Who uses Boss pedals?
If you play the guitar, chances are, you’ve probably used a Boss pedal or two in your career. Even if you have never owned one yourself, you’ve probably seen the iconic little colourful cuboids gracing a sticky stage floor or illuminated in a music shop cabinet.
Perhaps the most used guitar stompbox brand around, there are loads of artists who have integrated a Boss effect onto their pedalboard!
However, instead of boring you with stories of Kurt Cobain or Steve Vai, we’ll hopefully be able to introduce you to some less widely known Boss users! Although the aforementioned players are legends in their own right, it’s pretty widely known that they are Boss aficionados, particularly using the DS-1. With that in mind, we don’t want to clog the internet with regurgitating the same guitar mag stories, because after all, here at Kenny’s Music we like to do things a little differently…
The best selling distortion pedal worldwide is the DS-1! So you can expect to find this orange thing everywhere. This is a very popular first guitar effects pedal thanks to its price point and durability.
One of our favourite recent DS-1 players is Mark Speer of Khurangbin. Speer has the tone and distortion barely on and the level absolutely cranked whilst he’s playing. Usually leaving it on for the whole show, Speer manipulates the overdrive and distortion levels primarily with the guitar volume knob.
Check out Evan Finds the Third Room for their signature washed out slightly overdriven sound.
Next up is the Blues Driver! The Blues Driver is a versatile overdrive pedal going from a nice clean breakup to full saturation depending on how you dial it in.
Equipped with a left-handed sparkly Jaguar, Courtney Barnett is a big fan of the BD-2 and you can hear it littered throughout her albums and live performances. Courtney has a really cool conversational vocal delivery accompanying a sweet overdriven guitar sound.
Barnett’s song, ‘Everybody Here Hates You’ features a few bluesy solos that beautifully showcase the full effect of the BD-2.!
Onto the green one. Tremolo is an effect that has been used since the ‘60s. It’s an effect that rhythmically manipulates the volume of your guitar signal , quite simple really!
There were a few different players we wanted to mention whilst discussing the TR-2 but in the end, we decided to go with Stuart Braithewaite of Mogwai. The 1997 album, ‘Young Team’, is littered with the TR-2, no track as evidently tremolo-y as the start of ‘R U Still in 2 It’.
There is a long line of bass players who also dabble with Boss pedals! As a modulation effect, we have seen a few iterations of the phase pedals through Boss’ history. We are now onto the PH-3 and it is still being used by a lot of cool artists today.
Stephen Lee Bruner, otherwise known as Thundercat, is an American bass guitarist who plays a crazy looking 6-string Ibanez bass. Thundercat’s sound is a fusion of funk, jazz and pop and has some amazing bass hooks.
Bruner uses a PH-3 which you can see and hear on this version of, ‘Them Changes’ on Tiny Desk concert at minute 6:25.
The last pedal on today’s list is the Boss JB-2 Angry Driver. One of the newest boss pedals, the JB-2 marks a historic collaboration with Boss. It is their first brand collaboration with another brand, ever!
The JB-2 combines sounds from the Boss BD-2 and JHS Pedals’ Angry Charlie. There are a lot of different overdriven tones you can get with this pedal and it sounds awesome.
The only player we’re yet to discover using this new pedal is Dream Wife’s Alice Go. Dream Wife are a high energy Pop-Rock band and Alice uses the JB-2 through a Marshall (a JCM-900 4100 we think).
The Boss GE-7 is the next entry on our list. Arguably the most used EQ pedal in the world, players like Ed O’Brien, Kevin Parker and Josh Homme have used it throughout their career and are all honourable mentions
However, it’s Eddie Green of Shame who we have most recently noticed using the GE-7, as seen at around 10:03 of the bands’ KEXP performance. As well as allowing you to specifically control the frequencies across a 7-band spectrum, many use the GE-7 as a clean boost thanks to its DB fader, which will push your signal accordingly.
For you bassists out there, check out the GEB-7, same pedal, but for those low frequencies.
So there we have it folks, hopefully that’s introduced you to some artists you weren’t aware used Boss pedals. Far from being left behind in the past, Boss’ range of affordable stompboxes continue to be relevant and inspire new up and coming artists!
Q: Are Boss pedals good quality?
A: Absolutely! We have heard Boss pedals being referred to as ‘little tanks’ and we agree with that completely. Their incredibly robust metal enclosures can survive even the most rigorous gigging and the pedal style footswitch can withstand the hardest of stomps from any set of platformed Dr. Martens (take our word for it). Don’t just take our word for it, Boss are so confident in their pedals’ durability that they give you a five year warranty against any manufacturers defect!
Q: Do Boss pedals need a power supply?
A: There are 2 different ways you can power a Boss pedal, either by a 9V power supply or with a 9V battery. The pedals’ footswitch houses a battery compartment which is opened by unscrewing the lever from the base. However, be warned, these pedals are quite power hungry, so if you’re planning on gigging with one, we’d recommend a 9V power supply. If you are powering a single pedal then something like this Stagg PSU-9V1AR-UK will do the job and is a good budget option. Alternatively, you can go for the Boss official PSA230ES, which Boss recommend.
Q: What company make Boss pedals?
A: Boss are a division of parent company Roland and have existed since 1973. Boss compact stompboxes were first introduced with release of the DS-1 back in ’78 but before this, there was an era known as ‘BC’ (Before Compact) which lasted between ’76 and ’77. This is when the company were initially dipping their toes in the effects world and were making larger scale products like the GE-10 Graphic Equalizer and the DB-5 Boss Driver. These effects were housed in bigger units, much like the recently released DM-101 Delay Machine and the RE-202 Space Echo.