive paper weight.

    Modify it and you have winner.

  • from Maui Hawaii August 8, 2015Music Background:
    45 years experience guitar player

    Not a good pedal

    I purchased this pedal to do one song in my studio. Normally my music is acoustic guitar based. The problem with this pedal is you either have total distortion or over distortion. In other words, you cannot "ease into the effect". It's either fully distorted or fully distorted plus some distortion. Perhaps mine is defective, who knows. I just think this pedal exemplifies the old saying "You get what you pay for"

  • from Taunton, MA USA March 6, 2006

    excellent distortion pedal

    great price, built rock solid too. BOSS products are top notch, in my humble opinion. PERFECT for that 80's metal guitar tone, ala Dokken, Ozzy, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, etc... it can also do blues with the gain turned down. It really DOES let your guitar's natural tone shine thru, unlike alot of other pedals - no muddiness here. I've used it with both my Strat and my Les Paul, and with some tweaking of the tone control, it works great with either one. It won't give enough gain for Death Metal, but there are other pedals for that... \m/^_^\m/ It goes best with a cranked tube amp, but if your gonna use it with a solid state amp, run it thru the CLEAN channel, bypassing the solid state's distortion altogether.

  • from Toronto, Canada January 1, 2005

    This Pedal Is Great

    Useful little thing. Holds like a tank, sounds like a modern-rocker's favourite distortion pedal for much less the cost. Great little thing, especially for those getting their first distortion pedal. Easiest thing to use in the universe.

Questions about the Boss DS-1 Distortion Pedal?

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