1981 BOSS DS-1 Distortion
1981 BOSS DS-1 Distortion

Model Description:

The Japanese BOSS DS‑1 Distortion is a certainly classic, arguably second only to the Ibanez Tube Screamer for creating vintage overdriven tones. Unlike the BOSS OD-1 Over Drive, which brings a relatively natural boost to your guitar’s sound, the DS-1 could be described as ‘gritty’, especially at higher gain settings. Subtlety is not its strength, although it shies away from heavy metal-grade harmonics or overt fuzz frenzy. Hard rock is the genre for which it was designed and perhaps what it does best. Because it grabs your tone by the throat, it built a strong reputation with the musicians of its time in the early ‘80s. Think ‘big hair’ stadium bands in the US or NWOBHM in the UK and you begin to get the picture. Like all BOSS pedals, it is built to put up with a lot of abuse and many older DS-1s certainly show the scars of savage stage combat.

Pedal Description:

This DS-1 may be described as a ‘transition’ model – it has the much-coveted black ‘Made in Japan’ label and the ‘long dash’ in the model name (the letter ‘D’ sits directly beneath the letter ‘t’ in distortion, rather than the ‘i’ on later short-dash models). On the other hand, it has the normal black thumb screw for the battery compartment and the printed serial number label. Although it is difficult to be accurate, I reckon that it was manufactured in 1981, about the time that BOSS tweaked the design. None of this affects the sound, of course, which is ‘in your face’ – definitely one for savvy tone heads. Although it has clearly been ‘used’, it is in very good condition for its age with just a few marks to its brazen orange paintwork. If looked after, this pedal will last for many more decades yet. Grab a classic piece of 20th century cool while you can, as good condition early BOSS stomp boxes are soaring in both desirability and value.


  • Made in Japan by Roland Corporation in 1981
  • The ‘Tone’ knob controls the amount of bass or treble
  • The ‘Level’ knob controls the level of boost added to the signal
  • The ‘Dist’ knob controls the amount of distortion added to the signal
  • BOSS treadle footswitch turns the effect on and off
  • LED ‘Check’ light to indicate when the effect is in use
  • ¼” input and output mono jack sockets
  • DC power supply input or 9V battery
  • Black ‘Made in Japan’ label on the base of the pedal
  • ‘Long dash’ model name
  • Standard black battery compartment thumbscrew
  • No box or instructions

Detail Gallery:

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