Boss DS-1 Grit Mod




The Boss DS-1 distortion pedal is a simple and cheap pedal with a fizzy high pitch distortion and a very scooped mid, the perfect starting point for some playing around.

In this instructable I'll show you how to mod your boss ds-1 in only three steps and alter it's sound character radically. I call it the grit mod and it's part all-seeing eye mod and part my own half assed tonestack mod.


Step 1: Swapping the Clipping Diodes

The ds-1 has two clipping diodes before the distortion stage, D4 and D5.
By exchanging one or both of these to LED, the character of the distortion is changed to a softer less fizzy distortion, more "tube like" as some like to say.

I started by desoldering D5 and exchanging it with a LED, the result was a more growling distortion with a lot less gain, instead of breaking into crazy fizzy distortion right away the distortion knob went from almost clean with some dirt to full on distortion with a bit of fizz on top, it also made the bass response better, and the dynamic range got a lot bigger, you can go from clean by rolling off some volume on your guitar and by playing a bit harder it starts to break up.

After successfuly swapping D5 I decided to go ahead and alter D4. This time I did it the all-seeing eye way by desoldering the +side of the diode, soldering in the +side of a LED and then soldering their loose legs together.
this gave me a bit more gain, some more volume on the volume knob and a softer more fuzzlike top end.

Step 2: Altering the Tonestack

The DS-1 is known for having that 80s scooped mid that makes it sound thin and bright, and even though the LED mods had improved bass response you could tell it was still lacking in the mid-range so I decided to add a possibility to alter the tonestack.

I did this by adding an adjustable resistance parallel to R16, changing the value of R16 changes the mid scoop, in original R16 is 6.8kohm but if we change it to 1kohm the filter curve is flat and the mid scoop is gone, and if we change it to 500ohm we will get a mid boost, so I just soldered on a 220kohm potentiometer I had lying around, what it does is that it allows you to adjust the mid scoop from the original scoop to mid boost, giving you a lot more control over the tonestack.

Step 3: Drilling a Hole for the Potentiometer

Well I'm actually going to leave this step out because it's all about finishing touches, just drill a hole in the front or side of the pedal where the potentiometer fits and reassemble the pedal.

good luck to you



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    12 Discussions


    Question 1 year ago on Step 2

    hi there. when you added an adjustable resistance parallel to R16, do you take out R16? or do u leave it in there and add the potentiometer to R16? thanks for this great post!!

    1 answer

    Answer 1 year ago

    I just left R16 in there, but if you can remove it ant use a 10 k pot, that's much better


    1 year ago

    This is a great DIY...thanks :-) I have used IRF520 MOSFETS for the D4 n D5 which sound amazing.....but.....Did you wire the 250KOhm Potentiometer replacing the original resistor?

    3 replies

    Reply 1 year ago

    I did it the lazy way and just soldered it on in parallel because 220k was what i had lying around, it would be better with a 6.8k replacing the original


    Reply 1 year ago

    Thanks for the answer. Appreciated!! I will do the same as you have done but will add a mini 250K OHM A Curve potentiometer....should be fine....that way I can fit next to the tone on the volume side after doing the Keeley MOD....may work....see what happens....

    Any sound samples of your MOD??

    What kind of sweep do you get frequency wise?? Low mids to mids to scooped sweep??

    Thanks for your time


    Tokyo Japan


    Reply 1 year ago

    Sorry no sound samples and it's not a frequency sweep, it works like a tonestack so it basically cuts the mids like a parametric eq, the larger the resistance the more it cuts. My solution with the parallel pot is not optimal since most of the action comes at the end of the pot's travel so I would really recommend using a 10k pot and replacing R16. Good luck with your project!


    Reply 3 years ago on Introduction

    in the original schem you have two parallel diodes, going to opposite directions. that is the key, you have to put the diodes in the same manner, one going to a to b and one from b to a, but it doesn't matter if they don't match the symbols on the pcb, as long as you have two diodes going to opposite directions.


    Reply 3 years ago

    that's very true, they basically connect to the same two points in the schematic but they clip opposite sides of the waveform, some argue that having unsymetrical clipping is more pleasant and that's why I modded them differently.