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Coheed & Cambria visit Guitar Center to show us who's BOSS
October 2008: In June of 2007, BOSS reached a major milestone when sales figures for BOSS compact pedals passed the 10 million mark. "That's a lot of notes!" Steve Vai told BOSS US President Paul Youngblood when he asked Vai to appear in a video celebrating this achievement.

"I have no idea where all those pedals went," says Youngblood. "Talk to any guitarist whether beginner or pro and most will tell you that they use BOSS pedals. They work, they're dependable, and they have good tone."

BOSS compact pedals made their debut way back in 1977 when the company introduced the OD-1 Over Drive, PH-1 Phaser, and SP-1 Spectrum pedals. But the beginnings of the company stretch back to 1973 when Ikutaro Kakehashi, the founder of Roland Corporation in Japan, formed a separate division of Roland called the Music Engineering Group, or MEG, to design guitar products.

The Musical Engineering Group designed a wide variety of guitar stomp boxes, including the legendary AP-7 Jet Phaser, AF-100 Bee Baa, and AG-5 Funny Cat pedals, and these products were marketed as part of the Roland brand. In 1976 preparations were made to start selling guitar effect pedals under a separate identity, but a few of Roland's distribution partners were lukewarm about the proposed brand name, MEG.

Claudio Sanchez checks out the BOSS pedal rack.

"Tom Beckmen, who was president of Roland US at the time, didn't think that the name MEG would go over well with musicians," explains Youngblood. "He came up with the name BOSS, which has many meanings. BOSS is the main power guy in charge, it's slang for 'cool,' and it also sounds like 'rock.' The Japanese agreed, and the name became BOSS."

In 1976, BOSS introduced its first official product, the CE-1 Chorus Ensemble, which was also the world's first chorus pedal. This distinctive, unique effect got the new BOSS brand off to a running start, and it became an instant sensation when dozens of the world's most popular guitarists used it in the studio and on stage.

But the biggest breakthrough for BOSS happened a year later when its first compact pedals hit the market. The timeless design of the BOSS compact pedal is one of the music industry's greatest engineering feats, and it was developed after several years of meticulous research and end-user feedback.

"Mr. Katsumi Yamamoto, who was the first president of BOSS, is the godfather of the BOSS compact pedal," says Youngblood. "He talked with a lot of guitar players and went through dozens of prototypes before he came up with the final design. It was so well designed and engineered that we still use the same materials and construction techniques that were used in the Seventies."

The BOSS compact pedal design features numerous innovations that players take for granted today. These pedals were the first to feature a top-mounted, easy-access battery compartment, and, unlike other pedals of the day, the battery and circuit board are totally isolated from each other to prevent damage from leaking batteries. The effect/power LED indicator was another significant first, as was the inclusion of a DC power jack, which gave guitarists the convenient option of using of an optional 9-volt adapter instead of batteries.

Neoprene rubber on the bottom of the pedal and on the footswitch surface provides steady, slip-free performance. The FET switch allows you to turn the effect on and off without pops or noise, and it is much more durable and fail-safe than mechanical switches. Located at the top of the pedal, the knobs are placed where they're easy to see and reach to make adjustments, but they're recessed so you don't have to worry about damaging the knobs or inadvertently changing your settings when you step on the pedal. The BOSS compact pedal's molded aluminum alloy construction is nearly indestructible, and the ingenious, color-coded paint jobs on each pedal makes it easy to tell which effect is which, even on a dimly lit stage.

"When I first met Travis I didn't know what pedals were. Then he came over with a bunch of pedals, and I ended up stealing one of them." – Claudio

These features have made BOSS pedals the preferred choice of professional musicians since 1977. Name just about any famous guitarist from the last 30 years and chances are pretty good that they've used BOSS pedals. Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton, Kurt Cobain, The Edge, David Gilmour, Yngwie Malmsteen, Dave Navarro, Joe Satriani, Slash, Steve Vai and Edward Van Halen are just a few of the thousands of players who have used BOSS pedals to get their sound.

Each new generation of musicians that comes along has accepted BOSS pedals as enthusiastically as their predecessors. Some of the latest guitarists to join the legions of devoted BOSS pedal fans include Claudio Sanchez and Travis Stever of Coheed and Cambria, who use a variety of BOSS pedals and effects to help shape their distinctive modern progressive rock sound.

Coheed and Cambria stopped by Guitar Center North Paramus to check out some BOSS pedals before starting rehearsals for their ambitious "Neverender" concert series. The band will be playing four consecutive nights each in four cities-Chicago, London, Los Angeles, and New York. The band is performing each one of their four studio albums in succession, with each night devoted to a single album. Coheed and Cambria's four albums are individual parts of a story called The Amory Wars, and that story reached its conclusion with the release of the band's latest album, Good Apollo, I'm Burning Star IV, Volume 2: No World for Tomorrow.

"We planned on doing this since the inception of the band," says Sanchez. "It felt like the time to do this now. The next album we're recording is a prequel to The Amory Wars, so it's a good time to revisit all of the stories before we write that."

Claudio and Travis shared their thoughts about a few of the BOSS pedals they've come here to try out as well as their praise for the BOSS pedals that have found their way into their stage and studio rigs. Ironically, the last time Travis was in this store was when the repair shop that was part of the previous music store that occupied this space fired him. His visit with us is a bit of a personal victory, as today Claudio and him are the center of attention as shoppers look on.

DD-3 DIGITAL DELAY
Claudio: When I first met Travis I didn't know what pedals were. My father gave me a guitar, but I didn't know that you could go beyond plugging into an amp. Then Travis came over with a bunch of pedals, and I ended up stealing one of them.

Travis: The basement that we rehearsed in got flooded, and when the water got cleared out I noticed that my digital delay pedal was missing. Then one day Claudio invited me over to visit and I saw my pedal on the table. He was doing some work on it, and I saw that he had painted it. I went, "Dude, that's my pedal! How can you invite me over and sit there working on my pedal in front of me!"

Claudio: We still use a DD-3 today. It's hooked up to a theremin, which we use for the improv section on "The Final Cut."

LS-2 LINE SELECTOR
Claudio: I use this to select between my Bogner Uberschall amps and my Vox AC30, which I'm replacing with a Fender Twin Reverb. It's really simple, but it does the job, and it doesn't add any noise, which some line selectors can do.

Travis: I have one as well that I use to switch over from my Bogner to my Mesa Lonestar, which I use for clean tones. When I switch amps, my entire pedal board goes along with my guitar signal so I don't lose any effects, although I am using a separate RV-5 reverb pedal and a BD-2 Blues Driver on the Mesa amp only. The BD-2 gives my clean tones more punch.

NS-2 NOISE SUPPRESSOR
Claudio: We use this pedal as a gate because a lot of our other equipment can be noisy. It's really great for tightening up rhythms because you don't have any noise bleeding through when you mute the strings. It really cleans up the signal. You just lose drama if there's any noise.

PH-3 PHASE SHIFTER
Travis: When we recorded "No World for Tomorrow" I did a backwards loop. To duplicate that sound on stage I use the phase shifter with a volume pedal to swell the volume. I do a pick slide and then I use the sound of the volume pedal and phase shifter for the notes. It fits perfectly with the song. Now I wish that I used that instead when we recorded the song. I have it dialed to the "Rise" setting. My BOSS pedals almost always end up with the knobs set at or near the center. Those settings always seem to work the best.

PS-5 SUPER SHIFTER
Travis: I use the Super Shifter for certain solos to imitate the sound of solos that we recorded with two guitars. It makes it sound fuller, but it's more than just a doubler. It also gives the sound this weird timbre that's really cool. Then I'll use reverb to give it even more body. I've used this on a couple of our albums. You can hear it on numerous parts of "The Willing Well." It makes really wacky sounds but I also use it in more subtle ways, such as to double the pitch with a higher register on top. I switch between regular pitch shifting and harmonization. When I do that I have to reach down and reset a few knobs. Usually I leave it on the "Pitch Shifter" setting, but there are two or three songs where I use the "Harmonization" setting. I set the key to "E" and I set the Pitch control slightly off center so it's more like a real harmonized guitar.

Travis Stever shows us how he uses BOSS pedals.

RC-20XL LOOP STATION
Claudio: I was using the Loop Station live for a bit, but I found that it's really useful for capturing phrases and playing over them to create melodies while we're writing songs. Instead of firing up a Pro Tools rig I just keep that pedal in line. That really helps me get the creative ideas flowing.

RT-20 ROTARY ENSEMBLE
Claudio: I'm getting one of these pedals to keep around the house for inspiration. I really like what Travis does with his.

Travis: I use the Rotary Ensemble for clean fingerpicking parts. It wasn't around when we made our records, but I definitely would have used it on them. I really love the way those songs sound live, especially on songs like "Delirium Trigger," which has this fingerpicking part that sounds perfect with this pedal. It sounds like spinning speakers. I just got it seven months ago, and I'm definitely going to use it on our next album.

RV-5 DIGITAL REVERB
Travis: I use reverb to drag out the notes and give the guitar more sustain. I use it for my clean sound, too. I have one in my pedal board and I'm using a separate RV-5 with my Mesa. I use the Hall setting most of the time. The Effect Level knob is at about 10 o'clock and the Tone and Time knobs are right in the middle at 12 o'clock.

SD-1 SUPER OVERDRIVE
Claudio: Who doesn't own one of these pedals? It's a really good-sounding pedal. It does everything that you want it to do, and it's reliable. You can't beat it for the money. I've come across distortion pedals that are so expensive and they don't do what you need them to do. What a waste! Some have too many features and it takes forever to get a good sound out of them. By the time I'm done dialing in a tone I don't want to play any more. With this pedal you just plug in and play, and it sounds great.

TU-2 CHROMATIC TUNER
Travis: When we were first starting out, the one thing I didn't have was a tuner, but that's something that we really needed back then, probably more than anything else!

Claudio: We had no idea that anything like a tuner even existed. We played for so long without having a tuner. We'd stop in the middle of songs and try to tune by ear. This pedal makes it so easy to tune up. You can really see the display on stage, and I like how it mutes the output so the audience doesn't hear anything while you're tuning.

THE TOP FIVE BEST-SELLING BOSS PEDALS

1) TU-2 Chromatic Tuner – "It's funny to me that the top-selling BOSS pedal doesn't make any sound at all," says Paul Youngblood.

2) DS-1 Distortion – Introduced in 1978, this is the longest continuously produced pedal in the BOSS line.

3) MT-2 Metal Zone – "The sound of the Metal Zone hasn't dated at all. Everybody seems to love its tone whether they play death metal, math-core, punk, alternative rock or whatever," says Youngblood.

4) DD-3 Digital Delay – Essentially identical to its predecessor, the DD-2, this delay pedal has been produced by BOSS since 1986.

5) CS-3 Compressor Sustainer – Another BOSS perennial, which was introduced in 1986 as well.

THE WORST-SELLING BOSS PEDAL

PW-2 Power Driver – Discontinued after only eight months of production, this hybrid booster/overdrive pedal was designed to spike a guitar's signal before it went into a stack amp. BOSS sold only a couple of thousand PW-2 units before pulling the plug on its production, but this pedal has become a desirable collectible, mainly because of its rarity.


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