Boss DS-1 Review: Is It Worth It?

Boss DS-1

The Boss DS-1 is a classic guitar distortion pedal that has been popular with guitarists for over 40 years. Whether you’re looking to add some crunch to your blues riffs or some heavy distortion to your metal solos, the DS-1 has got you covered. 

In this article, you’ll learn about its key features, sound, price, and its alternatives.

Main Features


The Boss DS-1 can add grit and distortion to your guitar’s sound. It produces a range of distortion levels, from mild overdrive to full-on distortion, making it suitable for a wide range of genres, from blues and rock to metal and punk.

Tone Control

The Tone knob on the DS-1 allows you to adjust the tonal characteristics of the distorted sound. Turning it clockwise boosts the treble and makes the sound brighter. Turning it counterclockwise boosts the bass and makes the sound darker. This gives you a lot of flexibility in shaping your distorted tone.

Level Control

The Level knob adjusts the overall volume of the effect. This is useful for matching the level of the distorted sound with your guitar’s clean tone. You can also use it to boost the volume for solos or to cut through the mix in a live setting.


Like all Boss pedals, the DS-1 is built to withstand the rigors of gigging and touring. It features a rugged metal casing that can take a lot of abuse. It also has durable knobs and a footswitch that can handle frequent use.

How it Sounds

The sound of the Boss DS-1 pedal is the main reason why it has remained popular for over 40 years. The pedal produces a rich and powerful distortion that’s ideal for a variety of genres, including classic rock, hard rock, heavy metal, and blues.

The distortion of the DS-1 is full-bodied and thick, adding warmth and depth to your tone. It also has a punchy attack that gives your notes a lot of impact and presence. This makes it perfect for playing riffs and power chords that need to cut through a mix.

One of the benefits of the DS-1 is that it allows the guitar’s natural character to come through, even when heavily distorted. This makes achieving a range of sounds and tones possible, depending on the guitar being used. The DS-1 also responds well to dynamics and playing style, allowing guitarists to achieve a more expressive and nuanced sound.

Overall, the sound of the Boss DS-1 is powerful, versatile, and full of character. Whether you’re playing classic rock riffs or shredding through metal solos, the DS-1 can help you achieve the sound you’re looking for.

Here’s an example of how the Boss DS-1 sounds: 


As of February 2023, the price for a new DS-1 is around $50-60, although it can vary depending on where you buy it, and if there are any sales or promotions available.

The Boss DS-1 offers a balance of quality and affordability that has made it a go-to choice for many guitarists. 

Boss DS-1 Alternatives

The Boss DS-1 is a popular distortion pedal for guitar, but there are many other distortion pedals on the market that you can consider. Here are a few alternatives to the Boss DS-1:

Pro Co RAT 2

The Pro Co RAT 2 is a versatile distortion pedal used by many famous guitarists. It has a wide range of distortion tones and can go from light overdrive to heavy distortion.

Ibanez Tube Screamer

The Ibanez Tube Screamer is another classic distortion pedal that has a warm, natural overdrive tone which is great for blues and rock music.

MXR M104 Distortion+

The MXR M104 Distortion+ is a simple yet effective distortion pedal. It has a classic, gritty distortion tone, suitable for hard rock and metal music.

Electro-Harmonix Big Muff

The Electro-Harmonix Big Muff is a fuzz pedal known for its huge, wall-of-sound distortion. It has been used by many famous guitarists and is ideal for heavy rock and metal music.

Fulltone OCD

Fulltone OCD is a versatile distortion pedal that can go from mild overdrive to heavy distortion. It has a natural, tube-like tone that is great for a variety of music styles.

Though the Boss DS-1 is a great choice, these are some of the alternatives that you can find in the market.

Famous Guitar Players Who Use the Boss DS-1

The Boss DS-1 has been used by many guitarists, including some well-known guitar players. Here are a few examples:

Kurt Cobain  

The late Nirvana frontman was known for using a heavily distorted guitar sound, and he often used the DS-1 to achieve that sound.

Steve Vai 

The legendary guitar virtuoso has used the DS-1 on many of his recordings and live performances.

Joe Satriani 

Another guitar virtuoso, Satriani, has been known to use the DS-1 on occasion.

John Frusciante  

The former Red Hot Chili Peppers guitarist used the DS-1 on some of the band’s early recordings.

Rivers Cuomo  

The Weezer frontman has used the DS-1 on many of the band’s recordings.

Mike McCready  

The Pearl Jam guitarist has been known to use the DS-1 on occasion.

David Gilmour  

The Pink Floyd guitarist has used the DS-1 on some of his recordings.

It’s worth noting that many guitarists use multiple pedals and effects to achieve their desired sound, and the DS-1 is just one of many tools they may use.


The Boss DS-1 is a legendary distortion pedal that has been an essential tool for guitarists for over four decades. 

Its impact on the music industry is evident through the countless classic recordings and unforgettable live performances that feature its iconic sound. 

If you’re a guitarist looking to add some grit and power to your sound, the Boss DS-1 is a classic option that won’t disappoint.

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