In praise of: Boss DS-1 Distortion

Back in 1978, effects giant Boss was first making its name, and the DS-1 was one of only a handful of pedals bearing the company's brightly coloured compact enclosures.

But it wasn't long after its launch in 1978 that it began luring in legendary guitarists, including Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, and later, Kurt Cobain.

"The pedal's saturated tone, hard clipping and touch responsiveness attracted big-name players"

The pedal's saturated tone, hard clipping and touch responsiveness attracted big-name players - while the rest of us loved the £40 price tag, which remains to this day.

Internally, the DS-1 has undergone a few subtle tweaks since its inception, most notably during its move from Japanese to Taiwanese production, which incurred a number of op-amp changes along the way.

Its simple circuit design makes it popular with modders, too, and over the years, boutique builders such as Keeley and Analog Man have put their own stamp on the circuit - but Boss isn't afraid to revamp the formula, either.

Last year's DS-1X injected the DS-1 sound with digital Multiple Dimensional Processing, but also brought back the battery cover's silver screw, in a visual nod to the 1978 original.

Boss DS-1 timeline


Boss launches the DS-1, one of the firm's new compact enclosure pedals


The silver screw that holds the switch/battery cover in place is replaced by a plastic version


Production of Boss compact pedals moves from Japan to Taiwan


Boss introduces the DS-1X, which uses the firm's new Multi Dimensional Processing

Total Guitar

Total Guitar is Europe's best-selling guitar magazine.

Every month we feature interviews with the biggest names and hottest new acts in guitar land, plus Guest Lessons from the stars.

Finally, our Rocked & Rated section is the place to go for reviews, round-ups and help setting up your guitars and gear.