In this Boss GT 1 Review, we’ll take a look at the middle of the road multi-effects unit offered by Boss. We’ll examine the built in amp types, on-board effects, additional features, quality and other things such as portability. Does it make sense to get the GT 1 or to splash out on the Boss ME80 or even the Boss GT100? Let’s look into it.
Background to Boss
Boss started to manufacture dedicated effects medals in the 1970’s. Their first pedal, the B-100 acoustic amplifier. Distant from today’s pedal in terms of styling you can see from the B-100 that they were aiming to keep the pedal as compact as possible. The first foot operated pedal was the CE1 chorus ensemble, released in 1976. The pedal was pretty big, but was a massive leap forward for guitarists having been used by bands such as the Doobie Brothers.
The first compact pedal came in 1977 with the OD-1 overdrive pedal. Boss continued to evolve, releasing the DR-55 Dr. Rhythm drum machine in 1980, which quickly became a favorite among guitarists. Boss continues to push the boundaries of technology whilst retaining a focus on quality. The AC-3 was the first pedal to use digital modelling, released in 2006. As well as compact pedals, Boss has produced multi-effects pedals from the GT-001 all the way to the heavy hitting GT-100.
Overview of Boss GT 1
The GT 1 is a light weight, compact multi-effects unit, which will comfortably fit into the front pocket of most gig bags. The GT 1 uses the same engine as Boss’ flagship GT 100 unit, but is smaller form. Featuring 27 pre-amp styles there’s a lot of room to experiment with different tones using classic amp styles as a basis. There’s an onboard tuner for when you need a quick tune up and a looper that’ll enable you to record up to 32 seconds.
There’s an in-built expression pedal, which will allow you create dynamic effects all at the tips of your toes. The GT 1 has a bright display and bright lights around the switches, making it easy to see in a dark environment, such as when on stage.
There are 99 preset effects patches and 99 user definable patches to enable you to craft your signature tone. All of the effects can be edited and saved to anyone of the 99 user banks. The unit will connect to a PC or a Mac to enable you to download pro patches for free using the Boss Tone Central software. You can also tweak your patches via your computer and send them directly to the GT 1. The USB connection will also enable you to record directly to your chosen recording software, whilst maintaining your custom tone.
The unit will run on 4 x AA batteries, which are included and will last for a around 7 hours dependent on how you use the unit. The unit will also run off a power adapter, which is sold separately. Additionally you can connect an further foot-switch or expression pedal via a quarter inch jack. Here’s a short video showing what the GT 1 can do.
How Does The Boss GT 1 Work?
When powered up you’ll land on the play screen, which is sort of the home screen. From here you can jump right into playing using “Easy Mode”, which enables you to operate the preset patches whilst the unit selects the parameters that will best suit the patch type. For example a high gain effect will use overdrive, it’ll use one of the heavier pre-amp settings and will adjust the EQ to produce the best possible tone. Underneath the “Easy Mode” section are a series of buttons, which relate to different effects. When the effect is active a small light with be lit up in the top left corner of the button.
If you want to customize your tone a little more you can edit each of the effects or amp types by holding the appropriate button for a few seconds. So, if you hold the pre-amp button you’ll access the menu. From here you can alter all sorts of settings, including the pre-amp type in use, the EQ, and the level.
Each button will have it’s own set of customizeable parameters, split across a number of tabs. If there’s more than one tab you can cycle through by pressing the “Enter” button. Each of the three knobs will then alter a designated setting. One of the nicest pre-amps to mess around with first is the acoustic simulator. It provides such a rich sound, one of the best acoustic simulators I’ve heard.
You can alter the sequence of effects by pressing the memory button. Then use knob 1 to select the effect you want to move and use knob 2 to move the effect allowing you to queue up the patches you use most frequently. The GT 1 features effects such as:
Compressor – Produces long sustain and can be used to suppress peaks
Limiter – Prevents distortion
T.Wah – Adjustable auto wah
Graphic EQ – Adjusts the tone
Para EQ – Adjusts quality of tone using specific settings, such a mid-low
Tone Modify – Alters the tone of the guitar
Guitar Sim – Simulates different guitar configurations (i.e. different pickups)
AC Guitar Sim – Simulates an acoustic guitar
Slow Gear – Similar to a violin type sound with volume swirl
Octave – Creates a richer sound by adding an octave higher or two octaves lower
Pitch Shifter – Shift the pitch up or down by up to two octaves
Harmonist – Automatically creates harmonies by dynamically shifting the pitch
Overtone – Adds harmonics and resonance
Feedbacker – Gives that rocky feedback
AC Processor – Alters the sound that would be made by an acoustic pickup
Phaser – Whooshing effect
Flanger – Twisting, jet like sound
Tremelo – Alters the volume to set levels
Rotary – Sounds like speakers rotating around you
Uni-V – Similar to a phaser but with more undulation
Vibrato – Modulates the pitch of the note slightly
Chorus – Adds depth to the sounds
Sub Delay – Thickens the sound without adding too much delay
Within each effect you can customize certain settings, dependent on the effect, For example you can adjust the depth of modulation type effects. You can then combine these with pre-amp styles to create a multitude of custom tones. Here are the pre-amp types available via the unit’s modelling capabilities:
Natural Clean – Natural sounds with rich high end and enhanced low end for a clean tone
Full Range – Great for acoustic guitars
CB Crunch – Distorted sound that can pick up on your picking style
ST Crunch – The crunch obtained from a stack
Higain Stack – High gain sound of a Marshall stack
Power Drive – Distorted tone. Great for backing but also works with lead
Extreme Lead – Powerful for lead, smooths out tones to give more balance
Core Metal – Large stack tone great for metal
JC-120 – Simulates the sound of the Roland JC-120
Clean Twin – Simulates the Fender Twin Reverb
Pro Crunch – Simulates the Fender Pro Reverb
Tweed – Simulates the classic Fender tones of a Bassman combo
Deluxe Crunch – Simulates Fender Deleuxe Reverb
VO Drive – VOX AC30TB – 60’s British Rock
VO Lead – VOX AC30TB lead sounds
Match Drive – Simulates Matchless D/C-30 for blues and Rock
BG Lead – Mesa Boogie combo amp – tube amp sound of the 80’s
BG Drive – Mesa Boogie with treble shift
MS1959I – Suited to hard rock, marshall sound of 1959
MS1959I+II – Similar to the MS1959I but with a reinforced low end
R-FIER Vintage – Vintage Mesa Boogie amp sound
R-FIER-MDN – Modern Mesa Boogie amp sound
T-AMP LD – Hughes and Kettner AMP3 lead tone
SLDN – Typical sound of the 80’s
BGNR UB – Heavy distortion and high gain
ORNG Rock – The distortion of the Orange Rockerverb amp
As you can see you can play around forever perfecting a series of tones. Once you’ve done editing you can save it in one of the 99 user banks, here’s how:
- Press the exit and enter buttons at the same time
- Then choose “write” with knob 1 and press enter
- Choose which bank to write the patch to (U01-U99)
- Press enter, you can now edit the name. Knob 1 changes the character and knob 2 moves the cursor. Knob 3 will select the type of character
- Hit enter again, now you can specify a category of the patch. Use knob 3 to select the category
- Once the patch is saved you’re taken back to the play screen
There’s also a looper, which will allow you to record up to 32 seconds of mono performance, which you can then overdub. Here’s how the looper works:
- Hit the select up and CTL1 pedals at the same time to access the looper
- CTL1 will start recording
- Hit CTL1 again to playback and overdub
- Hit CTL1 twice to stop playback and overdub
- Hold CTL1 for at least 2 seconds to clear the memory
There’s an in-built tuner, perfect for quick adjustments. Access by pressing the up and down select pedals simultaneously. The display will feedback if your instrument is tuned. There are three modes of tuning. The first is bypass, which will output the sound but bypass any pre-amp or effects. The second is silent, great for on stage. You’ll be able to tune without any output. Finally you can tune using “thru” mode, which will output everything including pre-amps and effects selected whilst you tune. You can adjust the frequency using knob 1. There’s a range between 435 – 445hz. The default frequency is 440hz.
The unit continues to be clever using it’s USB port. You’ll be able to connect to a PC or Mac via USB. That will enable you to record directly to your digital audio workstation (DAW) whilst maintaining the amp style and effects in use with the GT 1. You can also download pro patches directly to the GT 1 using Boss Tone Central, which is free. Boss Tone Central will also enable you to fine tune and manage your custom patches.
There’s a headphone jack for “silent” practice as well as an aux in port to enable you to jam along with your favorite tracks. There’s a 1/4 inch jack that’ll enable you to plug in an additional foot-switch or expression pedal, should the need arise.
Boss GT 1 Pros
The GT 1 brings the flagship engine of the GT 100 into the affordable and compact GT 1. That brings top quality effects and amp modelling to those on a budget. Sure it doesn’t have all of the features of the GT 100 or even of the ME 80, but what you get for the price is outstanding. Here are the best bits:
- Boss quality effects
- 26 pre-amp styles
- Fits in the front pocket of most gig bags
- A great alternative to spending lots on a series of single effects
Boss GT 1 Cons
There are always a few drawbacks. Chief among those is the menu system. That can get pretty frustrating for some people. It’s reasonably simple to use, but you’ll need some time and patience to fully explore the unit. Fortunately it comes with a pretty comprehensive user manual to help you get to grips with the GT 1. Here’s a few of the drawbacks:
- Menu based so takes some getting to used to
- Power adapter isn’t included
- May be difficult to use the pedals for those with bigger feet
The Boss GT 1 is a serious contender for those looking to pick up their first multi-effects unit, but also for more experienced guitarists and even those performing. The compact nature of the unit makes it perfect for taking on the road with you and will fit in the front pocket of most gig bags.
The metal front set in plastic makes it sturdy, although it’s not quite the tank like build of the GT 100. The versatility of this unit is one of the best parts. If you’re willing to spend a little time with this unit you can create a wide variety of custom tones that you can save to the more than adequate 99 user banks.
You can also hook the unit up to your PC or Mac to record directly to your DAW, as well as download pro patches and manage your custom patches using Boss Tone Central software, all for free. The built in tuner adds a degree of convenience for a quick tune up. The looper is a nice touch, although it’d be nice to have more than 32 seconds of recording time. Overall the quality and features you’re getting for the prices is an absolute bargain. This really is a beast of a unit.
If you’re looking for something that’s not menu based, and is a little heavier of features, make sure to check out my post about the Boss ME-80. I hope you’ve found this post useful. Feel free to leave any comments or questions below. Alternatively you can get in touch using my contact page. Please share with anyone who you think might find this post useful. As always, happy strumming!
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