Boss DS-1 Distortion

DS-1 Distortion (Boss)

This can be considered a modern classic: it has been on sale since 1978, and while the circuitry has changed in time, the sound has more or less remained the same.

The stock DS-1 isn’t my personal favourite, I find the sound too thin and metallic for my taste, but the interaction with the amp is very important for this pedal (or any overdrive, anyway) so it would be best to try one with your setup to see if you like the sound.

Some great artists have supposedly used this pedal or modified versions: Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, John Frusciante and John Petrucci. The pedal has a very reasonable price and can be easily found, new or used.

The circuitry lends itself to very interesting mods, and several schematics, kits or already modified pedals for people not used to soldering are available around the web.

Here are some of the links for DS-1 mods, in random order:

Analog Man

Robert Keeley


And here is the Roland-Boss page:

Owner’s manual, samples and info from Roland

Article on a DS-1 mod by Brian Wampler

Artists using the DS-1 on Guitar Geek site

A nice demo on YouTube

Another nice demo on YouTube

Another nice test on YouTube


Boss RC-2 Loop Station

RC-2 Loop Station (Boss)

In the past, several Boss compact pedals (the DSD-2, DSD-3, DD-5 and DD-6) had limited sampler capabilities, although they couldn’t be considered real samplers.

Then Boss made the RC-20XL and the RC50, both guitar-oriented samplers, but they coudn’t be considered “compact”. The RC-2 Loop Station, available from 2006, has 16 minutes mono sampling time, up to 11 phrases , some drum patterns and a “loop quantize” function. A nice touch is the AUX input to allow sampling from an external source.

While the reduced size can be useful, it does have some drawbacks, and this unit is less comfortable to work with, if compared with larger models. However, it’s possible to use FS-5U or FS-6 external switches.

RC-2 Loop Station box (Boss)

RC-2 Manuals (44 small pages!) and info on Roland site

RC-2 Video demo and images on Boss USA site


- Nominal Input Level: INPUT -20 dBu AUX IN -10 dBu

- Input Impedance: INPUT: 1 MOhm AUX IN 47 kOhm

- Nominal Output Level: -20 dBu

- Output Impedance: 1 kOhm

- Recommended Load Impedance: 10 kOhm or better

- Current Draw : 50 mA


Boss LS-2 Line Selector

This is not really an effect, but simply, as the name states, a line selector / switcher. However, it does have a “boost” capability and allows for some neat tricks, so it woudn’t be wise to dismiss it as a simple “switch”.

There are 3 controls: two are volume levels and the third is a “mode” knob, which has six postions. Two different color LEDs are used to indicate which output is active.

1st position “A<>B” alternates between A and B outputs (no bypass)

2nd position “A<>Bypass” selects between line A and bypass

3rd position “B<>Bypass” selects between line B and bypass

4th position “A>B>Bypass>” selects between line A, line B and bypass in sequence

5th position “A+B Mix>Bypass” selects between a mix of A and B outputs and bypass

6th position “Output Select” selects between Send A, Send B and direct output

One last note, this pedal has a DC out too: this means that it can be used with an external AC adapter and a cable to supply power to other pedals.

Since this short description isn’t really clear, you may want to read the original manual at this address:

LS-2 Manual (Pdf format, english language) on Roland Japan Site


- Current draw: 25 mA

- Input impedance: 1 MOhm

- Output impedance: 1 kOhm

- Recommended load impedance: 10 kOhm or greater

- Residual noise: -85 dBu or less (IHF-A)


Ibanez SM7 Smash Box

SM7 Smash Box (Ibanez)

This pedal is part of the “Tone-Lok” series from Ibanez, a company who has gained a certain respect from effect users for the Tube Screamer and some of its variants.

This is a distortion unit, too, but forget about the Tube Screamer: this is more aggressive and geared for modern rock sounds, think Drop-D tunings and 7 strings guitars.

Apart from the usual controls there are two switches: “Void” and “Edge”. The first one is actually a noise gate with three settings: “off”, “1″ which means longer decay while “2″ means shorter decay. The second switch has two positions: “Sharp” and “Smooth” to select high frequencies boost or cut.

Construction looks great: the metal box is tough, and the control knobs are push-pull (which is the reason for the “tone-lok” name, I guess). This is very useful to avoid unwanted setting changes, and when the knobs are in “push” position, as in photo, the pedal looks even better :)


- Weight: 460 g

- Current draw: 14 mA


SM7 page on Ibanez Japan site, with samples and User’s Manual

SM7 page on Ibanez USA site

A video on YouTube


Ibanez TM5 Thrashmetal

TM5 Thrashmetal (Ibanez)

Ok, I know: I shouldn’t expect anything from the name of a pedal. I mean, effect names are otfen *very* loosely related to what the circuitry in the box does. However, I’d have expected from the TM5 something able to scare the hell out of me (or at least out of my cat, which is usually easier :) ). A more correct name would have been “Heavy Overdrive” which was what Ibanez actually said, by the way. If you are into trash metal or any similar kind of music, look somewhere else.

The effect in the photo has been thrashed around from the previous owner, but is still perfectly working. While this pedals looks tough, the box isn’t entirely metal: the battery cover, which you can see open in the next photo, is made of plastic. Since this was the first pedal I’ve got in this series, I thought all of them were made in the same way: I found out later that this is not true, when I got hold of a different one which used a plastic case :(

TM5 Thrashmetal (Ibanez) with battery compartment open

Another thing I don’t like about this pedal and its “soundtank” brothers, is the kind of control knobs: you can’t check their positions at a glance while playing, the white markers are almost invisible unless you have a very long neck…

Apart from those notes, the TM5 is worth checking if you need an inexpensive overdrive, since it can usually picked up second-hand at very low prices.

Ibanez Soundtank Series page on Web Archives

Hand drawn schematic on Effects Heaven site

TM5 page on DiscoFreq’s FX site

TM5 page on NoiseGuide site

Dirk Hendrik offers a mod from TM5 ro ProCo Rat: you can mail him on his site if interested


Boss DC-2 Dimension C

DC2 Dimension C (Boss)

This unit has been sold from 1985 to 1989: it’s not really easy to get one, however you can still find them around, but usually not at a bargain price. It’s an analog chorus with 4 presets, and stereo output: this means you simply can’t tweak the sound, but the presets are good in my opinion, perfect for acoustic guitar, just don’t expect anything too extreme.

Inside you’ll find 2 NE570N companders (probably used for noise reduction), 2 MN3207 1024-stages BBDs and 2 MN3102 chips.


- Residual Noise Level: -95 dBm (IHF-A)

- Recommended Load Impedance: 10 kOhm or greater

- Current Draw: 30 mA (DC 9V)

- Input Impedance: 1 Mohm

You can find plenty of samples on modezero site:

DC-2 Samples page, on modezero

Schematics can be found here

DC-2 circuit on Schematic Heaven site