Pedals

Boss partners with Sola Sound to reinvent the Tone Bender with the …

26

Dang Daniel, that's cool.

Boss did that thing with Roland a while back (BOSS RE-20?), for me this looks just like another collaboration like that.

Enough of a mix that BOSS gets good press, along with the "huh, interesting" factor. I agree with Proteus, there's probably tons of folks who are locked into an entire BOSS pedal chain who never wanted to take the plunge to go small or boutique.

I don't think I know any of those people, but I'm sure they exist.

– Devil's Tool

I think when Prince toured it was all Boss pedals for him:)

I have that RE20 and I think it's one of the pedals out there. Maybe I'm a luddite compared to modern boutique pedal fans, but it just works for me. Bring on the WAZA fuzz.

27

I like Boss pedals. I have... (creeps over to pedalboard to check...) 4! Blues Driver BD-2, Tremolo TR-2, RC-3 Looper and the TU-3 tuner. All great. In fact, I was vibing on the tremolo tonight to a "How Soon is Now" approximation. The trem in the Tonemaster DR doesn't get as square and extreme.

If this thing sounds good, fine by me, but I think if I was to get a tonebender in a rectangular grey box, I might got for this instead:

28

I have the Twin Bender, and it's spectacular. I couldn't be pleaseder.

29

I dont wanna listen to you guys.. the last time I listened.. I bought the Strymon Night sky and played with it once.. its sitting brand new on my strymon board like the Bellerephon command console of battlestar galacta's basestars, and yet I still perform w the oceans 11 because the knobs are simple. Anyone need a night sky? :)

30

I'm not knocking Boss pedals - I've got the RE-20 (or a friend does, I loaned it out). I'm just saying that I don't personally know anyone in my local playing group that has a pedalboard dominated by Boss.

31

My only beef with Boss is the buffers. I generally don't like buffers at all but I found while I could maybe tolerate one of their pedals in line, two or more sounded horrible while off...just seemed to add a lot of nasty treble. At least the Waza Craft ones give you the ability to bypass the buffer.

The mk II Tonebender isn't my favourite iteration but I think this collaboration looks cool. I hope the guys at Macari's/Sola Sound are making some good money from this. I see that they recently moved from their central London shop after decades.

32

Re: Boss pedalboard domination, plus thinking of my own Boss history in the context of my earlier characterization of Boss as the safe standardizer vs the company’s creativity...

And when I think about my first Boss pedals, I recall a sense in which Boss seemed - well, if not “boutique” (I’d only heard that word in connection with hippie clothing emporia), then at least premium, deluxe, and the Latest Word in Pedals.

Which it was, at the time. The form factor and the build quality set the pedals apart from the git-go - both new things in the pedal market of the time. Boss prices also suggested upscale exclusivity (at first), and - as they became more popular - simply the price you paid for The Standard, the then-Cadillac of the pedal world. As I recall, Boss pedals cost about twice what I’d been paying for EHX, MXR, and more generic pedals.

So Boss was the pricey (but high-value) disruptive newcomer - as boutique pedals would later be - and “expensive but worth it.” Boss’s perfected distillations of existing pedal types seemed (and were) innovative and fresh simply by virtue of their refinement, engineering, and manufacturing quality. For me, they were aspirational. The notion of having an all-Boss board would have seemed too good to be true - not a matter of unimaginative “settling.”

As it happened, precisely because I already had kinda good-enough (or justifiably beloved) pedals of all the then-common types, I spent up to Boss mostly for their new and innovative pedals. I think my first Boss was the octaver (OC-2 maybe), and then the DD-2 (which was either the first digital delay pedal, or the first that swam into my view). The GE-7 EQ wasn’t a new idea, I guess - but it was so much quieter than my previous MXR that it seemed a new experience.

I was no personal fan of the infamous HM-2 (3?) Heavy Metal, but I was working in the music store at the time, recognized it as an innovation (the first radically voiced dirt pedal aimed at a specific genre), and was amused at how utterly - almost comically - it reshaped a guitar’s tone. (The kids I sold it to also loved it.)

In the realm of more common pedal types, I had a Distortion Plus - but still preferred my EHX Graphic Fuzz. I would happily have had a Dimension chorus (a brilliant pedal still today) but couldn’t justify it when I already had a Loco chorus I liked.

I never got close to an all-Boss board, but I had proportionally many more Boss pedals for awhile (90s through several years ago) than I have now. And, again, it was the more inventive Boss pedals - I’ve had every generation of Boss Loop Station, the DD-20 delay, TU-12 tuner, RV-5 digiverb (with its gorgeous modulated verb still among the best ever), Overtoner, and Harmonist (that I can think of).

Consequently, I had long thought of Boss as both innovative and premium, their leadership of the industry deserved and just. At one time, it would have been hard to imagine a board that wasn’t anchored by indispensable Boss pedals.

But gradually, as I found more adventurous, diverse, and richer-sounding pedals - Strymon, Empress - along with boutique small-builder stuff (like Wampler and Keeley in their early days, Paul Cochrane, LovePedal, etc) AND the strange-makers like EQD and Red Panda ... well, Boss pedals started falling off my board.

Too, Boss had been the primary reason I had mostly abandoned Electro-Harmonix for decades: Boss stuff was just so much better built, and so much quieter, that I’d started thinking of EHX as wacky and sometimes innovative, but junky.

But then I tried a couple of EHX’s current offerings and found they’d greatly improved both build and sound quality - plus they’d gotten better at engineering more solid musical usability into their wacky ideas - and I started re-appreciating the greater range of strange they generally offer over Boss. The result Is that my population of EHX pedals is now quadruple my Bosses.

Without my quite fully realizing it, I had developed an anti-Boss bias - recognizing their value and build quality, but considering their products staid, generic, unimaginative, and just plain not as interesting as the wonders I’ve been finding in smaller, newer, more adventurous companies.

Then, curious after reading good reviews, I tried the CP-1X compressor - fully expecting that I would move it along when it turned out to be no better than I expected - and was blown away. This is Boss? I thought. Not just well built, but mic-drop cutting-edge game-change engineering? Gosh durn!

Next, at the tail end of trying all the big-box reverbs - and again, having seen favorable reviews - I gave the 500-series reverb a shot. And whaddaya know? It keeps right up with the Big Sky and the Empress, maybe surpasses them (as it includes a pretty full-featured 1-sec delay that can be combined with any of the reverbs). Sound is fabulous - as lush and colored or dry and transparent as you like, with extensive (even intimidating) depth of control via multiple parameters. There’s also plenty of scope for creative strangeness (though implemented in Boss’s dry, understated, lab-coat terms).

So I started taking Boss innovation seriously again, and gave the SY-1000 synth a try. And I won’t even begin to explain what an amazing, deep, wide, crazy-good everything-box it is. In some ways, it combines everything Bossroland have learned and devised in analog guitar synthesis, pitch recognition and shifting, modeling, and multi-effects (deploying their heritage of excellent stomp boxes)...but all put together in a package which is more than the sum of even all those substantial parts.

It’s just ridiculous. I’m sure there’s a lifetime of exploration in it. It reduces me to a blown-away giggling far-outer every time I use it. (Thankfully, the usual tedious Boss big-box interface with its trudging by-the-numbers manual are there to keep me grounded.) At any rate, it’s like a master expression of the state of guitar-enhancement and warping technology, and only Boss - with its decades of depth in engineering experience - could have produced it.

So good ol’ Boss. Probably as crazy after all these years as Mike Matthews - just with slide rules rather than a bong.

I don’t know whether to be heartened or depressed that a group capable of such sophistication can still act excited about a 2-knob, 2-transistor fuzz pedal. Maybe it’s just loving nostalgia on their part.

33

Boss is the Volvo of guitar effects pedals.

34

Boss is the Volvo of guitar effects pedals.

I think that's a perfect analogy.

35

Boss is the Volvo of guitar effects pedals.

I think that's a perfect analogy.

– Proteus

Love my Volvo

37

Tonebender mkii has 3 transistors. Likely the boss version has many more.

38

Ah, 3. The beginning of the slippery slope to complication.

Likely the boss version has many more.

It's hard to tell from available info, but careful parsing makes it clear that the circuit will be much revised. Whether that's done with transistors or other tech, they haven't said. There's pretty circumspect language throughout the announcement at the Boss site:

Using a “masterpiece” Tone Bender MK II (serial number 500) from Sola Sound’s archive as a benchmark reference, BOSS engineers have fully realized the pedal’s magical sound and expressive dynamic response through detailed Waza craftsmanship. Available in a limited production run, each TB-2W features rare germanium transistors carefully tested for optimum tone, a three-way voltage selector, selectable true/buffered bypass operation, and a refined circuit design for ultra-consistent performance from pedal to pedal.

When BOSS and Sola Sound first discussed collaborating on a Tone Bender MK II pedal in 2017, we realized there would be many technical challenges in achieving our goal. Foremost among them was sourcing the rare and vitally important germanium transistors at the heart of the circuit. Other problems included power supply considerations and resistance to environmental changes, which would be key to realizing both authentic Tone Bender sound and BOSS’s strict performance standards.

Working through one challenge after another, we were able to overcome them all with no compromise through dogged determination and careful attention to the finest details. ... The TB-2W embodies our shared passions, bringing you Sola Sound’s famous rock voice coupled with BOSS’s committed craftsmanship and legendary spirit of innovation.

So clearly it's not going to be a breadboarded MkII clone in a Boss box. I guess it will be interesting to see just how it's implemented, and whether it meets the goal of sounding and behaving just like that particular #500 Tone Bender. I'm betting it pretty much nails it.

39

The Boss FZ-5 used COSM. But I don't see a COSM logo on this new one, so I guess it's not that.

40

The Boss FZ-5 used COSM. But I don't see a COSM logo on this new one, so I guess it's not that.

– Jimbodiddley

No its gonna have germanium trannies in there apparently

41

They've released a couple of new videos.

42

I'm with Tabletop. It's the Boss buffers which put me off. I have one Boss pedal - a DM-2W - which I keep because (a) my very first pedal was a DM-2, and (b) it sounds great. But it's rarely on my board because of the buffers.

I have very few pedals on my board so hear anything weird from a pedal immediately.

Anyway, my reaction to the Boss Tonebender news? If it sounds good then it is good. I'm intrigued. But my favourite Tonebender is actually my clone of a Marshall Supa Fuzz, which was originally made by Solasound too. It has a couple of bigger caps which gives it a much bigger sound. So unless Boss copy the Marshall version I'm unlikely to buy one. And it would be weird if their Tonebender had buffers in it.

43

How they managed to draw that story into 20 minutes of video I have no idea.

  • Company A meets Company B

  • "Let's collaborate"

  • They collaborate

My pedal hasn't shown up yet and I'm getting antsy

44

the Bossola (oh man, that construction works!)

intercaps, baby! BosSola! and after that, DrumSola!

45

for a long time i wasn't that interested in Boss pedals because i wasn't that into pedals in general...for most of the 80s/90s i used a Distortion+ and the reverb and tremolo on a Princeton Reverb. once i started going pedal-happy, i wasn't that into the stuff they were doing (modulation, absurd distortion, octaving). my first Boss pedal was the TR-3 themolo pedal. it's honestly all you really need for a trem unless you need to get into Chase Bliss territory, and the only reason i replaced it was that i needed one with a LED timed to the cycle so i could set it to a live tempo (more-or-less). if they'd do one with the blinky light i'd go back in a flash. no pun intended.

then i got a RV-3. some folks say that all you need for shoegaze is a Big Muff, an RV-3, and feelings. i won't go that far because obviously you also need chorus, but i never get tired of it. one of my favorite things to do with a RV-3 is pick the reverb + delay setting with the longest possible delay time, max the feedback, and go all Fripp/Eno on bad drugs for an hour and a half. when you stop playing and leave the pedal on the repeats take about 3-1/2 minutes to completely fade out. i was doing this at one of the Gold Rush auxiliary Roundups that the Rusts put together in the early 10s when someone came over and asked me to stop because i was "scaring the children," which i found so amusing that i incorporated it as part of my signature block on I Love Fuzz, which now reads "50 YEARS OF SCARING THE CHILDREN 1970-2020."

most recently i got the CH-1. the kinds of chorus sounds i like are late 80s/early 90s (Lush, Slowdive, The Sundays, The Cure) so it made sense to go right to the source and ask the horse. when i found out that James from Manic Street Preachers also uses one, that sealed the deal. i don't need wild, wonky chorus for what i do, and the CH-1 does exactly what i want. i wouldn't mind it being a bit different tonally because it seems a bit dull in isolation, but in context it takes up exactly as much space as i want it to.

i also have a pair of 7-band EQ pedals i got to use with my old looping board for balance, EQ, and the buffers. i know a lot of folks hateses them bufferses but i've never found a problem with them, possibly because i don't use the kinds of pedals which won't play nice with a buffer.

but i never had a "Boss? how plebian" sort of attitude about their stuff. rather than Volvos, i think of Boss pedals as '65 Chevys. they aren't glamorous, they don't have power windows, a wood dash, and a record player in the glove box, but they'll get you where you're going come hell or high water. when i think of a category of pedal i haven't really gotten into, Boss is one of the first places i look. they just work. i've never had one of their pedals crap out on me, not even a noisy pot or bad stomp switch. simple, dependable, affordable...kind of like a Fender Telecaster, y'know? i believe you could take a typical-form Boss pedal, leave it in boiling water for 30 minutes, fish it out, let it dry, and it would be fine.


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