Do you know your Fuzz from your Flangers? How about the difference between a Vibrato and a Tremolo? This blog explains everything you need to know about Boss Effects Pedals, so you can find the tone you need to create your perfect sound.
Whether you need a Stompbox, Multi-FX, Switchers or a combination of each, we have explained everything you need to know to build your dream rig.
A – ACOUSTIC PREAMP, ACOUSTIC SIMULATOR, AIRD
Acoustic Preamp – A technology that allows you to plug in your Electro-Acoustic Guitar into a PA System, much like a DI box. Where it differs is an Acoustic Preamp is optimised for Electro-Acoustic Instruments, providing a much truer tone. Boss AD Pedals feature Ambience, EQ, Reverb, Delay and some models have memory locations to save your preferred settings.
Acoustic Simulator – A modelling effect that makes your electric guitar sound like an acoustic guitar. Different acoustic guitar types can be chosen for a variety of tones.
AIRD – Stands for Augmented Impulse Response Dynamics. This is the flagship sound engine in the Boss Multi-FX range, powering the GT-1000, GT-1000CORE and the GX-100. It enables the guitar amp simulations to react and feel like the physical amp Boss has modelled. It models each component in the signal chain, from input stage, preamp, power amp and speaker/cabinet. What makes AIRD unique, os that it provides the dynamic “two-way feedback” you experience under the fingers when using a traditional Valve Amp.
B – BASS PREAMP
Bass Preamp – Similar to an Acoustic Preamp, but designed for Bass!
C – CHORUS, COMPRESSION/SUSTAIN, COSM
Chorus – a frequency-based effect that makes your guitar sound like more than one guitar is playing. The effect is created by doubling your guitar tone one or more times (using a short delay) and then varying the pitch of the double slightly up and down against the dry guitar tone. Chorus pedals have at least two controls: Depth and Rate. The Depth controls the lowest and highest pitches that the doubled tone varies between. The Rate controls the speed that the doubled tone moves up and down in pitch.
Compression/Sustain – a dynamic effect that smooths out the highest and lowest volume levels of your guitar signal to a more consistent level. A compressor also has the side effect of increasing the sustain of your guitar signal. Compression boosts the overall level of your guitar while clamping down on the volume of the loudest parts to prevent clipping. Compressors usually have an attack knob that allows you to control how fast it takes the compressor to start affecting the tone and a threshold knob that sets the volume level that the compressor starts clamping down on peaks.
COSM – Short for Composite Object Sound Modelling. This is a technology Boss has used since the mid-90s and has featured within many products in their catalogue. It focuses on sampling a physical object, whether that is an Amplifier, an Effect Pedal or even a room/environment such as a Theatre, Stadium or Recording Studio. This technology features in many of Boss’ Multi FX pedals and other product lines.
D – DELAY, DISTORTION
Delay – a time-based effect that sounds like an echoing of your guitar tone. A delay pedal creates a copy of your guitar tone that repeats like a fading echo. Delay pedals usually have a time knob that allows you to choose the time of the delay intervals, an effect level knob that controls the volume of the delayed sound and a feedback knob that controls how many repeats are sounded before the effect fades. See different types of Delay below:
Analog Delay – A type of delay that uses physical components rather than computer processing to create the delay tone. While you can only get a single type of delay from an analog pedal, the tone of an analog delay is warm and often has slight imperfections that bring the tone to life.
Digital Delay – A type of delay that uses digital signal processing in a computer chip to create the delay tone. This processing provides a crisper or cleaner delay tone. Another advantage of a digital delay is that you can emulate characteristics of different delay types in one pedal i.e. tape, analog etc.
Tape Delay – A type of analog delay made famous by the Roland Space Echo that uses a tape loop running across multiple heads to create the delay tone. Tape compresses the tone and adds a unique timbre that isn’t possible with other delay types.
Pedals: RE-20 (a COSM modelled tape delay pedal).
Distortion – A dynamic effect that sounds like your guitar is being played through a loud, distorted amplifier. This can range from a slight crunch to a full-on metal distortion. The first distortion tones boosted the gain of an amplifier’s preamp to the point where the guitar signal begins to “clip”. This clipping changes the harmonic structure of the guitar sound and the additional overtones heard as distortion. Connecting distortion pedals to the “front” of the pre-amplifier helps create the break-up sound before it reaches the power amp.
E – EQ
EQ (Equalizer) – A frequency-based effect that allows you to boost or cut frequencies along the audio spectrum. Graphic EQ pedals such as the GE-7 and GEB-7 have faders for each frequency band that you can move up or down to boost or cut the frequency. EQ pedals can be used to tackle problem frequencies such as mid-range honk or to give a bass boost or add some high-end sparkle. Alternatively, you can use EQ to create interesting tones such as emulating a small radio by rolling off the bottom end and boosting the high mids.
F – FUZZ, FLANGER
Fuzz – A dynamic distortion effect that sounds just like the name. Fuzz was originally created by putting a pinhole or cut in the speaker of an amplifier. Original fuzz pedals use a transistor-based circuit to create the sound. Compared to distortion, fuzz is more raw, abrasive and doesn’t compress the tone. These pedals typically perform best at the front of your effects chain into a clean amplifier.
Pedals: FZ-5 (COSM Fuzz Pedal)
Flanger – a time-based effect likened to the sound of an aeroplane taking off and landing. The “whooshing” effect is created by feeding the output of the guitar tone back in on itself with a very short delay (usually less than 20 milliseconds) causing comb filtering (boosts and cuts along with the frequency range). The delay time is then varied which causes the comb filter to move up and down the frequency range.
G – GATE
Gate – A dynamic effect that cuts off or lowers the volume of the output when the input is below a certain volume threshold. Once the input reaches the threshold the gate opens and allows the entire signal through. This is handy when placed in an amplifier’s effects loop for helping to eliminate hiss caused by high gain distortion when the guitarist is not playing.
H – HARMONISER
Harmoniser – a frequency-based effect that sounds like a second guitarist is playing in harmony with the original guitar signal. The effect is created by doubling the guitar input signal and then shifting the pitch of the double up or down at a certain interval (usually a 3rd, 5th or octave). The harmony effect is often used in the metal and hard rock genre to play solos.
I – IMPULSE RESPONSE
Impulse Response – A feature used in guitar profilers/modellers, allowing users to create models of their own physical guitar amps. Similar to a sample, an Impulse Response is an audio wave file of a guitar amp. Where it differs from an audio sample however, is that an IR is a very short audio snippet, usually no longer than 1 second. The purpose is to capture the pulses of the speaker cabinet so that the modeller/profiler can digitally recreate the amp sound. Essentially, you are capturing a snapshot of the tone of your guitar amp, the dynamics of the speaker cone and the character of the microphone, as well as it’s position. If your guitar profilier doesn’t already have a model of your guitar amp, you can load in your own IR to use the tone of your favourite tube amp.
L – LIMITER, LINE SELECTOR, LOOPER
Limiter – Similar to a Compressor, though instead of affecting the full transient of a waveform, it only limits the higher frequencies. It also adds Presence to the rest of the frequency range, making this effect ideal for Bass Players.
Line Selector – This allows for multiple inputs and outputs. If you use two guitars and two amps, both can be plugged into a Line Selector simultaneously and the pedal will choose which input/output you are using. This negates having to unplug/plug multiple instruments in a live situation.
Looper – A time-based effect that records a “phrase” of your playing and loops it back repetitively. These phrases can play sequentially in a song-style format or overdubbed to create dense layers, as used by one-man band style performers, vocalists to beatboxers. Larger loop pedals have more than one pedal for multiple tracks and allow you to add in-built effects to your loops. Remember: If you want to record your chain of effects pedals, make sure your loop pedal is always at the end of the effects chain.
M – MDP, MODULATION, MULTI FX
MDP – Multi-Dimensional Processing. A technology that features in the X-Series Pedals and the flagship Multi-FX units. MDP analyses the frequency spectrum, dynamics and attack of each string of your Guitar/Bass separately. This then applies the optimum settings for each string in real-time. MDP is technology is especially popular among multi-stringed instruments, including 7/8 string guitars and 5/6 string basses.
Modulation – Pedals that feature a collection of Boss’ & iconic Modulation Effects in one box.
Multi FX – Imagine having access to all of your dream pedals and amplifiers in one box.
O – OVERDRIVE, OCTAVE/PITCH SHIFT
Overdrive – A dynamic effect that sounds like your guitar tone is being played through an amp breaking up. Overdrives are more subtle than distortion effects. To achieve the original overdrive effect, a valve or vacuum tube amplifier would be “overdriven” by increasing the gain to the limits of the tubes. At this point, the vacuum tube can’t handle the voltage, starts “breaking up”, and adding extra overtones to the signal giving the sound distortion.
Overdrive pedals are generally placed in front of the amplifier to simulate the “break up” at lower levels before it reaches the power amp.
Octave/Pitch Shift – A frequency-based effect that takes the input of your guitar tone and shifts it in pitch anywhere up to an octave above or below. This is useful to simulate a bass guitar line or the higher-pitched strings of a twelve-string guitar. Some octave or pitch shift pedals double your guitar tone before shifting making them more akin to Harmoniser pedals.
P – PHASER
Phaser – A frequency-based effect that makes a swirling, swooshing filtered guitar tone. Phasers use the principle of “phase” cancellation in which a filter passes over your guitar tone flipping the waveform at specific frequencies. This signal is then combined with your original guitar tone to give the iconic phaser effect used in songs by Van Halen, Pink Floyd and Smashing Pumpkins to name a few.
R – REVERB
Reverb – a time-based effect that simulates the echoes that occur in a room. This effect was originally created by putting a loudspeaker in a special echo room and recording the result. Some reverbs, however, fed sound into objects like springs or metal plates to generate echoes that are not possible using conventional room reverbs.
S – SWITCHER, SYNTHESIZER
Switcher – For users that have multiple effects pedals or pedalboards, Switchers provide the ideal solution to control each unit simultaneously. Simply plug in all of your pedals into the individual effects loops on a Switcher and it will control the mute switch and order of the signal chain, preventing “tap-dancing” or moving around cables.
Synthesiser – A special kind of effect that either uses your guitars normal pickup tone or the tone from a special 13 pin GK pickup to trigger synthesizer sounds. A guitar synth allows you to turn your guitar into a massive range of simulated instruments or create new sounds as you would with a keyboard synthesizer. You can also use a GK pickup to access alternate Guitar tunings or even types of instruments. By using a GK pickup compatible product, you can transform your guitar into any instrument you want.
T – TREMOLO, TUNER
Tremolo – A dynamic effect that rapidly lowers and raises the volume of your guitar tone creating a wobbly pulsing quality. This effect was found initially in valve amplifiers but soon found its way into compact pedals for more control over the wave shape of modulation (smooth sine-waves vs choppy square-wave), depth and ranges of rate.
Tuner – Not an effect but a very handy piece of kit in any guitarist’s arsenal. Does what it says, helps to accurately tune your guitar in a noisy gigging environment.
V – VIBRATO, VOCAL, VOCODER, VOLUME
Vibrato – A frequency-based effect that mimics the sound of rapidly vibrating your finger over a string causing the pitch of the note to waver up and down. Vibrato pedals can be used to thicken your tone or at higher depth settings can create surf rock and spacey tones.
Vocal Effects – Dedicated effects for Vocalists. Each has an XLR input and some even have Phantom Power for use with a Condenser Microphone. All VE products feature Reverb/Echo and as you move up through the range, you gain access to studio-quality modulation, time-based and pitch effects, as well as memory locations to save your desired settings. You can even use specific VE products to build harmonies, voiced from your instrument.
Vocoder – A synth effect that makes it sound like your guitar is “talking”. A Vocoder takes the input of a vocal microphone and uses the natural formants of the voice to shape your guitar tone.
Volume – A Dynamic effect that is as simple as it sounds. A volume pedal uses an expression foot controller to raise or lower the volume of your guitar tone. There are many uses for a volume pedal but common usages include lowering your guitar signal to zero in between sets or swelling in the guitar signal for ambient effects.
W – WAH, WAZA CRAFT
Wah – a frequency-based effect that creates a sound similar to a voice saying “Wah”. A Wah pedal uses a filter that sweeps across the frequency band. In a pedal wah, pressing the toe down will make the guitar signal brighter; heel down makes the signal darker. The filter can be controlled either automatically by electronics within the pedal or manually by the use of an expression pedal giving the guitarist’s hands-free control over their tone.
Waza – The crème de la crème of Boss. Waza in Japanese translates to art & technique, the pinnacle of one’s craftsmanship. Each Waza Craft effects pedal boasts premium components, as well as vintage and modern, voiced analogue circuits – it’s like having 2 pedals in one unit!
PAIR YOUR BOSS EFFECTS PEDALS WITH BOSS ACCESSORIES
Now you’ve learnt everything you need to know about Boss Effects and you’ve built your dream board, how do you actually connect them all and transport them?
BCB Compact Boards – Essential to those that use multiple pedals. BCB are Boss’ Pedalboard cases, with versions for all types of performing pedal enthusiast.
Cables – Cables are essential to any musician. Boss cables are high-quality and super reliable. Each comes with a lifetime guarantee, promising that they won’t fail mid-performance.