Guitar effects pedals were originally developed to give the guitarist sounds not achievable by amp or guitar alone, (unless you’re Jeff Beck). But since then they have become indispensible in creating almost every guitarist’s individual tone. They’ve contributed to many classic records along the way as well, including the wah wah solo on Cream’s ‘White Room’, or Andy Summer’s chorus sound on early Police tracks like ‘Roxanne’.
It’s a brave fellow indeed who doesn’t rely on at least one effect pedal, even if it’s just a volume boost, to give him that much needed lift when solo time comes along. But because pedals are relatively cheap and tend to be acquired by the player over time, we all end up with what can only be described as an agglomeration of them, almost certainly too many in fact to fit on a pedalboard all at once. You can mix ‘n’ match, but then what happens? You sound different every time you play, and end up confused and probably dissatisfied with your performance or gig as a whole.
If your garage floor resembles anything like the above then you’re probably already in trouble. However, there is a solution. It is of course the multi effects processor, which admittidly has been around a long time in one form or another. The very first ones were pretty unsophisticated affairs, not much more than a couple of pedals rehoused in a plastic case; no tuner, no editing and certainly no choice of preamps or cabinet types.
It was around 1998 that Roland released the Boss GT-5, which although digital, was a good sounding unit and had all the features which have since become standard -wah or volume pedal, presets that can be edited and stored, stereo outs, a cab simulator, MIDI, and a couple of effects which had been discontinued as individual pedals. Currently, Roland’s flagship models are the Boss GT-Pro, which is suited to studio use, and the ME-70 floor unit for gigging.
But the big step forward for all guitar effects was of course modeling. Line 6 led the way with the POD, versions of which have become an indispensible tool for any guitarist who records music at home. The POD XT Live is the one to look at – it includes all the modeling preamps, cab models and effects in one user friendly unit.
You still see pro guitarists with a few beaten up old pedals gaffa-taped to the stage, and I guess if it works you stick with it. The other important consideration is this: if you add up the cost of all the effects as separate units, it’s going to make the multi-job look like very good value indeed.