Have you ever heard that too much of a good thing is not a good thing. How about too much of an average thing? That’s really what you get with the Boss HM-3. Yes I do realize I am reviewing a pedal that was first introduced 22 years ago!
This pedal was bosses highest gain pedal until the MD-2 was released in 2001. (Highest gain from 1993-2001 eight years of madness).
As a tweak monster, I hooked this bad boy up to an oscilloscope right away. The first thing I noted, is that there is no cleans possible engaged. Even with the gain all the way down, there is radical waveform clipping. The clipping is a cross between a triangle and square pattern, so think of that when thinking of the tone.
The controls of this are pretty self-explanatory. The distortion level goes from 8 to about 1.6 billion. There is too much distortion on tap with this monster and it is not controllable. On a plus side, easy to create the metal scooped sound.
The good: Tons of distortion on tap. Great for hair metal bands. Please try and make sure you keep your hairspray out of the pedal as it will void the now expired warranty.
The not so good: Sounds blah when played through a high end tube amp (such as a marshall, etc..) sounds disgusting through anything solid state. Expect notes and noises from alien life forms when leaving this pedal on too long. Sends pings to local police officers to write disturbing the peace citations when played for more than 30 minutes. Same old boss look we have been seeing forever and will see forever.
- Visual Appearance: 3 out of 5 stars. The same old boss gig.
- Construction: 4 ½ out of 5 stars. After 22 years, mine is still there, with a ton of paint gone, it still works great. – ½ star for being the same old boss gig.
- Ease of use: 2 ½ out of 5 stars. Takes a very long time to dial in to get a useful tone. Some people will not be able to dial in good tone no matter what.
- Tone: 2 ½ stars out of 5 stars. Noisy, gritty bad clipping scheme. Will make anything single coil sound like doggy doo doo. Hard to dial in usable tone. Impossible to dial in low overdrive, not that anyone who would buy this would.
- Value: 3 out of 5 stars. Very average tone, but can be usable sometimes…. maybe. For under $30 if you want some silly crazy over the top distortion, then go for it. Not for tone snobs, or those who do not have a mullet. Hairspray not included.
Overall Rating 3.1 out of 5 stars. You should be able to find one cheap for under $30.
Afterthought. Boss (a division of Roland) has really come up with anything new and amazing for quite some time. They had a few success stories with the DD-20 and loop station, but nothing like the hype EHX has created. Boss has been stagnant entirely too long and need to release something new and innovative to remain competitive in the market. EHX has an amazing drive for $10 more than the Boss Super Overdrive, which is a pretty average, hard to dial in pedal that sounds, just pretty average.