Of all the pedals in all the world, the Boss ODB-3 has become my favourite bass pedal. There’s something about this tight, chest-resonating bass overdrive that pleases me more than any other overdrive/distortion pedal on bass. So, to pay my own meagre tribute to this incredible feat of design, I’d like to look back at how the ODB-3 came to life.
1977 – Before 1977, Boss made large unit effect pedals such as the CE-1, BF-1, and DB-5. You may have seen Clapton or Hendrix with these large, heavy pedals (more like floor-units) that required a large power supply in place of a 9v battery. They were cumbersome, unattractive, and getting one into your gig bag would be like squeezing a Rhino into a Barina. However, in November 1977 Boss released it’s first compact pedal – the Japanese made OD-1. The first overdrive pedal ever! Artists in the ’70s were all about fuzz, but the overdrive pedal wouldn’t be ignored for long and quickly became accepted as a standard for guitar sound.
1985 – In August Boss released the OD-2 to supersede the OD-1. This new ‘Turbo Overdrive’ added a turbo on/off dial and a tone dial. With the turbo mode off, the OD-2 gave guitarists the classic OD-1 sound with tonal control. With the turbo mode on, guitarists had the gain boost they needed for their rip-roaring 80’s hair metal. Production was moved from Japan to Taiwan in 1988. In November 1994, Boss made a slight revision to the OD-2 to make it the OD-2R. This revision added a remote input, which allowed a latching footswitch to be connected to switch the turbo mode on or off. The OD-2R also had slightly more gain than the original OD-2, but this is more likely to be due to componentry changes than intentional design. The OD-2R was replaced in 1997 by the current model, the OD-3.
1994 – In October, Boss decided to take their incredibly successful overdrive range to the bass players with the introduction of the ODB-3. This new overdrive was designed specifically for bass frequencies and is still a current model. The ODB-3 features level, stacked EQ, balance, and gain dials for total control. The balance control can be adjusted from dry (clean) to fully overdriven. With a setting closer to ‘dry’ the ODB-3 can be used as a simple boost or a dual-band EQ pedal. This pedal, along with every Boss pedal released from 1988 is made in Taiwan.