Does anyone know of any distortion pedals that have tone similar to the Boss DS-1? I love the smoothness, boost, and grind that this pedal offers, but I'm curious if there's a similar pedal that might give me a little more control than "tone" and gain. I know that Boss has a few other distortion pedals, but I haven't messed with them enough to compare. Does anyone own a DS-2 or something similar that might be able to give me a recommendation?

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    Let me say this: when you ask for a recommendation on an overdrive pedal prepare to be overwhelmed. I appreciate you constraining it to "like the DS-1" but I would like more information. What kinds of features are you looking for?
    – Jduv
    Jan 23 '11 at 2:11
  • Bass and mid-range adjustment for sure... If possible, something like a tone shaping feature. I see this as being something comparable to how Digitech had the X-series that the "morph" knob that gave you the similar distortion, but provided you with a little more flexibility in tone. And hey, maybe there's something else nifty that I don't know about. Same distortion, more tone modification!
    – Anonymous
    Jan 23 '11 at 2:26
  • With all due respect I believe this question may be a bit too subjective and consequently I'm voting to close it. I could recommend that you check out "my favorite distortion" but how does that add value to the community outside of producing a sales pitch? You can find tons of ideas and recommendations at guitar forums like TGP. You may be able to rephrase this question to make it more empirical--so please consider that :).
    – Jduv
    Jan 23 '11 at 2:33
  • Understood. Close away :)
    – Anonymous
    Jan 23 '11 at 2:37
  • Thanks for being cool about it man :D. What you are looking at is kinda like asking: "Coke or Pepsi?" Certainly I can argue that coke is vastly superior to pepsi, but that doesn't make it factually correct.
    – Jduv
    Jan 23 '11 at 2:39

Blackstar have a range of valve pedals which offer awesome gain: Blackstar HT Pedals

They are totally worth the extra cost and include feature such as an emulated speaker output, and infinite shape feature, which I can vouch for as being brilliant since I have a HT venue combo; which I use for all my Home recording.

  • Stellar! I love the sound of Blackstar's amps, but I didn't know that had pedals too. Thanks!
    – Anonymous
    Jan 23 '11 at 2:12

Picking a distortion is much like picking a girlfriend. There are so many factors that can influence what you want or don't want that it becomes nearly impossible to give anyone a decent recommendation as a one liner. So, I'm going to try and enumerate some general attributes of distortions as I know them. Note that people have spent years experimenting with overdrives (points finger at self), and a new one comes out every year. I've yet to find an overdrive that's "perfect" by my standards, but I have a couple that come pretty darn close. To decrease the complexity of the issue I won't include boosts in my recommendation--those an entirely different animal.

High Gain

Zendrive 2: A tube bassed high gain version of the zendrive. I liked it, but ended up selling it. It didn't play nice with my amplifier.

Jetter Stage Gold: A great overdrive with some sick vintage high gain tones. Simple, and reviewed on PGS.

Lovepedal provalve: Two gains in one, reviewed on PGS. This would be my favorite high gain distortion.

Medium Gain

Zendrive: A very nice, tweakable and infamous overdrive. It's decently transparent and will give you a nice versatile set of tones. Sounds very much like a tubescreamer.

Jetter Stage Purple: A nice plexi emulator for blackfaces. Easy to use.

Lovepedal Kanji: Sean has some good stuff, and the Kanji is a more tweakable version of the Eternity overdrive. Reviewed at PGS.

Low Gain

Tim/Timmy: You will be hard pressed to find a better overdrive than the Tim/Timmy by Paul Chochrane. It's the most transparent overdrive on the market, and the controls are very intuitive. Note that the breed of "transparent" overdrives are designed to accent a tube amplifier's dirt, so they may not work well with solid state rigs.

All gain

Rock Box Boiling Point: Will do anything from a plexi to functioning as a transparent boost. This guy is a monster, but it'll cost you. Reviewed at PGS. Hands down the most versitile overdrive I own.

  • 3
    It's like a girlfriend. Someone else's always looks better. You really wish you could have more than one at a time. You've gone through more than you care to admit. There's at least one you still miss from time to time.
    – yossarian
    Jan 25 '11 at 20:46

I would say the Digitech - Hot Head, it is a replica of DS1 with extra "low" knob.

There are many comparison videos on youtube you could check out

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