Gear Review: Boss BC-2 Combo Drive

Overview

Although Boss never says it by name brand, this pedal aims to be a “Vox In A Box.” It aims for a sound that propelled the British Invasion, and then some. Generally a sound that oozes jangle and creaminess, with plenty of mid-range and chime. All of this housed in Boss’s virtually indestructible housing. An asteroid could hit earth and Boss pedals will still be around with the cockroaches, Twinkies, and Keith Richards.

Features/Playing Experience

EQ- With a simple 2-band EQ, much like Vox Amps, it’s easy to dial in a good balance. The Bass EQ is not as powerful as the Treble EQ, in some amps I’ve been able to crank the bass to 10 and it didn’t cause the amp to flub out. The treble does a bit more, and it actually interacts with the setting on the “Sound” knob. The closer to the “drive” side on the knob, the brighter the sound. But like I said above, the EQ is very easy to find the right balance.

“Sound” Knob- This is where this pedal gets interesting. It’s not just a “gain” control, but it also changes the character of the sound from clean to drive. On the clean side, it sounds like a clean amp, all the way to the left there’s really no gain, so it sounds like an amp that’s not being pushed. As you turn it up, it does start to get some grit to it, and it starts to brighten up.

About 10 o’clock on the Sound knob is where you get into “crunch” territory. From 10 o’clock to about Noon on the knob, I’d say it’s very “normal” channel-esque on a traditional Vox. I usually have to crank the Treble a bit in this range. Noon to 2 o’clock is where this pedal really shines. This is where it takes on that Top Boost sound of a Vox amp being cranked. This is also about the same amount of gain that a real Vox amp has on board.

From 2 o’clock and up, this pedal just gets downright filthy. It takes on the characteristic of a treble booster slamming the front of a Vox. In this territory, I usually have to dial the treble back quite a bit. But it has more of a “distortion pedal” feel to it than a “cranked amp” feel. To be honest, this is the weakest part of this pedal, I never turn the Sound knob past 2 o’clock. It just sounds artificial, loses all definition, and will get lost in a mix. It has probably all the gain you could ask for, but let’s face it, most people that are seeking a Vox tone aren’t looking for gain in this range.

Maybe if they kept the EQ/feel of the crunch range of the pedal up through the top of the drive range, it would be pleasant, but they didn’t, so it’s not pleasant.Stacking- As with all my pedals, I tried stacking different overdrive pedals with it, even tried using it as an overdrive into a driven amp. This pedal does not stack very well. It has such a strong midrange that most overdrives create a midrange overload.

In conclusion

If you’re looking to add some Vox chime and crunch to your rig, no matter what amp you’re playing through, this pedal does that very well. Even if you just want to add some clean British Invasion Chime to your clean tone, this pedal does that too. I’ve put this pedal in front of quite a few amps, all with great results. But if you’re looking for high gain, look elsewhere. That 10-2 o’clock on the Sound dial is just magical and worth the price of admission alone.

Get your own Boss BC-2 Combo Drive on Amazon Here!

Get your own Boss BC-2 Combo Drive on eBay Here!

Here is a video demo I did of it through a Bugera G5 head and Eminence Cannabis Rex speaker (please give my Youtube a subscribe while you’re there 😉

Cheers,
Chuck

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