Boss effects are one of the great friends of the working musician—built like tanks, easy to buy anywhere, and in some cases, the source
of truly inspiring sounds. Boss pedals like the DD-series delays, BD-2
Blues Driver, TR-2 Tremolo, VB-2 Vibrato, and even the ubiquitous DS-1
Distortion have worked at the feet of pub rockers and superstars alike.
With the ST-2 Power Stack, Boss is taking aim at players that need to
get huge stack tones out of a combo amp.
The ST-2 comes in the same aluminum casing Boss has used for an
eternity, but in this case it’s entirely black to convey its strictly rockist
intentions. The pedal uses Boss’ excellent silent footswitch, and the
relatively simple control set includes Level, Bass, Treble, and Sound. As
you’d expect, the Level control is an output knob you can use to match
the volume to your clean setting or hit hard to push the front end of
your amp. Bass and Treble offer wide-sweeping EQ to fit many different
tonal profiles. The Sound control ranges from Crunch to Drive and then
Ultra—in other words, light distortion to extreme metal gain.
Built for Heaviosity
I spent the vast majority of time with the ST-2 playing my ’74 Les Paul
Custom into a 3rd Power American Dream amp switched to the amp’s
exceptionally clean blackface channel—an ideal blank slate for evaluating
the ST-2’s distortion characteristics. With all controls set midway,
the pedal already sounded aggressive. And the halfway mark on Sound
could easily be the full up setting on many gain pedals I’ve played.
When cranked, ST-2 turned into a screaming banshee!
Because there is such a wide throw on the Bass and Treble controls,
they can boost the volume significantly—necessitating adjustments to
the Level knob. As mentioned, Sound changes the character of the distortion,
thickening the sound more and more as you turn it clockwise.
Right around 11 o’clock, I dialed up a pretty mean approximation of
Ritchie Blackmore’s “Man on the Silver Mountain” tone that remained
fairly dynamic and responsive to a varied pick attack. And that’s one
thing that’s consistently impressive about the ST-2: Every note is sharp
and percussive, and pick attack nuances only become more defined as
you increase the Sound settings.
Perhaps the ST-2’s only shortcoming is a lack of midrange control.
There is an inherent midrange heaviness that can sound like a half-cocked
wah depending on your amp and guitar tone settings, and
this can be a challenge to get rid of. And while the added presence
surely adds something to the pedal’s capacity for note articulation, it
could be the difference between certain players loving or having little
use for the ST-2.
The ST-2 is a kind of embodiment of the go-big-or-go-home concept.
It’s clearly a pedal for making your tone heavy. And given that there
are plenty of gain/overdrive/distortion pedals in the Boss line for
creating more sedate overdrive flavors, it’s pretty cool to have such a
heavy-hitting specialist in the mix. The ST-2 may not be for everyone,
but for those who want portable, raging tone and killer pick attack
without hauling a 100-watt head and ten tons of 4x12s will be thrilled.
you need access to aggressive, heavy-gain
voices in your combo amp.
your Blues Driver provides all the distortion
you need and Extreme isn’t your