Boss PS3 Review & Demo

I told you they were coming. You can just feel the presence. Gear…that was not made in Iceland. Nor by a guitar-carving, rare Icelandic tree-chopping hermit. And no magic pixie dust. Doesn’t even look cool. Just having it in your close proximity makes you feel like you don’t know a thing about guitar; that you just walked into Guitar Center one day, and bought something to try to look cool. (Of course, the irony is that most of us don’t play Boss pedals because we think boutique pedals look cooler. Curse stupid logic!) But maybe in the end, that’s exactly why we like gear. Whether our thing is Boss or boutique, we just like what certain pedals seem to say about our talent and level of commitment to the guitar. To the Boss players, it says, ‘Look at me. I can sound good with anything.’ And to the boutique players, it says, ‘Look at me. I sound so good that I need gear that will match me in quality.’ Wow. I was trying to start off with something at least mildly humourous, and I waxed serious right off the bat. Eh, at least I spelled ‘humourous’ like I want to be British, which I of course do. That’s gotta be worth something.

Which is why I bought the PS3. I’ve played both the PS3, and the current version PS5. The PS3 went out of production in 1999. And somehow, I was able to convince myself that that meant vintage. Yep. And it most definitely doesn’t. The PS5 sounds better. Well, if you want just straight pitch-shifting. It sounds like all the digital effects from Boss’s ‘3’ series used the same digital processing. Because both this pedal and the RV3 seem to fail a bit at what they’re supposed to do…but sound very cool to add weird digital artifacts buried in your sound somewhere. Interesting. Anyway, here’s the demo of it:

The Good

–The detune effects. Very clear, and sounded decidedly much more modulation-like than most of the detune effects I’ve played. It had that older digital sound that it able to be crisp but lo-fi at the same time. I really liked that. Actually the overall sound of this unit was very good.

–The delays were nice. I mean, highly untweakable, but they sounded better than I thought they would.

–The dual settings were a cool option.

–Surprisingly, the buffer was not bad. The difference was so subtle that I didn’t film it, but sounded good enough to mention.

–Thank goodness it had a mix knob. I see a lot of effects these days without those, and it just doesn’t make sense to me not to have one.

–It’s a Boss pedal. It’ll survive the apocalypse, zombie or no. Boss has always had a great track record of being these little mini tanks.

The Bad

–The actual pitch-shifting was not very good, in my humble opinion. Glitchy, and for the two octave up stuff, which is why I was after this pedal in the first place, you can hear the processing working. Stuttery-sounding. However, I think this pedal’s, like the RV3’s, shortcomings are part of the reason it’s sought after. I can see those sounds being very cool if used in certain parts of songs sparingly, and for a lo-fi, glitchy effect.

–Even though the overall sound of the unit was very good, it excelled most at some short ambient modulation sounds…for which analog pedals tend to sound better. If this pedal had been able to take those good sounds and transfer them into more useable options like the actual pitch-shifting, it would have been much better. I have high hopes for the PS-5…which thus far I’ve only played through whatever amp Guitar Center has bolted to the ground below the little Boss Kiosk thing, and running through then like, 40 buffers. Nothing like tone at Guitar Center.

The Me

–Obviously, I have no idea what to do with a whammy. 😉 Ah, it keeps ya humble.

The Verdict

–Nope. Maybe as a glitchy novelty effect every once in a while, but there is cheaper gear that does what the PS3 does well, much better. In my humble opinion. And hopefully this is not just a knee-jerk reaction to having a Boss pedal in the house.

And apologies for the short review. (Ya, stop cheering, some of you.) Gonna try to make it to NAMM tomorrow, and I need some hours tonight to prepare mentally. (That means, think about U2, for those of you who were wondering. And I’m guessing most of you already knew that.)


50 thoughts on “Boss PS3 Review & Demo

  1. A little off topic, but you mentioned going to NAMM. How do you get an invitation? I got one through BOSS as a church affiliate but the form says that you have to be a seller of music gear, and though I do sell a lot on ebay I couldn’t justify it. :-)

    Is there another way, because I would love to go next year! That and comic con are two giant conventions on my bucket list.

  2. Good review K – I’m with you…if I wanted computer noises, I would download samples from the Net…I had a Whammy pedal for a while…gimmicky. Now that I have a M9, I can get that sound if I want to…don’t want to though!

    Keep it up!


  3. Sam–yep. My thoughts exactly. :) You could make it work for you, especially in the late ’90’s, but now there are so many choices that I’m not sure the use of this pedal unless you’re specifically going for the cool flaws.

    Christianpyro–haha That ebay comment was awesome. :) Unfortunately, I’m not famous enough to get into NAMM. But I’ve been fortunate enough to associate with some friends who are. hehe The only other year I had tickets, I actually had two…one from a roommate who worked for a transistor company, and another from…get this…a friend’s wife’s friend’s dad who was a sales rep for fuses or something. So as random as you can get got my into NAMM! haha This year, I’ve got a friend who used to be sponsored by Bad Cat, so that’s how I’m getting in this year. I think…they’ve started checking ID’s on every floor since the last time I was there, so I might not get in if it doesn’t specifically say my name and ‘Bad Cat.’ The last year I went I think it probably said something like, ‘Robert Bobbagadoush.’ hehe So, here’s hoping!

    Robin Dugall–an M9 for you too, brother? I am losing this battle, and this PS3 didn’t help things much! haha I’m just kidding, though. If it’s helping you make better music than you could with single pedals, than that’s cool. :) And yes…this PS3 only really excelled at computer noises.

    Sal–haha Not going this year? I’d take you up on it, but rumour has it that they’re actually checking ID’s now. So I may to sneak in as a roadie or something. hehe

    Nate–well, not yet! Still hoping to get in later this morning.

    As for buffers, I’m not really big on them and don’t have one on my board. My theory is to use bypass strips to keep my signal as short and clean as possible. Every buffer I’ve tried just tends to add harshness, whereas the bypass loops just simply get your signal as close to plugging straight in as possible. However, it’s been a long time since I’ve had a Boss pedal on my board, and I was pleasantly surprised with its buffer. I’m thinking about picking up a VHT Valvulator (tube buffer) and doing a shootout in the near future. :)

  4. Karl,

    I’ve posted a couple times on here and i have a question. i’m a sound guy, a little of a techie. One of our guitarist, had a TS-9 Ibenez Tube screamer. he steped over his pedal board and hit the Power supply with his foot. the PS is attached to the PCB on the inside and it broke the board. = DEAD ts-9 i opened it up and found all this out. i was curious if you had some suggestions for a pedals to look at for a Ts-9 replacement. I was reading on its circuitry and what i read leads me to believe you wouldn’t like it much as it seems to have no True bypass. Even on the TS models that have a bypass loop its not really bypassing. I’m begging all of our guitarist to try the true bypass. I want to know how it sounds so bad. lol well any help you could provide would be much appreciated

    thanks, seth

  5. you are right about the id’s. last year I gave mine to a guy that looked nothing like me… he just flashed his DL and pass while walking in… security is not looking that hard.

  6. Seth–my favorite tubescreamer-type pedal is the Mad Professor Little Green Wonder. It’s a bit pricey, but it’s the best ts-inspired pedal that I’ve tried. The true bypass won’t add anything to the effect while its on, but it will help clean up your tone when the effect is off. However, if the guitarists’ boards have some other pedals on them that are not true bypass or they don’t have a good buffer at the beginning or the end of their chains, my experience has been that you won’t notice too much of a difference. It’s kind of an all or nothing deal. However, you will notice a difference in overdriven tone from the Mad Professor. :) A cheaper route would be the Fulltone Fulldrive, just make sure you run it at 12 or 18 volts. Hope that helps! :)

    Seth–haha Ya, some of the ‘Matt’s’ on hear have to do last intitials or last names. Maybe the ‘Seth’s’ now, too. :)

    Sal–did you end up going? I was looking for you, but couldn’t find you. And the security was funny. Some of them like studied your badge and id for like a full minute. And then the younger ones just let you in if they just saw you even had an id. haha

  7. No I did not go… did something way cooler… went and saw Avatar in IMAX 3D… NAMM shows are pretty much the same every year. I did kinda miss going to some private shows that were going on tonight. But the thought of missing worship tomorrow for a night of fun… I refuse to let my worship team mates down.

    Anyway… i am getting my “old processor” dialed back in…

  8. Sal–haha I do love me a good 3d movie! :) And I guess I haven’t been to NAMM enough to get bored of it yet. I’m still in the little kid stage of it. Plus, I’m all into finding little independent companies, and there’s tons in the basement, which is cool. But if I were cool enough to actually get invited to the private concerts and parties, I think I’d be stoked on it all the more! :)

    But you’re right…worship takes priority. And hoping to hear the Digitech soon!

    Seth J.–absolutely, my friend! :)

  9. For ideas on how you ‘could’ use the whammy check out Alex’s playing at 1:25 here:

    BTW … I just ditched my DL-4 and EX-7 in favor of an M9. I know we’re not supposed to live Line6 gear but man you have to hear this thing. I approached it skeptically but for what I’m playing it hits the spot.

  10. Hey, I just discovered this site last week, and I think it’s fantastic! I love what you do, even the gratuitous U2 references. :-)

    I’m curious, were there any specific pedals you had in mind by this statement?:

    “Maybe as a glitchy novelty effect every once in a while, but there is cheaper gear that does what the PS3 does well, much better. In my humble opinion.”

    I’m particularly interested in some kind of fairly cheap shimmer effect, if that’s what you meant.

  11. Brian–thanks for the link! And that’s right! No M9 or M13 love allowed on this site. 😉 hehe But seriously, if it’s helping you make more beautiful music than single pedals would, than I’m all for it. :)

    Matt–thanks for the kind words, and glad you can even dig the U2 fetish. hehe As for cheap shimmer, I think the ones that do it for the best price are the Line 6 Verbzilla and Roland UD-stomp. :) And keep an eye on Strymon pedals, because they are rumoured to have a new reverb pedal coming out that will do this. And if it’s put out by them, it’s going to be an awesome pedal!

  12. Hello there, simply was aware of your blog through Google, and found that it is really informative. I’m going to be careful for brussels. I’ll appreciate should you continue this in future. Lots of folks might be benefited from your writing. Cheers!

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