When I write an article such as the one written on December 19th, 2007 “Guitar Stomp Boxes Versus Effects Processors Continued, ” I look forward to people who are thinkers who ask me to do more research on one or more areas of said product I may not have covered. I relish the opportunity to learn more myself by doing more research in order to dig deeper and expose more pros and cons of a piece of equipment or type of equipment. Inquiries such as “which floor model multi FX (effects) guitar modeling processor delivers what is advertised of it and is affordable” is legitimate question. Affordable to me is about four to six hundred dollars.
The Question: “I am really interested in the DigiTech GNX4 Guitar Workstation, the Vox ToneLab LE Valvetronix Guitar Multi Effects Pedal and the Roland GR-20 Guitar Synthesizer with GK-3. Could you please write one of your reviews on this equipment? It’s for my rockingout boyfriend who’s too busy rocking to read this blog! Thanks, Danny. You’re my man.”
The subject happens to be of great personal interest to me also. This will be fun. Even though I have a variety of effects pedals, I keep thinking about the multi FX units a lot. They have such accurate sounds and have so many options to work with that loosing about 50 pounds sounds good (pedal board and pedals, pedals, pedals). Several of the models that I want to examine myself were asked about. The first three models already interest me and the fourth and fifth ones turned out to be well worth looking into. Here they are. Understanding that there are hundreds of units available ranging from one hundred dollars to thousands of dollars. This is a tough comparison. Essentially all of the machines listed below are excellent products at affordable prices. All have terrific warranties. Personal choice will probably be the deciding factor for most guitarists.
1. DigiTech GNX4 Guitar Workstation. This is the multi effects pedal I consider to be the one to get. It seems to do it all, it has enough effects to keep me occupied for a while, a drum machine, recorder/looper and super cool software. Any time you get a hi tech piece of guitar equipment such as this take the time to learn to use all of its features first (RTFD), it will save more time with less frustration (causing you to hate the piece of equipment) in the long run than just jumping in not knowing it’s intricacies. The manual is very readable and detailed. The sounds pre sets are all excellent and changeable. Very suitable for an acoustic guitar and of course my electric guitar takes me further into the zone!
Let me give some prominence to the recorder/looping aspect. You can record and play along with yourself and the drum tracks without any gaps with the optional foot-switch. You have the capacity to dub/overdub up to 8 tracks, you can even download MP3 music to jam with for fun or practice! The features that make this machine or any machine desirable to me are the JamMan Delay Looper. Built-in MIDI drum machine with multiple patterns and kits, plus MIDI file compatibility are a must have nowadays. Midi In, Midi Out and Midi Through connectors allow a synthesizer to be used with this machine.
Listen to sound clips or watch the video demo.
The DigiTech website has a lot of usable info including downloads, manuals, videos and more. There’s even a “GNX4 user community forum” where you can swap patches, listen to other GNX4 owners songs, talk the talk about the GNX4 and get some different hints and tips. I’ve learned a ton about the GNX4 in terms of how to use it and some of the mind bending things it does that regular guys like me don’t even think about. You won’t have time to be bored with this baby! The price is a super bargain considering all of it’s features, functions, it’s overall sound quality, great software and the overall satisfaction one gets when a product like this exceeds your expectations.
2. Vox ToneLab LE Valvetronix Guitar Multi Effects Pedal. The cutting edge 24-bit Tonelab LE makes it difficult to make a choice. Midi In & Midi Out are included in this unit and as I listed above that is a must have feature. Although the software is not as nice as the GNX4. It does have several improvements over its popular predecessor, the Tonelab SE. One of the features includes a new five-mode amp line out voiced specifically for a variety of applications, including playing into different amp types to direct recording and performing live through the PA system. The new Tonelab LE could not be complete without some new effects! An original and new metal distortion sound will appease your fix for excessive gain. A slap reverb completes the ambient effects and a multi-tap chorus allows you to independently execute chorus taps for the left, right and middle outputs, producing surprising depth in larger venues. Vox turned 50 years old this year. The longevity of a company usually indicates that they have provided quality products with superior service for a long time. Vox products fit into that category to a tee.
Listen to sound clips or watch the video demo
3. Roland GR-20 Guitar Synthesizer with GK-3 Divided Pickup. Roland is one of the few effects manufacturing companies that continues to develop the guitar synthesizer as a mainstream instrument choice, which is terrific. With good reason, many guitarists tend to be leery of the way guitar synththesizers track their playing and of the quality and accuracy of the synthesis results.
The Roland GR-20 Guitar Synthesizer with GK-3 Divided Pickup is the ultimate MIDI pedal for guitars. Ever wanted to thicken up your guitar sound with a warm synth pad? Or how about a screaming lead sound that puts you in front? The GR-20 Guitar Synthesizer makes playing high-quality synthesizer and instrument sounds from your guitar as simple as 1-2-3. First, attach the included GK-3 Divided Pickup to your steel-stringed electric (no drilling necessary). Second, select the type of sound you want using the Bank knob. Third, choose a sound variation using the Number/Value dial and start playing. With the GR-20, it’s easy to tap into the power of guitar synthesis. Guitar Synth or Compact Pedal? With the GR-20, it feels like both. Selecting a sound is like choosing an effect. First, select a sound category using the Bank knob. Categories include Strings/Orchestral, Wind, Brass, Bass/Guitar, Organ/Keyboard, Piano, Synth/Lead, Voice/Pad, Ethnic, and Rhythm/Percussion. Now you can select individual sounds using the Number/Value dial. Rolands sounds exceptional along with the tracking at the heart of the GR-20 it is an advanced sound engine based on Roland professional synthesizers. Sounds can be played with up to 48-voice polyphony for full, rich-sounding patches. And the sounds are equally impressive. From expressive string ensembles to spiritual tabla loops coupled with sitar all with adjustable attack and release. Sophisticated DSP makes the GR-20 pitch detection ultrareliable, so you can strum with confidence. Take Your Guitar Playing Further. Want to create a sound that all your own? Try blending the natural sound of your guitar pickups with the GR-20. Thankfully, the GK-3 Divided Pickup makes this easy via a larger and smoother knob. Imagine playing chords and then slowly fading in a swirling, breathy pad to create intensity. Or how about playing a distorted lead on your guitar with a thick synth lead sound? Now take this a step further with the GR-20& Patch Link function. It allows you to easily assign GR-20 patches to match effect patches in MIDI-capable processors such as the BOSS GT-6.
Included is the GK-3 Divided Pickup when you buy a GR-20, you also get a GK-3 Divided Pickup and GK cable in the box. In other words, everything you need to start playing synth sounds is included! The GK-3 is 30% thinner than its predecessor, and it now uses a 1/4 ” jack for normal guitar input. The pickup includes an adjustable curve design to keep an even distance between the strings for better response (the pickup cable length is also adjustable). Owners of Les Paul-type guitars can install the GK-3 pickup safely using a special attachment plate included in the box.
Listen to sound clips or watch video demo
Note: A synthesizer is basically a guitar FX processor with a pickup that goes on the guitar. It synthesizes the normal sound of a guitar into many special and accurate sounds such as Strings-Orchestral, Wind Instruments, Brass Instruments, Bass Guitar, Organ-Keyboard, Piano, Voice-Pad, Synth-Lead, Ethnic Rhythms-Modes, and a complete Rhythm-Percussion section.
Synthesizers are very cool, an affordable one such as the Roland GR-20 is a great vibe for the bulk of guitar players. It adds a dimension to making music that can’t be duplicated any other way without highly costly models or the actual instruments they emulate. Which, of-course is not practical.
4. Line 6 POD X3 LIVE Guitar Multi-Effect Pedal. The user friendly POD X3 and stage ready POD X3 Live represent the evolution of a classic. POD X3 and POD X3 Live come loaded with the all around sonic fireworks of a top flight recording studio, while its larger LCD and well designed new controls make it easier than ever to read and operate on stage.
It has one of the largest arsenals of effects, amp models for guitar and bass guitar and stomp boxes available in a box in this price range. One of the most asked for features is a routable effects loop. People want the routable effects loop which adds the extra flexibility that the Boss GT-8 has. A routable effects loop makes it possible to use the X3 Live using the 4CM (Four Cables) like the GT-8. That is a kick ass setup for live use if you already have a great amplifier.
Whether you choose to play on the stage with the sharp and rugged POD X3 Live (with its expression pedal) or use it in the studio with the POD X3, you’ll be satisfied with the flexibility and timeless tones that make the POD X3 a global standard for the guitarist. This is relatively new product, upgraded with the most hi technology currently available and performs as expected.
5. Boss GT-8 Guitar Multi Effects Processor is similar to the units above in terms of features and quality. Boss products are industry standards. I’m not sure it is necessary to go over features when they are basically the same as the others, just sensationalized differently. It is a very competitive field, therefore most units in this price range will be much alike in terms of what they offer. The Boss GT-8 has an excellent tone value that offers decent sound under any circumstance, however it is complicated to use and it takes time to get used to this monster. Well worth it once you experience how well it works and it’s excellent effects library.
It has lots of available editing features. It has a great manual that is easy to understand. It takes a little figuring out, it is not just a single stomp pedal and is well worth the reading the manual which is laid out nicely. The sound quality is good but not great, that is basically the only knock against it. It is definitely worthy of consideration due to it’s flexibility. Boss offers a 5 year parts warranty
Listen to sound clips or watch video demo.
That brings me to the fact that in most cases the choice comes down to personal preference. Relax and enjoy using the power of the internet and examine each model listed. Guitar players Center recommends choosing a guitar effects processor based on personal needs. Every player has different built in abilities to hear tones and sounds, and thats why there are so many Multi Fx processors available to match your unique tastes.
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