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Thread: Multi Effects Units

  1. #1
    Professional Dreamer journeybear's Avatar
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    Default Multi Effects Units

    Back in the late 1980s I bought a Yamaha REX 50 multi-effects unit to help get the sounds I wanted with my electric without having to get a whole lot of different pedals. I liked it a lot, not only because it featured fifty different basic sounds (hence the name), with variations possible of several parameters of each effect's components, but also the ability to combine diferentefects and create customized sounds. I was able to dial in a few sounds I really liked, and my basic go-to sound was a combination distortion and reverb that produced a strong, flexible, expressive sound that allowed me to just play and use musicality to take it the rest of the way. (Distortion was for "fattening," reverb for sustain and flow.) I devised some sounds for certain songs, like a distortion/delay combo that I adjusted the delay time to coincide with a blues shuffle tempo - pretty sweet. I liked being able to customize sounds like that.

    The wee beastie served me well for nearly 25 years. I picked up a Korg something-or-other at a yard sale that wan't as good, but got me through for a while. I got a Fender Super Champ XD amp that has a bunch of built-in effects - though only 2-3 factory presets for - and it does have that warm tube sound. But since I'm currently biking to gigs, it's a bit of a hassle transporting - doable, just a bit clumsy. I was thinking of getting another multi-effects unit which I could use with a smaller amp that has no effects.

    Does anyone have suggestions for what to look for? I liked the size of the Yamaha, and it would fit in my bikes milk-crate-cum-basket, but I'm sure there have been some improvements in technology over the last quarter century. Our local music shops have nothing of the sort, so I'd be buying online, on faith. I'm looking to spend less than $100, though I'm flexible. I wouldn't mind getting something lightly used, if it opens up possibilities.

    Thanks in advance!
    But that's just my opinion. I could be wrong. - Dennis Miller

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  2. #2
    its a very very long song Jim's Avatar
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    Default Re: Multi Effects Units

    Zoom G1on Guitar Effects Pedal
    I have used several over the years , just got this one mostly because it syncs a looper to the drum machine and I use it for practice at home. The way it syncs is problematic for using the looper/drum in performance. That said, the effects are good. The presets I have tried are not for me, but I have added a little compression to a couple channels as well as some reverb and gotten a good sound from several different guitars and mandolins. The pedal is quiet and turns off when you unplug your instrument cable from it. has several effects that can be stacked in the order you want. some amp simulators that warm up the signal nicely and the looper, drum machine i mentioned. It is the "Zoom G1on Guitar Effects Pedal" and is quite small, costs $50 on Amazon and runs on 4 AA batteries. Got mine free because of points I get buying gas on my credit card. I've used Zoom pedals in the past and they held up for lots of gigs and practices. one for 12 years+/-.
    Jim Richmond

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  4. #3
    Registered User jmkatcher's Avatar
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    Default Re: Multi Effects Units

    I'd go with the current generation Zoom MS50G which can be easily found for under $100. I have a older Zoom G1, which is discontinued now, and was nice for the money then, tiny and ran on batteries forever (I think I paid $79 for mine a few years ago). I do think having a better screen for a more intuitive UI is worth it, though. I always needed the G1 manual to figure out what I was setting on the 2 digits of LED display and there's a _lot_ in there.

    P.S. I see there's a cheap $49.95 G1on with a better display, but I think the MS50G sturdiness is worth the extra.
    Last edited by jmkatcher; Sep-27-2015 at 9:17pm.

  5. #4

    Default Re: Multi Effects Units

    From someone who has used various multieffects, including all the Zoom models mentioned:

    The G1on and G1xon make it easier to skip around in the patches during live use. If you want to switch from a mild distortion to a drive for a solo, and then back after a solo, only the G1on and G1xon let you go backwards in the patch list.

    As much as some people have made claims about the lack of durability of the Zoom G1on enclosure, I have never actually found an example of such a failure happening online. I always look when I run across yet another theoretical objection. As a positive counterexample of a documented problem, one can easily find stories about the failure of the TC Electronic Toneprint pedal footswitches.

    ----

    Going for the G1xon adds an expression pedal, usable on the wah, filter, for volume swells to combine with the octaves, delays and reverbs for ambient wash goodness, and so on. Look up "ambient guitar effects" on YouTube for examples of how you can stack effects in the multi, and of how such combinations sound.

    Whatever you choose, good luck!

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    Registered User Chris W.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: Multi Effects Units

    I have been using a Digitech RP 500 for my electric guitar for a few years now. The 500 is big and vast in its capabilities, but the 300 or 200 series should offer a lot at not that much cost. Basically the pre-programmed patches are useless to me, but you can create your own. And with a little tweaking I found some very useful tones. If I go through my amp, I switch the modeling off and just use it as an effects switcher. If I go direct to the mixer, I use the modeling and switch between my own custom presets. I also use it as a direct box for my piezo equipped mando at times with decent results. If all you are looking for is some overdrive, delay, and chorus/reverb, the RP series can definitely get you that.

  8. #6

    Default Re: Multi Effects Units

    Just FYI, the RP500 and RP300 won't take batteries. That matters to some folks, and I occasionally use a battery-powered acoustic amp at things like vinyard wedding events and such.

    Second, the Zoom effects let you arrange your effects chain however you want, and to even use duplicates of effects as long as you aren't exceeding the processor. The Digitech RP series has a set effect chain, as do other multis.

    I've got nothing against set effect order, as one of my favorite ambient rigs is a Boss PS-3 pitch shifter feeding a Boss ME-50. The modulated reverb and delays are so tasteful, and again, a rig which is easy to set up and battery powered!

  9. #7
    Professional Dreamer journeybear's Avatar
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    Default Re: Multi Effects Units

    Thanks for the responses! Now I've got some homework I mean research to do.
    But that's just my opinion. I could be wrong. - Dennis Miller

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  10. #8
    Professional Dreamer journeybear's Avatar
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    Default Re: Multi Effects Units

    Here's what I've learned so far. The Digitech RP 300 and 200 have been discontinued, as has the Boss ME-50. That's OK, as I was most impressed with the Digitech RP 500 and the Zoom and G1xon. I like the integrated "expression pedal." I have a Morley volume-wah which I'm pretty happy with, but these pedals manipulate (pedipulate?) the other effects these units offer. The Zoom MS50G looks a bit clunky to use in a live setting - I could be wrong about that, but the notion of reaching down to fiddle with knobs mid-set or even mid-song isn't appealing. That's one of the drawbacks of the REX50 - without the footswitch I had to have it on top of the amp or such and press buttons to switch effects. The Digitech runs for $200, the Zoom for $70, so there's that. I've seen and heard the Digitech in use, and it looks like a beast - in the good sense. The Zoom looks a little rinky-dinky, but that appears to be deceiving. These both offer looping as well, which is intriguing.

    Though I was looking to simply replace what I already had, both of these seem to offer so much more as well, and could lead to more capabilities for the future as I sort through what they can do. Thanks a lot!
    But that's just my opinion. I could be wrong. - Dennis Miller

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  11. #9
    Professional Dreamer journeybear's Avatar
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    Default Re: Multi Effects Units

    Well, I went and pulled the trigger on a used Yamaha REX 50 on eBay for $50. I figure the familiarity of its operation will be a plus. Since I'm really looking for just one magical setting at the moment - just have the Italian restaurant background music gig, soon the seasonal Cajun-country-bluegrass band will be starting up - so simplicity is fine. But I'm looking to the future and having some fun exploring the instrument's capabilities, so having a full arsenal will be key. That's what units like these will be able to provide me.
    But that's just my opinion. I could be wrong. - Dennis Miller

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    coprolite mandroid's Avatar
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    Default Re: Multi Effects Units

    then there is the Roland Guitar synths though the input is a per string Pickup, divided.

    this is the current one http://www.roland.com/products/gr-55/
    way Not $50..
    writing about music
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    Default Re: Multi Effects Units

    mandroid - I used to have a Roland hex pickup on a Les Paul (this was in my pre-mandolin days). Was always a lot of fun. Got rid of most of my electric instruments (did keep one LP & a G&L AST) after getting my 1st mando.

    I can't imagine how this would translate to a mandolin - not that I'd really want to.

  14. #12
    coprolite mandroid's Avatar
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    Default Re: Multi Effects Units

    have a set of RMC Bridge piece pickups added to my 5 string electric , which has its own section,
    http://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/fo...ring-Electrics

    but up in this section, yea, the discussions are centered around acoustic 8 strings,
    and equipment for them, primarily.
    writing about music
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  15. #13
    Professional Dreamer journeybear's Avatar
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    Default Re: Multi Effects Units

    I contacted a friend of mine, a guitarist, sound engineer, and gear head from NYC, who said:

    I would just stick with the Yamaha....there's nothing quite like those mid 80s rack effects....get as many of them as you can on ebay....they're cheap...there's nothing around now that's going to sound like that. There's this nifty little box by Alesis called the Nanoverb. I buy them whenever I see them...fifty, sixty bucks...if I'm on a live sound gig at some stupid bar with no usable effects I throw this little thing in my bag and presto.

    You can also try the Alesis Quadraverb GT Guitar Multi-Effects Processor. Or if you really want something NEW you can try the NovaSystem. The TC stuff sounds great and it has analog circuitry.

    But I would stick with the older stuff as long as you can get it.


    Anyone familiar with any of these units?
    But that's just my opinion. I could be wrong. - Dennis Miller

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  16. #14
    Registered User Perry's Avatar
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    Default Re: Multi Effects Units

    If you like mid-80's rack sounds the Strymon Flint does those plate reverbs very well BUT it also does vintage verbs and tremolo sounds well.

    I sort of like my distortion to be in a different box...not a huge fan of one size fits all any more...though I've owned quite a few

  17. #15
    Professional Dreamer journeybear's Avatar
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    Default Re: Multi Effects Units

    That Flint is an amazing box. Pretty pricey, at $300. Great demo video. But maybe someday, that would be a real fun toy to play with.
    But that's just my opinion. I could be wrong. - Dennis Miller

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  18. #16
    Registered User foldedpath's Avatar
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    Default Re: Multi Effects Units

    Regarding the Alesis NanoVerb and Quadraverb GT:

    Quote Originally Posted by journeybear View Post
    Anyone familiar with any of these units?
    Yeah, I've owned both in the past, and I think there is still a Quadraverb GT stashed in a closet around here somewhere.

    The reverb quality of those old Alesis boxes isn't that great... kinda thin and grainy, compared to most modern gear. I stopped using it as soon as I could afford something better, like the TC and Lexicon rackmount stuff, and then the TC G-Natural pedal I used for a while. Now I'm just using the built-in reverb and delay in my compact mixers, which I still think is a cut above that older Alesis gear (especially the Lexicon chip in the Soundcraft series).

    The Quadraverb GT has some amp simulation for distortion along with the other FX, but it's nasty... and not in a good way. You would do far better with a modern distortion pedal, or one of the modern multi-FX pedals with a good distortion section.

    The NanoVerb might be okay if you're just using it for some light ambiance through an acoustic amp while busking, but note that it requires AC wall wart power, so it's not a good choice for battery-powered busking.

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