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A history of BOSS compact pedals

“We must develop unique and innovative effects for the world’s guitarists.” – So declared BOSS’s founder 35 years ago, when the very first BOSS Compact pedal, CE-1 was launched. BOSS has stuck by that mantra for over 35 years.From introducing beginners to the world of guitar sound to experienced players that use them for their innovative way in changing sound, their reliability and quality.

Known around the world as the company that put the “stomp” in “stomp box,” BOSS is the division of Roland Corporation most easily recognised for its legendary line of colourful guitar and bass effects pedals. Put simply, BOSS gives you the great-sounding tools you need to spend less time tweaking and more time playing.

Here we have showcased some of the pedals that have come to make BOSS a number one choice for guitarists, from beginners to stadium filling bands and some pedals that have truly changed the way in which we play today.

1976 CE-1 Chorus Ensemble

This first-ever Boss effect, this big grey pedal is often regarded as the mother of all choruses, with its unmistakable warm analog stereo chorus and vibrato sounds. Incredibly, the original CE-1 Chorus Ensemble is still in demand today!


1977 BOSS OD1, PH1, and SP1

The first BOSS pedals ever made were the OD-1 Overdrive, PH-1 Phaser and SP-1 Spectrum. These classic stomp-boxes included a number of ‘world firsts’, like silent FET switching (to eliminate pops and clicks), non-skid rubber panels and a quick-access battery compartment. This classic BOSS stomp-box design hasn’t changed since 1977!


1978 DS-1 Distortion

Known by professional guitarists the world over as “that orange BOSS distortion,” the DS-1 launched a million guitar solos and can be heard on countless hit songs. More than 35 years later, this timeless pedal is still in the best sellers list!


1981 DM-2 Delay

The first compact analog delay of BOSS. It’s characteristic warm and natural delay tone still grabs many ardent fans today.


1982 Sound Control Centre SCC-700

Years before programmable multi-effects were to arrive, BOSS let you take seven compact pedals and, with an audio switcher and computer control, store 32 memories of pedal on/off status and the order of the pedals in the chain!


1984 DD-2 Digital Delay

For the first time ever, guitarists and other musicians could have pristine-sounding digital delay in a simple stomp-box. However, like all digital pedals, unless you had an endless supply of batteries, an AC adapter was a must.


1988 ME-5 Guitar Multi-Effects

The world’s first integrated, floor-based effects processor, the ME-5 let guitarists tap into a wide range of high-quality programmable BOSS multi-effects. The ME-5 launched a whole category that remains popular to this day.


1991 MT-2 Metal Zone

If your first thought is ‘I own one of those’, you are not alone. The MT2 Metal Zone is one of BOSS’s most popular pedals ever. Still available today, the MT-2s popularity is a result of it producing some of the most over-the-top, insane distortion tones in the world.


2006 AC-3 Acoustic Simulator

By 2006 Roland’s proprietary COSM technology had been used in a few BOSS multi-effects and twin pedals, but the AC-3 was the first time the technology was used in a compact (stomp-box) pedal.


2007 RE-20 Space Echo

Although musicians have been on the retro bandwagon for some time, BOSS resisted the mere ‘reissue’ concept. The RE-20 twin pedal is designed to emulate the original 1973 Roland RE-201 tape echo, but also had additional functionality to give musicians new possibilities. To say that the RE-20 Space Echo was enormously successful would be an understatement.


2009 VE-20 Vocal Performer

Although it was demonstrated at the January NAMM show, it took BOSS nearly a year to advance the prototype to a stage where it was officially ready for release. The wait was worth it, with the Vocal Performer being very popular with singers from all corners of the world.


2012 GT-100 Amp Effects  Processor

It’s way too early to tell what will be the outstanding BOSS product from 2012, but the Boss GT100 would surely have to be a contender. The newly developed amp models are incredibly responsive, thanks to the proprietary ESC2 chip.



So: With over 40 BOSS pedals for you to pick from in current production, you won’t have difficulty in finding the right one for you. BOSS has consistently pioneered and delivered cutting edge performance and tools for you to inspire your sound for over 35 years and will continue to do so.

Are you after another awesome BOSS pedal to add to your collection? Why not browse Red Dog Music‘s massive selection? We’ve got a special offer ready and waiting for you as our way of saying “thank you” for reading through this article. Click here for more info.

About The Author

Red Dog Music

Dawsons Music is delighted to announce that the Red Dog Music brand is now part of the Dawsons family. This is an exciting opportunity to bring both communities together and create a stronger, wider network of people passionate about music gear. We both share a common heritage to support musicians throughout the UK and Dawsons want to support Red Dog Music customers in their continued musical journey.

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