So this is the culmination of my first ever ’Boss Month’ concerted focus on everything Boss! I do hope you enjoyed the broad sweep of all those articles - and had some fun with my speculative projections and suggestions. The natural end to all of that is of course to set out the pedal-chain as a Peak Boss implementation - using what I have within my extensive Boss collection. I of course had to add a few more units - but only a handful really. I’m guessing some who don’t read my text particularly closely may be surprised by this particular diversion - but it’s all in the best spirit of what is possible. And while I love all those Boss pedals - for several of those applications I have other more perennial preferences - so don’t take it too seriously. Note also that this month has been a focus on HM-2 style pedals - and those that I have in the collection are featured too!
July has been another somewhat strange month - and aren’t they all really - Summer NAMM came and went with barely a significant new entry - I covered all that I felt was worthwhile - which wasn’t a lot. I feel builders are now used to operating outside that enforced timeline.
There’s also possibly a couple of odd rumours that may or may not be doing the rounds at the moment and which I’m not clear at all where they sprung from as they’ve only been somewhat faintly alluded to. If you come across anything of concern - do let me know so that I can tackle that head-on and dispel any potential myths or misunderstandings. If I seem out of line in any way - do let me know so I can look to make amends and improvements as appropriate. I’m just one hard-working hobbyist guy here - doing my best to bring you interesting content and insights - based as much as possible on first-hand experiences - and it all gets a little overwhelming on occasion. Obviously feel free to drop me a line at any time - or share a comment or two below.
A significant number of orders were made in July - around the usual 20 or so mark - in fact a little over really, while a lot of those pedals are not landing until some time next month or possibly quite a bit later still in the case of the Reeves Electro RedDotSound. It’s good to see that Fuzzes are back up again on the roster after a lean June - here follows the now customary overview by category :
Just the one entry this month after a flurry of activity for that genre over the last few months - and it's a golden oldie - which has long been on the wishlist - I'm really glad to have a Mint version of this coming into the collection at last :
Half a dozen fuzzes is a decent monthly haul - and there are a number of longer term wishlisters here - where I often approach those in matched pairs. I was hoping to get an Animal Factory Chemical Burn too - but there are none of those currently in the wild - a decent month for Fuzzes though.
Also Basic Audio #18 and #19 were added to the collection - I will need to choose something special for the 20th one and then publish a capsule collection feature on that selection! :
Funnily the most popular category for this month. Through an odd quirk of fate - I ended up with a second Blackhawk Balrog unit (this time a 'Black' vs 'Blackened' edition) - which I am though for sure keeping - and there will be a number of Blackhawk articles in the coming weeks and months - as that is my current major brand focus! I had intended to secure a few more HM-2 variants this month - but for various reasons that will now likely happen over the next couple or so weeks instead. Note that during Boss Month a backlog has arisen - which will be largely tackled in August! :
Here the second half of the Alexander Pedals pair arrived this month - quite a while after the Sugarcube - I've not had the opportunity yet to properly check that out - and the same goes really for my brand new Magnetic Effects phaser - which is only due to ship out on August 2nd. There will be more Phaser surprises in store soon! :
The final category for this month - both of these took the best part of the month to arrive - and got in just in the nick of time! I'm very happy to be testing Vitalii Bobrov's Magnetic Echo style Lighthouse Delay Prototype - more on that a little later! Update - actually the Boss funnily did not make it this month - that package seems to be a long time coming - should be here soon enough though :
As mentioned in the intro - note that this Peak Boss Implementation features as many relevant Boss pedals from my collection as apply for those typical slot applications. Some of those are already perennial classics - while for others I have other more long-term preferences, meaning that some this month's ones are just in a somewhat momentary and fairly fleeting rotation!
Of course normal service as such will resume next month :
The regular on this slot is really the Meris Hedra, while I've had both the Boss OC-5 Octave and PS-6 Harmonist in rotation. Mostly the PS-6 admittedly - and mostly in Moreelo-style S-Bend Mode. The Harmonist is a really great versatile pedal which does lots of things very simply and elegantly - and will continue to get rotated on this slot, while the Meris Hedra overall obviously offers a little more.
The Boss SY-1 Synthesizer is already the mainstay here and will continue to star until there is an SY-200 out - which may happen sooner than most think! The Boss SY-1 is still the compact guitar synth champ as far as I'm concerned. While Subdecay make some really decent ones at that size too.
The mainstay on this slot is the Flower Pedals Hosta Wah-Filter, mostly backed up by the Dr Scientist Dusk and Spaceman Artemis. While for Boss Month the AW-3 Auto Wah takes up the reigns - where it's speciality is the Vocal-Wah element. Mostly I prefer the Hosta, while the AW-3 does a few things really well and is well worth a regular spin!
The Boss TB-2W Tone Bender is firmly slotted in here now for a few more rotations - a really fantastic achievement with some cool innovations onboard. I believe everyone that got one pretty much is delighted with it. Second hand prices ovbiously ridiculous - for which I did my article covering various alternatives. No doubt a great example of this genre.
I was in two minds as to what to do on this slot, the current mainstay here is the Redbeard Effects Angry Rhubarb - while for Boss Month I was considering each of my SD-1 varieties. - Waza edition, Keeley Modded edition or 40th Anniversary Stock edition. The last mentioned is the most accessible - so I went with that - while I prefer the slightly more limited editions of this pedal mostly. The SD-1 even at stock level is still a fantastic overdrive though and many player's favourite!
These last couple of months have been very unusual in that my favourite ever OverDrive has been off the board. It was never going to be out for long though -so this is the return of the Mac! As the Keeley Freak Fuzz Modded BD-2 Blues Driver takes up its throne once again!
Anther perennial favourite has been out of circulation on this slot for a while - my Demon Pedals Kondo Shifuku D-Style Drive which has long been the mainstay here. For Boss Month another of my favourite all-time Boss gain pedals takes up the rotation - the quite superb and slightly underrated JB-2 Angry Driver - many people's favourite Blues Driver, and certainly the best Marshall-voiced pedal in Boss's range. Running this pedal in parallel mode is just incredible as those two voicings are so well matched in their complementary frequency profiles - and deliver a fuller more textured drive and distortion all-round!
The mainstay on this slot is probably my favourite pedal of all-time - the Chase Bliss Audio Automatone Preamp MKII - while it's also the only slot that can accommodate really large pedals - which includes the Klirrton Grindstein - so when that's in - the Preamp MKII has to take a back-seat!
The mainstay on this slot is the still weirdly underrated Shnobel Daily Driver - which has the most amazing texture and dynamics. For Boss Month we have Boss's supreme gain machine - the OD-200 Hybrid Drive - which I've written a lot about, and while it has a few flaws it does a lot of things incredibly well - even though my GT-1000 CORE has somewhat more flavours. A few tiny tweaks on the OD-200 would make it perfect!
The mainstay of this slot is the superb Pettyjohn Electronics Custom Chime MKII, while for Boss Month the most apt alternative is of course the BC-2 Combo Drive. It's not quite as sparkly as the Chime - but it's still a decent candidate - that has bee here before a couple of times - this has been discontinued for a while obviously.
Note that I've moved the exceptional Tsakalis Audioworks Room #40 to slot #23 - which makes this the mainstay home of the superb Pettyjohn Custom Gold MKII. While for Boss Month Boss's ST-2 Power Stack takes up the rotation. This is the dedicated Boss sort of JCM800 pedal - while I actually prefer the JB-2 Angry Driver in that role. The ST-2 renders a little dark - but livens up somewhat when you crank it a little!
The king of this slot is usually the Chase Bliss Audio Brothers Analog Gain Stage - so this is a very rare occasion where that gets pushed out. For Boss Month the venerable yet slightly underrated Boss FZ-3 Fuzz takes up residence - essentially a Boss take on the Fuzz Face, but which overlaps significantly into Tone Bender territory too. This has been rising in price almost up to FZ-2 levels as people realise that it's actually a really decent 'Face-Bender!'
The current mainstay on this slot is now the Way Huge Atreides Analog Weirding Module, while over Boss Month - it is the enduringly popular Boss FZ-2 3-Mode Hyper Fuzz that takes up residence on this slot. Boss's take on the Super Fuzz is so popular that there's almost as many clones of that as there are for the original Shin-Ei Super Fuzz! Just a great harmonic octave fuzz that surely has to be due for a Waza Craft revival soon enough!
Another perennial favourite typically resides here - Dr Scientist's Frazz Dazzler - which is still arguably my all-time favourite fuzz although I have several really. For Boss Month another full-range beast takes up the Frazz Dazzler's Throne - the Keeley Twilight Zone Modded MT-2 Metal Zone - which is just a properly visceral beast and weirdly underrated by some. For sure one of my favourite metal style distortions but with a lot more in the tank!
The new mainstay for this slot is now the hugely impressive Tsakalis Audioworks Room #40 - taking over from that pretty much equally impressive Sinvertek N5+. For Boss / HM-2 Month the smallest option takes another rotation - Guillem Vliademunt's monster Angry Swede V2 now with added Clean-Blend.
The Redbeard Effects Honey Badger has somewhat rooted itself to this slot normally, while for Boss / HM-2 Month we get the brand new and super versatile Bardic Audio Devices HM Demon - with no less than 9 controls!
DryBell\s The Engine took over this slot a few months back, but already shares it with the Drunk Beaver Heavy Bat. For Boss / HM-2 Month the Lone Wolf Audio Left Hand Wrath comes in for the rotation. One of the classics of that genre for sure.
The Mainstay of this slot is often the KMA Machines WurHM - which sort of alternatives with the Pushking Ironfinger Distortion. For Boss / HM-2 Month the WurHM is obviously the dominant flavour here - a really capable 4-band Twin Peak Chainsaw Distortion.
There's quite a lot of rotation on this slot - mostly the Klirrton Oh My Goat and and Redbeard Effects Red Mist MKIV this year - while for Boss / HM-2 month there could only be one mainstay for this slot - the brand new Waza Edition HM-2W - which sounds superb on both Standard and Beefier / Extended Range Custom Mode. This is still the heart and soul of the Swedish Death Metal / Chainsaw Twin Peaks Distortion Genre!
Still my Noise Gate of choice - the Alchemy Audio Modded NS-2 Noise Supressor. I wonder if Boss would ever consent to do a Waza Edition of this - with even more refined controls. The Alchemy Audio edition loads the pedal with superior parts - metal film capacitors and the like - for vastly superior signal-to-noise ratio.
The regular choice here is of course the Boss EQ-200 Graphic Equalizer - which took over duties from the excellent Alchemy Audio Modded GE-7. There seems to be a little negativity directed toward the EQ-200 which I don' t quite understand as it's the second most successfully realised Boss 200-Series pedal to-date, after the DD-200 Digital Delay. The EQ-200 has very refined controls - sometimes those sliders can be a little too sensitive - certainly more so than the GE-7 - while the extra granularity on the EQ-200 gets you to places where the GE-7 just can't - and if you use a lot of different EQ settings - you have all those footswitchable presets at your disposal. I mostly use this as a 'Balancing EQ' - restoring high frequency content lost amongst the patch cables, and filtered out in part by the NS-2 Noise Suppressor Noise Gate.
The Boss DC-2W Dimension C has actually been on this slot for a while now - where it alternates with the VB-2W Vibrato for Stereo Output on Slot #34. So occasionally you will find the VB-2W here, and at other times the DC-2W. Two of my favourite Boss modulations - where the DC-2W is an all-time favourite!
It should be well known by now that the ThorpyFX Camoflange is my all-time favourite flanger - while I have quite a number of favourites - including the Spaceman Aurora which will get a run on this slot soon enough. For Boss Month the Alchemy Audio Modded BF-2 Flanger takes up the rotation - it's one of the later versions of BF-2 and has the latter white-cap knobs rather than the original textured black knobs with red markers. Alchemy Audio though improve a lot of the components with better quality ones for a far superior signal-to-noise ratio. EHX may be the poster-child for vintage flangers - for its Electric Mistress - but the BF-2 deserves its own accolades too.
I don't have any shortage of Tremolos either - where the current favourite is the JAM Pedals Harmonious Monk - a superbly textured variant which sounds amazing both in Amplitude and Harmonic Modes. The Boss TR-2 is a somewhat more conventional vintage amp-style amplitude tremolo - with its own gorgeous timbre. The only issue with the TR-2 is that it needs a little more volume typically - which is why there are so many modded varieties of it out there. The Alchemy Audio edition adds further level control as part of a dual-concentric knob, as well as a conventional footswitch which doubles the rate. It's a surprise really why Boss haven't taken it upon themselves to update this pedal yet!
This has really been the year of the Phaser so far - with numerous releases - and 4 new ones added to the collection - including Thorpy's superb Pulse Doppler which is of course the mainstay, with also the Flower Pedals Castilleja and this month's Magnetic Effects Eye to Eye added.- and one more which must remain a secret until July 13th! For Boss Month my old faithful PH-1R Phaser is back in rotation - it seems to have had some mods applied as it has a Blue 'Check' LED on it - otherwise it looks like pretty much the stock earliest version of the PH-1R - with the appropriate alignment of the 's' etc. I've often questions if I might not prefer the PH-2 variety which has an additional mode - I may well get one of those too eventually. It will be interesting to see also which version will become a Waza edition - if and when that happens!
The mainstay on this slot is typically the Cooper FX Arcades - while this slot can be in somewhat frequent rotation as there are several pedals which occasionally slot in here - including most of the recent Chase Bliss Audio ones, the EXH Attack/Decay etc. For Boss Month it is mostly the DC-2W Dimension C that is in residence on this slot - while the VB-2W gets the occasional Stereo airing here too. The DC-2W and VB-2W alternate quite a bit on slots #30 and #34!
The Boss GT-1000 CORE has already been installed here for the best part of a year - there are so many things that are great about this device - even though it's not exactly perfect for how I use it. It's quite superb as a gain machine - with a decent range and mix of Modulations - obviously missing DC-2 and Harmonic Tremolo flavours that I so like. While it has huge advantages in all kinds of other areas. I took quite a while to 'tune' it in properly to the rig. A very versatile and powerful machine with some need for refinement in certain areas. I'm certainly sticking with it for now - and if I need to I can always draft in my GFI Synesthesia which has all the Modulation flavours I need! This slot is really principally intended for Digital Multi-Modulation or Modulation Workstation - and has housed Strymon Mobius, Boss MD-500, Empress Zoia, and GFI Synesthesia which all still get a look-in on occasion. The GT-1000 CORE could be even more impressive with just a few tweaks!
The Boss DD-200 is already firmly embedded on this slot as one of my favourite delay machines of all time - very occasional alternated with the Red Panda Particle 2, while I tend to place compact Delay alternatives more often on slot #34. This slot only really accommodates Vertical-BB units and below - it could fit a Source Audio Nemesis - but I prefer the DD-200 in most ways. The larger delay slot - #38 and next up in the overview - usually handles the larger workstations - mostly Tape-style these days. While I still feel that the best delay pedal of all time is the Empress EchoSystem to date!
Tape Delay has long since become my favourite style of delay - adding fairly subtle texture - which adds thickness but mostly sits under the surface. I started on this slot with the Strymon TimeLine, was considering the Boss DD-500 when the Empress EchoSystem came along - which I contend is the best and most capable Delay pedal ever! Seeing as I so like the Tape flavours though - it was inevitable that I ended up with the Strymon Volante - which I mostly run in its Space Echo style Mode. How fitting then for Boss Month that I slot in the Boss RE-20 Space Echo - still probably the best stompbox edition of that Roland RE-201!
Here I started with the Strymon Big Sky, then Boss RV-500, then Source Audio Ventris, next EHX Oceans 12, and now mostly the Strymon NightSky - while I have several more on my wishlist including the CBA Automatone CXM 1978, Empress Reverb, Red Panda Context, and Walrus Audio Mako R1 - I may even fancy a spin on the brand new IK Multimedia AmpliTube X-Space which may quite likely happen! I'm waiting on Empress to make their Reverb more like the EchoSystem (Dual Channel etc). there's also the possibility of V2 Specular Tempus eventually in similar format to the Syneshtesia. While for Boss Month we're of course back with the superb Boss RV-500 - which is amazing - albeit it could do with a few more algorithms!
I've said many times now that of the Boss 200-Series pedals - the DD-200 is absolute perfection, and the EQ-200 is pretty close. While the MD-200, OD-200 and RC-10R have some flaws. The RC-10R pretty much owns this slot and has done for a long time - since it came out really. It is a superb Looper - and has an exceptional tandem Drum Machine too - which does not output quite loud enough in Stereo Mode - even with all the relevant enhancement filters applied and all relevant dials maxed out. Boss just need to make the Beats a little louder for me - I'm still waiting for that firmware release though!
As you scan through all the usual slots - you will note that I have retained 10 unchanged slots for which Boss does not have an exact suitable alternative for - at least not up to my exacting requirements necessarily - albeit there is some overlapping functionality obviously from the GT-1000 CORE. Generally there are 26 Boss pedals here for this Peak implementation - many of which are already perennial favourites but some also for which I have more suitable perennial preferences. There are also 6 x HM-2 pedals in action here at various sizes of enclosure - and of course including the recent Boss Waza HM-2W.
By all means use your common sense to figure out which of these are prime-time contenders, and which are more rather just straight-up Boss alternatives for this particular Themed month. I contend that all of these pedals are fully gig-ready - and with the other core 10 pedals - you can get pretty much any tone and modulation you need here - via both analog and digital means.
I may still do a further article of my 10 or 20 all-time favourite Boss pedals - while I've covered so much already this month that I feel that would entail some further unnecessary duplication. We've covered an enormous range of Boss pedals past, present and future. Some of those speculative ones will materialise quicker than you might think. There are still some very exciting releases ahead this year - and in some areas Boss will certainly be stealing a march on its rivals - I really look forward to sharing those innovations with you as they materialise.
This month has been one helluva undertaking - this is all just me - and it's taken a serious amount of work. So to stop me from totally burning out - I will try to return to my previous schedule of articles every Monday, Wednesday and Friday - with the occasional Tuesday and Thursday post if absolutely necessary.
The pedal-chain will also somewhat be unwound from its Peak Boss status, and will see the return of several classics which have been off the board for a few months.
Do let me know if you enjoyed Boss Month - and what kind of articles you would like to see more of on this site. Obviously I have a number of features forthcoming on recent acquisitions - where a lot of that activity was overshadowed during Boss Month.
Do let me know too if you have a favourite Boss pedal or two - and what those might be. I think my preferences have been pretty well documented on that subject - and there aren't that many key Boss pedals that I still feel short of. Will be interesting to see which 200-Series, Waza and Standard / Stock edition Compacts materialise next - anything you guys are particularly excited to see?