Thus far we have discussed the individual stompbox effects pedal as the way to add the bite and crunch of distortion or to provide you with modulation like chorus or flange. In this blog we will discuss the all-inclusive multi effects pedal as an option to have a veritable cornucopia of different effects in a programmable smorgasbord of configurations at your disposal all in one compact unit. You can find multi effect units in a wide variety of configurations from rack mount, floor based, table top, or as software packages for your computer. For the purposes of this discussion, however, I will focus on the first two as they are the primary models used in live performance but the general discussion applies to the others as well.
One of the most obvious advantages of a multi effects unit is its relative size. In order to have access to all of the effect possibilities offered it would be virtually impossible to have the similar effects in individual stompbox form. For instance the BOSS ME-25 has 25 different effects including distortion, chorus, and delay among several others and also has presets already configured that instantly allow you a punk, metal, rock, or blues tone out of the box. Even if you had the floor space for all of those effects boxes you would get the greatest workout of your life as you did the crazy stompbox dance every time you wanted to change sounds. A multi effects processor allows you to switch between any disparate sound with a depression of the footswitch. Simple as that.
In addition to the presets on whatever multi effects processor you purchase, you can not only create your own from scratch but can also tweak existing settings to fine tune your own tone. Most will allow you to do this and save to a new location so that you do not lose the original setting and now have both. You can also store and edit the effects on our computer. Most manufacturers these days also have webpages and forums for owners/users to share their creations with others so you can download and install on your unit which generally connects to your computer with a USB cable. You also can use most as an audio interface to record directly into your computer’s DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) without having purchase another external interface or having to mic your amp. Recording simplicity at its finest.
From my own experience having owned and used multi effects units in the past, I much prefer the distortion I get directly from my tube amp and in a band setting think that the “processed” sound can get buried in the mix as it doesn’t have the heft to cut through, especially if there is another guitar. One potential way around this is to not use any of the built in distortion effects when playing live and then use others like delay or echo to alter and boost your rhythm signal for going into a shredding solo. For home recording and practice, these units are ideal for exploring the world of guitar sound capabilities if you do not have a modelling amp with built in effects.
The technology in the new breed of multi effects units is really impressive as well and the possibilities are seemingly limitless when it comes to crafting unique aural soundscapes from your guitar. So drop by your closest Best Buy and see what they can potentially do for you. Shopping and testing is half the fun!