Category Archives for Electric Guitars

Stay In Tune! The Five Best Clip on Guitar Tuners on the Market Today

If you are a guitarist who plays on stage often, whether it be for a small venue or a large crowd, keeping your guitar in tune is imperative. Using a clip on guitar tuner makes tuning your instrument on stage easy and convenient. You’re not going to have to stop the whole concert just to tune down to a drop D; instead, with a clip on tuner, you’ll just need to take a few seconds to drop your tuning and you’re all set to go.

However, using a clip on guitar tuner from just anywhere isn’t going to do you any good. You are going to need a reliable, lightweight, accurate, and easy to use clip on tuner if you want to purchase yourself a clip on tuner that will really put in work. All of the clip on guitar tuners that I have listed here have all been put to the test by myself personally, based upon their accuracy, durability, weight, and functionality.

Clip on guitar tuners are the most popular types of tuner on the market because they are easy to use and are very flexible when it comes to their versatility. A guitar player will clip the tuner onto the headstock of their guitar, which allows the tuner to use its piezo sensors that pick up the vibrations from the notes your guitar is playing. This means that you won’t have to become completely dependent on a microphone to tune your guitar; so if you’re in a crowded venue where there’s a lot of noise around you, you will still be able to use a clip on tuner without it interfering with the quality of your tuning. The biggest complaint that a lot of people have about clip on guitar tuners is that they happen to be fragile, which is understandable considering that these tuners are very small. As long as you handle your tuner properly, you’re not going to have any problems with the tool breaking.

How do clip on guitar tuners work?

Unlike other tuners, clip on guitar tuners work by picking up vibrations. When these types of tuners were first released, they really didn’t work as efficiently as they do now. By using the vibrations that the guitar produces, clip on tuners don’t need to have a microphone or a signal chain in order to function.

If you are a baritone guitar player or a bass guitarist, I would suggest that you stay away from using clip on guitars. Since the vibrations of lower strings are slower compared to higher strings, clip on tuners struggle to pick up the vibrations, which means that the tunings on lower notes aren’t very accurate. Clip on tuners have no problem with accurately reading the low E string on an acoustic or an electric guitar, but any note lower than that, they struggle with. If you are just an average guitarist, clip on guitar tuners are outstanding, especially if you’re used to playing with a tuner that uses a microphone.

Snark SN-2

The Snark SN-2 clip on guitar tuner is one of the most popular guitar tuners on the market today, most likely because of its affordable price tag at $15. For the inexpensive price tag, this tuner packs a lot of unique features into it. The Snark SN-2 comes with pitch calibration which is great to have when you’re trying to match your tuning with another instrument. It also comes with transposition for you to use when you’re trying to change your instrument’s tuning from a standard tuning. Also, this tuner comes with a tap tempo metronome which is great to have around when looking to practice.

It should also be mentioned that this tuner comes with a built-in microphone that helps to support the internal vibration sensor, which assists in assuring a more accurate tuning. One of my favorite features about the Snark SN-2 is that you can use it all average guitars and not so average guitars. You can tune your bass guitar, electric guitar, and acoustic guitar all just with this tuner!

Korg AW2G Tuner

The Korg AW2G is a clip on tuner that has been designed to be able to fit a variety of different sized instruments. This tuner also comes with a clip that has the ability to fit several different types of instruments, all the way from wind instruments to stringed instruments such as guitars. Out of one battery, you can get up to 150 hours of tuning, which is pretty incredible! There is also an internal backlight on the AW2G, which allows players to see the screen, even if playing on a dark or dimly lit stage. The biggest complaint about this tuner is that it isn’t as functional at the Snark tuner, but the Korg AW2G does a much better job tuning low E strings compared to the Snark.

Peterson StroboClip

For $80 you can use a clip-on tuner that’s so precise that it’s used by famous professionals. This tuner is so accurate, that it has a 1/10 cent accuracy. Peterson designed this clip on the tuner to be able to tune acoustic guitars, electric guitars, ukuleles, dobros, banjos, and mandolins with little hassle! Another cool feature that comes with this tuner is the capo setting, which allows players to quickly tune their instrument in between live performances. If you are a professional guitar player who is looking to invest in a high-quality clip-on tuner, the Peterson StroboClip is your best bet.

Boss TU-10 Tuner

If you’re familiar with pedal tuners, then the Boss TU-10 clip-on tuner will be easy for you to work with, especially if you’ve never used a clip on tuner before. The TU-1O has a lot of the same features as a pedal tuner; for example, this clip on tuner has the ability to support flat tuning and has five semitones. One of the best features on this tuner is that the screen is easily viewable, no matter what type of lighting you are in, even if it’s bright sunlight. The biggest complaint that people have about the Boss TU-10 is that the clip and tuner are one solid piece, which makes it impossible to swivel. Since this tuner doesn’t swivel, you will have to put in extra work to be able to find the best angle for you on your guitar.

TC Electronic Poly Tune Clip

This is one of the most expensive guitar clips that we have listed in this list, but it is one of the best clip-on tuners on the market today. This tuner is produced by TC Electronic and will cost you around $50. The main reason that this clip on guitar is more expensive than other tuners is that the TC Electronic Poly Tune Clip on tuner uses polyphonic tuning that allows you to strum your guitar once and it will accurately tune each string. This means that you only have to strum your guitar once and you will have all of your strings tuned. The polyphonic tuning cuts down on the amount of time that you spend tuning, which can really help when you’re trying to move onto your other set.

If you’re not interested in having the clip on tuner tune all of your strings at once, you can also tune your guitar using the traditional chromatic tuning, which allows you to tune your instrument string by string. You can also tune your guitar using the strobe method, which is a very precise method that’s only ever flat or sharp by .02 cents.

Conclusion

It is strongly recommended that if you are a guitarist who plays a lot of live gigs and needs to quickly tune in between each song, you should purchase a clip on the guitar tuner. However, if you are someone who plays bass guitar or a baritone guitar, using a clip on guitar tuner is going to nearly be impossible for you to properly tune your instrument since the vibrations are so low. If you are an average guitar player, you aren’t going to have any problems getting accurate tuning results with your clip on guitar tuners.

The Top 2×12 Speaker Cabinets for Guitar Players Who Want to Rock!

Although guitar cabinets are generally made by manufacturers to be paired with a specific amp head they’ve created, the option to mix and match is always there, and part of the fun.

It’s fair to say that one or two 4×12 half-stacks are the most synonymous amp setup with rock guitarists. Sure, that looks cool but for the vast majority of players, that’s just excessive. In studios and on big stages, only one of those four to eight speakers is going to get miced up anyway.

2×12 speaker configurations are a popular choice for the vast majority of players. They’re bigger than a combo, not as obnoxious or excessive as a half-stack, and have the versatility of being able to take whatever amp head you want.

Let’s look at some options.

Seismic Audio 2×12 guitar speaker cabinet | MSRP: $289.99

I came across Seismic Audio some time ago, and I love their approach to music equipment in general, but especially their guitar cabs.

They mostly sell unloaded cabinets, aimed at happy shed bodgerers to create their wildest amplifying desires, This is actually the only one they sell that includes speakers. It so basic and simple, they haven’t even bothered to give it a fancy name or product number or code.

Seismic Audio’s approach is very much: keep it cheap. And, as I always say, you get what you pay for.

Ordinarily, the first thing you look at in a cab is the speakers. These are unbranded. Mmm… make of that what you will. I think it enforces my last point.

I’ve made that all sound really grim! But don’t get me wrong: this is a great cab, solidly built, and ideal for those on a budget. I’d imagine its main market would be those on a budget, who are likely coupling it with a solid state, or maybe the hybrid head.

It’ll work just fine, but don’t expect any classic tones from it. If you’re experimenting with a head/combo rig, it might be useful to have around or to get a feel for the logistics of gigging with it before committing to the monies of a better-known brand.

As you can see, it’s not going to win any prizes for aesthetics either. This is really about literally being a straight up 2×12 cabinet.

Alternatives

  • Bugera 212TS – Bugera is owned by the same company who bring you the better-known budget brand, Behringer. Like Seismic Audio, the focus is on keeping things as affordable as possible.
  • Laney Cub – I love Laney, and their Cub range is their Eastern-made alternative to their premium Lionheart range – well worth a look.

Marshall MX212 | MSRP: $470

As I always say when writing anything that requires listing amp brands, it’s probably illegal to exclude Marshall, so let’s just get it out of the way!

I won’t dwell too much on introducing Marshall. If you haven’t played one, you’ll have heard of them, and if you haven’t heard of them, you’ll recognize that logo from decades of use by some of the world’s leading guitarists.

A brand like Marshall will have a large number of cabs available, and this is their cheaper one. They tout it as being suitable for any kind of a head. Specifying their own ones of course!

The reason this costs a little more than the Seismic Audio cab we just looked at, is the inclusion of Celestion speakers. No more than with guitars, I feel like it’s a good thing when manufacturers are able to take a step back and say “Actually, this will work better if we get a company who specializes in making this part to do it.”

Either that or buying in such speakers works out cheaper than manufacturing them themselves, even when they’re branded like Celestion.

And the reason it’s not as expensive as some of the cabs we’re about to see is that in the realms of speakers, these aren’t Celestion’s most pristine offering, and these cabs are made in the east. The latter point, in particular, will have a big impact on the production costs. It’s hard to know how much of an Eastern-made piece of gear is actual production, and how much is the brand name that’s put on it.

While this cab will certainly handle any type of head, I feel like it would be favored by hard rocking guitarists. Maybe some blues rock, but it’s definitely not metal enough for… well, metal.

Alternatives

  • Vox 212C – yes, this looks like the AC30! But without any actual amp parts, so you can make it sound like whatever you want. It’s probably better for slightly cleaner tones than the Marshall though
  • Blackstar Venue Series HTV-212– British-made, but universally voiced, there are no doubts about the quality of amp-related products that Blackstar have been creating

Orange Amplifiers PPC Series PPC212OB | MSRP: $829.99

Much like Marshall, Orange is another quintessentially British brand, famed for a quintessentially British tone, especially that of a crunchy blues-rock nature.

With a cab this size and speaker configuration, they’re very much aiming it at their higher end – e.g. expensive – heads, and I guess that’s reflected in the price. It seems a bit silly to get a high-end cab like this if it’s going to be paired with a head that’ll sound nasty through literally anything.

With this in mind, it’s important to note that this is made by Orange themselves in the United Kingdom. That’s a big factor in why it costs a little bit more than the cabs we’ve already looked at.

Like the Marshall, the Orange cab uses Celestion speakers. No more than the country of manufacture, the Celestions used here are Vintage 30s – a little bit higher in the quality spectrum than what’s in the Marshall.

You can play whatever amp you want through this cabinet, but it’s important to be realistic that something with tubes will do it the most justice.

Alternatives

Engl PRO E212VHB | $899.99

My lasting memory of the Engl brand will always be the time I played through a friend’s Engl 50 watt combo.

It can only be described as a brutal savage, in the most glorious of ways!

That brief experience aside, Engl are a higher end of amp manufacturer, based in Germany. That alone gives some clues as to the direction their equipment takes: proudly made in Germany, utilizing the precision and engineering that Germany is renowned for, for heavy music that is also pretty easy to associate with the country.

This is a stereo cab, so you can have a little bit more fun with that. As with the Orange, this comes loaded with Celestion Vintage 30 speakers. In contrast to the Orange, however, is the voicing that these speakers have been made to deliver.

This isn’t really for your crunchy blues-rock. This is very much for hard rock and metal players. This one is meant to be played loud, and played dirty.

It also weighs in at over 72 lbs. This is not a light amp, and you will need some upper body strength for bringing it around to gigs.

Alternatives

  • Friedman 2×12 – one of those brands that aren’t particularly mainstream, but these are US-made and certainly worth checking out
  • Wampler Bravado 2×12– much better-known for their boutique pedals, this cab is loaded with Celestion G12M-65 Creamback speaker

Mission Engineering Gemini 2 | MSRP: $1499 – 1899

I’m generally suspicious towards the most expensive item in a listicle. I’m like “Sure, you cost all of the money, but what are you really offering?”

In the case of the Gemini II from Mission Engineering, it’s actually quite a bit. Do I think it’s worth all the money? Well…

Mission Engineering are a US-based company with all the R&D and electronics being built in California, with the amps themselves being built in Missouri. I’ve spent this list bleating on about the speakers encased in each amp. In this case, they’re not flagging any particular brand, so I’m assuming they’ve made them themselves. Quite frankly, at this price, I’d hope they’ve made them themselves. The speakers operate in stereo.

That’s all very well, but those factors aren’t the reason this cabinet costs so much. Nope. This cab is allegedly the first in the world to incorporate Bluetooth and USB technology. This isn’t just an amp – this is high-tech witchcraft!

So, what are you supposed to do with these things? The Bluetooth is intended to connect to smartphones and tablets, I guess for using the likes of IK Multimedia’s Amplitude app to create the amp sound you want to then be projected through the cab. The USB is likely to be used for achieving a similar thing but through a hardwire.

I get the idea, but I honestly don’t see a massive market for it. Obviously, there’s enough demand for Mission to keep making them, but it’s a lot of money for what it does. It’s an expensive cab to run an amp through rather than a nice tube head.

Alternatives

  • Diezel Vintage — like the Engl we looked at earlier, Diezel amps are supposed to be played loud and heavy
  • Morgan Amplification 2×12 – made with two different speakers: a Celestion G12H-75 Creamback and a Celestion Alnico Gold

Comparison Table

Model Seismic Audio Marshall MX212 Orange Amplifiers PPC Series PPC212OB Engl PRO E212VHB Mission Engineering Gemini 2
MSRP $289.99 $470 $829.99 $899.99 $1499 – 1899
Country of origin China China UK Germany USA
Speakers Unbranded Celestion Seventy 80 Celestion Vintage 30 Celestion Vintage 30 Own-brand
Impedence 8 Ohm 8 Ohm 16 Ohn 8 Ohm mono, 2 x 16 Ohm stereo n/a
Wattage 200 watts 160 watts 120 watts 120 watts 2 x 100 watts

Conclusion

So there we have it. If you’ve been thinking about getting a new 2×12 cabinet for your rig, either in upsizing from a combo, or downsizing from a half-stack, this list should equip you with some information to point you in the right direction for your research.

Obviously, there are plenty of other options available. If you have the patience and money, you can, of course, get custom made models, in whatever specs you need, and any finish at all that you might like.

If you enjoy tinkering with electronics, you can also buy unloaded cabinets, without any speakers at all in them, get whatever combination of speaker you like, and fit them yourself, and finish the cab however you like.

As ever with guitar gear, if you’re going to buy a cab from a store, try as many as possible first.

Top Nine Best Blues Guitars On The Market Today

Blues is a music genre that never really goes away. There are a lot of Blues elements that can be found in different types of music, like pop, jazz, rock, and even heavy metal. This makes complete sense, considering that Blues has been around for more than 100 years! If you’ve ever played an instrument in a jazz band or learned how to play the electric guitar, you’ve more than likely learned how to play some Blues chord progressions and scales.

In order to properly take on playing the Blues genre, you’ve got to understand and master a few concepts such as evoking emotion, technique, feel; even if you understand these concepts, you need a blues guitar to perform these concepts on in order to achieve the desired effect. There are a lot more components that play into Blues besides pentatonic scales and I, IV, V chord sequences. You can convey different moods in Blues depending on what type of instrument you play.

Since Blues is commonly conceived as a genre that’s easy to play, a lot of people assume that finding the perfect Blues guitar is an easy task. Finding the perfect guitar for your inNinetions is never an easy task, let alone finding the perfect guitar to play Blues on.

What makes a good guitar good for Blues?

Before we get into talking about specific models that are great for Blues, we need to talk about what truly makes a great Blues guitar.

If you’re looking to play a solid body guitar, you need to make sure that:

  • Your guitar has a bright sound
  • Articulation and groove come through when playing, with an equal mix of both
  • A guitar that is not plastic
  • I personally suggest a semi-hollow guitar, as they have an amazing resonance. Their sound isn’t exactly massive, but it certainly does fill up an entire room

On the other hand, if you’re looking to play an acoustic guitar, you’re going to want to look for a guitar with:

No matter what type of instrument you end up purchasing, you’re going to want your guitar to be reliable, durable, and the best bang for your buck.

Now that we understand some of the aspects that make a guitar great for playing Blues, here are our top Nine choices for Blues guitars.

Top Nine Blues Guitars

If you’re just looking to read into the list that discusses the best Blues guitars, look no further! Here, I’ve compiled a list of the Nine best Blues guitars. I’ve split this list up into two different sections: acoustic guitars for Blues and electric guitars for Blues.

Acoustic guitars:

Fender CD-60CE

If you’ve ever been to a music store or hung around any friends who were into music, chances are you’ve heard of Fender. Fender is a company that produces high-quality guitars that are above the beginning player’s price range. However, the Fender CD-60CE is a different story; this is a basic acoustic electric guitar that provides players with a solid base to learn on. Matter of fact, the Fener CD-60CD is one of the best performing and most popular acoustic guitars at a beginner’s level on the market today.

This acoustic-electric guitar sports a standard dreadnought body with a cutaway, ensuring that the body on this guitar is simple and not complex. As for Fender’s choice of tone woods, they chose to go with laminated mahogany. While laminated mahogany isn’t the best tone wood to use, Fender had to make some cuts in order to deliver an acoustic electric guitar that was affordable for beginning guitarists. However, they do make up for the laminated mahogany with scalloped X-bracing. The neck of the guitar is also a piece of mahogany that sports a Rosewood fretboard along with a compensated saddle.

Fender chose a reasonable onboard active preamp and tuner, which all comes with the Fishman Isys III. You also receive a three hand EQ to shape your tone with; there’s just enough power in the pre-amp to make a small difference in the tonal quality. The Fishman Isys III isn’t the best model that Fender could have put in their CD-60CE, but it does a good job of reproducing tones when you need them!

The hardware on the CD-60CE isn’t anything that’s any different than any other acoustic-electric guitar that’s in this price range. You’re provided with a Rosewood bridge that comes with a composite saddle. Fender installed a set of die-cast tuning keys, which maintain tuning and intonation while you’re playing, as long as you don’t push the guitar too far.

When I first played the Fender CD-60CE I was surprised at the tonal quality, because I honestly was expecting to be lacking. This guitar provided me a balanced tone, quality projection, and a great amount of warmth to balance the color. While I wouldn’t compare this to a $3,000 acoustic-electric guitar, it does a really good job for its price range. Yes, the CD-60CE does have some flaws, but it provides players with amazing performance, especially considering the price range.

Martin 000-15M

Martin is known to produce some of the world’s best acoustic guitars. If you love the sound mahogany guitars produce, you’ve got to check out the Martin 000-15M. The entire body is made up of mahogany, including the neck. Since the entire body is made up from mahogany, this guitar produces an incredible amount of warmth, as well as resonance. On the other hand, the mahogany also provides the 000-15M stability and durability, meaning that the Martin 000-15M can handle some abuse.

While the materials in this guitar do have a lot to play into the quality of the instrument, it’s also the quality of the craftsmanship that went into making it. Not only is the Martin 000-15M one of the best and highest quality guitars on the market, it also is priced at an incredible range. The mahogany makes the neck of the guitar sturdy, but as someone with small hands, I still find the neck to be easy to play.

My favorite part of the hardware that Martin installed in the 000-15M is the elegance in the pieces they chose. Most pick guards take away from the beauty of guitars, but the pickguard on this guitar is small enough to do the job and not take away from the beauty of the instrument. The 000-15M also comes with a rosette, Rosewood bridge, and a set of die-cast tuners. I have heard so many of my friends tell me about how they are impressed with how long the guitar stays in tune over a period of time.

As for the tonal quality of the 000-15M, you should expect a sound that’s heavier on the bass frequencies, with a full bodied and warm tone. However, the sound is bright enough to play along well with a Delta Blues style. If you’re looking to play more than Blues, this guitar also has the ability to provide players with gravely articulations and a warm treble sound.

Don’t forget that the price tag of the guitar also includes a Martin hardshell case. For under $1,500 you can purchase yourself an acoustic guitar that’s jam-packed with high-quality features. No matter what you exact musical taste is, or what your genre performance desires are, this is a guitar that will suit your needs and desires.

Electric guitars:

Squier Classic Vibe Thin Line Telecaster

Quality electric guitars aren’t usually cheap. But, the Squier Classic Vibe Thin Line Telecaster is not only inexpensive, but it’s also a great electric guitar for beginners to start out on. This guitar’s body is comprised from mahogany, with provides with a semi-hollow body with an incredible ability to produce a natural resonance. As for the neck, it’s a maple neck that’s produced from a single piece that has 21 medium jumbo frets, a set of black dot inlays, and a maple fingerboard. The Thin Line Telecaster also comes with a classic Telecaster headstock and an F-hole, as well as a thru-body bridge that comes with a set of three chrome barrel saddles.

Cosmetically, this is a beautiful guitar. Squier included a pickguard that covers almost half of the front side to the guitar; they also included vintage style tuning pegs that really add a unique element to the Telecaster. My main complaint about the cosmetic appearance of the Telecaster is the size of the pickguard; while it’s great to have so much extra protection on the guitar, but when it comes time to replacing the pick guard, it’s a difficult and pricey task, because you don’t want to damage the body of the guitar.

Besides that small little complaint, the guitar itself does a really great job staying in tune for long periods of time. However, there are some sharp edges and some minor buzzing on the fret, it’s not a guitar that’s too bad overall. While this does seem to a basic combination, it certainly does get the job done.

As for the electronics, Squier installed a set of quality Tele single coil pickups that have AlNiCo V magnets that have been attached to singular volume and tone control knobs. There is also a three-way pickup selector installed, that allow you to have additional control over the tonal quality of the guitar.

With the mixture of the bright pickups paired with the mahogany tone wood, you’ve got yourself a guitar that delivers booming sound along with additional resonance. If you’re looking to play a semi-hollow body with the mellow and distinctive sound, the Thin Line Telecaster is perfect for you.

If you just look at the financial factor of this guitar, this is a really great six string guitar. It makes an okay beginners guitar, but I believe that’s better if an intermediate player used this instrument, but the best option would be a professional Blues or Jazz player to use this guitar. This is a professional quality guitar for under $500, which makes the overall quality and performance of this guitar amazing!

Airline Bighorn Red

Some guitarists enjoy playing just a basic Blues guitar, but then there are other guitarists who like something different. If you’re looking for a Blues guitar that’s a bit on the wild side, the Airline Bighorn Red is the perfect unconventional guitar for you.

This body of the Airline Bighorn Red is a solid that has a maple neck with a Rosewood fingerboard, 24.75-inch scale, 19 frets, and your typical white dot markers. As for the neck, it is a bit wide on the lower frets, but the higher registry and slim and easy to play on. The hardware on the Bighorn Red isn’t anything too complex; a set of six tuners, bone nut, large pickguard, truss rod, and an adjustable bridge. While the fret job on this electric isn’t the best, it certainly doesn’t make this guitar poor quality. There are some sharp edges, minor buzzing issues, and minor tuning issues, but the guitar is still certainly quality enough for a professional to perform live with.

You should expect some fuzziness in the electronic section of the Airline Bighorn. Set up with a set of Airline humbuckers that come with separate volume and tone controls knobs and a three-way pickup selector switch. As for the pickups, they tend to run on the hotter side and are fuzzy, but are still fixed enough to sound Bluesy.

The sound of the Airline Bighorn isn’t as clean as other electric guitars in the Blues genre. However, there is plenty of articulation that comes from the fuzz that allows players to control the emotions produced from the sound of the guitar. I wouldn’t suggest purchasing this online, as I would go play this guitar in person before purchasing. It has a unique tone to it that not everyone is going to fall in love with- thus, why I mentioned it was a unique guitar in the beginning paragraph.

The unique sound of this guitar is aesthetically pleasing, especially since it’s just under $500.  It’s also a guitar that’s cosmetically pleasing to look at, don’t you agree?

Gibson ES-335

If you’ve ever listened to BB King, you’ve heard him play the ES-335, although he called his guitar Lucille. This is a high-end guitar that many Blues playing guitarists describe to be their dream guitar. I’ve had the privilege of borrowing this beauty from one of my friends and was able to play it for a few hours.

The Gibson ES-335 is a humbucker equipped semi-hollow body guitar. If you’re looking to mimic the sound of BB King, the Gibson ES-335 is very similar to his signature Lucille guitar. In the middle of the guitar’s body, there is a wooden black that runs through, but the rest of the body is chambered; having a block in the body but having the rest of the body chambered really allows the guitar to resonate.

The body is comprised of laminated maple with a tone woods that physically and audibly show that this guitar is comprised of top level craftsmanship. As for the neck, it’s a maple piece that is combined with torrified maple as a glued in fretboard. This fretboard also has classic white dot markers and 22 frets. After all that, there’s just a basic Gibson headstock decorated with a golden logo.

Even though the neck and the body are two separate pieces, it doesn’t feel like they are when you’re holding the guitar. There’s a nice smooth transition between the neck and the body, and there is surprisingly no fret buzz or sharp edges.

The ES-335 uses Grover Rotomatic tuning machines that ensure that the guitar strings stay in tune over a period of time, even if you happen to keep them in the same tuning. Gibson chose to go with a set of classic Gibson humbucker pickups that are controlled by a single set of control knobs to use for volume and tone adjustments.

I really love using this guitar when I plan on playing a lot of chords because I find that they have an incredible full body sound and they ring out really well. The main reason behind Gibson putting the block in the middle is to help preserve the famous Gibson sustain, while also providing you with a rich harmonic sound.

Maple is known to make an articulate and bright sound, but with the addition of the arched top with F-holes ensure that the ES-335 have incredible resonance with a well-rounded sound that warms up the middle and bass.

The only complaint that I have with this guitar is that if you use a lot of distortion, the guitar beings to give some feedback. However, you don’t use a lot of gain for any type of Blues music, so if you’re strictly looking to play Blues, you don’t have to worry about this. I really love using the ES-335 with just the smallest amount of drive or when I use it on a clean channel.

If you’re looking to go with a more inexpensive option for the ES-335, the 335 Studio is cheaper than the ES-335 and works very well. The Gibson ES-339 is very, very similar to the ES-335, but it has a body that’s slightly smaller.

As a guitarist who is looking for a classic Blues vibe, the Gibson ES-335 is jam packed with clarity and brightness but has just enough clarity of the middle and low ends to ensure that the tonal quality of the guitar is not dry. This is a high-end guitar that has a high-end price tag to go along with it and is really an instrument that I only suggest to experienced Blues players because this is a guitar that takes some finicking in order to hit the perfect balance. But, for under $2,000, this guitar really is a lot of fun!

Gibson Les Paul Studio

The classic Gibson Les Paul is arguably one of the most iconic electronic guitars that was ever invented. However, not everyone has extra money to spend on a classic Gibson Les Paul. If you’re looking for the quality that the classic Gibson Les Paul has without the price tag the classic Gibson carries, the Gibson Les Paul Studio is an amazing contender that will cost you right under $1,000.

If you’re interested in purchasing a Blues guitar that has a warm, well-rounded sound, you need to check out the Les Paul. This guitar is more powerful than a typical Blues guitar because the Les Paul comes loaded with a set of humbucker pickups which happens to be more powerful than a set of single coils. This means that you’re going to have a louder and warmer output.

Les Paul is famous for its sustain, because of the quality thick mahogany that Gibson uses on this guitar. Sustain is wonderful to have if you happen to be an improviser who loves to bend notes of higher ranges. This guitar also comes with a maple fingerboard as well as trapezoid fret inlays. Gibson made sure to leave the feel of the neck to be a bit on the chunkier side, as they wanted the Studio to have the same feel as the Classic. As for the body, the Studio has a carved top made from maple and a mahogany back.

Whether you plan on playing your Blues guitar with a distorted or clean sound, the Gibson Les Paul guitar will provide you with fantastic sound. A common thing that a lot of Blues musicians do when playing the Les Paul is set up their amp with the gain on and turn the volume down on the guitar itself in order to clean the sound up. By slowing and carefully adjusting the volume knob, you get a whole bunch of different sounds produced, without even having to touch the amp!

If you’re interested in playing a Les Paul that is more updated, the Gibson Les Paul 2017 Standard has humbuckers that display a good amount of the vintage character that the Les Paul is known for but offers a bit more contemporary side. The 2017 Standard also has coil splitting capabilities, which allows you to make your guitar sound like it has single coils, all by pulling on one of the knobs.

As for the Studio guitar, Gibson installed their signature Tune-O-Matic bridge, along with a pick guard, set of tuning pegs, and a Graph Tech nut. Gibson did a really amazing job with the fret, as there are no sharp edges and extremely minimal fret buzz.

The sound of the combo of the maple and the mahogany tonewoods provide the sound of the guitar with a mellow sound with a vigorous drive to it which comes from the mahogany. When I played this guitar, I noticed that there was a strong presence of the middle and bass, but there was enough treble brightness that made the sound truly well rounded.

On the other hand, if you’re looking to spend even less money on your guitar, both the Gibson Les Paul Studio and the Gibson Les Paul Faded make great options for a Blues guitar, but cost a lot less money.

Gretsch G9200 Box Car

If you’re a true diehard fan of Blues, you have to play on a resonator guitar at least one time in your journey as a musician. The G9200 Box Car guitar is my favorite high quality, low cast six string resonator.

The build of the body and the neck on this guitar are incredible; the G9200 fashions a mahogany neck with a 25-inch scale length Rosewood fingerboard that sports 19 frets with white dot markers and an Ampli Sonic cone.

If you’re looking for a guitar that’s nothing but resonance, the mahogany that’s used in the G9200 gives you nothing but that! Mahogany is a beautiful tone with an incisive and melodious tone; if you’re not used to playing with a cone, you’ll find that there’s extra depth to the natural tone.

As for the neck on the G9200, it is a bit large on the lower register, but is trim on the higher registry; as someone with small hands, I felt like the lower registry was harder to play. However, the higher registry was playable and slim enough for my hands to feel comfortable.

When I first began playing this guitar, I noticed that the body itself also felt smaller. The body is this guitar is not a ¾ body, but it is compact. Considering that this a compact body, there is an incredible amount of sound that’s produced from this guitar.

As for the hardware on the G9200, Gretsch used a spider bridge with a bone nut and a set of six tuning peg. There are minor buzzing issues on the fret, but it doesn’t distract from the sound produced; this guitar also holds tuning very well, which means the G9200 also have incredible intonation.

Mahogany is a tonewood, which ensures that the guitar produces an incredible sound that has powerful qualities to it. Not to mention that the twang that this guitar produces matches very well to the raw Delta Blues style, but this guitar also produces a mellow sound that matches really well with light finger picking that pairs with old school Blues.

In all honesty, for under $500, you can purchase yourself a really amazing resonator guitar. Cosmetically, it’s a gorgeous guitar to look at and it has its own distinctive sound. If you’re looking for a guitar that pairs along well with Blues and you’re not looking to spend over $1,000 or more, the G9200 is perfect for you!

PRS Custom 22

If you’re new to the guitar world, you’ve more than likely never have heard of the brand called PRS. That’s okay! However, you should know that PRS is a company that’s well known for creating modern day guitars with a different edge on them. One of the PRS most famous guitars is the Custom 22 guitar.

One of the main reasons that the Custom 22 guitar is so famous is because it’s an extremely versatile guitar that can be used in just about any genre of music. Featuring a mahogany body and a mahogany neck, PRS made sure that this guitar screamed sturdy. However, the mahogany body also ensures that the Custom 22 provides players with incredible amounts of power. The neck itself is very slim and I found it to be very comfortable to play on; I have small hands and I discovered that I was able to play this guitar for a while before my hands became tired and achy; the fingerboard is Rosewood and sports a set of 22 frets with a 25-inch scale length that is all made complete with PRS bird inlays.

All of the hardware on the Custom 22 has been designed by PRS. I only have a few complaints about the Custom 22 and the complaints that I have with this guitar are commonly shared with other guitarists. This guitar does have some minor tuning issues; I find that if I leave it in a certain tuning for a while, the strings slowly detune. I also don’t like how the guitar doesn’t come with a pick guard; I understand that the pickguard comes in a gig bag, but I wish I didn’t have to apply it myself. On the other hand, I enjoy the job that PRS did on the fret of the Custom 22, as it has minimal fret buzz and doesn’t really have any sharp edges.

The electronics and sound in the Custom 22 are completely in your hands. As for the electronics, this guitar sports volume control knobs, tone control knobs, PRS bass and treble humbucker pickups, and a three-way pickup selector.

Since the pickups are a bit overpowering, the sound is very powerful. While the sound is powerful, it still is fully under your control. The humbuckers in the Custom 22 are what allow this guitar to be so versatile; they provide the Custom 22 with the ability to front incredibly clean notes, but also have no problem transitioning to intense and punchy metal.

Why is this guitar good for Blues? The basic sound that the Custom 22 produces is well known in the world of Jazz and Blues; it’s a natural sound that is impressionable to an assortment of effects and changes in tone. For under $1,000 you can pick yourself up a guitar that’s not only great for Blues but can effectively play in many different music genres.

Fender American Special Stratocaster

Some of the most famous Blues players have used the Fender American Special Stratocaster; Eric Clapton, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Jeff Beck, John Mayer, just to name a few. Ever since the 1950s, the Fender Strat has been a lot of musician’s go to Blues guitar. Ever since the 50s, the Stratocaster has been a guitar that’s been unspokenly used to compare against every other Blues guitar in the industry. The Fender American Special Stratocaster is one of the best electric guitars that’s under $1,000.

There are several different variations of the Stratocaster that are available on the market, so you’ve got to choose your guitar based on your specific needs/desire. If you’re looking for a straight up Blues sound, you should check out the Fender American Pro Stratocaster. However, if you’re looking for a Blues sound that leans more on the Rock side compared to the Blues, the American Special Stratocaster has hotter pickups compared to the American Pro.

For the Fender Stratocaster, there are three single coil pickups with five different configuration options. There are several different tonal possibilities that you can choose from with the Strat; you can choose bright and bell-like sound on the bridge to thick and warm sound on the pickup.

If you want to know what an American Stratocaster sounds like without going to a guitar store and playing one, just go and lisNine to any one of Eric Clapton’s sounds and you’ll find out what they sound like.  Not only is this guitar affordable, but it also offers a whole range of tonal definitions, reaches incredible ranges, and produced warm and wholesome tones.

As for the pickups themselves in the Strat, keeping your tone nice and clean sounding isn’t too hard to do, especially since the pickups aren’t too high. If you’re looking to break up the sound on your Strat, I suggest turning up the volume on the valve amp and you will find that the sound will begin to break up. I personally love finding the balance in between the volume on the valve amp, because I feel that’s where the Strat really begins to shine. On the other hand, if you’re looking to create a style that mimics how Hendrix played (60s Blues Rock), single coils work along very well with a fuzz pedal.

Enough about the sound of the American Stratocaster! Let’s get into more detail about the body of this guitar, as well as the hardware and electronics packed into this beauty. As for the body and neck, the Stratocaster’s body shape is well known among guitar players across the world. Featuring an alder body, the neck of the Stratocaster is the typical 9.5-inch radius with a satin finish. The American Stratocaster features a latter fretboard, but other Strats come with either a lacquered maple fretboard or a Rosewood fretboard.

As for the hardware, the bridge of the American Strat fashions six saddles that are completely adjustable and provide players with an amazing range. At the headstock, Fender gave the Strat a full set of F tuners from Fender, which is great to have if you’re really considered about your intonation; the F tuners also do a great job of making sure that your tuning stays in place for a while, so that the guitar doesn’t de-tune itself over time. While playing the American Strat, I’ve found that I can really be aggressive when bending my strings and I find that they stay in tune, after I’ve put them through some abuse. The main complaint that a lot of guitarists have with the Stratocasters is that the tremolo bridges are the weakest part of the guitar.

The electronics themselves aren’t too complicated; one of the most famous features of the Strat is its three single coil pickups. These three single coil pickups are the main component into the famous tone that Strat produces. Fender took the time to make sure that this guitar picked up all of your subtle playing techniques, so they greatly reduced the buzzing on the single coils. There are also pots inside of the guitar, which helps to ensure that the bass is kept as low as it possibly can when you turn up the volume.

It’s common advice in the guitar world that if you’re an electric guitar player, you at least need to try out an authentic Fender Stratocaster once in your life at the least and if not, own one. It’s incredible how much influence that this sole guitar has on the music that we lisNine to today. For under $1,000 you can purchase yourself an incredible guitar that is certain not to disappoint.

Conclusion

Which guitar is the best to use for Blues? There is no given answer, as each guitar provides each user a different experience when playing. Any one of the above nine choices will make an amazing guitar for someone to play blues on. Whatever guitar you decide to purchase for yourself, don’t forget that playing blues is all about a player’s emotion and feel. While these guitars are going to push you into the direction of producing the correct tone, the player is what really makes or breaks the deal. And that’s a wrap! I hope you’ve enjoyed learning something new about six string blue guitars and hopefully have found a possible buying option for yourself.

Zoom G5n: The Ultimate Review

Zoom are one of the most consistent names in multi-effects, catering for every guitarist, at every level throughout their playing journey.

From their little G1Xon for beginners, right up to this baby… they’ve got you covered.

This baby is the G5n, and it’s their top-of-the-range model, as reflected in the price. Zoom are a company who know what they’re doing at this stage, they’ve been doing it for long enough – since 1983 to be exact.

So, let’s get started with dissecting the G5n, and see what it can do for you and your journey.

Core Features and Specs

At this price, you’d expect something all-singing and all-dancing, and Zoom has pretty much brought that to the table.

A solid, rugged design – probably not as bulletproof as other manufacturers, but you won’t have to play too nice with it. There are plenty of effects at your disposal here.

Material Metal
Number of effects 68
Number of amp simulators Five amps; five cabs
Power Mains only
Loop length 80 seconds
User-created effects storage 200

So far, so standard really. There’s nothing really shouting at me as being groundbreaking, but we review things to look at them more closely!

This will work well for…

The guitarists who are most likely to part with this amount of money for kit like this, are ones who are sure they’ll be getting their money’s worth out of it.

This means we’ll be drawing a line to join this up with professional musicians who don’t have the time, patience, or storage space for a full set of individual stomp boxes.

I’d suggest this would be best for someone playing the corporate covers scene, who’ll need to cover a lot of ground in terms of the effects they’ll need, and need something that’ll survive the occasionally spilled chianti.

Does it do what it should?

It’s a weird thing to consider – multi-effects are supposed to do it all! Let’s take a look at the parts first.

Firstly, this is made of metal. Not tin or anything, heavier than that. If this breaks on you, you were doing it wrong, and you’ll need to seriously reevaluate your pedal use.

Let’s have a nosey at the back panel. Nothing too surprising here. Jack plugs for an input and a stereo output; a mini jack plug for attaching headphones; a mini jack plug input for attaching an MP3 player, phone or tablet, for jamming along to; your mains connection; your USB connection; and a control in.

“Control in”? What’s that? Well, in case you don’t have enough buttons or switches on the G5n, the control in is where you can plug in the Zoom FP01 footswitch, or the FP02 expression pedal. The FP02 kind of makes sense, if you feel you need both a wah pedal and a volume pedal.

I’m still trying to decide what the overall pedal looks like. At the time of writing, I’m opting for something from the Batcave. From the Christopher Nolan trilogy. It can be none more black, has lots of buttons, and appears to be built to withstand a building dropping on it.

Construction

As noted, this is built to be sturdy, to last… not necessarily to be abused, but it would probably be fine with that.

Chassis material aside, the G5n comes with five little pedals on the front, a footswitch for each of its tone banks, six additional buttons for each of those banks, and a few other knobs on its top panel, just for good measure, and a full foot-size expression pedal.

Now, what should one make of this number of controls on a multi-effects pedal? Well, the first thing to comment on is that they all make the pedal’s design bigger overall, which may not be what people are looking for.

The second thing to consider is that it may actually improve the functionality of the pedal: less scrolling, less holding a button down for a few seconds to make it change its function… it doesn’t sound too awful, does it?

So essentially, what these two points come down to is whether you prefer less floorspace being taken up, or more functionality from your pedal.

Each of the tone banks comes with its own LCD screen, as well as another one towards the back of the unit, showing you what your effects chain looks like, making it next to impossible to not know what you’re doing.

Let’s get to the exciting bit – how this Batbox tank sounds.

Tones

Looking through the list of the effects available on this unit, and it looks like you’ll be stuck to find something you don’t like.

They’ve combined some inspirations from classic effects pedals with some of their own work, but it’s likely that if you had time to analyze the audio properties, you’d be able to work out which individual stomp box was the inspiration behind it.

Let’s take a run through what they’ve included, in the various categories they’ve split the effects into.

  • 7 dynamics effects, this includes compressors, a mute button, and a noise gate, with one f the compressors inspired by the MXY Dyna Comp
  • 12 filter effects, including some different types of auto-wah, as well as a selection of EQs
  • 15 drive effects, which includes your overdrive, distortion and fuzz sounds. The usual inspirations can be found here: tributes to the Ibanez Tube Screamer and the Electro-Harmonix Big Muff etc
  • 19 modulation effects, so a few tremolos, flange, phase and chorus sounds
  • 9 delay effects, including a tape echo simulator, and an interesting sounding one that alternates the delay between left and right
  • 10 reverb effects, including a tribute to the reverb found on a 1965 Fender Twin Reverb amp

Those are the main effects. I didn’t even get to the wahs, the amps, the cabs. There’s just too much!

Playability

I never feel like I have enough of a word count to talk about the playability of a good multi-effects pedal. They just do so much! I’ll try and cover at least some ground though.

It’s always great to highlight the computer connectivity of a multi-effects pedal, just to highlight what that achieves.

Connecting your G5n to your PC or Mac allows you to use it as an audio interface, so you can record your guitar directly into the digital audio workstation (DAW) of your choice. This is where the amp and cab models are most important.

Say for example you own a Fender Blues Junior amp, but you need the sound of a Marshall JCM 800 for a recording gig. You can set your G5n to the JCM setting while it’s plugged into your Blues Junior, but let’s be realistic – it’s still a Blues Junior. So you can put that JCM 800 sound directly to the recording source, and tada! It’ll sound closer to a JCM 800 that it would coming through your Fender first.

Pros Cons
●      Heavy duty, giggable beast of a thing

●      Could have been made by Wayne Enterprises

●      Plenty of effects to keep the gigging professional busy

●      Useful to have in a recording environment too

●      Some players may not like the blacker-than-black design

●      The number of buttons may be deemed as too fiddly for some players

●      Not the biggest selection of amps and cabs in a multi-effects unit

 

 

Some Alternatives to the Zoom G5n

There are still a few competitors for the G5n. Let’s take a look at a couple of them.

Line 6 are one of the big names in multi-effects, and not without reason. They make great gear.

Line 6 M13

Their M series is a bit of a standout. With over 100 effects, it’s essentially the multi-effects pedal equivalent of the Avengers: they took all the effects from the type-specific multi-effects they previously released, such as the DL4 delay unit and the DM4 distortion unit, and brought them all together in a single box.

Each of these type-specific multi-effect were well-received in their own right, so there’s nothing wrong with bringing them in for a team-up.

This is very much for the gigging guitarists though, as it doesn’t feature any kind of USB output for hooking up to a computer. It doesn’t even come with an expression pedal, although it does have an input for one to be attached.

It does let you essentially set up different pedalboards for different types of music you might be playing. These are called scenes, and are pretty useful.

BOSS ME-80

BOSS are certainly a brand who need no introduction when it comes to effects pedals, and indeed multi-effects pedals.

Straight, off, just to clarify and confirm: yes, it is built like a tank; yes, it probably can be thrown off a cliff and be fine.

The ME-80 feels like their big daddy of multi-effects units, and has plenty going for it. This is so similar to the G5n, they could be sisters.

The first thing you’ll see is that it has many, many knobs. This is for a simple dial around method of selecting your effect type, with further knobs for tweaking the parameters.

It also has USB connectivity, so you can use it as an audio interface, or downloading free patches from BOSS’s Tone Central.

In Conclusion

It’s difficult not to be impressed with the Zoom G5n – it does tick so many boxes. It feels like there should be more boxes for it to tick them too.

I can see a working functions covers musician getting on well with it. With the range and quality of tones accessible, it is a solid workhorse of a pedal.

If you need one that does it all, this could be a goer.

Zoom G1Xon: One of the Best Multi-Effects Sound Pedals

Some guitarists of a certain vintage will remember a multi-effects pedal from the days of yore, called a Zoom GFX707.

It was cheap as anything, but for a lot of us, it was our first experience running our guitars through something before it hit the amp. We’ve moved onto higher-end gear, but there’s still a reverence associated with it.

The 707 is long gone – you can pick them up for less than $30 – but Zoom still caters for people learning their phase from their flange in the form of this tidy little box: the G1Xon.

Core Features and Specs

The cost of the G1Xon puts it very much in the range for beginners on a budget.

In saying that, their minds will be blown by having a vast quantity of sounds at the tips of their toes!

For $20 less, you can get one without an expression pedal, but for the sake of that, you’re as well to just pay it and get the most out of it.

Material Plastic
Number of effects 78
Number of amp simulators 22
Power Four AA batteries, or AC adaptor
Loop length 30 seconds
User-created effects storage 100 spaces

This will work well for…

For the most part, especially due to the price, this is pretty much aimed at beginners, and will work very well for them.

In saying that, seasoned guitarists have been known to keep their starter multi-effects box around for a while, even if just for the tuner and metronome. Or perhaps just the nostalgic sentiment.

Anyway, this is a fantastic addition to a beginner’s kit, maybe a few months after they start, when they have a good feel and ear for the instrument and amp they have, and are eager to find their own sound.

Does it do what it should?

The short answer to this is yes, yes it does.

Look, at this price, and for the intended audience of this pedal, all they’re going to want to do is play with the sounds until the get it as they like. And the 78 different types of effects on this pedal will keep them entertained and exploring, and hopefully even inspired.

The parts used are plastic, so this is unlikely going to cut it on the rigours of the road, but a bedroom guitarist should have no problems.

Apart from the aforementioned expression pedal, the G1Xon has two footswitches. These are used for manually scrolling through effects, engaging the pedal’s looper function, and engaging tuner mode. It has other buttons for you to store your own patches, and switch between looper and rhythm.

It’s got a bright, orange, backlit LCD screen to show you what you’re doing.

On the unit’s back panel, you’ll find the input for your guitar to go in, and the output for the unit to go to your amp or headphones. You’ll also find the mains input, and a mini USB port: you can use that for firmware updates or for connecting it to the mains.

The back panel also includes a mini jack plug, auxiliary input. This can be used for hooking up a backing track via your phone or tablet.

Construction

In terms of the layout of the pedal, it’s all logical and makes sense. It seems well put together, and nothing is rattling that might cause any concern.

However, this is a cheap pedal and is constructed as such. It’s plastic, and not super-heavy plastic either.

Sure, if you’re mostly using it in a bedroom to experiment with noise, it won’t be too much of a concern, but there are still hazards in a bedroom that the G1Xon is unlikely to survive, like if a heavy chair fell on it or if a glass of water spilled on it.

I’d suggest that even when using it for its regular purpose, you wouldn’t want to be over-zealous in stomping on it. There’s no way would it cut it with a regularly gigging band on the road, but it’s not designed for them anyway.

It sounds like it’s all doom and gloom! It’s not, there’s still plenty of fun to be had, but it is important to be aware that this is never going to win any prizes for durability. If you’re looking for a multi-effect box that you can dramatically stomp on, you’ll need to look elsewhere with a few extra dollars.

Let’s move on to see how this little box sounds.

Tones

78 effects and 22 amp simulations, means an awful lot of ground to cover when talking about the G1Xon’s tones, but I’ll cover what I can.

This Zoom categorizes its effects into four groups: Overdrive/distortion; dynamics/filter; modulation; and delay/reverb. Most of the effects are based on well-known, classic effects pedals – the user’s manual will tell you which ones they are based on. As you go through the various effects, they show on the display as an individual pedal.

With the sounds that are attributed to particular pedals, such as the Big Muff and the Tube Screamer, it’s important to be realistic about the fact that they are not these pedals, and are going to be quite a bit away from sounding like them.

It is worth remembering that guitarists using the G1Xon are most likely to be using a low budget, probably small, solid state amp, so expectations need to be managed: when you switch to the Tube Screamer, the chances of you suddenly sounding like Stevie Ray Vaughan are probably nil.

The amp simulators are fine if you’re going directly into headphones or an audio interface. If you plug it into a solid state practice amp with a six-inch speaker, it’s not going to sound like a Marshall stack.

Playability

With the amount of stuff to discover in the G1Xon, it’s not short in playability stakes, especially for guitarists at the start of their musical journey.

So much is heard about the various effects pedals that the famous musicians use, and that cost a lot of money. When guitarists are still in their exploratory stage, it’s actually pretty useful to have something like this where they can try out a whole bunch of them cheaply.

Although the “tribute” sounds won’t really sound like the ones they’re modeled on, it should at least get ears accustomed to the varying tones across pedals and amps, and perhaps sow a seed of aspiration if they continue playing.

A fun aspect of the G1Xon is the built-in rhythm tracks. These days, such things are recorded using actual drums – a far cry from the days when the “punk” setting would be an endless MIDI snare and hi-hat!

It’s an undervalued thing, but the built-in metronome is really important. It’s always amazing to see guitarists who are playing to themselves rather than to their bandmates, and especially their drummer. With the likely owners of this unlikely to quite be in a band yet, it would be good for them to practice playing to its metronome.

Pros Cons
●      Very, very cheap

●      Lots of room for beginner guitarists to start exploring effects

●      Construction is spot on

●      Ideal as a first effects pedal

●      You get what you pay for – this sounds cheap

●      Casing feels a little flimsy – you’d be afraid to take it outside your bedroom

 

Some Alternatives to the Zoom G1Xon

There are a bunch of alternatives available for beginner guitarists on a budget if the G1Xon isn’t quite what you’re looking for.

Vox Stomplab

Best known as amp manufacturers, Vox have diversified their product offering over the past decade or so. The Stomplab range has been around for a few years now, and is well-regarded. Looking at the Stomplab IG, as with Zoom, the inclusion of an expression pedal will cost you an extra $20.

The first things you’ll notice about the Stomplab are its parts and construction. All its sounds come packed in a sturdy metal box, with two metal footswitches.

Given the maker involved, it’s probably no surprise that amp simulation is a big part of the Stomplab’s offering. Of the 103 effects at your disposal, 44 are amps, with a further 12 cabinets. Of course, it covers Vox’s own legendary amps like the AC30 and AC15, with the rest based on various Fenders and Marshalls etc.

Behringer FX600

If you’re on an even tighter budget, Behringer’s FX600 is about $20 cheaper and is super-compact. It’s the size of a regular pedal, but with six built-in effects: flanger, chorus, phaser, delay, tremolo and pitch shifter.

With one knob for selecting the effect you want to use, one for controlling the level of the effect, it’s got a further two knobs for adjusting the parameters of your selected effect.

Obviously, with this price and the incredibly compact nature of the pedal, there has to be some cutbacks somewhere. The six effects can only be selected one at a time, so you’ll need to choose wisely – the FX600 doesn’t come with any internal memory to store your own creations.

Despite being made of plastic, Behringer pedals are actually pretty tough. The sounds aren’t based on any existing ones. This might be a good fit if you’re looking for choice but simplicity.

In Conclusion

The Zoom G1Xon is a solid choice for beginners looking to explore the world of effects.

It may not be bulletproof in terms of its build, and the sounds may not be the highest quality, but it will certainly get fledgling guitarists into the ballpark of the sounds they aspire to.

As with any kit, the most important thing is to get into your local guitar store and see if it’s for you.

TC-Helicon Play Acoustic: Another top Multi-Effects Pedal to Love

While most multi-effects units are very much aimed at electric guitar players, some of the features in them would be a waste of time for a guitarist more focused on acoustic playing.

A teeny, tiny market does exist for multi-effects processors for acoustic musicians, and it’s here that TC-Helicon’s Play Acoustic model resides.

TC-Helicon is a Canadian subsidiary of TC Electronic, which is largely focused on vocal effects such as harmonizers and pitch correction, a tradition they’ve proudly incorporated into the Play Acoustic. I’m excited to take a look at this, and see what it does!

Core Features and Specs

There are quite a few features in the Play Acoustic that identify it as a useful tool in your arsenal of guitar gear.

The first thing is that it has applications for both your acoustic guitar and your vocals, whereby you can add effects that will bring you away from being just another singer with a guitar. Most notable of these is the harmony effects, so you can play or sing, and it will track the sound and apply harmonies in real time.

Material Metal
Number of effects 14: six for guitar, eight for vocals
Number of amp simulators None
Power Mains only
Loop length None
User-created effects storage 100+

This will work well for…

This is an ideal piece of kit for solo, acoustic singer-songwriters.

If the time is taken to familiarize themselves with all this can do, and with the right songs and arrangements, the Play Acoustic has the potential to really bring their live sound to a whole new level, and the ability to really stand out amongst a heavily saturated market of such performers.

I do think it’s important to highlight that just owning the box and bringing it with you onstage isn’t enough. It’s something you have to work with to get the most out of. Think of it as having an additional musician performing with you – you wouldn’t publicly perform with one, without having practiced first!

Does it do what it should?

The general implication of the Play Acoustic’s features is for a live setting and taking a look at the parts involved in its creation, it’s definitely been designed with that scenario in mind.

Firstly, it’s made of a sturdy steel chassis, with high-quality footswitches on the top, for you to engage whatever effect while you’re performing.

Looking at the back panel, and there’s a lot going on.

  • jack plug input for your guitar, and an XLR input for your vocal mic
  • two XLR outputs, one each for guitar and vocals, for going to a DI box or to the mixing desk
  • a mini jack plug output for headphones
  • a mini jack input for an auxiliary audio source, like your phone or tablet
  • a connection for an additional pedal
  • your mains connection
  • mini USB connection
  • a GND switch – not as ominous as it sounds – if there are grounding issues while you’re playing causing your guitar to hum, pressing this button should help resolve them

Looking at the top panel, the centerpiece is it’s bright, backlit LCD screen to show you what exactly your’re doing as you go through its features. This is supported by six buttons to select your effects, and a knob to adjust them for what you need.

Construction

The Play Acoustic has been designed with the gigging musician in mind. To this end, the metal casing and footswitches are well-suited. I’d be 100% confident bringing this on the road, without any worry of it breaking.

Despite the ruggedness of the design, it’s not an excuse to go throwing the pedal around. You still need to be careful, especially with products based on digital interiors. They can get loose, and they can break internally. If you look after this pedal, the most issue you’ll have is some scuffs.

The placement of the controls and buttons are all logical and make sense, and the LCD screen will be fine on even the darkest of stages.

I will say that if you’ve been doing the solo, acoustic singer-songwriter thing for a while, having this pedal at your feet, that does so much, might be a shock to the system. That’s why it’s important to spend quite a few hours making sure you know the layout of the pedal, and how it will do what you want and expect when you need it to happen onstage.

So far, so good then. Everything is looking well, but let’s see what the Play Acoustic will do for your sounds.

Tones

Seeing as this is a guitar gear website, we’re going to keep things focused on the applications of the Play Acoustic to your guitar sound.

Looking at the reverb effects first, there are 36 different types available, taking some directly from parent company, TC Electronic’s, pedal of contemporary legendary status, the Hall of Fame. With this number of reverbs available, you’ll be sure to find one that works for your music, whether it’s emulating a bathroom or a cathedral!

The Play Acoustic’s μMod set of effects is one I personally find a bit weird and includes chorus and detunes. I don’t want to say these are impossible to apply to an acoustic guitar, but I think it would take a certain talent to give them an applicable audio aesthetic to appeal to a wide audience.

The next one is the most exciting. It’s called the BodyRez EQ. Generally speaking, you know how when you mic up an acoustic guitar, and it has a lovely, warm, resonant sound, that will reflect the natural nuances of the guitar’s sound? But when you have an electro-acoustic, with a pickup, it loses that warmth, and can sound a bit weedy when it goes through a PA?

Well, the BodyRez is intended to breathe some of the life it loses when it’s wired up, back into it.

Playability

Beyond the effects, there’re all kinds of things you can do with the Play Acoustic. If you wanted to go really nuts, you could try micing up your guitar and applying some of the vocal effects, or micing up your electric guitar amp!

Experiment, have fun! That’s where progress comes from!

Getting back to straight up plugging in your electro-acoustic though, and the original intentions for this pedal, there is a lot to play with, especially in terms of the reverbs and μMods. The reverbs are OK and pretty easy to figure out whether it’s right or wrong, but the choruses and detunes might take a little more working out.

It’s not that the effects are difficult to use, it’s just that a little patience, and some honest friends, will go a long way in getting the most out of the pedal. It would be useful to record yourself performing with, it just to be able to listen back and really pick out, what’s working, and what’s not.

While not a full audio interface, the USB connectivity does allow you to record your guitar or vocal parts, with the effects applied, but the playback will have to come from another interface. That feels like a bit of a cop out really.

Pros Cons
●      There are effects for vocals as well as guitar

●      Good quality parts and ruggedly constructed

●      Ideal for solo, acoustic singer-songwriters looking to bring an extra bit of flavor to their sound

●      It will take time and patience to get the most out of it

●      It is a bit pricey for most singer-songwriters playing in bars

●      Lack of full USB interface functionality feels like a cop out

 

 

Some Alternatives to the TC-Helicon Play Acoustic

Effects rigs for acoustic musicians isn’t the biggest market in the world, but we have a couple of things to look at.

BOSS have a few offerings because of course they do. Their flagship one is the AD-8.

BOSS AD-8

This is an interesting gizmo and has a different aim than the Play Acoustic. The core idea behind the AD-8 is that it will emulate high-end acoustic guitars. What an idea! Interestingly, it doesn’t specify which guitars it will emulate.

It’s as easy as selecting the type of body you want to sound like, and away you go. I’m not sure what I make of it, but I appreciate that it’s a good idea that would have practical applications for some guitarists.

If you normally play a show with a few guitars, to achieve different sounds for different songs, but you’re booked to play a show that just doesn’t have the room on stage for all your guitars, the AD-8 would solve those problems.

Zoom A3

Zoom’s A3 takes elements from the Play Acoustic and the AD-8, and then some.

Like the AD-8, it allows you to emulate the body shapes of different types of acoustic guitar. Like the Play Acoustic, it allows you to use effects that are fairly unusual for acoustic, like chorus.

Where the A3 stumbles off in its own direction entirely is that in addition to emulating guitars, it wants to emulate the microphones that would be used to mic them up, with choices inspired by legendary mics like the Shure SM57 and Neumann U87.

On top of that, you can select effects such as delay, tremolo, phase and flange. It’s not impossible, but it would take a player with great skill and patience to make those work on acoustic.

In Conclusion

I can definitely see an intermediate acoustic, solo singer-songwriter getting along well with the Play Acoustic. In a saturated market, it’s sure to let them stand out if they have the patience to learn how to tastefully apply it.

T-Rex Soulmate: A Pedal to Love for Ages

T-Rex aren’t known for their multi-effects pedals at all. They’re better known as the creators of some very tasty sounding, but not very cheap stomp boxes, as well as power supplies, pedalboards, and relevant cases.

So, what do we make of them coming out with a multi-effects unit?

Well, going off their existing reputation and positioning, it’s unlikely that it’s going to be lame. Going off this price tag, it really better not be!

Look, it may not be their core business, but T-Rex have been around for long enough and will have well-enough established practices not to do terrible ideas. Right?

Core Features and Specs

The core features of the Soulmate are essentially that it is just five effects.

If you like the idea of a multi-effects unit, but feel you don’t really have any need or want for most of the stuff that manufacturers are trying to cram into it, this could be for you.

This is about the complete absence of frills. T-Rex aren’t trying to show off. This is literally taking five of their best pedals, and shoving them into one box.

Material Metal
Number of effects 5
Number of amp simulators None
Power Mains only
Loop length None
User-created effects storage 10

This will work well for…

Hmm… there’s a tricky question.

I guess there are a couple of people this would work for.

As it only has five effects, it would be for people who are picky about what effects they need.

As those five effects are exclusively from T-Rex, you might also want to be a fan of their effects.

Aside from those two, given the cost of the Soulmate, it’s likely that prospective owners are going to be professional musicians. If you spend this amount on a pedal, you’ll want it to be heard, and you’ll want to be seeing it as an investment that you’ll be getting a return on.

Does it do what it should?

Probably the first surprise with the Soulmate is the fact that they’ve gone for a black finish. T-Rex makes some of the most brightly colored effects pedals around. When they’re doing something so different to their usual approach, I definitely would have expected a bright yellow or green finish.

Anyway, the actual material used is rugged and sturdy. The six footswitches are also metal, and look like they’ll take a few stomps for a few years.

Looking at the back panel, and it’s as straightforward as you would expect: jack plugs for input, with two for output; a socket for your power supply; and two further jack plugs for a loop, to incorporate the Soulmate with your other pedals – this section has an additional plug for power, this time for output, for powering other pedals.

You’ll also notice a boost knob on the back panel. This is for adjusting the level of the Soulmate’s boost function to whatever you need.

In addition to the functions of a series of traditional pedals, the T-Rex have also included a tuner, 10 spaces for presets, and a tap tempo for working with the delay.

Overall, it’s reminiscent of a cringeworthy old business acronym: KISS – Keep It Simple, Stupid.

Construction

The Soulmate feels durable, solid and weighty. It could handle a few years on tour. You’d want to be giving it some serious abuse if it didn’t last.

The layout of the build is fine. There’s nothing about it that makes you wonder what the designers or makers were on when they were dreaming it up and putting it together. Giving the footswitches a fair wiggle and poke gives a reassuring lack of movement.

T-Rex promotes this as being five of their pedals stuck together, so removing the need to set up various pedals, with various connections and power supplies, and that is really what they’ve done. It is just like having five pedals side by side, where you can operate one at a time, dialing in your own tones.

Probably the key distinction is between this and the individual pedals is that you can save up to 10 presets here, rather than having to tweak it every time you take out your Soulmate to play. That’s very useful.

The construction will satisfy somebody who just needs the core pedal sounds, whether they need them for gigging every night, or just for their own leisure playing at home.

Let’s take a listen and see what these core sounds are actually like though.

Tones

From left to right on the Soulmate, the effects are: overdrive, distortion, delay, reverb and boost. It’s essentially taking a bit from each of the categories the masses of effects of multi-effects pedals usually have.

The overdrive is taken from T-Rex’s Møller pedal. This is supposed to be a nice gentle overdrive, aimed at blues, just edging over to blues rock. It’s a pleasant, well-balanced tone, but it can be cranked nicely for some classic rock sounds.

If you want things a little bit more dirty, the distortion section is based on T-Rex’s Mudhoney pedal – the original single channel one, rather than the contemporary one with two channels. This one has heavier players in mind. The Mudhoney is one for pushing that boundary from warm drive to dirt. It doesn’t get too dirty, not anywhere near any kind of fuzz, but, still… dirty.

Moving along to the delay section, which is apparently based on both their Replica and Reptile models. Both of these pedals are renowned for two things: the range of tones, and the near-analog warmth in a digital pedal. As a digital pedal anyway, it wasn’t to difficult to duplicate that for the purposes of the Soulmate.

The reverb switch is based on the Room-Mate pedal. Now, the Room-Mate is a lovely tube-driven piece of kit, something distinctly lacking from the Soulmate, but it’s not a bad job of replicating the lovely spring and hall reverbs of the original.

The final effect is a boost. Remember earlier, when I mentioned the boost level on the back panel? That’s for that. It works pretty well at boosting clean tones, but I always find that an EQ or overdrive/distortion pedal is better for boosting your driven sounds.

Playability

For the player who wants just some core boutique effects in a single box, they’ll certainly get hours out of the Soulmate, just from enjoying what it does.

This is especially for players who don’t want to spend their time figuring out what button to press to find those core effects amongst the masses of fun you usually get in a multi-effects pedal.

I said at the start that T-Rex seemed to be going for quality over quantity, and that’s what they’ve done. It’s the price range of professional equipment, but I can see an intermediate musician with the money getting a lot of enjoyment from it.

Playability isn’t always about the number of effects and USB connectivity.

Pros Cons
●      Perfectly rugged and solid parts and build

●      Ideal for a professional or intermediate musician whose playing focusing on these core sounds

●      Ideal for those who just want to play guitar, rather than play with a multi-effects unit

●      Some players won’t be happy with the stripped-back, no frills approach

●      Lack of USB connectivity may bother some

●      Some players just won’t appreciate the simplicity of it

 

 

Some Alternatives to the T-Rex Soulmate

There really aren’t very many boutique multi-effects pedals around, but there are a couple worth looking at.

Carl Martin Quattro

With an MSRP of $979 there’s no denying that the Carl Martin Quattro is pretty cost prohibitive. Think about it: the most common use of effects pedals is for guitarists who need a range of sounds for whatever it is they’re playing, but can’t afford all the individual stomp boxes they need, so multi-effects is the compromise.

So, the tone of this needs to be the equivalent of going on a date with your celebrity crush, where you’ll drink the tears of angels, before riding away together on a unicorn. Or something.

Like the Soulmate, the Quattro is limited in the number of effects it presents: echo, chorus, two types of drive, and compressor. However, the difference – and this is a big difference – is that it retains analog build. There’s not a hint of the harshness associated with digital here.

BOSS GT-100

On the other side of the Soulmate is the BOSS GT-100, with an MSRP of $699. This is a bit more in line with the traditional image of a multi-effects pedal. BOSS are one of the top names in making such things, so you don’t really have anything to worry about.

In saying that, the GT-100 doesn’t have as many effects built into it as some cheaper models might. It comes with 44 effects, which includes BOSS’s famous COSM technology for amp modeling. Most notably on first appearance, it comes with a built-in expression pedal, a feature not included – or required – on the Soulmate or Quattro.

Outside of that, the GT-100 pretty much comes with all the bells and whistles you’d expect from a digital multi-effects unit. It has 200 presets – 100 from the factory, and 100 to fill yourself. It has USB connectivity, so you can use it as an audio interface or downloading free effects patches from BOSS.

In Conclusion

The Soulmate isn’t cheap, and probably isn’t the most versatile piece of gear around. It’s really for professionals and intermediates who know the sound they want to achieve and can just go ahead and do it.

The sounds are right up there with T-Rex individual boxes, so I’d definitely recommend giving it a go if you have the budget.

Line 6 M9: One of the Top Multi-Effects Pedals Out There

Line 6 have established themselves as a solid brand when it comes to effects. That actually feels like an understatement: they’re one of the top names, and they didn’t get there by making products people didn’t like.

Their M series of products are intended to cram all of their previous multi-effects into one case, with a few bonuses thrown in for good measure. They have three different sizes in the range: the M5, M9, and M13.

They’re distinguished not just by their size, but by the “bonus features” beyond the effects. Here, we’ll be looking at the M9.

Core Features and Specs

The core feature of the M9 – and any of the pedals in the M series really – is that it takes all the sounds from Line 6’s effect-specific pedals, and puts them in one box.

Say, for example, their DL4, which exclusively had various types of delay in it, or the MM4, which just had modulation effects. When these pedals have been so-well received, it makes sense to give people the chance to have all of them, at once, in a single unit.

Material Metal
Number of effects 100+
Number of amp simulators None
Power Mains only
Loop length 28 seconds
User-created effects storage 24 scenes

This will work well for…

This piece of gear find itself in the intermediate category, but bordering on a professional level piece of kit.

The price of the the M9 suggests it should be accessible to intermediate guitarists. It’s the reputation of the individual pedals from which it derives its effects selection that implies it would be at home in front of a professional musician. Even just thinking about the DL4 delay unit – it’s been used by everybody from Noel Gallagher to Lou Reed.

Obviously, it could be used by a beginner, but its rugged build implies it’s really aimed at gigging musicians.

Does it do what it should?

The M9 comes housed in a heavy duty metal case, with solid looking metal footswitches. It’s got a small LCD screen so you can see what you’re doing. It has a further six plastic knobs for adjusting the parameters of the various effects.

Taking a look at its back panel, it’s a pretty standard affair. It has jack plugs for stereo inputs and outputs; two jack plugs for connecting expression pedals – you can have one to use for wah and another for volume; an input and output for MIDI fun; and your power input. No alarms and no surprises there really.

The quality of the parts help to point this at being a professionally-orientated multi-effects unit: these would be wasted on a beginner’s pedal that wouldn’t be used beyond a bedroom.

The contrast of black casing with the chrome finished footswitches are not exciting, or original in terms of color schemes for multi-effects pedals.It would be nice to see a company buck that trend, but alas, today that honor won’t be going to Line 6.

The lack of USB connectivity shows that this isn’t supposed to do anything fancy: it is literally intended as a boxful of effects.

Construction

Following on from that, having considered the no-frills approach to the parts, the construction of the M9 takes a similar approach.

This is quite simply a rugged black box of noise and effects. It’s hard to imagine it ever breaking, but that’s not an invitation to start throwing it around!

Its total weight is only three pounds, so heavy enough to know it’s there, without it being cumbersome to bring to gigs.

Apart from the parts and construction, the fact that Line 6 – one of the most technologically capable manufacturers around – have avoided including anything to do with connectivity that’s not directly related to music, such as USB or Bluetooth, is a skin and bones approach by their standards.

If you’re looking for something that’s been solidly constructed that just does effects, the M9 could be for you. It’s as if they just wanted to take one aspect of the usual features of a multi-effects pedal and do that. This makes it one the few multi-effects pedals that literally does just that.

There’s not an awful lot more to say about its construction. Line 6 knew what they were doing, knew what they wanted to achieve, and went ahead and did it. Let’s see what the sounds are like.

Tones

With over 100 effects in this little box of magic, there’s too much to cover in this little review, so unfortunately, I’ll have to gloss over some highlights.

Line 6 have split the effects into six categories, combining some classic stomp box tributes with some original sounds of their own creation. It breaks down like this:

  • 19 delays, including inspiration from the Electro-Harmonix Memory Man and the BOSS DM-2 Analog Echo
  • 23 modulation effects, with inspiration from the tremolo in a 1960 Vox AC15, and MXR’s Phase 90
  • 17 distortions, including the usual tributes to the Ibanez Tube Screamer and Electro-Harmonix Big Muff Pi
  • 12 compressors and EQs, with models derived from BOSS’s CS-1 compressor/sustainer, and MXR’s 10-band EQ pedal
  • 26 filters, where the wahs live, with tributes to various Cry Babies, and various pitch shifting lols

As digital effects emulation goes, these aren’t bad, but when you’re at this price point, they should be. They will lack that analog warmth. If you wanted, you could get the M9 for the range of effects, and there is a supplementary box you can get from another brand designed for softening the harshness that sometimes comes with digital effects.

Overall, this shouldn’t leave any guitarist stuck for new or interesting sounds.

Playability

The M9 has a very cool feature that it refers to as ‘scenes.’

A scene is essentially a set of effects that you can access quickly mid-set – essentially the digital equivalent of having a bunch of pedalboards with you. On the M9, you can store up to six effects in one scene, with storage for 24 scenes.

This is a pretty useful, especially if you’re a guitarist who needs to cover a lot of styles. This could be playing in a covers band that needs to keep a lot of different people happy with lots of different songs in one night, so you can separate your blues classics from your pop ballads. Or, if you play in multiple bands: you can have one scene for your grunge pop band, and another for your reggae nights.

Elsewhere, you have 28 seconds of recording time with the in-built looper. They’re always fun when used tastefully. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to play with the expression pedal inputs, but some videos online make it look pretty handy.

Ultimately, the M9 is a pure tone machine. Even if the sounds lack the warmth of their original inspirations, they’ll be perfectly good enough to cater for a versatile covers guitarist’s needs.

Pros Cons
●      The effects, the whole of the effects and nothing but the effects – if you’re looking for a jumbo box of random tricks, look elsewhere

●      And a tuner, looper, and MIDI function

●      Good quality sounds – but at this level, they really should be

●      Lack of amp modeling may be off-putting

●      I’d expect a built-in expression pedal at this price, and for this amount of effects

●      Lack of computer connectivity may be off-putting

 

 

Alternatives to the Line 6 M9

The higher you go up the price range of multi-effects pedals, the fewer competitors there are. But you can guess the names you’ll still be seeing.

DigiTech RP1000

A little pricer than the M9, the RP1000 from DigiTech is kind of a beast. The first thing you’ll notice is that it appears to have been sent here from outer space, in the future. The second thing you’ll notice is that it has lots more footswitches and buttons than the M9, most notably that expression pedal on the right-hand side.

This is more of your typical all-singing, all dancing multi-effects unit. It has over 160 effects, including amps and cabs, USB connectivity for you to hook up to your computer and uses as an external interface, and 20 seconds of recordable looper time.

Two additional features stand out. The first is the ability to control external effects pedals with the RP1000’s footswitches. And the second is that the absolutely incomparable sound of DigiTech’s legendary Whammy pedal has been included.

TC Electronic Nova System

TC Electronic’s Nova System is closer to the M9. It’s focused entirely on the effects aspect of a multi-effects pedal – no amp or cab sims here. It also excludes any expression pedal – that’s up to you to find and plug in if you decide you need it.

The main thing that TC Electronic seem to be trying to get across with the Nova System, is that it will give you analog sounds, with the ease and versatility of digital.

To that I would say yes and no.

Lauded by critics for the authenticity of the sounds, there’s no doubt the Nova System spent a lot of time in R&D before its public unveiling.

My reservation is just a point of expectation management really: a multi-effects unit is only going to sound as good as the guitar going in one side, and the amp it leads to from the other.

In Conclusion

The M9 is for intermediate, but regularly gigging guitarists. With the lack of amp modeling, it would need a good amp to do it justice. It would likely be good for the guitarist who knows they have their perfect amp and won’t be changing it anytime soon.

Get to your local guitar store – see what it does for you!

Mooer GE100: Another Multi-Effects Pedal to Love

Mooer came to prominence a few years ago for their range of mini-pedals, which were well-built and well-received.

The GE100 is one of their takes on multi-effects processors, and I’m hoping it’ll match the quality and sounds of their individual stomp boxes. Most of their compact pedals are based on emulating legendary pedals, so it will be interesting to see how much of that cloning approach they bring to a multi effects unit.

It’s always amazing to see Mooer reduce the pedalboard space of larger pedals, but they generally win at it: if there was a company who are most likely to have got this, it’s Mooer.

Core Features and Specs

As a general rule of thumb, the Mooer pedal-building philosophy is – and this is not an official company line – “build them smaller; but build them just as well.”

The approach to the GE100 looks like it very much wants to retain that philosophy.

Material Plastic
Number of effects 66
Number of amp simulators 7
Power Four AA batteries, or AC adaptor
Loop length 180 seconds
User-created effects storage 80 spaces

 So far so… standard really. First impressions don’t show anything exceptional for a similar device at this price, but hey – I’m always ready to be surprised.

This will work well for…

Everything about the GE100 fits it with what beginners would need from their first effects.

It’s inexpensive; it’s not designed for touring the world; it has a lot of things for newbies to explore as they develop their sound, and as they find the sounds that they’d like to explore more.

Maybe that fuzz is what they needed to sound like mid-90s Smashing Pumpkins, and they want to pursue that sound. Maybe that delay will inspire them to sounds like U2.

Essentially, a box like this is about letting beginners explore various paths in their playing.

Does it do what it should?

The plastic of which the GE100 is made is sturdy, but you still can’t help but instinctively feel a little bit careful or gentle with it. It doesn’t feel as tough as other pedal made of plastic – I’m thinking of stuff Behringer use.

The GE100 comes with an expression pedal attached, and that feels like it might be a particularly point of weakness – this is not a Morley-style beastie that you could drop off a cliff unscathed!

That really is just the casing though. The actual pedal part that you’ll be tipping with your toes are actually sturdy metal footswitches. They’re a fairly rugged contrast to the rest of what’s going on.

Apart from the footswitches, there are six additional buttons to select the mode, so what it is you want to use the pedal for, so effects, or starting one of its built-in rhythms, or engaging its looper function. There are an additional two knobs at the top of the unit for tweaking the parameters of whatever you’re using at the time.

The back panel is pretty standard: your input and output jacks, mains connection, and an auxiliary, mini jack plug for plugging in external sources if you want to play along with a track.

Construction

The aforementioned concerns about plastic casing aside, as long as you realize what you’ve got, and treat it accordingly, the construction won’t be a problem. For a while anyway.

Even with the metal footswitches, they are still in a plastic casing, and that is likely to go eventually. You wouldn’t want to be throwing it around carelessly, putting all your weight on it, or being over-zealous with that expression pedal. This isn’t a pedal you’d bring on an 18-month world tour!

It comes down to the fact that you get what you pay for.

Concerns about durability aside, the layout of the pedal is great. They’ve squeezed a lot into it, which fits with their ability to make things small but mighty. Despite the potential flimsiness of the box, the buttons and knobs are solidly attached.

I’ve made it sound like the GE100 will break if you even look at it! It’s not quite that bad, but it is important to be mindful of who this is for. It’s for exploration, discovery, and refining a beginner guitarist’s sounds.

For the price, and for its intention, the part and construction are pretty much what you’d expect, so it can’t really be faulted. Obviously, the most important thing is the tones it generates.

Tones

The most important part of any review about guitar gear!

The various effects at your disposal are divided into categories, so for example, the different types of distortion, modulation, delay etc. It’s pretty clear cut. The two footswitches are used for scrolling up and down through the effects.

The effects are largely based on existing individual effects pedals: some from Mooer’s own range, others influenced by some of the legendary effects pedals. This is especially prevalent in the distortion category, with Mooer providing takes on pedals such as the Fuzzface or the Tonebender.

Amongst the amps being simulated are names such as Vox, Fender and Marshall. I think especially with amps, it’s important to realize that if it’s a beginner in a bedroom playing a 10 watt, solid state amp, with a six-inch speaker, it’s going to sound different for sure, but it’s not going to magically sound like one of these classic amps.

The tones aren’t completely awful, but it’s relative to the setup. I tested through a single coil guitar with a small solid state amp, because that’s the kind of setup a person using this is most likely to have.

I wouldn’t say that any of the tones disappoint. An experienced guitarist will be less impressed, but a beginner will be excited to get exploring.

Playability

As if the range of effects wasn’t enough for this little box, the GE100 comes with a few other features that will maximize its playability, to make sure you spend plenty of time with it.

A unique feature – probably better associated with electric pianos and keyboards – is a lesson function. This will teach you the basic guitar chords and scales you need for improving your playing, which will also in turn help with what you can achieve from the sounds available.

There are 80 user patches available on the GE100, so when it’s all coming together, and you’re making your own sounds for your playing, you can store them, without having to fiddle through finding them again.

Looper recording lengths are something that has increased on technology develops, and here, you have a not-too-shabby 180 seconds to play with. It’s not just limited to single loops though – you can overdub and create as complex a sounds as you want.

I will say that with a box like this, where so much is being crammed into one unit, it is important to actually use the instruction manual, just to find out where everything is, so you can absolutely milk it for all it does.

Pros Cons
●      It’s incredibly cheap!

●      Intuitive design – the controls make sense in finding the function that you’re looking for

●      Lots of things to do and hear

●      Ideal first effects pedal

●      The plastic casing does give it a limited lifespan

●      As you’d expect at this price, the quality of the effects aren’t overwhelming

Some Alternatives to the Mooer GE100

There are a few alternatives to the GE100 in this price range.

Hotone Ravo

In the market of compact pedals, Mooer’s main competitor would be Hotone. Hotone have a similar approach to their individual boxes, but somehow make them even smaller than Mooer. Hotone are also in on the multi-effects market, with their Ravo model. The Ravo is not only a multi-effect pedal, it can also act as an audio interface. It works as much as an extension for your computer as it does an extension for your guitar rig. You can hook it up via USB.

With it hooked up to your computer, you can use it to record guitar into the software of your choice. Using Hotone’s Tonebank software, you can create your own patches on your computer. Cool!

Aside from USB-related stuff, the Ravo has 130 types of effects, 100 spots for your own creations, and 30 seconds of looper time.

DigiTech Element XP

DigiTech are one of the stalwarts in multi-effects pedals – whatever your price range, you’ll find their name. Their Element XP is one of their entry-level models.

Like the GE100 and the Ravo, it has a built-in expression pedal for playing with volume and wah effects. This member of the Element range has 37 sounds based on stomp boxes, with 12 amp simulators and nine cabinets. So yeah, plenty to play with here!

The Element XP looks like quite the winner in terms of the number of presets at your disposal. It has 100 in the box, directly from DigiTech, with room for a further 100 of your own creation. It will allow you to use nine of its built-in effects simultaneously.

In Conclusion

The GE100 is a fine multi-effects unit for beginners starting with effects. It’s hard to say that it’ll set them in the right path. It’s more a case that it will set them exploring the various paths they could choose to pursue.

In the interest of managing expectations, I can’t reiterate enough that you get what you pay for. It will get you in the ball park, for sure, and give an understanding of the variations that occur across pedals.

As ever, the best thing to do to see if it’s right for you is to go to your local guitar shop and have a play with it for yourself.

Hotone Xtomp: A Sound Effects Pedal We Love

I’m a fan of Hotone pedals and have a couple of their stompboxes permanently attached to my pedalboard. They’re tiny, saving a bunch of room on my board, and are very well constructed – what’s not to love.

Saving space on pedalboards without compromising functionality, has always been one of their main focuses. With the Xtomp , they take that to a whole new level.

You know how you use for phone for literally everything? Well, you can add managing your pedalboard to that list.

The basic premise of the Xtomp is that it is a single pedal, and you control the effects it produces via Bluetooth from your smartphone or tablet.

Core Features and Specs

The Xtomp has two core features really: firstly, it’s all of your effects and amp models in a single box; and secondly, it’s controlled from your phone or tablet.

Straight away, points to Hotone for making the Xtomp compatible with both iOS and Android devices. You may or may not be surprised by the amount of music-related tech manufacturers who seem to think that Android device owners aren’t interested in creating music!

Material Metal
Number of effects Over 300 – and growing
Power Mains only
Loop length None
User-created effects storage Infinity via the app

This will work well for…

This is definitely a piece of kit aimed at technophiles!

I can picture kids showing off gizmos going for it, or more mature guitarist who just can’t be bothered lugging around a backbreaking load of gear.

If you so desired, you could literally rock up to a gig with your guitar, with your Xtomp in your pocket; zap your desired amp and effects to the pedal, hook it up directly to the mixing desk, and away you go.

Similarly, it would be a useful tool for the space-conscious home recording enthusiast.

Let’s take a closer look.

Does it do what it should?

Looking at the parts, and it certainly retains Hotone’s minimalist approach to pedal construction, although ‘minimalist’ isn’t perhaps the right word.

Maybe ‘compact’ is a better description. ‘Minimalist’ implies that the pedal has compromised features somewhere to give a pure basic design when in fact, it’s just crammed an awful lot into a very small piece of space.

There are very few multi-effects units that can be operated with a single button, but here we are. The Xtomp has just that, accompanied by six knobs whose functions depend on the effect you have selected to operate.

It comes with two input and two output jack plugs. Again, what they do varies depending on the effect you have selected.

Other than that, it just has the plug for your mains adaptor, and a mini USB connector, for hooking it up to your computer for firmware updates.

The casing looks just like a smartphone and comes in a brushed chrome finish. It looks smart for sure. Straight out of the box that is. I know what pedals look like after a couple of years of use, and it ain’t pretty!

Considering these aspects, it feels like there might be a slight clash between function and form.

Construction

As I’d expect from a Hotone pedal, the quality of the Xtomp’s build is not a concern.

I feel like this is more important for a pedal like this, more so than other multi-effects units. This likely stems from how small and light it is. I mean, look at it. I’ve already compared it to a smartphone, so that’s the kind of feel you expect. It looks as if OtterBox should make a case for it!

Once you get it in your hand though, you understand that it’s tougher than it looks. But personally, I still wasn’t convinced. I mean, I knew it would take some standing on, and I’d definitely take it on the road for a tour. It’s not a BOSS pedal by any means, but nothing is.

Sturdiness of the build aside, the jack plugs all come with metal nuts. Their bright finish is actually a nice contrast to the clinical grey of the rest of the box.

The location of the knobs is standard. That’s relative to other brands’ single footswitch pedals though – for Hotone’s Skyline range of micro pedals has one at the side as well.

There’s nothing too exciting or surprising about the construction or parts. Let’s move on to how this one box to rule them all actually sounds.

Tones

Here’s a bit of a sneaky thing when it comes to the Xtomp’s tones: technically, only one effect can be used at a time. The exception to that is if you select a ‘combo’ model from within their library of effects.

Think of it like having an emulator program for an old games console, and an SD card with 250 games. You can only play one game on the emulator program at a time.

The single worst thing about trying to talk about the tones of the Xtomp is that it has all of them. Well, over 300, and growing all the time, so the more Hotone add to their library, the more extensive the range of tones at your disposal.

The best thing for you to do is probably to look through the library on the Xtomp website. It should give you a pretty clear idea of what’s going on. It’s a lovely bright list of the effects available, divided into sections of the type of effect they are.

You can click on each one for a description of what it sounds like, and what pedal or amp inspired it. For some of the popular ones, you’ll recognize thinly veiled changes to the brand or pedal name.

For example, in the amp section you’ll see the Marshall 800 and the Baseman. Yes, seriously. It’s kind of fun.

Playability

If there’s one thing to be said about the Xtomp and that’s that boredom will never ever be an option. Which is good – you want a pedal you can always go back to.

If anything, you’ll be looking to buy more to complete a full board of them. Imagine, for example, having two Xtomps. You have one song that needs a Tube Screamer sound mixed with a Small Clone, but another song in the same set that needs a Big Muff sounds mixed with a Phase 90. You can do that by playing with your phone and with two pedals, rather than having four pedals. That’s cool.

And here’s a key feature for the Xtomp compared to other multi-effects systems: there will never be an end to the range of tones for you to explore, thanks to the ever-increasing library.

100 effects is generally considered more than enough choice on a multi-effects pedal and should satisfy most guitarists. Most guitarists won’t even check out all those effects, or even most of them. The Xtomp already has 300 effects for you to try, and that’s not a fixed number.

What’s not to love about that? Essentially, its playability is infinite. What a time to be alive!

Pros Cons
●      You can literally play all of the effects

●      Tougher than it looks

●      Ideal for a guitarist who gets bored easily

●      And definitely ideal for somebody who like to incorporate cool tech into their music

●      The ‘one effect at a time’ approach may not be what people want from a multi-effects pedal

●      The clinical smartphone-like finish might not be badass enough for some

●      There doesn’t seem to be a function for wah

●      It is a little pricy

●      Might be slow to change effects between songs

Alternatives to the Hotone Xtomp

As the smartphone market isn’t slowing down completely yet, and as more people make their devices the centre of their world, there are a couple of alternatives solutions for technophiles.

iRig Stomp

I’m not sure if the iRig Stomp from IK Multimedia was the first device on the market to work with your phone, but it certainly was one of the earliest, and well-marketed. It’s also several hundred bucks cheaper then the Xtomp

With perhaps an even more stripped back approach than the Xtomp, the Stomp has a single footswitch, and a single knob for adjusting the input level. That’s it. No frills here.

The Stomp is designed to bring IK Multimedia’s AmpliTuBe software from the studio, onto the stage, via this pedal. It operates on the same basic principle as the Xtomp: find the sounds you want on AmpliTube, zap it from your device to your pedal – tada! New noises.

It really is as simple as that!

One super-snag though. At the start of the review, I mentioned some companies not catering for Android users? Yeah, it these guys I was having a sly dig at. iStuff only for this please.

Griffin Stompbox

The only other alternative is by a brand called Griffin. No, me neither. Their offering is called the Stompbox. I hope they didn’t pay anybody a lot of money to come up with that name. This can be found for even cheaper than the Stomp.

The big difference with the Stompbox is that it has four shiney footswitches for you to play with. That’s useful. It means that within this single, super-cheap unit, you can assign different tones to different switches, and use them or not use them as you please.

In Conclusion

There’s no denying that the Xtomp is a pretty unique piece of kit. It’s hugely applicable, and I can see a lot of modern guitarists going for it. I’d recommend this for someone who find they buy and sell a lot of pedals.

They can just buy one single Xtomp and play what they need.

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