Despite it's ongoing reputation, I honestly don't believe it to be a terrible "high gain" distortion/fuzz pedal.
I guess, because it was never my first pedal, nor have i paid attention to it in my early gear years. & having only really fx gear acquired from 2016 onwards. Having studied my 10 band EQ (& others for that matter), rethinking my tweak of the MXR Bass DI+ because its EQ shelving is far appart from each frequency, & as of recent having sat down with my swollen pickle fuzz & tweaked it to deliver what i wanted for fuzz on bass.
I understand where the "bad" tones from the metal zone can pop from, however there's a simple format to follow on how to tweak it to sound its optimal. It's a touchy EQ system, i'll admit which if you're looking to get a good sound directly, should consider being patient with the unit & themselves. My approach was starting with everything at noon (aside from the mids freq & level), leave the mid level around 1 oclock & shift the mids freq knob to where are satisfied with (given on guitar or bass the freq i wanted was different), then given that freq range, i'd either have it cut, or boosted. A good rule is if its in the low mids spectrum i'd have it cut (from minimum to about 10 oclock), if its in the high mids i could either cut or boost slightly (anywhere from 10 oclock to 1 oclock). Then i would tweak the Gain: if i wanted full blown fuzz, noon & above, or semi controlled distortion; noon & below. Then set the bass & treble, however i view them as resonance & presence to the overall tone - which makes the most sense, considering the treble can add too much fizz, & the bass adds more woofiness. Less is more in this case, let the mid frequency/mid level dictate the overall character, & let bass & treble be your accents.
I think its name is its bigger downfall. Yes it has sold millions, but no "pro" actually uses this on their board. Cause owning actual high gain amps & using "proper" dirt pedals like a ds1, or tube screamer if you're inclined to boost in such ways. If the metal zone was named/marketed differently, it might've faired more positively than the hate it gets. I guess just like the JCM900 dual reverb, coming after something which is highly praised (jcm800 in its case, vs the HM2 for BOSS), people expect a lot from the new comer which is suppose to be the successor. If the metal zone wasn't part of the "metal" family, & more on the "FZ" family of BOSS pedals, it would've been in better light. Not competing with its predecessor, rather being it'sown unique voice.
Truth be told, the zone kicks on bass (& guitar) in comparison to the ODB-3. It's EQ gives it a better edge, & i feel if i had an octave pedal before it, i'd pull off some weird chaos. It could probably cop some overdrive dirtiness by keeping its gain knob lower than 9 oclock. With its power EQ, it can give anything you'd seek character tone wise.
Easy to find on the used market for way less, if you're inclined, take your time with this pedal, & give it a chance to speak beyond the bashed hate it gets.
Boss Mt-2 Metal Zone
- 3.5/5, 3.5 from 2 reviews
The classic super high gain distortion from Boss
It's infamous for a reason
- 2.75/5, 2.75 out of 5, reviewed Apr 21, 2021
- Build Quality:
- + Built like a tank like all Boss products
- + One of the few more affordable pedals that comes with a 3 band EQ and a mid sweep
- + Can be had for cheap used
- + Makes for a good mod platform
- - Way too much distortion on tap, even for a metal focused pedal
- - EQ controls have too much range (+/- 15 db) and are extremely touchy due to the size
- - Almost useless if placed in front of an amp; works best in effects loop
Ah, the Boss Metal Zone. One of the most storified pedals ever created, along the likes of the Electro-Harmonix Big Muff, the MXR Phase 90, the Arbiter/Dunlop Fuzz Face, the Ibanez Tube Screamer, and more. You would think this pedal would be one of the classics, that everyone would have one on their board regardless of what instrument is being played, that companies, ranging from the large builders to the small shops operating out of garages, would clone this legendary piece of electronics, and that it would become almost a requirement to own. While it is certainly legendary - this is Boss' second best selling pedal, with their pumpkin orange DS-1 Distortion taking top honors - it's legendary because it's bad; well, not bad, but it's more complicated.
On paper, this pedal should be the be-all-to-end-all metal pedal. Boss loaded the Metal Zone with a three band EQ, with the lows and highs claiming to have a ±15db range, a mid sweep with a range from 200hz to 5khz, a generous level control, and more distortion than you could shake a stick at. This should mean that, yes, you can use this as a Tube Screamer to goose your tube amp, or better yet, go through a clean amp, crank the distortion, and br00talize your tone until you start guzzling Monster Energy and punch drywall. Scoop the mids, and you get that instant "SlAAaaaAAAAyyyEEErrrRR!!!" tone that everyone is chasing. And as for bass? Bring down the walls, your bass is now a jackhammer and your job is now demolition. At least on paper. So what does this mean in practice?
Well in actuality this pedal is probably one of the hardest to sound good. There is a reason why this pedal is memed into oblivion; it sounds like garbage. The first reason is that there is simply too much distortion. The first thing that comes to everyone's mind concerning the Metal Zone is that it has the classic "can of bees" sound. On bass it is even more apparent, with the tone becoming very shrill to the point of discomfort. There is honestly no need for the Metal Zone to have this much distortion. I get it that Boss wanted to outdo everyone else, but in doing so they created a pedal that becomes very useless very quickly. When hooked up to the front of my DI (a DSM Bass Simplifier), the pedal already starts with too much gain. Anything more and it becomes hilarious how much distortion you can cram on. That said, the Metal Zone's woes do not end here.
The EQ section is probably the biggest downfall of this pedal. Put short, it has too much range. The ±15db range offered by the lows and highs (Boss makes no mention of the decibel range for the mids) on paper sounds great, but then you have to take into account the tiny knobs. This means you have controls that are super sensitive, and every little move can have a great impact on your tone. Couple the fact that you can easily and effectively kill off any mid frequencies you have, and you're left with a pedal that can turn your tone into an unrecognizable mush, and that's before the extreme gain. With the pedal in front of the DI, I can make my tone harsh as hell, and possibly injure people if I am not careful. So is this pedal even usable for bass?
Well, kinda. Youtube videos have come out that for guitar at least, you can make this pedal sound good if you put it in the effects loop of an amp, turning the pedal into a preamp. The gain becomes a lot more usable, the EQ controls, though still sensitive, don't turn the pedal into sonic warfare. You'd think that the same would be true for bass. Run the pedal into the effects loop and it would sound good, right? Well, yes, sorta. Running the pedal into the effects loop of my DI does certainly tame it and make it more usable. There are good tones to be had here, but again there is simply too much distortion and you risk going into the dreaded "can of bees" territory. You can use it as a fuzz, but Boss's own MD-2 Mega Distortion pedal does that job better and of course you can just get a fuzz. I have noticed that running the DI without any amp VST in Reaper does make the Metal Zone sound better, but running the Audifex Gallien-Krueger VST makes the pedal harsh and unpleasant (considering I personally own a GK amp, this is important for me). Usable tones exist here, but are far fewer than without the VST.
So why did I try out this pedal? I came across a site by a gentleman named CrankyGypsy that catalogued the late Peter Steele's rig, from his amps, to his basses, to his effects. While Steele most likely did not use a Metal Zone, CrankyGypsy found that using the MT-2 gave a good approximation of the Green Man's signature tone by running it into the effects loop of his amp (coincidentally, a GK 800RB). While I like the Mega Distortion, I figured the Metal Zone would just have that much more control (which it does, though too much) and I can further sculpt my sound. I contacted my guitarist to see if he had one that I could borrow, and sure enough he did, and thus lent it to me for a short period of time so I can try it out. Ultimately, as of writing, all the Metal Zone has given me is a headache, and the trusty Mega Distortion is back on the board.
In all, this pedal is infamous for a reason. It has too much distortion and the EQ controls are too sensitive for their own good. Boss did release a Waza version of this pedal in 2018, which sorted out the too-touchy EQ and introduced a mode switch to further sculpt your tone. That pedal is $154, and while I don't think that is a terrible price for a pedal, it is $154 for a Metal Zone. If you can get this pedal to work for your settings, then hats off. I can only recommend this pedal if you are running it into the effects loop, or you find a screaming good deal on one, or you buy a modded one (Metal Zones are great mod platforms from what I have seen), or you pony up for the Waza version. Otherwise, consider a different pedal.
- Pedal Type:
- High Gain Distortion
- 1 9 volt
- EQ / Controls:
- Level, Distortion, 3 band EQ plus mid sweep
- From Guitar Center:
The Boss MT-2 Metal Zone Effects Pedal offers precision control over tone. Dual-gain circuits scream with super-long sustain and seething distortion. A 3-band EQ includes High/Low shelving knobs plus a midband parametric EQ. The Boss MT-2 Metal Zone Effects Pedal has separate Level and Distortion knobs to put just the right amount of edge on your signal.