The Boss Metal Zone MT-2 Review

boss metal zone mt 2 review

Boss is the No 1 go-to brand for guitar effects pedals. They have dominated the market for decades, offering a diverse and high quality array of effects for guitar players of all genres. From distortion, to loops, to chorus and multi-effect units, they have it all. When you buy a Boss pedal, it’s for life: the build quality of these pedals make them virtually indestructible. This is a major advantage for the working musician who’s gear needs to be durable. The MT-2 is no different.

Depending on who you ask, the Boss Metal Zone MT-2 is either the best distortion pedal ever made, or alternatively, the worst. It seems there is no room for middle ground with this pedal, and users either love it or hate it. While some metal-heads are enamoured with its classic metal sound, others compare its sound to a tin can full of bees, or a 20 year old broken car stereo. That said, the fact cant be ignored that since its release in 1991, it is one of the best selling Boss pedals of all time, even now. And although its popularity among users is divided, it remains a classic among metal and non-metal guitarists alike.

boss metal zone mt 2 main

Features

Metal guitar players have always been searching for pedals to push gain to the maximum. The MT-2 takes this quest to the extreme. It’s dual-stage distortion circuitry and 4-way EQ controls have led to its status as a classic. As soon as your foot engages this pedal, it is pure mayhem. It has a strong metal chassis in metallic grey, with orange tinted text and a rubberized stomp switch. It can run both on batteries or via a Boss PSA 9v power adaptor.

The MT-2 has a super high gain distortion, which makes for one of the most extreme sounding pedals out there. And this is where the polarization begins. Many users complain that this gain is just too extreme; almost uncontrollable. Indeed, just notching up the Distortion dial a fraction makes this pedal roar. It truly feels like this is a pedal that goes to 11.

This is what every metal-shredding guitarist wants though: Gain, gain, and more gain. The MT-2 is proof that you can definitely have too much of a good thing, though. It takes a fair amount of tweaking to tame the gain beast, which if overdone, sounds like your amplifier is playing through a layer of mud. A common tip among MT-2 enthusiasts is to not overdo the gain knob. As a general rule, keep it between the 9 and 12 o’clock position. Anything over that and things can swiftly get crazy. But once you dial it in to that magic spot, it unleashes a sound that even Metallica would be envious of.

4-Band Equaliser

The real advantage of this pedal is its ability to customise the EQ over four different spectrums. Both EQ control knobs are the signature Boss double-function controls. The left side control knob controls the standard high and low frequencies, a normal feature on most overdrive and distortion pedals. However, what really makes the MT-2 shine is the right side controls. The middle and middle freq controls take the sound options to the next level. It may take a bit of time and experimentation to really hone in on the sound you’re happy with, but once you get the hang of it, the options are endless. From thick riff-worthy rhythm tone to cutting lead overdrive, the options are all available. Beware: it’s a powerful EQ, and even the smallest tweak has a huge impact on your tone.

True-bypass

No matter what pedals you decide to add into your own unique effect chain, they will all in some way affect the quality of your overall tone. Different types of pedal wiring can either help or hinder your pedal chain signal. Even when most effects pedals are not engaged, the guitar signal still passes through the circuitry, which can cause a loss in tonal quality, especially at high frequencies.

The MT-2 has what’s called true-bypass. Put simply, this means that when the pedal is not engaged, your guitar signal is not compromised by passing through the circuitry of the pedal. It has a built-in specialised switching mechanism that routes your signal from input, directly to output when not engaged.

True-bypass is not all roses though. Ideally, true-bypass works best if your pedal chain is fairly small; three or four effect units. This is because the longer your signal cable, the more loss of tone you’re naturally going to lose. And every pedal in your chain is adding more cable length, and thus loss of precious tone. Non true-bypass, or buffer pedals, seek to mitigate this with clever wiring that lessens or stops the loss of signal. This buffer circuit regulates the incoming voltage, allowing a stronger signal. So like everything, there is a compromise.

Settings

Here are a few tried and tested settings to try on your MT-2. Bear in mind that these settings are not set in stone, as your guitar and amplifier sound will change the sound somewhat, but these are some basics to get you started.

Standard Distortion

This will get you a fairly tame, standard distortion sound, without the neighbours resorting to calling the police:

boss metal zone mt 2 settings 1

Level: 12 o’clock

Bass: 12 o’clock

Treble: 10 o’clock

Middle: 9 o’clock

Mid freq: 7 o’clock

Distortion: 9 o’clock

Tame but vicious

This setting is not quite rock but not quite mayhem, a nice middle ground between the two. It cranks up the bass giving your tone some meatiness, and cracks the distortion up a notch for additional grittiness.

boss metal zone mt 2 settings 2

Level: 12 o’clock

Bass: 3 o’clock

Treble: 9 o’clock

Middle: 9 o’clock

Mid freq: 7 o’clock

Distortion: 11 o’clock

Mayhem

Here is the mayhem setting. This is extreme distortion with a fat, cutting tone. This is for the dedicated metal-heads.

boss metal zone mt 2 settings 3

Level: 12 o’clock

Bass: 3 o’clock

Treble: 12 o’clock

Middle: 12 o’clock

Mid freq: 7 o’clock

Distortion: 2 o’clock

The options are endless. Tweak these settings and add or subtract EQ to make your own custom tone. Remember, as a general rule, keep the distortion below 12 o’clock, or 2 o’clock for an extreme maximum in order to not muddy the sound too much. The MT-2 has been used by metal, rock, blues and punk bands alike, so it’s a versatile beast with many options to experiment with.

Why the polarity?

In light of everything laid out above, why does the MT-2 cause such hostility and division among guitarists? The very fact that it’s one of Boss’ best selling pedals of all time, makes the argument against it pretty much void. The fact remains that almost every rock or metal guitarist has at least tried it.

One valid argument is that consumers nowadays want ease of use, and instant gratification. Without taking the time to tweak and adjust the MT-2, just switching it on can cause instant mayhem. This pedal really needs to have the time taken to understand it. And most MT-2 fans feel this is the reason for so much unwarranted criticism. Once you do take the time to understand and use it properly, it really is one of the best and most versatile distortions out there. Not only that, it’s a very reasonably priced pedal considering its notoriety, and won’t break the bank in order to get a great metal tone.

If all else fails, turn the volume all the way down, and you’ve got a perfect mute pedal, without compromising the tone in your pedal chain!

Modification

Wherever there are electronics, there are tech junkies who love to modify them. There are tons of books and websites dedicated to swapping notes and war stories about pedal modification.The MT-2 is a well known pedal in the modding community, due to its low price and quality components. There are even instructions specifically aimed at making the Metal Zone better.

Recording

As every recording engineer knows, recording metal guitar can be a challenge. The nature of metal music is distortion, and getting instruments to cut through this thunderous noise of bass and hammering drums is difficult. Due to the Metal Zone’s range of tones and customization capabilities, it can be really useful in a studio situation.

It is the very quality which divides it so much, that makes it great in the studio.

In Summary

Loved by most and hated by many, the MT-2 is a best seller for a reason. Any metal guitarist worth their salt will have tried it with different results, but it’s stood the test of time nonetheless. It’s a versatile, customisable pedal with plenty to offer users of almost any genre. Its rock-solid build and infamous tone combined with a low price tag make it a worthy pedal to add your arsenal. Adding its true bypass capabilities and modification options, it definitely deserves its divisive, yet legendary place among the annals of Boss pedals. It’s got an almost 30 year history to back it up, and no matter what anyone says about it, it’s definitely here to stay. This is a pedal that every rock or metal guitarist should have in their pedal-chain.