Review: Boss GT-1000 Guitar Effects Processor

The Boss GT-1000 is the answer to many guitarists’ prayers.
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Calling the Boss GT-1000 a guitar effects processor is like calling Amazon an online shopping site. While the description is technically accurate, it doesn’t really tell the whole story. Sure, the new Boss unit contains a selection of overdrives, distortions, delays, modulators and reverbs, as well as specialty effects like Slicer, Slow Gear and others, but it does so much more. The GT-1000 aims to provide an all-in-one solution for getting great sound on the fly. To that end, it also offers an array of guitar amp models and configuration possibilities that take into account the diverse needs of modern guitarists.

There’s much to love in the GT-1000. Its models sound and feel great, thanks to Boss’s new AIRD (Augmented Impulse Response Dynamics) technology, which is supported by 32-bit AD/DA, 32-bit floating-point processing and a 96 kHz sampling rate. AIRD is much more than a marketing acronym, as I found the amps and effects responded to picking dynamics and guitar volume adjustments as smoothly as their analog counterparts. I could dial in fully believable sounds to cover a wide range of needs, including country clean, blues breakup, rock raunch, fusion finesse and monstrous metal.

Boss has obviously put some thought into the GT-1000’s potential applications. Its output section let me modify the patches for use through various amps, like a 1967 Fender Bandmaster with a 1x12 cabinet or a Supro Comet combo with one 10-inch speaker, or go directly into Ableton Live via USB. You can also adjust the GT-1000 to sound optimal through an amp’s effect return, a power amp driving guitar speakers, a full-range monitoring system and other configurations.

The unit’s routing system lets you arrange numerous rigs in various series and parallel options, with mono and stereo signal paths divided and mixed at multiple points. In addition, you can send different rigs to the main and sub outputs and optimize the sound for each destination. For example, you can send just the effects to a guitar amp input and give a direct feed with amp modeling to the house P.A. The outputs include independent ground-lift functions, making it easy to deal with hum issues introduced by differing destinations.

The GT-1000’s hefty DSP makes patch switching ultra-fast and allows delay spillover. What’s more, the two effects loops let me switch a Fairfield Circuitry Unpleasant Surprise fuzz and an EarthQuaker Devices Spires Double Fuzz into the signal path at will. (Even though the GT-1000 offers Muff, Fuzz Face and Octave Fuzz pedals, you can’t have too much fuzz!)


By default, the main footswitches are assigned to select patches, patch banks and three control assignments, but you can reassign them to control other functions, including tap tempo, parameter adjustment and more, in either latching or momentary modes. The GT-1000’s Assign Matrix also makes it possible to allocate different colors to the status LEDs above the switches.

On the minus side, the GT-1000’s panel interface is difficult to navigate. The company states, “In making sure that you never run out of DSP, Boss has opted to not allow you to add or delete effects blocks. All the available blocks are visible at all times.” Unfortunately, the result is that the small size of the blocks makes them difficult to read, and much extra scrolling is required. And since you can’t add, say, a third distortion block, you can’t stack a treble booster and an overdrive while still having a fuzz. (Boss states, “Block categories are pre-defined so that the user never experiences an out of ‘DSP/Memory’ message. The benefit of this approach is everything is visible, always available, and you have instant switch time. The negative is some limitations. For example, you can’t run four amp tones at the same time because it is predefined to having only two amp tones possible.”)

Navigation gets easier when using the Boss Tone Studio app on a smartphone or tablet to edit the GT-1000 through Bluetooth. The app GUI is much easier to read and work with, and even makes it possible to record a loop in the GT’s looper and adjust tones from the audience side while roaming the venue.

The GT-1000’s Assign Matrix lets you allocate different colors to the status LEDs

The GT-1000’s Assign Matrix lets you allocate different colors to the status LEDs

GT-1000 has too many features to cover here, and apparently too many to cover adequately in the manual, which is underwritten and hard to understand. Getting many of the features to work required repeated emails and calls to Boss, who were very helpful.

Once the GT-1000 was up and running, it became obvious that it could be the answer to many guitarists’ prayers. In this era of fly dates and baggage charges, the fact that its low-profile footswitches reduce size and weight, while maintaining the bulletproof quality for which Boss is famous, is a major plus. And let’s not forget that feel and sound. With AIRD, Boss brings a new level of realism and musical response to digital signal processing, one that promises authentic tonal dynamics and consistently great sound from one gig to the next.


PRICE $999 street

EFFECTS TYPES Distortion, dynamics, modulation, EQ, delay, reverb, filter, wah, volume/pan and pitch; also includes Boss MDP effects and algorithms ported from the DD-500, MDS-500 and RV-500 pedals
INPUTS ¼" mono, ¼" effects return (x 2), 3 x ¼" (control/expression, amp control)
OUTPUTS ¼" main outputs (L/R), XLR sub outputs (L/R) with independent AIRD output select settings, ¼" headphones out, ¼" effect send (x2) MIDI In, Out/Thru
USB Type B
WEIGHT 7.93 lbs

KUDOS Wonderful-sounding and great-feeling effects and amps, extensive configuration possibilities, compact size
CONCERNS Confusing and incomplete manual, crowded effects chain interface