Sunday, April 19, 2015

Memory Lane: BOSS OS-2 OverDrive/Distortion Pedal Review


It seems like a month does not go by when I do not review some sort of BOSS effect pedal, so today we are looking at the good old OS-2 OverDrive/Distortion pedal. It is probably one of the most popular crunch pedals on the planet, and that is because it is a pretty good pedal that comes in at a reasonable price.

Roland’s BOSS division makes effect pedals for the everyday working musician. These are folks that cannot afford the boutique pedals, or more realistically, they realize that good is good enough (sort of a Voltaire attitude). You have seen that you pay whatever you want can pay anything you want for guitar effect pedals, with the choices include crummy junk for twenty bucks all the way up to hundreds of dollars for stuff that was put together by people in first-world countries. BOSS pedals fall in the middle, as they are reasonably priced and good quality, making them a good value.

What exactly does an overdrive distortion pedal do? Well, this one is a combination of two other popular BOSS pedals, the DS-1 Distortion and the SD-1 Super Overdrive. It lets users blend these two effects to provide sounds that are appropriate for blues or metal, and most everything in between.

The OS-2 is a standard single-space sized pedal, measuring 2.9 inches wide by 2.4 inches tall by 5.1 inches long, and it weigh in at a touch under one pound. See? The metric system will never catch on as long as I am on watch! This pedal runs on a single 9-volt battery or it takes the optional BOSS PSA adapter.

It has the same general style as other BOSS pedals, but this one comes in a gaudy yellow. The outside of the sturdy metal case has a ¼’ input and output jacks, and a jack for the aforementioned AC adapter. The expected BOSS high quality is to be found here, with a smooth finish, clean wiring, and knobs that have a nice feel. These knobs include LEVEL, TONE, DRIVE, and COLOR. Here is a quick and dirty rundown of what they do:

- LEVEL: adjusts the sound level when the effect is applied. It should be adjusted so there is no volume change when the effect is turned ON.

- TONE: adjusts the tone of the modified sound.

- DRIVE: adjusts level of distortion.

- COLOR: adjusts balance between overdrive and distortion.

That is it, and after a quick look through the manual you can put it away and never need it again. About two minutes of knob twisting will get you the tone you are looking for and then you can move on with your life. It might be one of the easiest to use pedals I have come across.

The OS-2 works really well for guitar and just ok for bass due to the frequency range it is tuned to. I have used it with my Strat and Tele through my Twin Reverb, and was able to get a very bluesy tone with the COLOR knob more towards the overdrive side of things. Cranking the COLOR knob the other way with My Les Paul through a Bugera, I got a very crunchy hard rock/metal tone. It is surprisingly capable of working well with both single-coil and humbucking pickups. I did get a little hiss and hum when the distortion is cranked all the way up, but it was only noticeable when not playing. The COLOR knob is the magic part of this effect, giving it a tremendous amount of versatility, and it is the pot I fiddle with the most.


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