BOSS’ signature DS-1 from 1978 is still in production today. But for the first time since the late 80s, the DS-1 has got a new, entirely solid-state analog update.
The DS-1 is just one of the all-time defining distortion devices — you could start by looking up “distortion” and come back to the DS-1. But it’s also something of a rarity from Roland/BOSS. The Japanese maker mostly churns out new devices without looking back. But it’s kept a few evergreen hits in its product roster, and the DS-1 is one of them. (See also the 1975 Jazz Chorus.)
You can literally go to your favorite reseller now and buy a DS-1, and you what is more or less the same as the 1978 original. 1987 brought the DS-2 “Turbo Distortion.” And other than that, it’s been quiet, apart from a black coat of paint for the 40th anniversary. The DS-1 alone has sold some 1.5 million units, so … yeah, don’t expect that yours is particularly collectible.
So all of this makes the DS-1W interesting – it’s part of BOSS’ Waza Craft line, and it’s a new solid-state device from the company that has been pushing digital hard since before a lot of today’s musicians were even born.
The DS-1W might cynically be viewed as a way to charge more for the DS-1 – at US$149.95, it’s roughly twice the cost of its original. But here’s what BOSS added:
In Standard Mode, the DS-1W is basically a DS-1.
In Custom Mode, you have “a thick, mid-focused tone” and the existing tone control is optimized to maximize presence in the new sound.
Available level is increased to 6 dB.
Input sensitivity is greater, which also gives you additional distortion colors (including as you play).
BOSS doesn’t mention inputs other than guitar, but the DS-1 is often exploited for use on synths and line inputs, so the additional input characteristics and extra mode might hold some appeal there.
The other thing you get with Waza Craft apart from that logo with the character for waza is a premium buffer so the thing actually sounds clear when bypassed – and that alone might be useful. And the DS-1 joins some other all-analog revisions of popular BOSS pedals.
Anyway, yes, Roland is capable of releasing new solid-state devices. And to anyone saying they should make true-analog signal-path synths and drum machines, I say… uh, those are significantly more complex to remake than a crude late-70s pedal that never went out of production. (The TR-808 production ended when Roland ran out of a component in the early 80s.) On the other hand, we’re neck deep in an unprecedented chip shortage, so who knows what might happen. SH-101 Waza Craft? I mean, still, no, definitely not but … you may well see more solid state products unveiled industry-wide as everyone watches chip prices explode.
And it was amusing to me to see this having spent the summer contributing to a book on 50 years of Roland. (Can’t wait for my copy to arrive, even after diving into working on it.)