Before There Was Boss
Todd Simpson
May 30 2021, 02:54 AM
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Before there was BOSS there was ROLAND. They didn’t make small pedals. They made an early drum machine and some large foot pedals. However, the Roland stuff is very different inside and out than the later BOSS stuff. Roland made their first fuzz in 1972 and it’s about the size of 3 standard pedals. The AF100 was their first pedal fuzz and it was a huge pedal. The knobs were on the top and buttons on the front. These ran on carbon zinc batteries. This was the first foray in to pedals for the company.


Next up came the FUNNY CAT which was a sort of AUTO WAH. It’s a large pedal, same size as the AF100. It’s huge. It sounds like a pretty standard auto wah.



Then cam the DOUBLE BEAT fuzz wah pedal. It’s a fuzz and a wah and it’s 50 years old at this point.


As a bonus these pedals were distributed by YAMAHA and not by ROLAND. The company kept looking westward for influences on what pedals to next create. They followed the trends that were happening in western music as there was a huge boom in Japanese bands who wanted to sound more western. Roland kept making pedals when Boss started up and began to make smaller pedals. At first, Roland and boss pedals looks similar in terms of enclosures that were about the size of a single large pedal. So they would just brand each enclosure separately even though they were the same enclosure. BOSS really came about from a preamp called the BOSS acoustic preamp which lottery became the name of the company. They kept both brands moving forward as they did move off in slightly different directions.

The shape for the BOSS pedal line was based on a light switch wall socket. They didn’t want to make it hard for people to change the battery as was the case in some pedals from other vendors that made you take the entire back plate off in order to change the battery. In BOSS units, you just take out one screw beneath the stomp lip and you can change the battery without even pulling the pedal off your board. To this day you can still buy pedals like the legendary DS-1 distortion pedal and it hasn’t changed in about 40 years.

Of course, some things do change, even at BOSS. To wit, BOSS has taken to releasing WAZA CRAFT versions of some of their best pedals. The Waza versions have extra modes/features/etc They do cost a bit more as well. One pedal that people have been begging for decades to see is the legendary HM-2. The original HEAVY METAL PEDAL. The buzz saw sound of classic Swedish Death Metal. It’s a distortion pedal with a Bass and Treble Knob basically. Finally they did release a Waza version. smile.gif It’s a good thing they did as old HM-2 pedals were being scalped online for as much as $1000!!! Here is Boss of Boss talking about the new mode switch on the back.



Here is an interview with the President of BOSS, Yoshi Ikegami who has worked there for about 40 years. Even he doesn’t know everything. Some information has been lost along the way. Still he knows a gread deal about the history of the company.

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This post has been edited by Todd Simpson: May 30 2021, 03:00 AM
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Steve Gilfield
May 31 2021, 02:49 PM
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Some of these reminded me of Gilbert's signature Flanger pedal.

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Todd Simpson
Jun 1 2021, 02:29 AM
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Agreed! His pedal has that early BOSS / ROLAND vibe about it. It's huge!!!! These days many builders are doing half width pedals so you can stuff more on a pedal board.


QUOTE (Steve Gilfield @ May 31 2021, 09:49 AM) *
Some of these reminded me of Gilbert's signature Flanger pedal.


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