DS-1 Distortion - BOSS

Nov 21 2021
Sorry, your browser sucks ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
smallsound bigsound mini
boss ds 1 distortion

The DS-1 Distortion by BOSS is probably one of the best selling pedals of all time. Yet it's not very hip anymore. It seems that it had its hay days during the 90s.

But recently I stumbled over a great demo/lesson by Ryan from Demos in the Dark:

Just as luck would have it, I got the opportunity to snag one up in a pedal trade. I wanted to try this.

My first pedal was a DS-2. I was super into Red Hot Chili Peppers and John Frusciante at the time. I remember it sounding harsh and crappy. In hindsight, it might have been because I plugged it into a tiny Roland Cube and didn't know how to dial in pedals.

So with some new wisdom, I gave it a go with another orange distortion pedal from BOSS.

And I have to concur with Ryan: It's actually a pretty great sounding pedal.

My favorite is to combine it with a low gain drive after and set the DS-1 to a pretty low gain, too.

The riff I decided to use for this demo is a bit more emo, but believe me when I say I could channel my inner Tom Morello. You get that punchy fat distortion perfect for catchy riffs, hooks and power chords.

Even without another dirt pedal stacked, it sounds awesome on low gain settings. And, I can't say I hate it with the gain dimed.

I don't exactly know from which era my DS-1 here is. The output volume is pretty low. To get to unity gain, I had to turn the level knob way past noon.

Another side note from some experimentation: I know that the tone stack of the DS-1 is similar to that of a Big Muff (tilt around a mid scoop). Currently, my favorite Big Muff style pedal is the MAE Black Math, and it also sounds super good on low gain settings. I can get very similar sounds with the Black Math (low gain) and the SS/BS Mini combined. So just nudging me to try this with the Black Math is already a win for me from doing this demo :)

I urge you to try a DS-1 and see how it stacks with your favorite overdrive. You can get it dirt cheap on the used market. It's 30-40 Euros used currently in Germany (usually the same in US Dollars).

Signal Chain

  • Epiphone SG Special with Lollar Firebird pickups (both pickups)
  • DS-1 Distortion
  • Strymon Iridium (Chime)
  • Focusrite Scarlett 2i2
  • Garageband


Some of these are affiliate links and I earn a small comission if you buy stuff through those links. There is no additional cost for you. It helps me grow this website. Thank you!

Related Demos

<div style="display: flex; justify-content: center;"><iframe src="/demos/boss-ds-1-distortion?embed=1&height=630" title="DS-1 Distortion - BOSS | Loopy Demos" style="border-radius:16px" width="400" height="630" frameborder="0"></iframe></div>

To embed this demo on your own website, copy & paste the code above or customize your demo widget.