Review: Boss BC-2 Combo Drive – English summary

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The legendary Vox AC30 was the first successful British guitar amplifier.

Originally the 2 x 12 -combo had been designed especially for The Shadows, aiming at a louder and cleaner tone than what their old AC15s could provide. It didn’t take long, though, for experimentally inclined guitarists to realise they could get nicely toasted drive sounds out of the amp, especially when using a distortion- or treble booster -pedal in front of the combo.

In addition to the Shadows, famous AC30-users are (or have been) The Beatles, The Kinks, Queen, Bryan Adams, Tom Petty and U2’s The Edge.

The famous combo’s greatest drawback – in its original guise – is the lack of a master volume control, meaning meaty, overdriven tones only could be had at great volume.

Luckily, these days we have the wonders of digital amp modelling at our disposal, which means classic tones without the need for ripping one’s head off.

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The new Boss BC-2 Combo Drive -pedal (current price in Finland: 106 €) is specialised in producing the whole range of AC30-type sounds. You’re supposed to use it like a regular overdrive pedal in front of your amp or, say, a recording interface. The BC-2 can be run on either a 9 V battery or a regular Boss power supply (not included).

The BC-2 is very easy to use. The Sound-control works similarly to a distortion pedal’s gain knob. Next up you’ll find controls for treble and bass, as well as the master volume control, labelled ”Level”.

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The sound of the digital Boss BC-2 is astonishingly close to the valve-driven original combo.

Clean sounds have the same type of dry mid-range and slight boxiness of the original, along with its clarity and presence bite. Just the ticket for playing British guitar instrumentals:

Shadowy Wonderland – Boss BC-2

U2’s guitar wizard The Edge often uses his AC30s inside their fabulous gray area of slightly roasted sounds, where the guitar sounds almost clean, but breaks up nicely. The BC-2 has no problems in delivering fine examples of these types of tones:

Proud Echoes – Boss BC-2

Turning the Sound knob all the way up gives you the legendary tones of Queen’s Brian May in all their throaty and creamy glory. Boss have managed to build in both the extra amount of gain produced by a virtual overdrive plugged into the virtual amp, as well as the resonance of an AC30’s cabinet running at full tilt. Here’s what I came up with using only a maple-necked Fender Stratocaster, the BC-2 and a sprinkling of reverb from the sequencer:

The Queen’s Pomp – Boss BC-2

My tests really left nothing to be desired – the Boss BC-2 is a very satisfying pedal for seekers AC30-style tones.

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Boss BC-2 Combo Drive

106 €

Finnish distributor: Roland Scandinavia

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Pros

+ small size

+ tones

+ flexibility

+ price

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