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Sound Quality

I recently picked up an old Japanese-made SD-1 and thought it might be interesting to compare it to the older Boss OD-1. I only have experience with the later JRC4558 OD-1s, not the earlier versions with the bigger IC chip people seem to pay US$200 for. Tonally the two pedals sound very similar. Both shave of a lot of the bass and treble out of the signal, leaving a very middy generic 'classic rock' drive. In my opinion it's a very tired sound, but it still seems to have mass appeal. The SD-1 however has the advantage of having a tone control, which lets you reintroduce some of the lost high end detail that you're stuck with with the OD-1. There is nothing you can do about the bass loss. Where the two pedals significantly differ is in the amount of gain on tap. The SD-1 is misleadingly labelled the Super Overdrive, yet it actually has less gain than it's "regular" predecessor. At max gain I'd estimate that the SD-1 has about 70% of the gain of the OD-1. This also means the SD-1 can be set cleaner than the OD-1, great for those players looking for a volume boost with only the barest hint of pedal drive. The SD-1 is thus the more versatile pedal.


General Comments

Overall I think the Japanese SD-1 is a close enough substitute for the later OD-1 for anyone not having success finding one of the latter units (or paying the price they now command). I didn't have an OD-1 to directly compare, but from memory the tone's are pretty much exactly alike. In my opinion the SD-1 is the better pedal, as it's tone knob let you better tailor it to your amp and it can do a semi-clean boost. Comparatively I gave the OD-1 a 5/10 for sound quality - I don't see what the fuss is about, although admittedly I was using it was a clean fender, not an overdriven Marshall.

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