1979 BOSS PH-1 Phaser

Model Description:

The popular Japanese Boss PH-1 Phaser was introduced by Roland in November 1977 and was one of the very first compact effect pedals introduced by BOSS (along with the OD‑1 Over Drive and SP-1 Spectrum). The PH‑1 was phased out (sic!) by November 1981 as it was effectively superseded by the more versatile 3‑knob PH-1r, introduced in 1980, which added a ‘Resonance’ control to increase flexibility. The PH-1 was up against some stiff competition at the time from highly regarded phasers produced by MXR Innovations (Phase 90) and Electro‑Harmonix (Small Stone), both of which were already well established in the market. Technically, both the PH-1 and PH-1r are simple analogue four-stage phase effects. The current model, the BOSS PH-3 Phase Shifter, is very successful but is a very different proposition; all digital and, although very competent, lacks the lush, natural warmth of its analogue predecessors. BOSS PH-1 Phasers, even early ones, are still ubiquitous on the vintage market and good ones are relatively easy to find at reasonable prices.

Pedal Description:

The bright green 2-knob PH-1 Phaser is very typical of the BOSS family, testament to the strength of the original BOSS design that has endured now almost unchanged for quite a few decades since the late 1970s. For the record, many of the ‘collectable’ features are present and correct here; the battery compartment’s silver screw, the ‘long-dash’ model number, the black ‘Made In Japan’ baseplate label and the ink-stamped ‘serial’ number, which dates this pedal to February 1979. In use, it produces some lovely warm subtle sounds, although not as prominent as, say, the iconic MXR Phase 90, so expect gentle undulations rather than soaring swooshes or wild warbles. To me, it sounds more like the MXR Phase 45, which was only a 2‑stage phaser. I have to admit that, while it is a perfectly good all‑round effect, it is not my favourite phaser – it’s a bit too ‘polite’ and ‘nice’ for my liking, compared with my preferred Electro‑Harmonix phasers. Like all BOSS pedals, it is solidly built and remains in very good original condition with only the battery connector having been replaced. The LED light doesn’t stay lit as it should when the effect is on but that’s only a minor irritation and what really matters – the processed sound – works just as it should. So then, this early PH-1 is a dependable classic, although perhaps it doesn’t represent the pinnacle of excellence in my view. It also makes a relatively risk free entry point into the world of vintage analogue stomp boxes.


  • Made in Japan by Roland Corporation in 1979
  • The ‘Rate’ knob controls the speed of the phase sweep from 100ms to 16s
  • The ‘Depth’ knob controls the intensity of the phase effect applied
  • BOSS treadle footswitch turns the effect on and off
  • Red LED ‘Check’ light to indicate when the effect is in use
  • Standard ¼” input and output mono jack sockets
  • 12V DC (BOSS ACA) power supply or 9V battery
  • Black ‘Made In Japan’ label on the base of the pedal
  • ‘Long dash’ model name and ink-stamped batch/serial number
  • Silver battery compartment thumbscrew
  • Dimensions: 70mm (w) x 125mm (d) x 55mm (h)
  • Weight: 400g
  • No box or instruction manual

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