Requiem to Multi-FX pedals


Well most people already had the sense to give up the allure of fancy multi-fx pedal convenience for ... tone. But back in 1997, shortly before I discovered tone in 1998, I bought a Digitech RP-20 for $500, 100 less than the going price. Then I got a tube amp in 98 and hardly used it since. Mainly it was used as a tuner, which it did well. It probably had more "deep editing" than anything on the market today and could choose multiple parametric EQs, 31 band EQ, 10 band, etc. so many options unavailable on stuff today. Of course, its wahs were awful, probably the worst ever. Chorus, phaser, flanger, and delay were pretty good, reverb tolerable, and distortion was really only useful at extremes.

At one point I got a Boss GT-6 for 30 day trial, and took it back. I couldn't get a Mesa Rectifier type metal sound nearly as good as the RP-20 could get, though the GT-6 had better wahs, reverbs, simplicity, and probably durability.

But now, my RP-20 died. It just simply doesn't come on. That bright LCD probably never to be seen again. Don't know why. It would cost more than it's worth to get it fixed, assuming Digitech or anyone would bother trying. It has been replaced multiple times by Digitech as a former flagship FX pedal.

So now I know tone, and I know better. I didn't really use it when it worked, so I won't replace it, being suckered into the convenience of FXs I wouldn't love and wouldn't use....

But still. I hate it, but I'm always tempted to want to try, not just one multi-FX do-it-all, but ALL OF THEM! :mad: At least I don't want to buy them... but it is near impossible to try them out without properly without buying them and using them constantly for 30 day return period.

Still again, the current ones would probably last longer than my RP-20, but would it really matter? Would they be more useful? Probably, because my old one had no real computer compatibility, no phrase trainer, no Windows based sound editor or recording, no drum machine or samples, etc. But in reality, I like listening to heavily processed guitars like Prog Metal, but when I pick up the guitar, only bluesy rock will come out, and that wide open uncompressed tone that sounds like I'm using no effects at all (usually true) is the sound I need.

So to sound like I'm defeating the point of all I said, what, if any multi-FX are worth it to people who would rarely use them except as a tuner, or maybe as a method to record stuff to the computer when I've never done that before? What ones should last 100 years without breaking down, if any? Anyone tried the Yamaha Magic Stomp 2? How about the new Korg AX3000G?

(BTW, I absolutely hate the Vetta 2's general blues tones, and haven't found a POD I liked. Don't know but expect the POD live to equal my impressions.)


I've never tried the Magic Stomp, but the original DG-Stomp is the only multi unit I ever liked. Sounded pretty good (more natural than Line 6, Boss, DigiTech) and was built like a tank. I recorded a whole album with two of them and no other amps or processors. Holdsworth did the same with a DG-1000, which the DG-Stomp was based on. I have since rediscovered pedals and love the simplicity. There is never anything simple about all-in-one-box digital technology. I'm building a board that I've decided to limit to four pedals -- "the freedom of limitations," as Fripp (ironically?) once said. Amazing what you can do with just a couple of really good pedals. Makes you realize how many bells and whistles you really don't need.


multi efx pedals go perfect with those guitars you buy in a cardboard box at walmart :dude

John Phillips

Originally posted by carltonh
But now, my RP-20 died. It just simply doesn't come on. That bright LCD probably never to be seen again. Don't know why. It would cost more than it's worth to get it fixed, assuming Digitech or anyone would bother trying.
If it doesn't power up at all, chances are the fault is something very simple in the power supply area - maybe even the jack having come loose from the circuit board. This is very common in multi-FX units, and a tech should probably be able to fix it for under $50.

FWIW, I'd get this unit fixed almost at any price (or simply find another one, they're cheap) before I'd buy a digital modeler - of any make.

I still use my Boss SE-70 half-rack processor of about the same age occasionally, and it still sounds far better than any DM gear to me.

That said, I did go back to analog pedals after the footswitch for the SE-70 broke one day before a gig, and I had no choice but to use a handful of Boss pedals - it sounded so much more natural that I never permanently went back, and now only use the SE-70 for home-recording projects.
I agree with John, if you're used to that unit, chances are none of the newer models are going to make you happy.

FWIW, though, I use a Magicstomp for delays and modulations. I never use the distortions or amp models, so I can't speak to those, but the effects are generally very nice.


To touch on what Jeak said for a moment about the freedom of limitations, I recently added a Boss PS-3 pitch shifter/delay pedal to my board and I'm sort of freaked because now I have FOUR pedals on my board (Boss TU tuner, Boss RV2 reverb, Crowther Hotcake) and a power strip. I've always prided myself on my minimalist setup: for years I had nothing but the reverb and some kind of distortion box (a Real Tube for about the last 8 years) mounted to a small (11x14) piece of wood, plus the power strip. Four pedals, and, possibly, an ABY box for my Bassman heads, seems incredibly maximalist and indulgent to me, and now I'm going to have to get a bigger plank to mount them all on.

Point being, I actually considered something like the Magic Stomp, because it could cover tuner duties and reverb and pitch shifter duties, so that all I'd have on the board would be the Hotcake and
the Stomp. Then I could keep the small plank too, and the whole rig would at least look more minimalist.

So in some ways, even though the M. Stomp offers limitless effects which I would never use, it also offers a more compact setup, which appeals to me.

The question is, do dedicated pedals sound better than multiFX units, and do multiFX units suck more tone than pedals?

BTW, subversivepinko: that is one of the bets online handles/monikers i've seen in forever. ;)


Re the "freedom of limitations":

I did not mean to say or imply that multi fx cannot be used to subtle or minimal effect. I think the "freedom of limitations" is as much in one's head as in one's rig. Just because a box can do a zillion things does not mean you have to use them all. A Magic Stomp and a Hotcake sounds like a pretty nice, clean little rig. Even more so if you're using the MS just for a little reverb and modulation.

As for whether pedals sound better, I think they can, but not all pedals sound better than all multi fx. What I'm finding is that a single pedal with a singular purpose that does its job really well is more inspiring to me than a unit that does a bunch of things ranging from bad to great. The original DG-Stomp I thought did a lot of things really well, but it did some things poorly and some things great (to my ear). Either way, it amounted to a compromise. With a one-trick pedal that does its trick really well, there is no compromise -- except versatility, which I find actually enhances the freedom of limitation for me.

In the end, I think it's all about what turns you on. Plain and simple. Good-better-best is such a personal judgment, and I think you always have to go with what works for you. There is minimalism in the most over-the-top multi units: one button and you're here. Another button and you're there. All in one fell swoop. Very easy and very minimal. It's what's behind the scenes -- all that digital technology and those interacting circuits -- that to me complicates the signal and thus the sound. This may all be mostly in my head, but then again that's where my inspiration is. I like to keep that air clear up there. :)


Gold Supporting Member
It sounds like you're looking at a lot of different functions? You mention phrase training, recording, drums, sequencers and effects? I think you're going to have to decide what you really need because there is no one box that's going to do all that well. There's a few that'll do it all, but they'll compromise in some areas or others. I'd be tempted to say, fix the one you've got, buy an inexpensive USB recording interface and software and use plug ins for recording technology. You've already got the computer so that'll be the least expensive alternative...

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