The Boss Metal Zone was designed to basically offer the tones of a very high gain amplifier stack like a Peavey 5150 or Mesa Boogie Dual Rectifier, but in their classic and compact stompbox format. It features level and gain controls, as well as two dual mode equalization controls, one controlling lows and highs, the other controlling midrange and midrange frequencies. It is housed in Boss' standard compact pedal enclosure, with 4 knobs (the two EQ controls feature concentric pots). It runs on either a 9 volt battery or on Boss' standard PSA adapter.
Setting up tones with this pedal is very simple. It's designed to be a very extreme sounding distortion right from the get-go, so you know right away the type of tone you are going to get out of this pedal for the most part.
The level knob controls the overall output level you are hearing (turn it up for more, or down for less, very simple), the first EQ knob controls your low end (bass) frequencies as well as your high end (treble) frequencies. The second EQ knob controls your midrange amount as well as the frequency it sits in (more of a scooped sound or more of a boosted sound).
I've tried many different versions of this pedal through the years. They're very nice for a young musician who wants a metal tone on a budget. At the time that I owned/used these I was looking for a very classic metal sound like that of Metallica or other thrash metal bands. This pedal works well for that type of high octane tone, though it doesn't come even close to the sound of a good high gain tube amp like the 5150 or Recto. I preferred to boost the mids slightly so that I could be heard within the mix of a band, but still get enough cutting chunky tones out of it as well.
It tended to sound better when I was using higher output pickups like EMGs or Seymour Duncan Invaders. However, since I don't play that sort of metal music any more, those pickups are not something I use. As a result I don't think the MT2 would work for the type of gain tone I go for nowadays, which is more of a classic hard rock vibe.
All in all I feel that the Boss MT2 is a good pedal for someone on a budget who is looking for a classic metal sound. It's not recommended for someone who knows great tube amp tone, because it will almost certainly fall short, but for a sub $100 pedal it does an okay job at capturing a slice of molten metal tone.
The Boss MT-2 is one of the more infamous pedals in the Boss line up, and I don't mean that in a good way. Boss set out to create a crazy "heavy metal" to cater towards the metal scene that was prominent at the time. It features a level knob, distortion knob and a three band EQ along with a mid-band knob to adjust the overall tone of the pedal.
Boss actually did a really good job at throwing everything in there. It's housed in the famous Boss enclosures, so it'll withstand a nuclear bomb. That said, it also has a pretty bad FET bypass that sucks quite a bit of tone. The manual does a great job at describing what everything does, and first time users might want to glance it over considering this has a 3 band EQ that most people probably aren't used to.
The sound of this pedal is famous for its poorness. Basically, this pedal sounds pretty bad. The distortion is very harsh and buzzy, and there's no real way of cleaning it up. It's so over the top and noisy that it's almost unusable. I have no clue what Boss was thinking of when they released this pedal. The only saving grace to this pedal is that there's a trick you can do -- Given that it has a three band EQ, you can actually use this as a parametric EQ to boost the amp like a lot of 80s players did back when the Furman PQ-3 was popular. That's actually not a bad way of running this pedal, and it can get some decent tones as it's acting more like an overdrive than a distortion pedal.
Aside from the trick of using this pedal as an EQ to boost the amp, I really can't recommend this at all. It sounds way too buzzy and fizzy to be of any real use. Most people who buy these are beginners who have no clue what they're getting themselves into. What's worse is they tend to run these things through solid state amps which just square waves the entire signal into some awful mush they call distortion. There are some modders out there that can make them sound good, but I honestly don't think it's worth messing with.
The Boss MT-2 Metal Zone stomp box is a standard Boss enclosure with 6 knobs.
These controls include:
The pedal is powered by a standard 9 volt battery (which can easily be accessed by turning a simple thumb screw and opening the compartment under the "stomp" hatch) or a standard 9 volt adapter.
Dialing in a useable sound can be a bit tricky, due to the fact that the pedal always retains a sort of "cocked-wah" type of sound, but thankfully the eq controls cover a LOT of ground so a desirable sound can usually be coaxed out of this unit.
More pedals should have this type of eq section. Being able to choose what mid frequency you like and then adjusting the amount of it really adds a whole other dimension to the usual distortion box layout!
Here's where this unit falls a little short. Keep in mind I'm judging the sound quality of this pedal based on its performance against many other high end boutique units, as well as other cheaper production units such as Boss, MXR, etc.
As mentioned earlier, the eq section really lets you zone in on specific frequencies and dial in many different tones. The problem is that the basic distortion circuit and its overall tonal qualities are not the best compared to other units available. While there are tons of sounds available, I only found a couple settings really useable and convincing in a live environment.
That said, when dialed in properly for my rig, the Metal Zone produced a thick, sharp and tight Metal chug that was very present with a solid low end that never got messy, and nice mids. The only negative is that the high frequencies can sound little nasally. Everything from old-school thrash to Nu-Metal, and Modern "Djenty" tones can be achieved with this pedal. It just takes a little tweaking.
There are many modifications available for DIY'ers or from companies like Keeley, Analogman, Monte Allums, etc that clean up this pedal and open the sound up, making the distortion more natural and useable. It is a great modding platform!
As stated earlier, the only negative I can write about this unit is the average distortion tone and nasally character of the pedal. But the excellent eq controls and the fact that there are cheap modifications available make it a great pedal in my book.
It's been around for many years, and is the standard for heavy metal in a pedal. Buy one used for cheap and have fun!
- Controls for Volume, highs, lows, high mids, low mids, drive
- Solid construction, components.
- Powered by either 9v battery or 9v (-) adapter, standard Boss style
- Easy access battery compartment
- Bright red LED
- Buffered bypass
Pretty standard pedal setup, input, output, footswitch, power.
Controls for volume and distortion are likewise easy to setup. The 4 band EQ is a little more unusual in a pedal, and can be difficult to dial in for people who aren't familiar with it. The manual is pretty good about providing starting points for various genres and sounds.
Pretty reliable as most boss pedals are. Never had any issues with it.
There isn't a whole lot of leeway, the MT2 is definitely a metal guitarists pedal. It CAN be coaxed into producing more of a hard rock sound, but that isn't really what it was designed to do.
Overall, the sound is a little thin and fizzy. This can be capitalized on to achieve a very particular form of distortion, but it definitely doesn't have the bottom end that a lot of heavy music requires.
I've found that placing a graphic EQ pedal directly after the Metal Zone can really bring it to life through a little fine tuning. I've also heard great things about the Keeley and Monte Allums mods for it.
Keep in mind it uses the standard Boss buffer which doesn't do great things to your bypassed signal.
This pedal definitely has a bad reputation among guitarists and the online music community. To be fair, a lot of this has to do with beginners who run it through cheap digital amps that don't take pedals well at all.
But that aside, its not the best pedal out there. It is definitely no replacement for a good high gain channel.
This was the first pedal I bought many years back, and would have probably made a different choice had I been exposed to different options. In my opinion it just isn't worth the money when you can get a digitech TL2 or used Barber Dirty Bomb for the same amount of money.