The Boss DS-1 Distortion pedal is one of the most well known guitar pedals on the market to day.  It is certainly a wonderful tool that many players have used in the past (including Satch, Vai, Petrucci).  Let's take some time to look at why so many people love these pedals.  We'll also be going over a few shortcomings too.




  1. Warm, crunchy tone - The DS-1 does exactly what it says it does.  It distorts your tone.  At the same time, it keeps your tone a little warmer and adds a nice bottom-to mid range crunch (especially with a hum bucker setup).
  2. Fairly cheap - You can pick one of these up for around $50 (at most) new.  That really isn't too bad compared to some of the other choices (like the Jemini or the Satchurator).
  3. Easy of use - It's three knobs.  Doesn't get much simpler than that.  Only takes about a good half an hour to really learn all this thing can do.
  4. Durability - Boss has always made well constructed pedals, and this one is no exception.  Obviously, this was designed to be stomped on a lot.  You can certainly do that with this one and it will remain faithful years down the line.



  1. Limited tone - If you always chase that absolute perfect tone, this pedal can be kind of a let down.  The tones it creates are great, but they just don't provide a lot of variety.  It tends to get especially heavy on trebles the higher the tone knob is set.
  2. Lack of sustain - The DS-1 is known to have minimal sustain on its own.  Many players will either modify the pedal itself or include another pedal in front of it on the effect chain to make up for this.
  3. Unwanted fuzz - Many people describe the DS-1's tone as "fuzzy", particularly in the mid-to-upper range.  This can be great if that's what you are after, though.


In my opinion, this is a fantastic pedal for those just starting out or those not overly picky about perfect tone.  Think of this as a baseline pedal.  Use this pedal to learn what you want from a distortion pedal, then pick up a different one.  But if you already love the tone the DS-1 provides, you really can't go wrong!