1985 BOSS SD-1 Super Over Drive

Model Description:

The highly popular BOSS SD‑1 Super Over Drive was introduced in 1981 and has not been withdrawn to‑date. The SD‑1 wasn’t, however BOSS’s original or only overdrive pedal. The seemingly very similar BOSS OD‑1 Over Drive was introduced in c.1977. Crucially, the difference between the two is that the SD‑1 adds a variable tone control. This addition was necessitated by strong competition from the legendary Ibanez TS‑808 Tube Screamer Pro, which also featured a tone control. The ability to fine-tune the tone of the effect was seen as important and something that the original OD‑1 simply could not do. Quite why BOSS didn’t simply update the existing model remains a mystery (BOSS later introduced the OD‑2 and OD‑3). The SD‑1 uses the same patented asymmetric overdrive circuit as the OD‑1, which sets its tone apart from that of the TS‑808. The SD‑1 is often regarded as a benchmark for dynamic and smooth overdrive tones. At lower gain levels, the SD‑1 works well as a clean boost effect for driving the input circuits of valve amplifiers. The OD‑1 and SD‑1’s ability to maintain the natural tone of the guitar and the guitarist’s playing style has become widely recognised. Nevertheless, it still remains in the shadow of the Ibanez TS‑808. Many illustrious guitarists have become associated with the SD‑1 over the years. As the humble, yet classic BOSS SD‑1 Super Over Drive has been in continuous production from 1981 until today, good vintage examples can be found relatively cheaply on the vintage effect guitar market.

Pedal Description:

For your consideration is this probably‑familiar primrose yellow 1985 BOSS SD‑1 Super Over Drive. This is another one‑owner pedal, having been in the careful possession of the original keeper for over 35 years before coming to CRAVE Guitars. I have to admit that acquiring this stomp box was a bit of a gap‑filling exercise, rather than it being a must‑have purchase. The BOSS SD‑1 is often hailed as one of the most natural and transparent overdrive effect pedals ever made, which may be a debatable claim. The SD‑1 improves upon the similarly‑hued BOSS OD‑1 by adding a handy, all‑important tone control for versatility. Fans of the OD‑1 and SD‑1 talk about warm, valve‑like overdrive tones and its sensitivity to changes in a guitar’s controls or playing style, making for a very expressive vintage‑like tone. Perhaps it has become so common and the sound has become so familiar that it no longer stands out from its competitors – many of whom have imitated the SD‑1’s specification over the years. This all‑original example is in used but very good condition; just some superficial marks to the paint work in the usual places. While not a huge fan of overdrive or distortion effects, I can appreciate the genuine quality of the tones on show here. To me, it still sounds more like a solid state effect rather than an authentic tube‑like crunch. All things being relative, it does sound pretty darn gutsy. Experts suggest that overdrive pedals like the SD‑1 (and the TS‑808) are often used best at low gain settings to drive a valve amp’s input, pushing it into genuine tube break up. Either way, the SD‑1 and its low gain mild/soft clipping distortion represents an important place in guitar effect history.


  • Made in Japan by Roland Corporation in July 1985
  • The ‘Level’ knob controls the level of boost added to the signal
  • The ‘Drive’ knob controls the amount of overdrive/distortion added to the signal
  • The ‘Tone’ knob controls the amount of bass or treble
  • The BOSS treadle footswitch turns the effect on and off
  • Red LED ‘Check’ light to indicate when the effect is in use
  • Standard ¼” mono input and output jack sockets
  • 9V DC (BOSS ACA) power supply input or 9V battery
  • Black ‘Made In Japan’ label on the base of the pedal
  • Dimensions: 70mm (w) x 125mm (d) x 55mm (h)
  • Weight: 400g
  • No box or instruction manual


  • The Edge (U2)
  • John 5 (Marilyn Manson, Rob Zombie)
  • John Frusciante (Red Hot Chili Peppers)
  • David Gilmour (Pink Floyd)
  • Jonny Greenwood (Radiohead)
  • Kirk Hammett (Metallica)
  • Josh Homme (Queens Of The Stone Age)
  • John Paul Jones (Them Crooked Vultures)
  • Jimmy Page (Led Zeppelin)
  • Prince
  • Richie Sambora  (Bon Jovi)
  • Joe Satriani
  • Robert Smith (The Cure)
  • Steve Vai
  • Eddie Van Halen
  • Zakk Wylde (Ozzy Osbourne, Black Label Society)

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