• David Gilmour on a Budget – Boss DS-1

    In this video we’ll examine the classic Boss DS-1. Is it capable of replicating classic David Gilmour fuzz and overdrive tones?

    The DS-1 came out in 1978 and since then, it’s been featured on more recordings than probably any other pedal. It gets a lot of hate but used with the right amp and with the right settings it’s certainly capable of producing some great tones.

    The DS-1 is designed to be used with loud tube amps with a bit of break up. It’s low output mids scooped character thrives on Marshalls and other compressed midrangy amps. On cleaner mids scooped amps, like Fender and Vox, it can sound pretty horrible which is probably why a lot of guitarists dismiss it.

    I’ve set up two tones – David Gilmour’s mid 70s fuzz tones and the more recent overdrive tones. I’ve added a bit of delay with a TC Electronic Flashback set up with 310ms and 7 repeats for the fuzz tones and 800ms and 7 repeats for the overdrive tones.

    As always, let me know what you think in the comment field below!

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36 Responsesso far.

  1. John Redkurn says:

    Crazy your DS-1 sounds like that and mine only seems to be capable of 80’s metal/rock, if I put the distortion anywhere near between 10-1 it’s not too distorted, but with your settings it would be a pure metal sound.

    • Bjorn says:

      It’s always the combination of the amp and pedal. I always like to have a tiny ammount of break up from the amp. That makes the overdrives sound warmer, more compressed and you get more control over the gain – whether you want more or less.

  2. Lana says:

    Hi I have been reading your blog & would like your opinion . I have recently bought Berlin pro 93 guitar & Jackson Mcfly amp . Im trying to work out is my amp scoop or compressed & what pedals are best for this gear. I have got out my DS1 again but not sure…any pointers on overdrives appreciated.

  3. Chris Chaney says:

    First of all, thank you for all your help. My question is I read recently that if I have my big muff next to to a buffer pedal like blues driver that it will effect my tone can you explain this to me. Thanks for all your help.

    • Bjorn says:

      I haven’t had that issue with Big Muffs. They usually work nicely with buffers. Fuzz pedals however, like a Fuzz Face don’t like buffers. The reason people often react to the sound of a buffered board is that a buffer restore the true tone of your pickup and this will sound considerably brighter comapred to an all true bypass board.

  4. Ian says:

    Hi Bjorn. Your playing and tone are both sublime. First question, do you really consider Vox amplifiers to be mid scooped? Always sounded as though they are sizzling with mid range to me. Second, I too have heard the hatred of the DS-1 and think mine sounds fantastic through my Blues Jr mark IV. Lots of usable tone for a very cheap price. Thank you for having the courage to run against the grain.

    • Bjorn says:

      Well, it depends on how you set the Vox. It doesn’t have a lot of mids or compression but you can compensate and bring out the mids by rolling back the EQ or tone controls. Obviously, if you push them hard like Brian May, you get a lot of tube and speaker compression which adds to the mid range and presence. But my point was that in a bedroom situation you’re probably better off with either a more mid rangy amp or pedals that have more mid range.

  5. John says:

    You NAILED it Bjorn! As always, excellent playing and feel.

  6. Alireza Rowshan Nahad says:

    Hi Bjorn,
    Thanks for your useful video.
    Recently, I visited the Pink floyd exibition ‘their mortal remains’ in Dortmund. There I saw a Pedalboard of Dave that has BOSS DS1 and CE2 inside. I’ve taken photos, and i can send them to you if you want.The Pedalboard seems to belong to the Animals era. But I guess that the pedalboard, I saw was at it’s final modification from Pete Cornish.
    Yours Ali

  7. Spencer Landreth says:

    Wow! Pretty dang “spot on” to my ears, Bjørn!

    • Bjorn says:

      Thank you!

    • Paul says:

      Hi Bjorn, thanks for your content. I’ve recently bought a Laney Lionheart L5T Studio head. Quite loud enough for me playing at home. I gather it sounds and responds almost identically to the L20 but quieter. I’ve noticed that the clean voice sounds more Vox Fender and the drive channel more mid boosted Marshall. This has thrown me as I could use the amp with Tubescreamer mid boost pedals on the clean, but Fuzz and DS1 type on the drive, but neither will play so well on both amp channels. I can’t afford 2 sets of pedals… You’re very familiar with the Lionheart series. Do you mostly use one channel to keep pedal choice simple? Which? Or have you found a Drive/Fuzz pedal solution that works well with both channels?

      • Bjorn says:

        Sorry for my late reply Paul. I’ve edited your comment in regards to the mids Marshall tone.
        I often use the amp for recording and mostly then without any pedals, to get the true tone of the clean or dirt channel. Yes, they do sound different but I often swap between the two with pedals as well and I do find that with minor tweaks the channels respond fairly identical to the same kind of pedals. Now, keep in mind that a Tube Screamer is designed to be used with a drive channel so it will rarely give you that fat overdrive tone on a clean channel, whether that’s the actual clean channel or a clean set dirt channel. I mainly use full range ovedrives with the amp, like OCD, Tree of Life or the Tube Driver. These seem to compliment the amp very well. Try my settings and hear how that fits your pickups, pedals and playing: clean channel, bright, hi input, bass and mids 3:00, treble 9:00, tone 11:00. This works pretty well for the dirt channel too, with the gain around 8-9:00.

  8. xander says:

    OT: Hi Bjorn, I think you need to fix the character encoding problem on your wordpress so visitors can see ” ‘ ” instead of ” â€tm “. Your html header have to specifies “utf8” like


    Another big fan of your blog. Thanks.

    • Bjorn says:

      There’s something wrong but I haven’t been able to figure it out yet. Thanks for the note!

      • Hi Bjorn!

        Best wishes for that new year, thanks again for… everything!
        My post is clearly out of your subject, but maybe – this time – I can help.
        If you are actually using wordpress or another tool, and because your site was build before that tool moved to utf-8, some work is needed to replace ’ by ‘ and all others mistaken characters.
        1) mysql or other database needs to be configured
        2) database content – i.e. tables – needs to be updated
        3) wordpress or other tool itself needs to be configured
        4) html pages already build needs to be updated

        This needs probably to be done on a draft duplication/backup of your site before setting it available to ensure no critical issue. It could need a couple of hours with your site disabled for users.

        So maybe I can help, for instance by providing references or procedures. Let me know if you need anything, because we – I and many people – are needing to continue reading your pages!!!


        • Bjorn says:

          Hi Daniel! Sorry for my very late reply. I’ve been too busy lately recording a new album.
          Thank you so much for the heads up! I’ve noticed that something’s off but I simply haven’t had the time. I’ll certainly look into it. Thanks again!

      • Daniel Billerot says:

        So you did it! Bravo! Many thanks, it’s easier to read you now.

  9. -phil says:

    Bullseye Bjorn,

    As mentioned in other “budget pedal” posts I have 3 of the MIJ DS-1’s including what has to be one of the very earliest ones at S/N 100 (silverscrew). I have used this pedal to good effect for many years. I wish I had a dollar for every time someone asks me about my distortion tone and then sees what I have on my board and can’t believe it. And fwiw, my favorite live gigging amp is ’65 blackface Super Reverb with the original Jensen alnico tens (reconed). The only thing I’ve changed on it other than maintenance of tubes and filter caps is the baffle board which the original was water damaged. I replaced it with high quality birch plywood and the amp has an almost 3D type of effect with the upgraded baffle.

    Anyway, back to the DS-1. It actually works quite well with the Fender SR if I keep the distortion at 3:00 or less and tone at 9:00 or less. Most of the time I have it at lower distortion settings and use it to stack into my other overdrives (BD-2, SD-1, or OD-3). The Super Reverb has a mid control which is actually a mid-cut. So I keep it dimed and dial the bass and treble knobs back to the 4 – 5 setting depending on the stage / room. Bright switch is always off.

    As for the new version of the DS-1, I’ve found them to be usable as well. Do they sound different from the vintage MIJ pedals. Yes, but I’ve found that it’s not as significant as some claim and I can get a good tone from the newer ones too with some slight adjustments.

    One of the best features (IMO) of the classic DS-1 is that it actually responds very good to guitar volume control dynamics. i.e., it doesn’t necessarily clean up completely when backing off the guitar volume knob but it will give a brighter crunch type tone that I find very useful.

    The few times that I’ve retired it in favor of something else I always regret it and will mount it back on the board. It’s one of those “go-to” pedals that if all else fails I can stomp on it and find what I need very quickly.

    As always, a great demo and tasteful performance.

  10. Pablo Fernandez says:

    Hello Bjorn! Thanks for the video. I consider you a great reference on guitar tone matters. After reading several sources on the web, You’re one of the few that clearly explains the importance of amp EQ/Pedals relation. I always used les Paul and Vox. Not Gilmour style at all. However, your website/videos helped me to understand what I need for Gilmourish tones (and using the same criteria for exploring new and different tones). These new Boss/Budget videos show that, when you master the art of tone, every pedal have a lot more to offer above the tag people -and manufacturers- put on those pedals.


  11. Ofir says:

    Mr. Bjorn, as always, superb tone and playing…loved it.
    If I understad you correctly, it’s better that I hook this pedal to my Blackstar HT40 rather than my Fender HRD, true?
    Thanks, Ofir.

    • Bjorn says:

      Thanks! It will sound smoother and warmer with a Blackstar. I’m not saying that mids scooped pedals will sound OK with Fenders but they will sound less smooth and warm.

  12. t says:

    On a side note: Get the Pulse-Strat (EMG SA PUs) through a DS1 with tone almost 0, Dist at 2 o clock, Vol at 1 o clock – into a delay of choice – into a rather neutral JC120 – and you have a very, very close go at the classic Steve Rothery tone. To be honest: This is the basis of almost every t lead guitar sound you hear on my albums.

  13. Jeff says:

    The quick answer I think is, yes, you can achieve David’s tones with the DS-1 just as you can with a lot of other pedals so long as you have the right combination of guitar and pickups to pedal and amp setup. The guitar and pups being the most important part of that combination IMO. As has been discussed previously, I think we Gilmour fans get too caught up in whatever he used for a particular era and think that we have to have the same setup to reproduce the sound and that’s just not the case. Gilmour himself has said that he’s never satisfied with his tone, which is why from 1 album/tour to the next his setup is never the same, yet all you have to do is look at the various equipment combinations that he’s used over the years on the same songs and the sound really isn’t all that different. There are definitely differences from fuzz to overdrive and from the sound you get from a Black Strat setup (more aggressive) vs the Red Strat setup (more bluesy) but the overall “sound” is essentially the same.

    • Bjorn says:

      Good point. What’s interesting with studying Gilmour is that he pretty much started before there were pedals. There were some but just a handful. Then in the mids 70s things started to look very different and obviously during the 80s with all the digital stuff. He’s always experimented and tried new things but the guitar and amps has been fairly consistent and obviously, his technique, although constantly evolving, will be the main factor in his tone.

  14. sipomatador says:

    I like this video ! Good to hear someone talking about matching pedals/amp

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