North Effects

The Boss


The History

Arriving on the scene in the late sixties c/o the Jordan company in California, came the Bosstone - a very big fuzz in a very small plug-in module that connected straight into the guitar. Strat players were not amused. Coming along at the right time and place it was a success from the off, and the Jordan company licensed production to Sho-Bud of Nashville (who are better known for their pedal steels) who continued to manufacture the modules in various versions well into the seventies. Their reputation has deservedly grown in the interim, with originals going for at least £200. Notable players include Randy California of Spirit (the Bosstone is all over their first four albums) and Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys has a re-housed original on his pedal board.

The Clone

"Meet the new Boss/Same as the old Boss(tone)"... This is my take on the second generation Sho-Bud version of the Bosstone. It's in a convenient die-cast aluminium pedal format (rather than a plug-in module), and is built with high quality components (Alpha pots and footswitch, heavy duty Neutrik jacks), and includes a standard Boss (no relation)-style 2.1mm centre -ve DC power jack as well as an old school Zinc Chloride PP3 for lovers of the smoother DC voltage that only batteries can delivery.

The Sound

It's most definitely a fuzz, right from the off - obviously capable of searing 60s psych-ness, but I wouldn't be surprised to find it on some 80s hard core recordings either. The two transistor circuit design is in some ways fairly typical of its era, but has a couple of twists that really set this monster out on its own. Firstly it uses a combination of NPN and PNP silicon transistors, which give it a not-so-typical saturated sound, and it has a set of clipping diodes at the output which tighten things up considerably when compared to a contemporary like the Fuzz Face. It has two controls - "Volume", which controls the overall level, and "Attack", which controls the instrument input level (esentially doing the same job as your guitar's volume knob). With the attack cranked up all the way, you get an amazing fat (though definitely not flabby) fuzz, with well defined highs that hold chords really well. Turn up the gain on your amp to break-up point, and you get a huge bottom-heavy tone that still has plenty of punch - think early Black Flag. Dialling back the Attack to noon gets more biting bluesy tones and some nice "hollowed out" tones that sound great on rhythm. Further back at around 9 o'clock gets some weirdly ace mid-boost (a bit like setting your wah at its sweet spot). At all levels it is suprisingly easy to wring wailing, fat harmonic feedback out of your guitar, even at bedroom levels - in fact it has an uncanny ability to make a small amps sound more like stacks.

Clips - recorded with Line 6 Backtrack+Mic, using Laney 15W valve amp and '75 Fender Musicmaster:

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