I finally found that deal. You know, the one you dream about…where you go in to some used guitar shop and find an old Dallas Arbiter Fuzz Face marked ‘Dallas Orbiter Fuzzy Face – $10′. And there would be much rejoicing. Okay, so not really. I still haven’t found that deal or the infamous ‘Kron’ deal, even though I check all the time. Every guitar or pawn shop I ever pass, I go in. But I came close. A couple weeks ago, I was looking at Guitar Center’s used section, which is getting really good lately, and noticed a Boss OD1. An original. Turned it over, black label boldly sporting ‘Made in Japan.’ No price, though. So I asked the guy, and he looked it up on Guitar Center’s what I believe to be DOS-based computer system. And he says, ’30 bucks.’ And I say, ‘Mine.’ Hoping desperately that it’s one of the original 14-pin chip ones that can sell for $500.
Turns out, it’s not. It’s an OD1d, dated to 1979 or 1980. It’s also a weird one though, as it has a stamped serial number inside the battery compartment but also a black screw on the footswitch. Supposedly those shouldn’t have gone together, but this one has it. It also has an odd chip designation, that I can’t find any info on. But it’s all original, not modded. Best I can figure, it’s one of the first OD1′s to be built after they ditched the 14-pin chip due to supposed supplier issues, but before they started dropping the quality of the rest of the components. Wow, I’m a nerd. Just skip that paragraph.
It also is in horrendous condition. So with it not being the 14-pin version, and in the condition that it’s in, it’s probably a $100-$150 ebay sell. But, in true Boss fashion, the outward condition has no impact on its functionality, and it works great. And sounds…surprisingly…incredible. To be honest, I had more fun playing this $30 pedal than I did playing the Ethos.
(No clean tone, features, or bias listings, because it has two knobs. Level, Drive. Gorgeous.)
So if you’ve got $30, and search a little bit, I can almost guarantee you some pretty cool tone for super cheap. And I suggest you do. As you may have noticed, I’ve been selling increasingly more modulation pedals, and buying up more and more drive pedals. And unlike the Ethos, this one is staying on my board. And the reason is that I have been becoming more and more bored with sterile, crisp, clean, and produced church services. Churches, it seems, tend to find a style, and then homogenize and produce the very life out of it. And I’m sensing a backlash to that starting on the near horizon. Folk tried to be the backlash, but inexplicably got caught up in the machine, and now only exists in churches and even in popular culture as a bearded dude with a $2000 Martin that he purposefully put a hole in, sweating under an 8-layer scarf in the summertime, next to a girl in a grandma skirt she bought at Wet Seal, who thinks she’s vegan because she drinks organic milk, filming themselves on their iPhones in the woods behind the Wal-Mart, playing up-strum chords and singing ‘honest’ lyrics that they really could care less about. Okay, so that’s a gross generalization, and I’m definitely wearing a scarf under my beard right now. But it seems that everything gets homogenized, especially in church, and we lose the heart. And where overdrive comes in, as my good friend Matt and I have been talking about, is when we can break from that and start to play stuff that sounds worse. Not too much worse, just slightly worse. As if the world will not cave in and no one will leave the church if there’s a .1 decibel hum coming from the guitar amp. It’s like the Nirvana response to ’80′s synth-pop; I’m just praying that we don’t decide that that’s what it’s going to be, and then calculate out what made Nirvana popular, put it into a formula, and then perform that formula to the lowest common denominator. I’m hoping that we put a little bit of heart back into things, and ditch formulas for just a bit.
The other interesting thing about this pedal, is that technically, it sucks some of your tone. It takes a bit of the body of your clean tone away, and colors it. But the thing is, tone is a tool for the music. And sometimes, when trying to use that tool to fit the music, your tone can be, in essence, too good. What I mean is, what we think of when we think of great tone…warm, full, round, present…can be so good and powerful and out-standing, that it hurts what the overall music is trying to do. And drives like this OD1, though technically hurting your tone, can do a great job of giving you sounds that fit the overall mix and ultimately, the overall music. Sometimes, you have to make your tone worse so the music can be better. Just sometimes, though.
And that is a lot of things coming out of the playing of a $30, two-knob pedal. Sorry. But not really, of course. I don’t have the time right now, but after the Christmas season, there will be posts expounding upon each of these ideas. For now, remember the mantra: Tone does not always equal price. But sometimes it does. The Ethos? Tone definitely equaled price. It’s expensive, and also amazingly good. The Boss OD1 is the other side of the equation. Tone completely does not equal price with this pedal. Cheap, and sounds great. Buy one. Love one. And then buy another one.