When BOSS introduced its first compact pedals in 1977 – that’s the OD-1 Over Drive, PH-1 Phaser and SP-1 Spectrum, fact fans – it revolutionized the stompbox industry.
Their vivid colors, uniform designs and player-friendly innovations quickly won guitarists over, and have remained a constant over BOSS’s four-decade-plus history. More importantly, their influence is still felt on pedalboards today, whether they feature any BOSS pedals or not.
So let’s look a little closer at how BOSS changed the guitar world, and take the magnifying glass to 10 pedal design features that altered the course of stompbox history…
This LED comes on when your BOSS pedal is engaged and indicates that the pedal is on and working. Its other useful function is to let you know when your battery is running low on juice: if your effect is on but the LED doesn’t light up, it’s time to change the battery.
Early BOSS pedals featured a slotted version, but the thumbscrew makes quick battery changes a doddle, without the need for any additional tools. Plus, thanks to its hinged cover, you won’t even need to disconnect or remove the pedal from your ’board.
What’s clever about a battery compartment? BOSS pedals house the battery away from the circuit board, so in the event of a leak you’re unlikely to ruin your pedal. It’s kept in position by a comfortable fit, reinforced with foam, so you won’t strain the battery clip.
The iconic BOSS pedal housing has remained a consistent form factor since the OD-1 was introduced in 1977. This die-cast housing is strong enough to withstand being run over – but, being aluminium, remains light enough for you to carry a ’board full of them.
BOSS was an early adopter of electronic switching, removing the problematic pops and clicks that can be introduced when operating mechanical, latching switches. What’s more, BOSS footswitches undergo a thorough 100,000‑press test using bespoke machinery to ensure they won’t let you down.
Every BOSS compact pedal features a rubber-coated baseplate. Not only does this element of the design add grip and withstand drag from your cables if you’re using it without a pedalboard, but it can also keep the pedal in position up to a 60-degree angle.
Batteries are fine, but what if your PP3 runs out of juice mid-set? BOSS compact pedals removed this problem from the outset with the inclusion of a power supply jack, which – along with the centre-negative pin configuration – is now an industry standard.
Stepped Control Section
Many early stompboxes were put together in flat, flush-profiled boxes. It seems obvious these days, but BOSS’s stepped control section takes the risk out of knocking (or worse, damaging) the pedal’s controls while switching with your feet.
All BOSS compact pedals adhere to the same dimensions, along with similar layouts. So, to make it easier to spot which pedal you’re about to stomp on at a glance, BOSS was one of – if not the – first to colour-code its stompers by effects type.
A further, often-overlooked feature of all BOSS compact pedals is the large switch plate. This minimises the target area on a dark stage, meaning you’ll never fail to engage or bypass the pedal. It’s also covered with non-slip rubber, just to be sure.