Boss recently released a brand new distortion pedal, the DS-1w, modeled after the legendary DS-1 Distortion pedal that defined the sound of rock, metal, and punk throughout the 80s and 90s. Its iconic orange aesthetic is as instantly recognizable as the tone itself, which likely explains why, with over 1.5 million units sold, the original DS-1 model holds the title of the most-sold guitar effects pedal in history.
With this latest iteration of the pedal, Boss seeks to expand upon the sound palette and sonic characteristics that made the original with added tonality, increased phatness, and more in hopes of breaking out of the niche the original carved for itself. So let’s find out if they did in our review of the Boss DS-1w distortion pedal.
Learn More About The Pedal Here
What’s New With The Boss DS-1w
A few choice features are new in this iteration of the classic effects pedal that is important to note. So let’s dive into these standout features.
The most notable feature will be the two modes on the pedal, allowing for more customized tailoring of the distortion. You can simply flip between the two modes by hitting a switch between the tone and distortion knobs at the center top of the pedal.
The Standard Mode offers the classic distortion and overdrives this pedal is best known for. With this mode, you can tap into the sounds of Nirvana, Led Zepplin, and early Metallica, which simultaneously boosts the low and high frequencies to achieve its timeless and chunky sound. This pedal offers amazingly if you want to add those searing sounds to your synths and guitars.
The Custom Mode offers a new sound out of this effects pedal that sounds modern and thick when used on synths, basses, and guitars. Instead of attenuating the highs and lows, it achieves this by focusing instead on beefing up the mid-range frequencies to provide more fatness and power more often, at least in my opinion, associated with modern recordings.
The original version of this pedal’s sound gets pigeonholed into classic rock genres due to the slight lack of customization, but this pedal changes that completely. With more options than ever, this pedal sounds great on numerous hardware synths, vocals, and guitars.
What The DS-1w Sounds Best With
While reviewing, I tried running all sorts of instruments through this pedal. Here are the three instruments that I found sounded best. While guitars are the obvious choice, I found that these two other instruments gave off an even more exciting sound after introducing a heavy dose of distortion from the DS-1w.
I am a massive proponent of running hardware synths through boutique guitar pedals, and this certainly delivered what I wanted in spades. I used this pedal on my Korg MS-20 and a MiniMoog and thoroughly enjoyed both results. The thickness and crunch it added to these hardware synths was second to none. It added a certain amount of chunkiness to the right frequency bands to help them cut through the mix and add the right attitude to the otherwise mild and predictable signals.
Hearing the Korg’s signature resonance sweep on the filter going into this guitar pedal made for one of the most blood-curdling screeching sounds I’ve ever heard from a synth, and I damn near cried out of excitement.
I have a Bluebird mic here in my studio whose sound I love, even more so after being run through this pedal.
The DS-1w added a ton of extra edge and attitude to my damn incredible vocals. Sure, the effect on its own was certainly overkilled. But the real magic came from nestling in the affected signal underneath the dry vocal for some tasty layering effects.
The best thing about pedals is how you can chain them together and use them in unintended ways, and hearing this pedal distort my vocals, especially with a high gain, was terrific.
Why Get the DS-1w?
With so many different effects pedals on the market, it can be hard to justify buying one more pedal; I get it. So musicians, guitarists, and producers must be super selective when deciding where they should spend their money and how they use the space in their studio.
What I loved most about this pedal is that, while being a modern rendition of its original model, it was still able to tap into the sonic palette that made the original some popular. This pedal allows you to tap into the sounds, characteristics, and nostalgia of the musical generations I grew up.
Adding the metal sound, classic rock textures, and more to my synth-heavy tracks is a perfect way to feel as if I’m blending many of the tracks and musical styles I find inspiring into one sound.
This pedal might not be for everyone, but this pedal is a one-stop shop for those looking to add the edge and character to more conventional genres of music from the 80s and 90s.
Purchase This Pedal Here
Specs on The DW-1w
Pedal Type: Distortion
Inputs: 1 x 1/4″
Outputs: 1 x 1/4″
Bypass Switching: Buffered
EQ: Tone Control
Controls: Distortion, Standard/Custom Mode Switch
Power Source: 9V DC power supply (sold separately)
Batteries: 1 x 9V
Power Usage: 15mA