045 | BOSS MD-500: A Closer Look at this Monster Mod Machine | Transcript

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Scott Schwertly:
Hello, and welcome to episode 45 of the Sonic Renegades podcast, where we're exploring renegade pedals that have changed the music landscape. Up for today's discussion, we have a pedal from a legacy company, and that is Boss. Specifically, we're going to be talking about the Boss MD500. This is a monster mod machine, and we're excited to share it with you on the other side.
Hey everybody. Scott Schwertly and Eric Wilson of Siren Pedals with you guys today. Hope you're having a great one. I know here in Nashville, Tennessee it is the middle of August, so it's hot out there. So, we're hoping that you're staying cool as we begin to, I guess, get the near the end stages here of wrapping up summer. Kind of bittersweet for me. I typically love summer, but this year I'm just kind of really looking forward to fall. It's just been a really, really hot one out there.

But with all that said, we're excited to be talking about the pedal that we have today. This is actually a staple on my board, and this is the Boss MD500. It's a monster mod machine. I absolutely love it. And yeah, I've been excited to be talking about it for the last couple of weeks now. So, yeah. Glad to have this one on the conversation board.

Eric Wilson:
Yeah. I've gotten the chance to check it out this afternoon, and I've really enjoyed it. It really does nail all of kind of the classic Boss sounds that you would be looking for minus a couple that I would really have liked to have seen, but overall, just a great pedal. It's got a lot of great features with the dual channel modulation kind of thing. And yeah, it does what it does great.

Scott Schwertly:
Oh yeah. I mean, I've definitely have really enjoyed it. And I actually started off with two Strymon products and ended up kind of ditching those. In fact, I actually have the TimeLine and the BigSky, and I was about ready to purchase the Mobius. And everything I was reading online between the Mobius and MD500, everybody was actually kind of favoring the MD500. And I've always just been a huge Boss fan. So, anyway, I ended up going back to the drawing board and ended up getting the DD500 and now I have the MD500. I think the only thing I'm missing at this point is the RV500, which is the reverb option.
But all that to say, yes, there's so much good stuff that comes out of this pedal. I'm a huge fan of it. just again, excited to unpack all the different features that are in it. And I don't have necessarily a whole lot of complaints about it.

Eric Wilson:
Yeah. This one's really great because it really got to stand on the shoulders of something like the Mobius, because the Mobius has been out for a while. And so Boss really got to take that format. I mean, because you look at the MD500 and you can tell it's like they had the Strymon ones in mind when designed it all.

Scott Schwertly:
Oh yeah.

Eric Wilson:
So, it's really cool to see just kind of the leaps they've been able to make ahead in just advancing the technology, advancing the product, and what you can do within the menus and the routing options and things like that.

Scott Schwertly:
For sure. And speaking of Strymon, obviously the Strymon, that kind of trifecta there has been around for quite some time actually. Several years. Excuse me there. And this one actually just came out recently. So, like you mentioned, they had plenty of opportunity to sort of keep an eye on what Strymon was doing and mimic those things that are great and add things that are not on those Strymon products. And so this pedal here specifically came out just about three years ago. So, actually June 23rd of 2017. And like most Boss pedals, it's built like a tank. Super reliable. Really priced well, particularly when compared to a Strymon product. So, this will run you about 350, which is a great price point if you're wanting to get into sort of these really big box type pedals.

Eric Wilson:
Yeah. I do think it is built very well, especially for that price point. I mean, you can see when you look at the casing that there is a couple areas where they adjusted the kind of the design to be able to hit that price point that they were looking for. But overall it's a really good looking unit, really good functioning unit. I've enjoyed it so far. I don't know how it would fare if I had it on my board all the time, but I've enjoyed it so far.

Scott Schwertly:
Yeah. For me, it's been a good fitting, and I've been a huge fan of Boss. And so there's actually a couple of Boss pedals that I have that essentially were removed from my board because this one basically trumped it and kind of do everything I was looking for through one pedal, which is great.
We'll obviously start transitioning here and talking about some of the things that you can expect with this pedal and some pros and all that. Just a couple seconds here and we'll talk about some cons. If I had to pinpoint one thing I do not like about it is the fact that on the enclosure it actually sort of curves down where the foot switches are. And for me having it kind of at the top part of my pedal board with having other pedals kind of butting up against it below it, it was really hard to actually press down on those foot switches. So, I actually had to order, not too long ago, some pedal boosters for my pedal train so it actually elevates it by an inch or so off the ground or off the pedal board. So, if I had one complaint, we were talking about it's built like a tank, but with that, you're going to get this again sloping down of foot switches, which just not a huge fan of. I wish they would have thought through that a little bit more.

Eric Wilson:
Yeah. I actually didn't really think of that much. The one thing I noticed is, because I was trying to plug it into the stereo, and you can't use any other jacks other than straight jacks on the back of this thing because nothing can sit up against each other. You can't plug two cables in, and I'm like, "This is 2020." That was a problem with the DD20, but this is a long time after that. We should be past this.

Scott Schwertly:
Yeah. I actually did not run into that, but I can see how that's an issue for sure. But obviously all of these are more, I guess, aesthetics. Let's go and actually talk about tones and what you can get out of this. As I mentioned earlier, I mean, I'm super pleased with it. I've had an MXR Phase 90 on my board for a long time. I've had a Boss TR2 Tremolo pedal on my board. And this pedal, based on the tones that I can get from it, those pedals are no longer on my board. I essentially use this one to accomplish the sounds I want from those. With a pedal like this, again, this is a big stomp box. So, you're going to get essentially 12 modulation effects or 28 different algorithms. So, there's so much variety. And as you mentioned at the top of the episode, Eric, there's just so many signature sort of like legacy tones that are pumped into this. Everything from the CE-1 Chorus, that famous Boss pedal, to the Roland Dimension D to the 70 Script Phaser. There's so much that you can tap into.

Eric Wilson:
Yeah. And I think for me, that's where this pedal really shines is in the areas of chorus because that is such a staple for Boss, and they really nailed it. But just everything around that. There was a few of them that I'm kind of on the fence about. The Flanger wasn't my favorite, but I like a very specific kind of Flanger just because of the way I use it. But the vibrato, the chorus, the Dimension C kind of thing, and the Tremolo are all fantastic. It's one of those things where I definitely, especially for the price point, I would have no problem putting this on my board and using it for a long time.

Scott Schwertly:
Yeah. I mean, again, it's a great price point. I mean, typically $150 more than your typical Boutique pedal, and you just get so much at a lower price point. But again as we talked about in, I think previous episodes, I think we were actually talking about the Strymon Timeline. Maybe two or three episodes ago. I mean, like anything with tone, everything is so subjective. So, I mean, if you like that Boss sound, if you like that synthetic sort of digital sound that Boss puts out, you're going to love this. If that's not your thing, you're wanting something a little bit more, I guess, organic than... Something like a Strymon Mobius obviously would be the better bet than this one here.

Eric Wilson:
Yeah. I would agree, but I mean, at the same time, you look at the price difference and it's like, I think I could budge on that. I've heard of guys getting a DD500 and then returning that or selling that in favor of a Timeline, but I have yet to really see anybody go back to a Mobius from this. So, I think it just speaks to the job Boss's done with this pedal. And I was really intrigued by the MDE200, I think it is, the smaller one?

Scott Schwertly:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Eric Wilson:
Just because it's kind of like for most people, I feel like that can do the job that this would do or a Mobius would do, or even the Synesthesia that we talked about last week can do. But I think they're just doing a really good job of offering a really good product.

Scott Schwertly:
Yeah. And I'm actually the opposite of that. So, I actually started with the Timeline. It wasn't getting me the stuff I wanted. Again, keep in mind for those that have been with us since the beginning here, I'm really into rock and all that stuff. So, the Timeline just wasn't doing it for me. So, I ended up going to the DD500 and that actually got me the tones that I was looking for. So, I tend to be one of those guys that prefers digital. And again, if organic's your thing and you want that sort of tone again, Strymon will be perfect for that. But that's, again, completely subjective. Everybody's got their own opinion about it, but like we were talking about, price point gets you in the door for something like this. And it will hopefully serve you well.

Before we actually jump into controls and actually getting you guys to the demo, one other thing I think that's really worth mentioning with this, particularly again, if you're on that Strymon verse Boss fence, are the LCDs. For this one, I just love the bigger LCD on this as compared to a Strymon. Eric, you probably saw as you were kind of going through my settings, as you've been playing around with it. So, I have everything dialed in as specifically as a Morello for Tom Morello, like a Morello phaser or a Morello Tremolo, or even a Prince chorus. If you're doing something like "Purple Rain" or whatever it may be. I find the LCD just to be super user friendly. I feel like the controls are super easy to use. And kind of in that same vein, the one thing I love about this pedal is that I didn't have to necessarily feel obligated to plug into any additional software. It could basically go in, do everything on the pedal itself, where with a Strymon I felt like I needed to download Nixie, do everything in there. On this one, I could just do everything right where I was at, right at my pedalboard. Made it super convenient.

Eric Wilson:
Yeah. And I think there's something to be said for just that ease of use, but there definitely is a deeper level to this pedal where you can really dive in and get into a lot of the specifics once you get under the hood and into the menus and stuff. So, there's that capability for somebody who just wants what they see is what they get, to use it that way. But also if you want to dig through the menus and you want to do all of that kind of stuff, there's that available to you if you're the tweaking type.

Scott Schwertly:
Oh, for sure. I mean, it's plentiful if you want to go to that deep dive, but again, if you want to keep things simplistic, that's there as well. And again, that just goes back to one of those reasons I just love Boss products. I love this pedal. Excited to get in the demo here in just a sec.
Before we do that though, guys, as promised, we're just going to quickly go through the knobs, controls that are on this, what you can expect. And then we'll toss to the demo.

Eric Wilson:
Yeah. So, the 12 effects it does have is chorus, flanger, phaser, classic vibe, which is a [univibe 00:00:12:11], vibrato, tremolo, Dimension D, ring mod, rotary, filter, and then slicer, and then overtone, which is, I guess, this kind of like a [punkish 00:12:23] thing. I haven't had a chance to try that one yet. But as far as knobs, you do have the mode knob, you have a rate and a value knob that also clicks to get into your menu, select things, do things like that. A depth, kind of a blend between your effect signal and your dry signal, and then params one and two for whatever effect you're on.
And then you have your up down buttons, exit, and edit buttons for navigating your menus and things like that. An A and a B foot switch, and then a tap foot switch as well. So, overall pretty standard controls.

Scott Schwertly:
Yeah. Lots to keep you busy for sure. So, if you're curious to see what some of this stuff actually sounds like, we're going to plug in everything now and give you guys a taste of it. Eric, what guitar are you going to go with today?

Eric Wilson:
I'm going to go with the Strat.

Scott Schwertly:
Awesome. We're going to get this connected guys and we will see you on the other side.

Eric Wilson:
All right. That was the Boss MD500. Has a ton of options. Ton of sounds, lots of tweaking controls. You can pretty much do anything you could want with it. It's a great value, great pedal, great build. And I really enjoyed it.

Scott Schwertly:
Yeah. I mean, I'm in love with this pedal. I think it's going to be on my board for a while. Glad we were able to cover this one today.
Well, that's what we wanted to cover guys with the Boss MD500. Definitely a monster mod machine. Join us next time. We're going to cover another JHS pedal. And that is the SuperBolt. So, if you love Supra amps, if you love that Jimmy Page sound, this is what this pedal is all about. So, excited to cover that next time for episode 46. Hard to believe that we're approaching 50 episodes here.

Eric Wilson:
Yeah, it's crazy. Almost to 50 already.

Scott Schwertly:
Yeah. Four more to go and it'll be a really great milestone. So, excited for that and excited to join you next time guys as we get into the JHS SuperBolt. Until then have a great day, have a great week, and we will see you then.

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