Guitar - General/Multi-Effect Units

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Question
Hi.  I am looking to upgrade my current floor unit (BOSS GT6).  I am looking at the obvious upgrade, the GT100, but, there is this new "boutique" quality pedal from T-Rex called the Magnus.

The Magnus is very simple and straight-forward - it only features 5 effects: Overdrive, Distortion, Reverb, Delay and Boost.

The GT100 features COSM modeling and a wide variety of on-board effects.

It may seem like the answer is obvious but the BOSS pedals that feature Amp Modeling technology tend to sound boxy and muddy.

I know everyone has different needs and tastes.

I am looking to improve my sound.

Could you provide a judgement call on how you rate these two units?

Is there something that sticks out that makes one superior in comparison to the other?

The extra effects are not necessary to me, it is the Tone that I am after.

Thank you.


Lou
Philadelphia, PA

Answer
Hi, Louis!  I know what you mean about tone chasing with multi-FX units; this can be real challenge.  In fact, I stopped really using them years ago and went back to separate stompboxes, for two primary reasons.  (1) Although they have a ton of useful effects, each unit seems to provide its own certain coloration, and I like to color my sounds with the individual pedal.  For instance, if you like the color that a certain phaser adds, you can use that particular pedal, whereas in a multi-fx unit, you have to use whichever one they've built into it.  The stompbox chain does tend to respond differently than the multi-units.  A second reason - VERY important if you play live a lot - is that if your multi-fx unit goes down for some reason, you lose ALL your effects, at least until you get it up and running again.  (You'll see a lot of pros who use the really nice units like the Fractal or Eventide actually have some extra in their rig as backup for just this reason.  Most of us regular human beings don't have the budget to buy 2 or 3 of every unit.)  If you're using a traditional stompbox pedal chain and one goes out for some reason, you simply remove it from the chain and you still have everything else.

I noticed that your concern is not the AMOUNT of effects you have, but the quality.  This makes your quest a little more complex.  For many folks, they just want as many fx as they can squeeze into one box.  Although I agree with you that some modeling can sound muddy, a lot of this has to do with the precise tweaking of the individual effects more so than the unit itself; most of the multi-fx units out there right now can be honed to pretty good tones if you take the time to set them up right.  A really important thing to do - unless you just love their factory-built presets - is to build a chain where you have everything set totally flat; at "zero" on each effects' settings.  Then you slowly set each level that you can control to the desired effect, a little at a time.  This seems obvious, but I see very few players actually do it because it is quite tedious.  You may find that with some precise tone-tweaking, you can reduce the muddiness of the overall sound.

I should add here that so many other factors contribute to your sound - regardless of the effects unit you use - that we can't rule them out.  They amp type is especially important:  one unit that sounds good through "Amp A" might sound completely different through "Amp B."  So it's really something to consider when adding effects.  If you're trying them out in-store, try to match your amp type as closely as you possibly can, because if you play through a totally different kind, you may find that it doesn't sound the same when you get it home.

It's difficult for me to tell you that either of these units "stand out" for you.  Of the two, the BOSS unit is a more versatile because it has a lot more functions.  The flip-side of that, of course, is that it's also more complex than the T-Rex and therefore might be more of a hassle to set up.  It also costs a bit more than the T-Rex, so if budget is a real concern for you that's something to keep in mind.  

In short, only your own ears can tell you which of them provides the best tone for you.  They each make a lot of good sounds.  If versatility and the ability to do complex stuff like channel-splitting is a big goal for you, the BOSS unit wins.  For simplicity and kindness to your wallet, the T-Rex might be a better choice.  

Lastly, don't get too wrapped around the term that T-Rex uses for their effects when they call them "boutique."  This is one of those sales terms that sounds really fancy but actually doesn't MEAN much.  

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J Ross Smith

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Find at www.jrosssmith.com! Over 20 years of guitar playing, teaching, building, and modifying; have worked as a touring musician, studio session guitarist, engineer, guitar tech, and guitar teacher. Registered member of ASCAP. Registered member of Freelancers Union. I have a working knowledge of music theory and styles, and a taste for all types of music and instruments. If you have a favorite guitar player or style, chances are I share it! If you have a question I can't answer, I'll rely on experienced and knowledgeable people I know to get the correct information for you, and I hope I can help inspire your playing style and tone. Promotional photo by Sebastian Castillo at Castillo Photography, San Diego, CA.

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Over 15 years of guitar playing, teaching, building, and modifying; have worked as a touring musician, studio session guitarist, engineer, guitar tech, and guitar teacher.

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American Society of Composers, Authors & Publishers (ASCAP), Freelancers' Union, IAVA (Iraq & Afghanistan Veterans of America).

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I have a working knowledge of music theory and styles, and a taste for all types of music and instruments. If you have a favorite guitar player or style, chances are I share it!!!

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