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9 x Yellow Means OverDrive!

BoostBoost and OverdriveBossEffects Pedal MakersOverdrive+-
2019GPX9OrangeBossOD700.jpg

I initially decided that I was going to do 3 articles derived from my ’Pedal Primary Colour Wheel’ feature - but I’ve ended up with a 4th bonus one which sits nicely here in the sequence. In reviewing the Yellow colourway - and although I identified different hues of that representing Amber/Mustard in terms of T-Rex’s Mudhoney, and the pale yellow of Diamond Pedals’ Compressor - the overwhelming preponderance of Yellow just happens to be Boss’s many Over Drive or OverDrive even variants.

 

So I’ve referenced the key chronology of those above - per the following:

  • OD-1 OverDrive : 1977-1985
  • SD-1 Super OverDrive : 1981 >
  • OD-2 Turbo OverDrive : 1985 - 1995
  • OS-2 OverDrive/Distortion : 1990 >
  • SD-2 Dual OverDrive : 1993 - 1998
  • OD-2R Turbo OverDrive (+ Remote input) : 1994 - 1999
  • OD-3 OverDrive : 1997 >
  • OD-1X OverDrive : 2014 >
  • SD-1W Super OverDrive Waza Craft : 2014 >

Interesting to know that of the 9 varieties, 5 are still in production.

 

While I’m a huge Boss fan in general and have currently 18 Boss pedals in the collection with more incoming, none of those are of the OverDrive variety. I somehow got propelled down the Tube Screamer, Blues Driver and Blues Breaker route and entirely seem to have bypassed Boss’s Yellow legacy here hitherto.

 

The intention has alway been to pick off the Boss Waza Craft Pedals one by one - but I’m lagging somewhat behind on that score currently. I certainly feel I will have at least an SD-1W eventually, while I’ve also shown interest in the OD-2/3 Turbo OverDrive and SD-2 Dual OverDrive pedal varieties. I am also most definitely acquiring the OD-200 Hybrid Multi-Drive which is due at the end of October - so will pick up some varieties within that workstation.

 

Pedals are listed in chronological order:


OD-1 OverDrive (discontinued) 1977-1985 : c£350+ for lightly used example via Reverb.com

The Boss OD-1 is considered by many the forerunner to Ibanez's/Maxon's TS808 Tube Screamer - and Josh Scott included it as the first voicing mode in his Bonsai 9-Mode Tube-Screamer style Multi-Drive. I actually have the Bonsai and thus have that variety of voicing by proxy. This particular pedal though still has a very distinctive sound and is in much demand as seen by sky-high Reverb.com prices. You also had the opportunity to get a faithful MIJ replica in Boss's 2017 40th Anniversary Compact Pedals Box Set - alongside the PH-1 Phaser and SP-1 Spectrum - yet for an almost equally eye-watering £759. I like the grit and rawness of the OD-1 for sure, but am not really prepared to pay those prices - so I will stick to my Bonsai voicing for now!


SD-1 Super OverDrive 1981 > : £44

There seems to be very much 2 distinct camps of players - one that prefers the slight grittiness of the OD-1, and the other that prefers the smoother tones of the SD-1. As usual I stride both groups as I recognise the merits of each. There are some degrees of overlap here, and you can dial in similar tones if you apply yourself - while the core default textures of these pedals are quite distinct. If you really like the sound of the SD-1 you might wish to bump yourself up to and SD-1W at near 3 times the price, but with a better quality components onboard and a second Custom voicing which gives you even richer and creamier tones.


OD-2 Turbo Overdrive (discontinued) 1985-1995 : c£65 for lightly used example via Reverb.com

A 2-mode evolution of the standard OverDrive with a sort of Boost or Turbo switch to get more saturation - it's still a relatively subtle boost, but it does open up the character of the drive as well as increase saturation and sustain. This was one of Prince's favourite Overdrives - and if Prince likes something that's as good a recommendation as I need!


OS-2 OverDrive/Distortion 1990 > : £75

This is sort of a further evolution of the OD-2 where the 2-way Off/Turbo mode switch has been replaced by a variable Color dial which changes the Gain character - at the core you still have your 3 original - Level | Tone | Drive controls. It's one of Boss's lesser-known pedals but obviously popular enough to sustain a production run nearly 30 years straight so far. There's nothing here to dislike really apart from the vast number of superficially similar OverDrive varieties Boss has to offer - yet they all have their distinct variations - as to whether those are more or less to your liking is entirely down to your own preferences. I personally quite like this one too - but would more likely go for the OD-2 because of the Prince connection.


SD-2 Dual OverDrive (discontinued) 1993 - 1998 : c£100 for lightly used example via Reverb.com

I've actually featured this one a few times on this site as it's a pedal I've always been intrigued by even though it has inspired different responses. It is the first pedal to feature the 3 x dual-concentric knobs, as latterly seen on the JB-2 Angry Driver - here you get to set separate Level | Tone | Drive for Crunch and Lead Modes - and you can use a Remote switch to toggle between the two - or the Mode Selector. This is why I've always felt the latched-plate design of the compact Boss enclosure has been a limiting factor - as this pedal would be perfect with dual standard footswitches!


OD-2R Turbo OverDrive (discontinued) 1994 - 1999 : c£65 for lightly used example via Reverb.com

The OD-2R is a slightly enhanced version of the 1985 Turbo OverDrive with added 'Remote' input for easier switching of the 'Turbo' mode. No doubt Boss has updated some of the internals too as components are always wont to change slightly between iterations. Tone-wise it is possibly a little more articulate, but otherwise much the same as its predecessor in most ways - and it commands similar prices on the second-hand market / Reverb.com.


OD-3 OverDrive 1997 > : £77

In effect the latest iteration of the core 3-knob circuit with still those 3 controls intact - Level | Tone | Drive. I believe this was reintroduced for those that preferred the grittier tones of the original OD-1 - where this comes pretty close to me, but is missing something in the frequency profile as it doesn't quite sound as texturally complex as the very original pedal - but it's certainly in that ballpark versus the smoother evolution of the SD-1.


OD-1X OverDrive 2014 > : £104

I actually have the DS-1X, but am still to decide if I truly love that. This uses the same MDP algorithm (Digital Multi-Dimensional Processing) to dynamically alter output based on varying input attack and feel. Supposed to make for a much more nuanced and articulate overdrive, with a greater transparency on individual notes - but the jury is still out somewhat on the overall results. I actually quite like the clearer articulation in the pedal which suits is well at low to medium gain, but it can introduce some slightly odd sounding artefacts at higher saturation - particularly to my ears - but that may just be me!


SD-1W Super OverDrive Waza Craft 2014 > : £111

It was pretty inevitable that we would get a Waza Craft version of Boss's most enduringly popular Asymmetric clipping overdrive - slightly odd though that it came in the same year that the OD-1X was released (2014). The second Custom mode here gives you a fatter more saturated sound with extended range on the Tone-Shaping. The smoother profile of the SD-1 gets richer and creamier. This is still my most likely acquisition of all of these - and is a pedal very much beloved by many.


Final Thoughts

Following the completion of this review / overview I am often surprised to find my preconceptions and understanding challenged by an ensuing better grasp of the subject matter. While here they largely reinforce my already held opinions.

 

Meaning I will stick to my JHS Bonsai for OD-1 style tones - the Exar mode of that is a further evolution of that core tone, which I actually prefer most of the time.

 

I had already determined I would get an SD-1W and that has pretty much been reinforced here - and I will still keep the OD-2R and SD-2 on my wishlist in case I spot an opportunity of a decent specimen at an attractive price. My recent Jackson Audio Broken Arrow MultiDrive + Boost also has an excellent DS-1 style Asymmetric Mode which I use a lot - so it's not like I'm wholly bereft of those Boss flavours - I just have them in slightly different formats!

 

For my own taste though I am generally in agreement that the SD-1/W is the one that most will find the most versatile and usable of these 9.

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