Oct '12

BOSS GT-10 Guitar Effects Pedal: How To Make the Connections to Obtain the Best

La versione in Italiano di questo articolo è disponibile qui: Collegare la Pedaliera BOSS GT-10 ad un Amplificatore.


Photo credit: BOSS Corporation

The BOSS GT-10 Guitar Effects Pedal, the flagship of their floor guitar pedal board products, is a compact and powerful unit that can provide an impressive amount of possibilities to shape the sound of your guitar.

But if you want to obtain the best from this jewel you must be aware that how you make the connections is crucial.

This article has the aim to save you the lots of time that is necessary in order to understand and master properly the various connection possibilities offered sharing with you my personal experience.

Inside the article there are some references to the GT-10 Owner’s manual that can be freely downloaded from BOSS here.

A guitar effects pedal powerful but complex

I own a BOSS GT-10 that I am currently using during my live performances, and the article is based on my personal experiences and opinions. Just for your reference, the following is my setup that my GT-10 is part of:

  • guitar: Fender Stratocaster original made in U.S.A.
  • effects: a BOSS GT-10 Guitar Effects Pedal only
  • amplifier: one Marshall JCM 2000 Dual Super Lead series DSL 100 tube head coupled with a Marshall JCM 900 Lead 1960 cabinet

The BOSS GT-10 Guitar Effects Pedal is the actual flagship of their floor guitar pedal board products. It’s a powerful
device, honestly I think that it’s incredibly powerful compared to its price, that is equipped with an high performance processor that relies on the latest BOSS COSM (Composite Object Sound Modeling) technology. Just to give you an idea, let me extract for you some facts and figures from its 152 pages long ( 😮 ) Owner’s manual:

  • the overdrive/distortion effect provides 30 types of distortion
  • the Preamp effect provides 41 emulates types
  • the FX-1/FX-2 units provide 34 types of different effects
  • the Delay effect provides 11 types
  • EZ tone interface that enables you to create your own tones intuitively
  • Phrase Loop feature that lets you record and play loop performances
  • Parallel chain function that lets you create two independent chains of effects where each one gives you full freedom to arrange effects in any order

just to mention a few. Wow, isn’t it? Yes, but all these power means even complexity, and despite BOSS has made an excellent job in organizing the Human Machine Interface and writing the manuals, believe me that the BOSS GT-10 is not easy to understand and manage. As a prove of this, I can give you a suggestion: if you are intentioned to purchase a GT-10, take a look to some music instruments equipments selling announcements on specialized magazines or Internet sites in your zone/country: I bet that you will find someone that has played a little bit with his/her brand new BOSS GT-10, has been discouraged by its complexity and now is selling it at a lower price affirming that “it’s not for me“. 🙂 I have purchased my one in this way, half of the price and with still 8 months of guarantee left ! 🙂

My first controversial experiences with BOSS GT-10

When this product started to be around, since we are in the Internet era I watched some demo videos about it made by BOSS with outstanding guitarists like Paul Hanson, Robert Marcello, Johnny DeMarco, you can watch some examples here. The impression that I had was positive, I heard many interesting and diversified tones, and had immediately even the sensation that it was a powerful and complex machine.

The second step was going into a musical instruments shop and try one with my guitar. They provided me a GT-10 and its 152 pages long manual, a small combo amplifier and two jack cables. I asked suggestions about how to connect properly the stuff, and I was suggested to connect everything in the most classic way possible as showed in figure 1:


Figure 1 – Photo credit: BOSS Corporation

I experimented for a couple of hours the GT-10, trying the factory presetted patches, configuring the effects, browsing the manual in order to understand something more. In the end I was extremely tired and the impression that I’d had wasn’t as good as the one that the demo videos had given to me. The main reason was that I hadn’t heard a clear difference changing basic aspects of a tone like the type of preamp in a clean sound or the type of distortion in a distorted one. I wondered why, but at the same time I was aware of the complexity of this device, and was quite sure that a couple of hours are not enough to master it.

Anyway I decided to purchase one, thinking that it would have been an improvement to my setup and that spending some time to understand better how to use it would have brought better results.

The secret is in the connections

Once I had my own BOSS GT-10 Guitar Effects Pedal I started to dedicate time to understand it better and learn how to get the best from its possibilities, and discovered that the connections between the GT-10 and the amplifier are crucial in order to obtain the maximum results. The Owner’s manual at page 22 describes all the possible connections as shown in figure 2:


Figure 2 – Photo credit: BOSS Corporation.

one possible subset can be the classical one shown in figure 3:


Figure 3 – Photo credit: BOSS Corporation

this connection scheme works fine if you are not interested in using all the possible preamps simulations given by the COSM technology. You want to use your BOSS GT-10 as a group of pedals: your guitar’s signal is processed by compressor, overdrive/distortion, chorus, delay, reverb and so on, and then goes into your amplifier that shapes the sound according to its tonal characteristics.

But the preamps simulations given by the COSM technology are one of the powerful characteristics of BOSS GT-10. The wide set of diversified clean, overdriven and distorted tones that it can produce depends on them, and you cannot appreciate them with the scheme illustrated in figure 3. The reason is simple: if you use a preamp simulation into your GT-10 it shapes your guitar’s sound with its tonal characteristics and according to its controls (gain, treble, middle, presence and so on), but your external amplifier will do the same a second time with its preamp, and the resulting effect is not good. The last amplifier tends to prevail, and just like in my test in the musical instruments shop you don’t hear a clear difference changing basic aspects of a tone.

If you want to obtain the best results the right connection scheme to be used is the one illustrated in figure 4:


Figure 4 – Photo credit: BOSS Corporation

the important point is the connection of GT-10 output to the return input of your amplifier: this means that you send your sound directly to the power amplification section of the amp, and it doesn’t change significantly the tonal characteristics of the sound, it just amplifies it as it is. The BOSS GT-10 only acts as the preamp, and in this way you can fully appreciate the powerful simulations given by the COSM technology. Make a simple test: switch on only the preamp unit of your GT-10 and select as a type “Clean TWIN“, that is a simulation of a Fender Twin Reverb amplifier, or “BG Lead“, that simulates the lead sound of a Mesa Boogie combo amplifier, and listen by yourself.

The EXT Loop connections to send and input of your amplifier are optional, but if you make them you add the possibility to insert even your amplifier’s preamp into the BOSS GT-10 effects chains. For example, in my setup where I have a Marshall JCM 2000 Dual Super Lead series DSL100 tube head I use its amazing distortion.

But don’t forget to make the right settings for the connected device

After having decided which connection scheme to adopt, it’s extremely important that you take care of the OUTPUT SELECT settings, see page 25 of the Owner’s manual where it’s stated that “to derive the maximum performance from the GT-10, be sure to make the correct setting for OUTPUT SELECT, the one that’s most suitable for your setup“:


Figure 5 – Photo credit: BOSS Corporation


In order to learn how to change these settings read page 25 of the Owner’s manual.

Then if you are using the connection scheme illustrated in figure 3 for the Select parameter you should choose one of the followings:

  • JC-120

while if you are using the connection scheme illustrated in figure 4 for the Select parameter you should choose one of the followings:

  • JC-120 Return
  • COMBO AMP Return
  • STACK AMP Return


Related articles

BOSS GT-10 Guitar Effects Pedal: How to Memorize Guitar Pickups Selection

Changing Marshall JMD presets from a BOSS GT-10

BOSS GT-10 or BOSS GT-100? That is the Question


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BOSS®, COSM™, Fender, Marshall and Mesa Boogie are trademarks of their respective owners.



5 comments to “BOSS GT-10 Guitar Effects Pedal: How To Make the Connections to Obtain the Best”

  1. Martin J Potter Says:

    Admiring the persistence you put into your site and in depth information you provide. It’s good to come across a blog every once in a while that isn’t the same outdated rehashed information. Wonderful read!

  2. best online guitar lessons Says:

    best online guitar lessons

    Musician Land – Let’s talk about music

  3. Graeme Says:

    Hi great read but what if I have a small amp with no return?

  4. Valerio Martinuzzi Says:

    Hi Graeme,

    if you have a small amp with no return you can only use the connection scheme illustrated in figure 3.

    Then unfortunately you cannot fully appreciate the powerful simulations given by the COSM technology for the reasons explained in the post.

    I suggest you to create anyway your tones tailored to your setup, guitar plus amp, you will obtain some interesting ones. What you will miss will be the simulated amps sounds of GT10. You can use them, but they will be affected by your preamp tonal characteristics.

  5. Yasser.Monsef Says:

    Try to use AUX in your small amp….

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