The 11 Best Multi-Effects Pedals for Guitar
The quality of multi-effects have jumped tremendously since they were first introduced. These days, you can find many of them on stages and in studios, used by musicians of various musical styles and backgrounds.
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Multi-effects are meant to simplify what would otherwise be complex and expensive gear. And since sound quality has improved so much, they are now also highly regarded for sound quality and versatility, to the point where even critics are finding less and less things things to complain about!
Given the advantage that they bring, it is not surprising that there is high demand for them. And so we present you with our list of the best multi-effects pedals, an extensive list that covers both flagship models and affordable compact ones, we've also thrown in some details and tips on finding the right features for your needs. Whether you want to expand your tone options, or looking to replace your bulky pedalboards, these top rated multi-effects units will get the job done.
Things to Consider when Buying a Multi-Effects Processor
Portability is a key advantage that multi-effects pedals provide over traditional stompboxes. You'll want to carefully consider how much weight you want to carry around and how much space is available for the unit you're getting, both for transport and for playing. Flagship units are usually heavy and bulky, but they offer the most features, while compact multi-effects pedals are more streamlined and are easier to carry around.
Versatility and InterfaceHaving to deal with too many buttons can lead to frustration, and have led some to revert back to regular pedals. To avoid this, you want to carefully consider what effects you actually use, and those that you may use in the future and go for just that. Looking at how the interface works through various youtube videos also helps, to give you a better idea of what you'll be dealing with. Remember to keep it simple, this way you get to focus more on developing your skills and music, rather than spending time on endless tweaking.
Budget and Sound Quality
The more features you want, the more you have to stretch your budget. And it's not just about having more features, because highly regarded great sounding multi-effects units like the Fractal Audio FX8 and Line 6 Helix command steep price tags. If you're looking for studio level quality, then you'll need to save up.
Reliability and Upgradeability
It's really hard to actually break multi-effects units these days, well unless you drop them or stomp like a mad man. Still, reliability should be considered, specifically the type of housing used and the quality of the footswitches and knobs, which preferably should be metal. In my experience, cheaper effects units with plastic buttons and exterior have broken down after a few years, while my POD HD with its metal enclosure still looks and feels new years after I bought it. Units that include free future upgrades are worth considering, since these means that you get more value for your money, each time a new feature, preset and other improvements are available for download.
The Best Multi Effects Pedals
|Following up on their widely popular and successful POD HD line of multi-effects, Line 6 has upped the ante yet again with the Helix, their latest flagship unit with improved natural sounding tones, and more intuitive control interface.||See our detailed review below|
Fractal Audio FX8
|The Fractal Audio FX8 brings the company's sought after hi-fidelity audio processing technology into familiar multi-effects form factor, it is essentially a streamlined AxeFX converted into a floorboard unit.||See our full review below|
|With years of experience in building traditional single effect pedals and being one of the first to release programmable multi-effects pedals - it is only natural to expect that Boss be a part of this list.||See our full GT100 review below|
|TC Electronics have produced some of the most innovative gear in the market, so it goes without saying that they deserve a spot on this list. The G-System showcases just what they can do, a feature packed unit with impeccable quality.||See the full review below|
|To me and probably many other guitarists, the brand name Zoom is synonymous with affordable and reliable multi-effects units. One of their older effects processors, the Zoom 3030, reliably served me for years...||See our detailed review below|
|Digitech is another brand that is popular for their multi-effects unit, so it won't be a surprising to find their flagship model, the RP1000, made it into this roundup.||See the full review below|
Compact Multi-Effects Pedals
|The GP-10 is highly deserving of its prominent spot, because this compact unit expands your sonic palette with its potent combination of modeled guitar effects and synth/MIDI capabilities.||See our full review below|
|Although not as well known for their multi-effects, Vox has slowly but surely been expanding their line-up of multi-effects pedals...||See our full review below|
|As the name implies, the M9 Stompbox Modeler is a guitar processor that specializes in providing realistic stompbox emulation along with true-to-form traditional controls.||See our full review below|
|With the money to buy two or three single effect pedals, you can actually get over 30 effects and 10 amp models if you pick the compact yet featured packed Boss ME-25.||Extended review below|
|Bigger is not always better, especially for those who want to travel light, so manfuacturers like Zoom have come up with interesting miniature multi-effects units. The MS-50G MultiStomp is a perfect example, having the footprint of a regular sized pedal, but with the convenience and versatility of big guitar processors.||See our full review below|
Guitar Multi Effects Pedal Detailed Descriptions
Line 6 Helix
Right from the get go, Line 6's bread and butter has been digital sound processing, and they have not strayed from their chosen path ever since. Even in the face of critics, they have continually improved to the point that they've simply become the standard by which other DSP gear makers are measured - in terms of balancing quality and value for money.
As expected, Helix carries over the latest and the best technology that Line 6 could offer while keeping the price reasonably accessible. And like its predecessor, the widely successful and popular POD HD series, Helix has quickly gained traction in the market, receiving favorable reviews and recommendations from artists, experts and users alike. Being a fan and owner of a POD HD unit, I was skeptical at how much the quality would improve, but the general consensus is that helix is a big upgrade in terms of sound, dynamics and most notably, it is easier to setup and make adjustments.
There's a whole lot of sounds that you can get from this one unit, it lets you play around with digital representations of 70 effects, 45 amps, 30 guitar cabinets and 16 mics. And to ensure high quality rendition of the modeled sounds, Line 6 equipped the Helix with Dual DSP-powered HX modeling engine, which is more than capable of not only processing audio, but of running multiple effects at the same time. Finally, I for one attest to the longevity of Line 6 effects, having been using my POD HD for many years now without even a little hiccup. With its great balance of price, quality, versatility and reliability, the Line 6 Helix is highly recommended.
Fractal Audio FX8
Some guitarists just don't care about amp modeling, but they do want the flexibility of effects modeling. This is where the Fractal Audio FX8 comes in, a streamlined version of their popular AxeFX processor, stripped of its amp modeling features and retaining only the effects section. Since the FX8 is true to its multi-effects label, it is a meant to provide stompbox modeling to guitarists who want to switch out their analog pedals while retaining their preferred amplifier.
The FX8 allows you to run up eight effects simultaneously, with a long list of effects to choose from. Each of these effects are configurable with editable parameters, allowing you to personalize your virtual pedalboard. You can then save your settings into presets which you can quickly recall, which lets you switch entire pedalboards in one go. There's no point to versatility if the quality of the effects are low, but since the FX8 uses the same algorithm as the latest Axe-FX, you can be sure that each one is as close to the original as technology will permit, where even seasoned players will have a hard time figuring out which is which in a blind test.
If budget is not an issue, and you're looking for a premium multi-effects unit that ranks high on everyone's wish list, then get this one.
You can visit Fractal Audio for further details.
With years of experience in building traditional single effect pedals and being one of the first to release programmable multi-effects pedals - it is only natural to expect that Boss be a part of this list.
Their current flagship multi-effect unit, the GT-100, shows just how much their technology progressed, while at the same time staying true to the tone requirements of the past. With 44 effects and 200 presets to choose from, the feature-packed GT-100 is truly an powerful tone machine.
While the Line 6 POD HD500X specializes on modeled amp-like tones, this guitar processor is sought after for the quality of the pedal/rack type effects that it carries. The sound is so close that even those with the sharpest ears will have a hard time telling the effects found on the GT-100 from a traditional stompbox. My only complaint was that some of the factory presets are too crazy, but like me, you can get great sounding tones after a few tweaks. Especially since Boss utilized their years of experience to make sure that this complicated machinery is run via a stompbox like interface.
Boss GT-100 is a true contender and usually sells for around $499.
TC Electronic G-System
TC Electronic knows how to make jaws drop with their ideas and implementation and the G-System is a great example of their fancy designs turned into practical equipment, with its incredible balance of versatility and quality.
Since sound quality and flexibility is already a given for a brand like TC Electronic, lets highlight one of the G-System's cool and practical features, which is the ability to switch between floorboard and rack mount form factor. This makes setting up more flexible and convenient, a great plus for professionals that have to play different stages regularly.
Instead of going the jack-of-all-trades route, TC Electronic limited the G-System to effects that professionals will actually use. And in a brave move, they chose to skip the overdrive section all together because professionals will most like already have a distortion/overdrive/preamp unit that they like. So instead of adding a features that won't get used, they equipped the G-System with pre and post effects loop, which make it easier to integrate drive pedals and other effects. If you're looking for premium quality multi-effects to support your favorite amp and overdrive pedal, then do check this one out.
The retail price for TC Electronic G-System is usually priced at just under $900.
To me and probably many other guitarists, the brand name Zoom is synonymous with affordable and reliable multi-effects units. One of their older effects processors, the Zoom 3030, reliably served me for years, I was even able to sell it in working condition! Their latest flagship model, the Zoom G5n, follows this same combination of value and reliability, with even more features and improved tone.
Modern multi-effects features are present in this unit, including 5 tube amp models and 68 effect models plus USB recording. But it doesn't end with just the usual variety of effects, rather it goes beyond the features of other more expensive multi-effects pedals. While other effects usually have just one LCD screen, Zoom G5 comes with 5 LCD screens for better monitoring your settings. For some reason, Zoom removed the 12AX7 tube circuit that was included in the previous generation Zoom G5, but they make up with more control options and improved amps and effects modeling. Also improved is its front fascia interface and footswitch options, making this one of the easiest to setup and use in this list.
Finally, Zoom G5n, with all its extra features, is currently retailing at a much lower price point than the competition, for just under $300! Even if you have enough budget for more expensive units, this is one multi-effects pedal that is worth considering.
Digitech is another brand that is popular for their multi-effects unit, so it won't be a surprising to find their flagship model, the RP1000, made it into this roundup. This pedal has a distinct mechanical and rugged appeal, which is not in any way deceptive, because this is truly built for years of use as can be vouched for by many players. There is more to this workhorse than just its solid exterior, the RP1000 allows for deep control and extended signal routing capabilities to easily integrate into any rig.
While most modern modeling pedals work better when plugged into powered speakers, the RP1000 works equally well with actual guitar amps, behaving like a traditional pedalboard at the push of a button. With over 160 Amps, Cabinets and effects, this multi-effect unit is a true jack-of-all-trades, thanks to Digitech's sound modeling technology. To control the extensive sounds that you can get, Digitech equipped the RP1000 with a generous amount of switches. There are 10 heavy-duty metal switches that you can easily set up to work like a regular pedalboard with single pedals, or to work as patch switchers. The built-in expression pedal looks and feels as sturdy as the switches, and it will let you control Digitech's most popular effect, the "Whammy", which is also included in the pedal. If you are looking for a reliable companion for your gigs, the RP1000 may just be the right multi-effect pedal for you.
Digitech RP1000 is currently selling online for under $300.
The Boss GP-10 is a compact guitar processor unit that goes the extra mile, giving you Synth/MIDI effects which are simply not available from others of the same price range. But it's not just about the synth effect, because for something so small, this pedal can do quite a lot with 89 effects and 30 amp models, allowing for a wide spectrum of sound that would already be overkill for the typical guitarist.
While the COSM effects used on this unit are all great, the GP-10's standout feature is still its Synth capabilities, which will work with the Roland GK-3 MIDI pickup. If you don't have this MIDI pickup yet, retailers are selling the GP-10 with the non-invasive and easy to install GK-3 pickup bundled, and at a steal price. Once you attach the GK-3 pickup and plug it into the GP-10, your tonal palette expands tremendously, because the GP-10 can transform your sound into other instruments, much like a keyboard. Many customer reviewers were impressed with the performance of the GP-10 bundle, with no noticeable tracking lag while providing natural sounding synth and modeled instrument tones. It is simply jaw dropping how this compact unit combines amp modeling, effects, synth and MIDI, and it is easily the best bang per buck multi-effects unit in this list. Get this if you want to enter into the realm of synths, without the usual bulk and cost that it entails.
You can get the Boss GP-10 for under $400.
Vox StompLab IIG
Although not as well known for their multi-effects, Vox has slowly but surely been expanding their line-up of multi-effects pedals. One of their more popular releases is the StompLab IIG, a super-affordable and compact multi-effect unit that gives you 104 effects for the price of one traditional pedal. For something so small and inexpensive, this multi-effect unit will let you cover a wide variety of musical styles.
Having a large number of effects can be a double edged sword, allowing for more sonic flavors at the cost of more time spent in tweaking your settings. Thankfully, Vox was able to design an intuitive set of controls that will fit the small surface area of the pedal, even players with little to no experience with effects will find the StompLab IIG to be a breeze to use. Although some would complain about the sound quality, many of the pedal's presets, especially the Vox style clean, crunch and mid-gain tones would easily surpass your expectations.
For just $90, the Vox StompLab 2G is easily the most accessible in this bunch.
Line 6 M9 Stompbox Modeler
As the name implies, the M9 Stompbox Modeler is a guitar processor that specializes in providing realistic stompbox emulation along with true-to-form traditional controls. It sheds off the amp-modeling features of the POD HD Series and focuses all its processing power to providing great sounding effects, resulting in some of the best sounding effects emulation that is available today.
Line 6 packed the M9 with over 75 effects that carry the same sound as found on their popular pedals including the DL4 Delay Modeler, DM4 Distortion Modeler, FM4 Filter Modeler, MM4 Modulation Modeler, Verbzilla, and many others. But even with this many features, for an effects-only modeler, the M9 is still priced quite high. But after trying it and hearing it in person, I understood why it still sells well in the face of cheaper competition - great sound. The Line 6 M9 Stompbox Modeler is another worthy investment for those that are looking for great tone.
The Line 6 M9 Stompbox Modeler is currently selling for just under $400.
With the money to buy two or three single effect pedals, you can actually get over 30 effects and 10 amp models if you pick the compact yet featured packed Boss ME-25. Like its bigger brother, this multi-effect utilizes the same COSM technology but without the extra fluff, giving you the same tone quality but at a more wallet friendly price.
Don't be fooled by the lower effects count, because all essential effect types are well represented in this compact box. From clean to high-gain, this pedal will let you cover virtually all contemporary music styles and with minimal setup time. Compared to the flagship GT-1000 model, this is even easier to setup and use, which makes it a great tool even at hands of beginners. Other features that are bundled with the ME-25 include a 38 second looper, built-in USB recording capability and it comes with its own expression pedal. Although small, the ME-25 is more than capable of handling live performance and studio work, and it does so without the extra cost and space requirements.
The price tag for Boss ME25 is $199.
Zoom MS-50G MultiStomp
Bigger is not always better, especially for those who want to travel light, so manfuacturers like Zoom have come up with interesting miniature multi-effects units. The MS-50G MultiStomp is a perfect example, having the footprint of a regular sized pedal, but with the convenience and versatility of big guitar processors. In addition to convenience, its form factor makes it easier to integrate into existing pedalboards.
This is not your average stompbox, because it can give you a wide variety of tone options, with over 47 modeled effects and 8 amplifiers that you can combine to form your virtual rig. You can use up to six stompbox and amp models in a single preset, with flexible chaining options that let you setup the effects however you want to, all within the pedals intuitive interface. With over 30 default presets and 50 user presets, you have enough room to vary your sound by a whole lot, and do so with just a single stompbox. And don't let the tone snobs scare you with their digital fizz issues, because as the video below will show, you can get a lot of inspiring tones from this compacy pedal with some patience.
The retail price for Zoom MS-50G MultiStomp is currently $99.99.
Was your favorite multi-effects pedal included? Share your personal recommendations and experiences with multi-effects at the comments below.
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