Boss PN-2 Tremolo/Pan

Boss PN-2 Tremolo/Pan Although it has since become one of their most highly regarded pedals, gathering a dedicated following along the way (including several famous names), the PN-2 wasn’t the success Boss had hoped for when it was launched.

According to sources, manufacturing lasted only 10 months during 1990, with only around 16000 units made. Perhaps its failure to meet expectations was due to the time period; the tail-end of the rack dominated years and the shift to floor-based multieffect units?

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Right away, I should say that the PN-2 is a personal favourite of mine and has been for many years. In my eyes - and to my ears - its reputation is well deserved. Housed in Boss' familar compact case, one of the first things you'll notice when plugging it in is that - unlike many stereo pedals - it has two inputs as well as outputs; it can actually be used in a stereo rig without compromising on placement. Thank you, Boss!

The PN-2 is a simple pedal. It only offers a choice of two waveforms, yet there is enough variety available to keep most trem-fans happy.

From a tonal point of view, the PN-2 is very neutral - it neither attempts to sound 'warm' (or dull!) like some other pedals do, nor does it thin out your tone like other pedals can.

Is that a bomb?

Boss PN-2s are prone to clock noise problems - when the pedal is bypassed, you can hear a constant ticking noise at the rate at which the effect is set.

However - and this is the important bit, this problem only arises if you don't have any active circuitry before it in your signal chain - that could be a buffered pedal (such as another Boss pedal or a tuner) or any activated pedal (maybe you have an always-on boost, EQ or compressor) - so many PN-2 users will never experience this issue.

The other common complaint about PN-2s is in relation to the sweep of the rate control; it goes from very slow to very fast, but most of the more useful settings are bunched up towards the top end of the control's sweep. It's not a major problem though - I've been using PN-2s for many years now, and this particular issue has never really bothered me.

The King of Chop

The triangle setting takes you from gentle fluctuations up to throbbing, amplifier tremolo-like effects, while the square setting is there for when you want a harder edged tremolo or on-off stutters.

The PN-2's square wave setting is particularly noteworthy; few other tremolo pedals are as hard-edged and many have square wave modes that don't completely cut to silence. The PN-2 does.

So far, I've focused on the PN-2 as a tremolo and, while many guitarists will use it as such in a mono set up most of the time, its name is PN-2 Tremolo/Pan after all...

PN-2 controls reverse

I feel dizzy

Certain other 'stereo tremolo' pedals (for e.g. Electro-Harmonix Stereo Pulsar) automatically switch from tremolo to panning effects when you use both outputs - and I just hate that. If I'm playing through two amps, I still want my tremolo to be a tremolo. The PN-2 differs in that it offers its two panning modes (triangle and square) in addition to the tremolo modes.

Some stunning effects can be attained using autopanning; trippy, spinning, swirling goodness. Once you experience a good stereo effect, it's hard to go back to mono.

The Boss PN-2 is a classic. Simple as that.