Ultimate Guide to
Boss Pedals

Boss pedals have outlived a rapidly changing technological landscape. They’ve seen the popularity of CDs rise and fall, the relatively brief stint of iTunes and the growth of the monolith that is Google.

Nothing in life is certain, except for death and Boss pedals.

What are Boss Pedals?

Is there anything more iconic or instantly recognisable than a Boss compact guitar pedal? Even if you’re a complete novice to stompboxes, you’ve probably seen a few of them around. Everyone from bedroom players to world famous musicians use Boss pedals because they’re widely available, cover a lot of effect types, are nigh-on indestructible and most importantly, sound great.

Boss are one of the largest brands in the guitar industry and make some brilliant bits of gear like Katana amps and high-end wireless systems. They’re owned by parent company Roland, who make an even vaster wealth of musical instruments such as pianos and synths. But it’s their effects pedal range which is the largest jewel in the crown. Plug your guitar into the familiar chassis, switch it on and away you go with a cool tone. It’s that simple.

We’re going to break down their expansive effects line-up into bitesize chunks so you know exactly what gear to get your hands on. Are you on the lookout for a multi-effects unit? Are you after a specific effect type? Maybe you’re interested in the Waza Craft series? It’s all right here.   

Why Do I Need a Boss Pedal?

Boss cover a lot of ground with their expansive effects range and meet plenty of needs and price points for musicians of all disciplines. Whether you’re just starting your pedal journey or you’re a veteran stompbox aficionado, Boss have something for you.

Compact Pedals

Their standard compact series is super affordable for the quality you get. You can easily build up an array of unique compact effects on a budget. Getting yourself a couple of these is the best way to familiarise yourself with guitar pedals. They have a simple metal casing that set the trend for pedal design.

Multi FX

Multi FX units cost more than individual pedals, but house some seriously impressive technology at an industry leading standard. They are essentially multiple compact pedals built into one design. Some also have the ability to model amps and guitar cabinets, so you can plug your guitar straight into one of these and run it out to a mixer or audio interface.

Waza Craft

If you’re after a greater level of diversity or refined tone, the Waza Craft series is for you. This wing of Boss designers take regular Boss pedals and supercharge them with carefully crafted circuitry and add further tonal options. You’ll easily recognise them with the Waza Craft logo embedded on the front of the pedals.

What Are The Best Boss Pedals?

Here we’re going to look into the range in greater detail. You can compartmentalise their pedals by effect type: modulation, overdrive, delay and reverb, dynamic and filter, vocal FX, guitar tuners and multi FX. Under each category, you’ll find pedals of various sizes, prices and specialisations.

Overdrive is a staple effect in any guitarist’s setup. Whether you play pop, jazz, funk, rock or metal, Boss have the right pedal for you. The OD-1 was the first overdrive pedal ever created and it’s only got progressively better since. You know you’re in safe hands.

Check out the Blues Driver, OverDrive or Distortion for a light to medium crunchy sound. The Power Stack, Metal Zone Metal Core and Mega Distortion produce slight variations on high-gain tone, some with modern characteristics and others with a classic vibe. All Boss overdrives and distortions have super simple settings with the likes of a standard three-way EQ and gain dial.

Modulation varies drastically from pedal to pedal. They alter your standard guitar tone with unusual oscillations and create movement within the sound. The likes of tremolo pedals produce a stop/start feel, while a chorus has a doubling effect like there another guitar playing alongside yours.

The breadth of modulation is reflected in the Boss line-up. Explore the weird and wonderful tones of the Super Octave, which adds a musical line 12 semitones above your playing or the highly versatile Flanger, which slices up your sound with stereo capabilities. There’s also a huge range of chorus to browse, incorporating different control parameters and base tones.

Delay and reverb are two fundamental sounds used in all musical genres. Boss’ take on the two effects is one of supreme versatility, as they know all manner of musicians use their pedals. This could be considered Boss’ strongest effects department, with a number of these pedals garnering universal praise.

The Digital Delay is popular amongst pro guitarists for its ability to create near-infinite pristine repetitions. The larger DD-500 and RV-500 workstations expand on the basic compact pedal to produce a host of unique sounds at studio quality.

The filter and dynamic category is geared more towards utility than most Boss ranges. You’ll find the likes of the Equalizer, which is great for narrowing down frequencies and sculpting the exact sound you want.

Meanwhile, the Compressor squishes your guitar tone down into a tighter frequency range, allowing the guitar tone to produce more sustain and evens out the volume of your playing. Your softer picking parts will have just as much presence as the rest of your song.

Every guitarist should own a tuner. If you do, it’s probably made by Boss. If you don’t, you should definitely get one made by Boss.

Their tuners are the standardised design in the market. They are equipped with chromatic LED screens you can see from any angle. The pedal versions also mute the rest of your setup so you can tune in peace, without any of the strings ringing out loud. Simple and easy to use – exactly what you want from a tuner.

Boss multi FX are great for players who want a portable, all-in-one solution to their guitar setup. Models like the flagship GT-1000 are capable of huge computing power, acting as your amp, cab and effects in the single unit. This is incredibly handy for playing live. It means there’s no setup of any kind, let alone the very finicky microphone placement. Run it straight into the PA mixer and you’re ready.

Other Boss multi FX are catered towards guitarists who want a simple solution to housing all their effects. You can expect a long list of effect types these are capable of producing. There’s a selection of dial-based or digital interfaces, depending on how you like to interact with your gear.

Boss pedals aren’t just for guitarists! They’ve got vocals well covered too. Any why not? Guitar pedals, in general, have a really intuitive design – so why not apply it to other instruments? As with most of their categories, they’ve vocal pedals of all prices.

From the Vocoder to the expansive VE-500, spice up your singing with effects like reverb, delay and even a retro talkbox style processor.

What Boss Pedal Should I Buy?

As you’ve seen by now, Boss make an absolutely huge array of pedals in all wonderful styles. Obviously things depend on your budget, but there are some handy guidelines to abide by.

Boss in general is a great starting point for guitar pedal beginners. If you want to explore the different effects styles, compact Boss pedals or the more affordable multi FX units are a great access point.

It would be foolish, however, to neglect their premium pedals and multi-effects. Waza Craft are exciting quality stompboxes and the high-end multi FX rival the very best in the game.

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