BOSS Mod Squad
By John Fedorko
For over 35 years BOSS has been making guitar effects pedals. Since day one guitar enthusiasts have been taking them apart to find out why they sound so great. In doing so many began modifying the electronics of these pedals, adding more features, knobs, and potentiometers for more functionality. With the birth of the Web, many people have started small businesses modifying pedals. No one has done it better than the founder of Keeley Electronics, Robert Keeley (a.k.a. the King of Pedal Mods). Since September of 2001, Keeley has modified thousands of BOSS DS-1, BD-2, and now TR-2 pedals from his shop in Oklahoma City. Keeley’s clients include some of the worlds greatest players: Steve Vai, John Mayer, Peter Frampton, Grand Funk, Creedance Clearwater Revival, John Fogerty, Bob Brit, George Lynch, and Vinnie Moore to name a few.
“I’m a BOSS pedal freak,” Keeley says. “What makes BOSS pedals great is the quality of the components. The parts used in these pedals are exceptional and make working with them a lot easier than others. In fact, I use BOSS parts for many of my pedal mods. The TR-2 Tremolo pedal is a good example. The Sweepable Mids knob used on the BOSS MT-2 is a great component, and we install this Sweepable Mids knob when performing our TR-2 Tremolo Pedal mod. We also use the potentiometer from the inside the MT-2. By adding these MT-2 components, the tremolo has a dual function. The circuitry in the stock TR-2 pedal is very nice and even. By turning down the added depth knob, we remove the depth in the pedal, which can now be used as a preamp/boost pedal using the center knob for the boost. With just one turn of the knob you get this added function. The Rate and Wave knobs are replaced with more Retro looking knobs, but we ship the original knobs back to the customer with the Modified pedal. The cosmetics are great.
“The next thing we added to the TR-2 pedal mod is the independent volume control. Boss did everything perfect when they designed it. The peak output is exactly even, but since it spends a lot of its time in between these peaks people always thought that there was a volume drop. Taking the customers feedback on this we now give it this volume control which is use to pronounce or exaggerates the tremolo effect making it a lot more wild sounding and predominant. Requests for TR-2 mods are increasing every day.”
Why does Keeley sell so many BD-2 pedal mods? “The BD-2 mod is extremely popular — we call it the BD-2 Freak Fuzz. Instead of using the diodes typically used to create the distortion, we use these Germanium transistors (AC-188) as diodes. We drill a whole in the BD-2 and they fit in there perfectly. We use part of these to increase the distortion. Cosmetics changes were added as well. We did a DS-1 MOD for Steve Vai where it has the little flashing light that corresponds to the Distortion. We liked the Cosmetics of this change so much that we added it to the BD-2 and people think it’s the coolest thing visually. Since day one we have also been adding a Bass response Boost to the BD-2 that increases the thickness of the bass. It’s not that the bass response of the BD-2 is bad it’s just that some people have thinner sounding systems than others. Not everyone has that luscious perfect sounding Bass response and the Bass Boost compensates for what some rigs might be lacking. On the left side of the pedal is a Gain Switch. I cut out some of the capacitors that are used in the BD-2 to make it sound less harsh and to reduce some of the gain. I toggle a capacitor value to increase the “edge” and gain to the point of Fuzz. When the pedal is cranked it's much like Santana's tone!
“It wouldn’t make financial sense for BOSS to incorporate these things from the factory. Being a smaller independent manufacturer we can do things that larger companies like BOSS cannot without increasing the costs of the pedal by hundreds of dollars. Once people fall in love with your BOSS pedals many just come to us for these specific Modifications.”
Those of you who already own one of Robert Keeley’s pedal mods know how cool these pedals sound and you probably got a personally written thank you note from Grandma who does all of the shipping at Keeley. (Did Santa get Grandma a Shrink Wrap Machine for Christmas?) That’s my plug for Grandma.
For more information on how to modify your BOSS pedal go to the Keeley Web Site at www.robertkeeley.com or call 1-866-8GO-RKFX.