Guitar Review: Boss DF-2 vs. FB-2

Guitar Review: Boss DF-2 vs. FB-2

Creating feedback while playing the guitar is lots of fun. Musicians need some volume to produce this element while working in a friendly environment that offers a sweet spot.

That’s why it’s often easier to create feedback on the stage than it is to get some at home. You can get some from an amp at the right volume when your guitar or a mic is nearby, but that’s about it.

When you have different electronic sources on a stage to use, different harmonic tones produce an overarching effect that adds depth and grit to the overall sound.

BOSS wants guitarists to have more opportunities to create feedback. That’s why the company introduced the DF-2 Super Feedbacker and Distortion pedal in 1984.

Guitar Review: Boss DF-2 vs. FB-2

Feedback generation requires precise controls to contribute to the music environment. The Boss DF-2 and FB-2 pedals deliver this option similarly, although the FB-2 is a more powerful tool for compositions. It eliminates the clunking sounds that the DF-2 provides when stepping on the switch.

BOSS had the idea that a flexible distortion circuit could simulate the sounds generated when holding a guitar next to other electronics.

By holding the pedal down on the DF-2, the product would detect the note’s pitch. That allowed it to introduce harmonies with infinite sustain.

Guitarists received some extra flexibility with the produced overtone by using the pedal’s knob to make adjustments. That included tone, level, and distortion controls to create a signature sound.

For its era, the DF-2 distortion pedal from BOSS was one of the best you could buy. It fulfilled several needs at the time, delivering a flashier way to start or end solos.

The problem with the Boss DF-2 is that the sound generated by the pedal tends to sound artificial or synthetic. Although it incorporates vibrato with the audio, the wave pattern is slight and rhythmic with a timed effect.

That meant you’d create predictable sounds that mimicked whatever everyone else was doing with a similar style.

It’s the primary reason why the DF-2 became a staple of the rock genre, but was eventually abandoned by virtuosos who wanted higher levels of control with their feedback editions.

The BOSS FB-2 was released almost 30 years after the DF-2 made a mark on the industry.

It re-imagines what feedback options are possible for guitarists, eliminating the always-on concept in favor of a boost circuit that you can set flat to create transparent tones.

That means if you want to add feedback to your sound, the FB-2 doesn’t require a change to the instrument’s sound to make that result happen.

Additional tone controls make it easier to shape the sound’s character into your signature, removing the harshness of the setting while injecting clarity.

When guitarists hold a note with the FB-2’s capabilities, you can add whatever effects the instrument produces without creating problems.

The pedal handles trills, flutters, bends, hammers, vibrato, and extensive whammy action by adding the appropriate feedback for each option.

The DF-2 pedal is great for indie musicians wanting unusual textures or vintage tones in their compositions. With the FB-2, BOSS lets you take those initial concepts to a different level with a lot of extra options.

It’s fair to say that the FB-2 accomplishes the goal of giving feedback control to the artists. That’s what the DF-2 intended to do, but it didn’t get things quite right.

Specs of the BOSS DF-2 Pedal vs. the BOSS FB-2 Pedal

When comparing the BOSS DF-2 Pedal to the BOSS FB-2 Pedal, the best way (outside of tone and distortion results) to determine its benefits is to compare the specs of each product.

Here are the crucial information points to review so that you can decide if one of these pedals is appropriate for your current or future playing needs.

 Boss DF-2 Super Feedbacker & Distortion Pedal SpecsBoss FB-2 Feedbacker/Booster Pedal Specs
Controls:Tone, Level, Distortion, and OvertoneFlat, Clean, Mid, and Treble Boost
Connectors:Input, Output, and AC adaptorInput, Output, and AC adaptor
Current Draw:10 mA (DC 9V)45 mA (DC 9V)
Weight:450 grams (0.99 pounds)440 grams (1 pound)
Input Impedance:1M ohm1M ohm
Recommended Load Impedance:10,000 ohms or higher10,000 ohms or higher
Recommended Adaptor:PSA Series (Silver Label) or ACA Series (Black Label)PSA Series (Silver Label)

BOSS sold the DF-2 Super Feedbacker and Distortion Pedal from September 1984 to April 1994. Anyone wanting to add this product to their setup will need to purchase from the second-hand market.

Although the FB-2 pedal entered production in 2011, it is no longer available as a new item unless you’re working with a second-hand vendor who has stock somewhere.

You can expect to pay anywhere from $40 to $400 to get your hands on the BOSS DF-2 or FB-2 distortion pedals on sites like Reverb.

Benefits of Adding Distortion to Music

Modern music production is limited in how loud audio signals can be when playing. If it exceeds those limitations, the sound distorts to create something raspy, with a touch of static, that turns into a howl if left unchecked.

Although unwanted distortion has an adverse impact on the mastering qualities of a recorded track, it can be a powerful harmonic addition when introduced with intent to a playing style.

When distortion gets added to music correctly, it can brighten a guitar or add depth to synths and keyboards.

Musicians can even introduce it with a percussion set to add more impact and heft to each strike.

Three distortion types are typically added to music today.

  1. Impedance Mismatching. This option occurs when the output signal’s ohms produce something higher than a microphone or another input. The distorted sound often creates unwanted noise in the signal, especially when the differences are significant.
  2. Truncation. Musicians can achieve this distortion option by dropping bits when playing. It is also possible to get it when rendering when gathering low-level signals.
  3. Clipping. Overdriving is the most common cause of this distortion type, which can happen at the input or the output.

A fourth distortion type is purposely added to digital music by the use of plugins.

When the transition to streaming and online files occurred, the biggest complaint about the recordings involved the lack of character and warmth in the playback.

That’s because the white noise and other distortions from vinyl, cassettes, and CD stereo systems were gone.

DAW plugins can replicate that experience to some degree on any instrument, although it’s most effective when applied to percussion.

Analog and digital distortion typically occur when audio signals go beyond the maximum capacity level of the system in use.

For today’s best DAWs, that’s generally 0 dBFS. Clipping loses the parts above that threshold.

Digital distortion also happens when audio signals go beyond the maximum DAW capacity. It flattens the waveform, squashing it into something it recognizes while creating a clipping effect.

Although some people might see these distortion issues as problematic, clipping can deliver non-musical harmonics that add some much-needed color to the produced audio.

When the sine wave starts distorting, you can build something relatively close to a square wave without investing in expensive equipment.

It is easy to transition distortion from something warm and inviting to an abrasive audio element. That’s why pedals like the BOSS DF-2 and FB-2 make sense to add.

You can avoid overwhelming your playing style with unwanted harmonics by making a few tweaks to those final settings.

Alternatives to the BOSS DF-2 and FB-2 Distortion Pedal

BOSS isn’t the only pedal manufacturer that provides this option today if you’re interested in adding more distortion to your music.

You’ll find a few excellent choices to consider in this category at several different price points.

Pedal NamePedal PositivesPedal DisadvantagesPedal Pricing
BOSS DS-1 Distortion PedalThis option delivers the closest sound out there that replicates the styles of the DF-2 and FB-2 from the past.
The design also works with keyboards and synths to provide a workhorse tool to your collection.
The versatility isn’t as strong for those playing acoustic-electric instruments.
Some keyboard settings can overwhelm the pedal’s effects.
$$$
FLAMMA FC06 Distortion PedalThe pedal delivers an ultrawide dynamic range without sacrificing a tube-style sound when connected to your equipment.The true bypass setup creates more tone transparency than is sometimes wanted with distortion effects.$$
AmazonBasics Distortion PedalWith this pedal, guitarists can produce traditional distortion tones while keeping everything in a compact package that’s easy to add to any setup.It doesn’t offer a battery power source as part of the design.
You must have a compatible AC adaptor or purchase one separately to use it.
$
Fulltone SB-2 Distortion PedalIt uses a three-to-one germanium transistor to deliver one of the most authentic sounds you’ll find available at any price point.
When backing off the volume, the smoothness it provides is almost unmatched in the industry today.
This design delivers a searing lead distortion profile that isn’t appropriate for accompaniment players.
When played with a Tele or Strat, it adds extra thinness that might not be desirable.
$$$$
Fender Pugilist Distortion PedalWith five knob controls on the pedal to use, musicians have numerous customization options to consider with this design.
It even incorporates a bass boost and blend that work together.
It’s tough to call this pedal a true “distortion” option in terms of rock or metal.
A bit of extra grit gets put into the music, but the results are better for blues players than anyone else.
$$$$
Warm Audio Foxy Tone BoxThis 100% analog circuit path adds extra fuzz to a guitar’s sound by incorporating carbon resistors, germanium diodes, and premier film capacitors for consistency.
Volume and octave sustains are available.
With the distortion focusing on the fuzz effect only, some musicians won’t need the constant harmonic saturation that comes from this pedal, even if the sustain is clean and incredible.$$$$
Bogner Uberschall Distortion PedalYou’ll receive a pedal that’s built like a tank with this product.
Each one is created by hand in California, producing huge high-gain tones while staying true to the lower and medium needs of the traditionalist.
Its advanced circuitry works with a greater dynamic range than most other pedals.
That also means you’ll want to use a 9V power supply instead of batteries to deliver the results you want.
$$$$$

[Table Key: $ = $20 & under; $$ = $21-$50; $$$ = $51 – $100; $$$$ = $101-$200; $$$$$ = $201+]

A Final Thought on Using the Boss DF-2 vs. FB-2 Distortion Pedals

Distortion improves the audio environment in many situations. It can make low-quality sounds worse, which is why the BOSS DF-2 and FB-2 pedals don’t work well with most entry-level guitars. These options deliver the best results when the focus is on adding shimmer or brightness to the midrange or treble frequencies.

I got my first BOSS pedal for my 16th birthday. It didn’t take me long to realize that my sub-$100 electric guitar from the previous year wasn’t going to work well with the DF-2 now in my possession.

After hearing the classic “I think it’s time you got a job” line, I worked for a couple of months at the local diner to save up enough to buy an Ibanez Artist Series guitar. That one is still in my collection.

The tiger maple top with the sunburst coloration is still incredible.

The V-2 pickups on my AR-100 sound just as good as the day I got the guitar, and it helped me get the most out of that DF-2 to create a sound that eventually led me to appear as a background artist on an album.

Although I play a few other guitars more regularly than that Ibanez today, it still serves as a reminder of where I was compared to where I am today.

I even get offers for that instrument for more than I originally paid for it, but I’ll never let that thing go.

When comparing the DF-2 to the FB-2, I have to stick with the vintage style.

Although the later model provides more possibilities, my approach to music is relatively grounded and stable. I don’t experiment as much since my career requires a certain level of consistency.

If you want to experiment, the BOSS FB-2 pedal or one of the more current alternatives are great choices to consider. When you need something consistent like me, the DF-2 is the better option in your case.

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