[SOLVED!] War Of The Bosses: Boss DS-1 Vs. DS-2


Owing to the popularity of Boss and its DS pedal series, many guitarists include DS-1 and DS-2 in their shortlists while shopping for distortion pedals. Effective and efficient, the two pedals from Boss give a good account of themselves in most of the cases. However, a number of differences exist between DS-1 and DS-2 which lead to distinct performances in specific settings. If you would like to learn which one is the superior model in Boss DS-1 vs. DS-2, you should find our article helpful. 

Introduction To The Pedals 

Boss DS-1

As the first model in the series, Boss DS-1 is by all accounts the definition of classic. For your information, this pedal has been manufactured by the Roland Corporation since as far back as 1978. Used by many famous guitarists throughout history, Boss DS-1 has proven itself as a solid distortion pedal that can withstand the test of time. 

Boss DS-2

To put it plainly, Boss DS-2 is the successor to the original DS-1 and it’s dubbed “Turbo Distortion”.  This pedal was first brought into the market in 1987 and its features resemble those on Boss DS-1. That being said, there is a key difference: the integration of the Turbo setting that amplifies the mid-range tone.  

Boss DS-1 Vs. DS-2: Comparison


At a glance, the two distortion pedals look almost the same: they both weigh around 400g (0.88lbs) and have similar dimensions (7.3 x 1.29 x 5.9 cm). The only thing that sets DS-1 and DS-2 apart is the color. While the pedals boast orange coating, the DS-1 pedal possesses a lighter shade compared to its successor. Of course, you can also distinguish DS-1 from DS-2 by looking for the Turbo button which is only available on Boss DS-2.


Excepting  the Turbo button mentioned above, DS-1 and DS-2 contain identical controls consisting of three dials:

  • Level: Used to adjust the volume.
  • Distortion: Used to adjust the level of gain.
  • Tone: Used to adjust the bass and treble frequency. As the dial turns higher, the treble is boosted while the bass is reduced. On the other hand, lowering the dial means less treble and more bass.

Note: It’s important to point out that while the three dials remain unchanged on both pedals, the order is different. On Boss DS-1, the order from left to right is Tone, Level and Distortion while on Boss DS-2, the order is Level, Tone and Distortion. Additionally, there is a Turbo dial next to the Distortion dial on Boss DS-2 to give the midrange a boost. Depending on the situation, you can change the Turbo setting either via the dial itself or via a remote. 


All in all, tone proves decisive once it comes to choosing the winner in Boss DS-1 vs. DS-2. Needless to say, the incorporation of Turbo on the DS-2 pedal gives it an edge over DS-1 in terms of adaptability. Boss DS-2 essentially packs two modes compared to Boss DS-1 and its single mode. Other tone differences between the two pedals that you should know include:

  • In use, DS-1 sounds gritty while DS-2 sounds smooth and thick.
  • DS-1 provides a classic distortion tone of the 70s and 80s which is ideal with low gains. Conversely, DS-2 sounds best with high gains and it delivers a lot of options regarding mid-range and treble.
  • At max volume, the DS-2 pedal is louder than the DS-1 pedal.
  • DS-1 has a narrower range whereas DS-2 has more distortion variation.

Now, you might think that as long as you do not use the Turbo dial, you can get Boss DS-2 to sound like a Boss DS-1. In reality, even if you leave the Turbo setting alone, the DS-2 pedal sounds a lot more aggressive than that of its predecessor. Then again, at the end of the day, my review of tones from the two pedals is subjective.


In layman’s terms, Boss DS-1 vs. DS-2 is a topic that attracts contrasting opinions from members of the community. The reason is simple: There is no clear winner as it all comes down to individual needs and requirements. Usually, DS-1 pedal is well-liked for low gains with its crunchy and saturated gain level so it is suitable for classic rock and blues. Meanwhile, since the DS-2 pedal features heavy sounds, it excels at high gains and supplements genres such as metal and grunge. 


Boss DS-1Boss DS-2
Dimensions7.3 x 1.29 x 5.9 cm7.3 x 1.29 x 5.9 cm
Weight400g/ 0.88lbs400g/ 0.88lbs
ColorLight OrangeDark Orange
ControlsLevel, Distortion, Tone.Level, Distortion, Tone, Turbo.
Remote ControlNoYes
ToneClassic, Low gains.Heavier, High gains, Versatile.