Best Guitar Multi-Effects Processor

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Many guitarists enjoy collecting multiple effects pedals for all of their recording and live performance needs, but there’s something to be said about a tool offering multiple effects in one unit. The multi-effects processor is a device which saves guitarists the time and finances necessary for tracking down and purchasing multiple pedals to add to their rig; it also takes up less space on what can often become a crowded pedal board. Logistics aside, they just sound amazing. With so many multi-effects processors available for you to choose from, we’ve outlined some important considerations to keep in mind in our buyer’s guide below.

Best Guitar Multi-Effects Processor Overall:

Why crowd your pedal board with multiple units when you can use just one pedal for a wide range of effects and sounds? That’s the gist of the multi-effects processor, a type of effects pedal that has greatly benefited from advancements in digital technology over the last few years. For the guitarist who wants to be able to dial up distortion, delay, and modulation effects (often at the same time) in one pedal, going for the multi-effect route makes total sense. Here are the best overall guitar multi-effects processors with each pedal here featuring more than 50 preset patches, multiple foot switches for quick and easy navigation through the sound settings, and amp simulators that provide a wide range of tonal possibilities before you even get to apply the effects.

Boss GT-100 Guitar Multi-Effects Pedal

BOSS had already delivered a great product with their original version of the GT-100 mutli-effects guitar processor, but they’ve stepped things up a notch with the 2.0 update. This enhancement has made it easier to interface between the pedal, your guitar, and your computer, which just opens the door for sound editing and expanded flexibility in playing and sounds as well. Read Full Review

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    Boss GT-100 Guitar Multi-Effects Pedal

    DigiTech RP360 Guitar Multi-Effects Pedal

    Digitech’s RP360 is a multi-effects processor offering guitarists more than 125 effects. Additional features include a 40-second looper, 200 presets, 2x2 USB audio streaming, and more, making this a unit that can truly expand the horizons of what you’re able to do with your instrument. Read Full Review

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      DigiTech RP360 Guitar Multi-Effects Pedal

      Line 6 M13 Stompbox Modeler Guitar Multi-Effects Pedal

      Line 6 has built its reputation on its ability to capture the sound and application of guitar pedals and amplifiers within a smaller and more accessible package, and that’s exactly what their M13 multi-effects processor accomplishes. This unit’s four LED windows give this processor a modern and sophisticated look, and the 75+ stomboxes within sound incredible. Read Full Review

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        Line 6 M13 Stompbox Modeler Guitar Multi-Effects Pedal

        VOX STOMPLAB1G Modeling Guitar Floor Multi-Effects Pedal

        Vox may be known more for their amplifiers, but their foray into the world of guitar multi-effects processors certainly shows that the company was right to expand beyond the boundaries of expectation. Their Stomplab IG is incredibly small yet offers a depth of preset sounds as well as slots to create and save your own tonal settings. Read Full Review

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          VOX STOMPLAB1G Modeling Guitar Floor Multi-Effects Pedal

          Zoom Telephonics G5 Guitar Effects and Amp Simulator

          Zoom’s G5 guitar effects and amp simulator is deceiving in all the right ways. Its space-age design and sheer breadth of effects and patches make this multi-effect processor seem like it should cost a fortune, but it’s quite affordable. The quality of its features far exceeds what one might expect from its price tag. Read Full Review

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            Zoom Telephonics G5 Guitar Effects and Amp Simulator

            Best Budget Guitar Multi-Effects Processor:

            By concept alone, the guitar multi-effects processor already gives guitarists more bang for their buck; by combining multiple effects such as distortion, delay, phase, flange, reverb, and more into a single unit, musicians have a full wheel of sounds at their disposal versus tracking down individual units to perform each task. But those who are truly shopping with a budget in mind still have even further options to consider, as many models are available at a consumer-friendly cost. Each of these best budget multi-effects processors come equipped with a discrete, built-in tuner that’s handy for any gigging guitarist, USB connectivity to give players the ability to organize and fine-tune their library on their computers. Each of these picks also feature multiple amp/cabinet tone options to give a distinct sound to your guitar’s signal before you ever even run it through the multitude of available effects.

            Line 6 M5 Stompbox Modeler

            From its amp simulators to effects pedals, Line 6 has long held a reputation for providing a versatile array of sounds in tiny, unassuming packages. And with their M5 Stompbox Modeler, they continue their tradition, offering over 100 stombox effects in a 2.5 pound processor. Effects are simple to pull up, and even easier to recall thanks to its simple preset-saving function. Read Full Review

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              Line 6 M5 Stompbox Modeler

              Zoom G3X Guitar Effects & Amp Simulator Pedal

              Zoom’s G3X Guitar Effects & Amp Simulator Pedal allows guitarists to build their own three-pedal effects rig within one compact and durable multi-effects processing unit. Its large LCD displays give this processor an easy-to-use interface, while a built-in expression pedal allows for accurate control of the sounds being produced. Read Full Review

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                Zoom G3X Guitar Effects & Amp Simulator Pedal

                VOX ToneLab ST Guitar Multi-Effects Processor Pedal

                Vox combines the incredible sounds of their Valvetronix series in a singular compact effects unit with their ToneLab ST. With amp and cabinet modeling presets, effects, a tuner, and easy access via a USB computer connection, this multi-effects processor provides tonal options you’d need several vehicles to transport all in one device that you can carry with one hand. Read Full Review

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                  VOX ToneLab ST Guitar Multi-Effects Processor Pedal

                  Line 6 Line6 Pocket POD Guitar Amp Modeling Processor

                  No, it’s not just a clever name; Line 6’s Pocket Pod is a multi-effects processor that you could literally hide in the pants you’re wearing, if you needed to (why you would need to do something like this is a question best left unanswered). Featuring a gang of sound options including 300 presets, 32 amp models, 16 cabinet models, and 16 effects, this is an ideal unit for practice or recording on-the-go. Read Full Review

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                    Line 6 Line6 Pocket POD Guitar Amp Modeling Processor

                    Boss ME-80 Multi-Effects Pedal

                    BOSS stompboxes are immediately recognizable with their distinct solid-colored look, and the sheer amount of effects that they provide to guitarists worldwide is an impressive feat in and of itself. With the ME-80 multi-effects processor, BOSS collects an entire library of effects into a singular package, along with the ability to record and re-amp said sounds using the unit’s dual identity as a USB audio interface. Read Full Review

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                      Boss ME-80 Multi-Effects Pedal
                       

                      Guitar Multi-Effects Processor Buyers Guide

                      Multi-effect processors add a variety of variables, as it’s rare to find a single piece of gear that will serve every need you’ll ever have in your rig. Fortunately, they can often serve multiple purposes quite well, making them an adequate addition to your setup.

                      It’s most important to assess exactly what you’re looking for. Do you need a pedal to be primarily used live or do you want a rack unit designed for easy studio integration? Are there particular effects that you want to use the processor to cover? You’ll definitely want to test your options before buying, but there are several things to keep in mind before even getting to that point.

                      Effects Types

                      Multi-effects processors offer up several different effects types or categories. Some processors specialize in one specific type, while others provide a wide range drawing from all of them.

                      Overdrive
                      Overdrive effects encompass all kinds of distortion, overdrive, and fuzz sounds. These are great for loud rock music, heavy metal, and any other genre that requires an effect to highlight solos or lead melodic lines.

                      Filter
                      Filter effects alter the equalization frequency of the processed guitar sound. These include high and low pass filters, envelope filters, and any other effects sweeping through, cutting out, or boosting the high, mid, and low frequencies. Filter effects can clean up and fix an undesirable sound, or transform it to take on specific characteristics not normally found in a guitar; for instance, utilized so a guitar signal sounds more like a synthesizer

                      Reverb and Delay
                      Reverb and delay effects don’t so much transform guitar sound as they enhance it, often by providing an echoing reverb or repeated delay to the signal. These types of effects can be as basic as reverb and delay, but can also include reverse mode in which the signal is played backwards, echo, and more.

                      Flanger
                      Flanging duplicates the original signal of a guitar’s output but delays one signal by a small and gradually changing period. The resulting sound is similar to a comb filter effect – one that has been characterized as “sucking air” and/or “the Darth Vader effect.”

                      Although wildly popular as a guitar effect, flange was first popularly utilized by producer George Martin during recording sessions for the Beatles. John Lennon would often use the effect on his vocals; in fact, historian Mark Lewisohn claims that it was Lennon who first gave the technique it's namesake. The first Beatles song to feature the flanging effect was “Tomorrow Never Knows” on their album Revolver; almost every single song on that record had some sort of flanging effect on it.

                      Whether used subtly to suggest a spacey feel or cranked all the way up to create an unnatural, synthetic-like sound, flanging is a guitar effect that doesn’t seem to be losing popularity anytime soon.

                      Chorus
                      Chorus duplicates the original output signal and alters it slightly so that the signal sounds like it’s being voiced by multiple sources – or, as the name indicates, by a “chorus” of instruments. Chorus is a great way to thicken up the sound of a guitar part, and can be used with other effects such as distortion to expand multiple layers of tones within a signal.

                      Perhaps one of the most instantly recognizable uses of chorus in popular music is the beginning intro guitar riff to “Come As You Are” by Nirvana. Like tremolo, chorus effects are often built into guitar amplifiers; however, working with processors like pedals (which are solely designed to produce this effect) will almost always result in a better and more nuanced sound.

                      Phaser
                      Phasing (also referred to as phase shifting) does exactly what its title suggests – a signal is duplicated, and then that new copied signal is shifted to be out of phase with the original signal. The resulting sound creates a spacey, “whoosh” effect that brings to mind watery atmosphere.

                      While signal phasing can sometimes be an unwanted by-product of audio recording, the effect began to be used intentionally on psychedelic records in the late 1960s, notably on “Itchycoo Park” by the Small Faces. The effect was later popularized in decades to follow from guitarists such as Eddie Van Halen, Queen’s Brian May, and Incubus axeman Mike Einziger.

                      Downloadable Content

                      Many recent processors allow you download and update the library of effects within the unit as new ones become available. This can be accomplished via  memory cards, Bluetooth technology, mobile apps or digital downloads to refresh the processor’s library of sounds and effects. Although this is a relatively new technology within the world of guitar multi-effects processors, this is likely to become the standard in the years to come.

                      Usability and Customization

                      While processors come pre-built with the sounds and organization already pre-determined, many guitarists enjoy multi-effects units because of their ability to change their workflow as well as the sounds/effects they produce. For instance, many units come with blank slots in their effects libraries so guitarists can tweak and edit sounds on their own before saving them as presets for later use.

                      In addition to crafting and shaping the sounds, users can also control how the effects are accessed through the processor; a guitarist can save specific sounds so they’re readily available by simply tapping a button or flicking a switch. This is especially useful for guitarists playing live who need to have specific effects at their fingertips (or more accurately, their feet) for quick and easy recall.

                      Leave a Question or Comment
                      8 comments
                      • JamesLimborg JamesLimborg

                      With the Roland BOSS GT-10 you can get my BOSS GT-10 Patches. With the BOSS GT-10 and my BOSS GT-10 Patches you won't have to spend hours creating the guitar sounds I have already created for you but instead spend your guitar time playing, practicing, writing, recording, and performing. Search for BOSS GT-10 Patches by James Limborg on Google.

                      Posted on 11/11/2012 8:44 pm | Reply
                      • Zed Ray Zed Ray

                      TC Electronics Nova System - hands-down the best multi-effects for the price.It is an all-analog multi-effects with digital controls. IMO it's the only option if you use all-tube amps and don't want to kill the tone and dynamics by digitizing the signal. What you hear comes straight from the strings, not from a bunch of bits & bytes. Try one of these out with two tube amps in stereo, the result is nothing short of astounding.I've tried most of the pedals reviewed here, and nothing comes even close to the clarity and warmth of the Nova System. I wonder if the author has ever tried any of the TC Electronics products? At the very least, this article should be retitled "Some fairly decent guitar digital multi-effects processors", because these really are not the best.

                      Posted on 7/22/2012 10:02 am | Reply

                      Hi Zed Ray,Thanks for your opinion and helpful insights. It sounds like you have a lot of experience with multi-effects pedals, and that;s great. As you might imagine, not everyone does though. So hopefully, this article might help someone who is not sure where to start their shopping. And of course, this is all a mater of opinion. I've shared my opinions here, we've heard yours, and hopefully others will form their own with the help of this article. Or maybe not. It's up to them.Best Wishes,Kevin

                      Posted on 7/22/2012 10:41 am. In reply to Zed Ray | Reply
                      • billowee billowee

                      I don't see a rating for the new Vox SE series pedal with the two pedals and several additional effects. Is it a dog, or haven't you tested it yet?

                      Posted on 10/10/2010 11:03 am | Reply
                      • billowee billowee

                      I meant the new double pedal VOX ST pedals.

                      Posted on 10/10/2010 12:32 pm. In reply to billowee | Reply
                      • newlndnmusic newlndnmusic

                      TC electronic G Major (1 or 2) didn't make the list? this is sad. I can see how you would leave it out of this list because of it's limited ability (only 7 fx at once 2 of those being a noise gate and a compressor, and how you can't run two modulations or two delays at the same time) but what it does do it does better than most of these. Kevin, you should make a "best multi effects rack units" list

                      Posted on 8/26/2010 6:35 pm | Reply
                      • Anonymous Anonymous

                      lets not forget the tc electronics m3000. Focuses mainly on reverb and delay [for which it is totally renowned] but has some other awesome TC-E effects in there as well such as the phaser

                      Posted on 7/11/2010 11:29 am | Reply
                      • Blake beard Blake beard

                      I have to say I disagree with Kevin on his picks for best guitar multi-effects. He seems to have focused only on footboard models. In doing so, he has missed an entire range of amazing high-end multi's. These are the ones used by most touring professionals over the last 20 years. Yes, some are rackmount and required a foot controller. Though most of the best do. Some are actually studio grade as well. Some mix both analog and digital. A great opportunity for review! Lexicon MPX G2 (amazing, even better with MXP R1 foot controller)TC Electronics G-Force (amazing)TC Electronics G-Major 1 & 2 (excellent)TC Electronics Nova System (excellent, difficult user interface)Roland GP-16 (very good, even better with RCC 100 MKII foot controller)Roland GP-8 (amazing, even better with RCC 100 MKII foot controller)Rocktron Intellifex (excellent)Rocktron Voodu Valve (excellent)Eventide GTR 4000 (amazing, difficult user interface)ADA MP1 (excellent)ADA MP1 Classic (amazing)ADA MP2 (amazing)Thanks,

                      Posted on 6/24/2010 1:25 pm | Reply