Top 8 Best Multi Effect Pedals


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It was not that long ago in the development of the multi effect pedal that even the best models were viewed by many musicians as difficult to use and, at the bottom line, annoying.

Times have, thankfully, changed with many musicians opting to streamline their rigs by swapping out four to five pedals for a multi effect pedal.

For most serious guitarists, swapping a full pedal board for a single unit was almost sacralizing. Owing to the fact that you can get a host of different effects in one unit, you won’t be missing out on getting a variety of effects.

The market for multi effect pedals has seen a healthy growth in recent years, which comes with a more diverse set of choices for those looking to invest in one.

What Do Multi Effect Pedals Do?

The best way to think of a multi effects pedal is that they are the TARDIS of guitar pedals. They may look small, some even no bigger than an A5 notepad, but the only limit to what they can do in terms of sound is the imagination.

Most of the best multi effect pedals, and some of those we talk about further down this article, contain the ability to go through the entire pedal spectrum.

In the context of a multi effect pedal, this entire pedal spectrum includes effects like overdrive, distortion, modulation, delay, and reverb.

What Is The Best Order For Multi Effect Pedals?

There is no hard and fast rule in terms of the best order for multi effect pedals. That being said, there are a number of common placements which might work for you, especially if you’re very new to using effect pedals.

Thankfully, there’s no “wrong” way to connect effects pedals in your signal chain.

The most common set up for effect placement usually goes something like this:

  • Compressor (Dynamics), Pitch Shifters, Filters (wah), and Volume are usually the first in the chain.
  • Effects such as overdrive/distortion (Gain based effects) come second
  • Modulating effects such as flangers, chorus, and phasers, are third
  • Typically, Time based effects like reverb and delays work best on the end of the signal chain

Top 5 Multi Effect Pedals

There are many absolutely stellar multi effect pedals on the market right now. In the interest of keeping this as concise as possible, we’ve chosen what we think are the top 5 multi effect pedals.

For our list of the Top 5 Multi Effect Pedals, we looked at a few factors to determine which ones made it to our list. We’ve tried to bear factors like budget, how user-friendly the pedal is, and functionality in mind.

We’ll give each of the below effect pedals their dues and discuss each of them in relative detail. As it can be difficult to pick just five, we’ve also included a notable mentions section in the interest of giving dues to some of the other best multi effect pedals.

Not only that, but we’ve also included a pros and cons section for each pedal.

Line – 6 Helix

Line - 6 Helix

The 6 Helix from Line has a huge array of preset locations, 1,024 to be precise. These preset locations are then organized into eight set lists, each with 32 banks and four presets each.

At the time of its launch, the 6 Helix was definitely at the top end of most budgets. Considering the price point and the incredible amount of connectivity, it’s each to imagine the 6 Helix being targeted at the professional musician.

The 6 Helix blends amp and effects models in what some might consider a larger, more rugged floor pedal. Currently, it has 41 modelled amps, 7 bass amps, 16 mics, 30 cabs, 80 effects. There is also the option for loading speaker impulse responses.

This makes the potential for sound creation astronomical.

When you venture beyond the factory presets and get elbow deep in the 6 Helix, there are some great sounds, and the ability to shape things to your liking.

The biggest advantage of the Helix is its comprehensive input/output, and signal routing ability. Both of these can facilitate almost any guitar oriented studio or onstage task.

Pros

  • Extensive connectivity capabilities
  • Excellent sound from effects/amp models
  • Clever display features

Cons

  • Too much connectivity for some
Line 6 HX Effects Multi Pedal Black
  • 100+ HX effects for your pedalboard—run up to 9 simultaneously
  • Additional legacy effects library from M13 , M9 , M5 , DL4TM, MM4 TM, FM4 TM, and DM4 TM
  • Capacitive-sensing switches with LED rings and scribble strips
  • Acts as the command center for your entire amp and pedal rig

Fractal – FM3

Fractal - FM3

Taking its cue from the legendary Axe-FX II, the FM3 is an amp modeler, effects processor, and foot controller.

Fractal have always been one of those brands whose reputation precedes them. Many serious professional guitar players swear by Fractal.

The FM3 is simply packed with features, like ARES amp modelling tech, which brings you closer to the feel and sound of a real tube amp. There are over 265 amp models available.

In terms of being a multi-effects pedal, the FM3 is fully stocked with industry leading algorithms. It can do just about everything from reverb and delays, to overdrive pedals, and even has a looper built in.

With more effects, tools, and amp models than you will ever realistically need, the FM3 sits in the top tier of effects pedals. It’s also easy enough to fit into a backpack owing to its small footprint.

Pros

  • Solid construction
  • Extremely portable
  • Almost endless effect/amp options

Cons

  • Limited to 3 foot switches (although this can be increased using the FASLINK input)

Mooer – GE200

Mooer - GE200

The GE200 entry on our list is one of the more budget friendly options available. This Chinese brand has been steadily increasing in popularity over recent years.

Mooer started out as a cheaper alternative to some other big names in multi effect pedals, but have become a contender in the market in their own right.

The GE200 is a fantastic example of lower cost without compromising on functionality, which it delivers in spades. We found the ability to load your own impulse responses onto the unit to fine tune speaker outputs a very nice touch.

There are 70 effects included, all of which sound excellent. Alongside this, the Mooer offers a decent selection of models, effects and tools which, honestly, you would expect in a brand costing much more.

Pros

  • Simple to set up and use
  • Fantastic sounds
  • Compatible with third party Impulse Responses

Cons

  • We couldn’t find any – especially considering the price
Mooer GE200 Multi-FX
  • 55 high quality amplifier models
  • 52 second looper with half speed and reverse effects * Drum machine with 40 drum patterns and 10 metronome rhythms
  • Usb connectivity for PC editing and direct audio recording to computer

Boss – GT-1000

Boss - GT-1000

Having been in the effect pedal industry since the early 80s, Boss has firmly established themselves as one of the market leaders.

Boss’s GT-1000 combines all the best features of some of their more successful units, the RV-500, MD-500, and DD-500 to be precise.

In terms of aesthetics, the GT-1000 looks and feels very sleek and modern but is undoubtedly robust. The build quality of the Boss GT-1000 is absolutely solid, as you might expect from Boss.

There are an abundance of connections on the Boss GT-1000, including MIDI (IN, OUT) and USB B type to name just two.

Regarding sound quality, the GT-1000’s 32bit 96khz means it punches above its weight. As for effects, there’s a treasure trove of delays, modulations, reverbs and drives packed under the hood of the Boss GT-1000.

Pros

  • Massive range of effects
  • Excellent connectivity
  • Well-built

Cons

  • Not really suitable for beginners
BOSS GT-1000 Guitar Effects Processor with AIRD Technology (GT-1000)
  • Flagship amp/effects processor with uncompromising sound quality and unmatched expressiveness
  • Industry-leading 32-bit AD/DA, 32-bit floating-point processing, and 96 kHz sampling rate throughout
  • Next-generation BOSS DSP engine, custom Designed specifically for music applications
  • Aird (augmented Impulse response dynamics) technology realizes boss’s acclaimed tube Logic concept in a digital guitar processor, delivering natural feel and optimized integration with all types of external devices
  • Highly expressive amplifiers, meticulously crafted with airy

Eventide – H9

Eventide - H9

Eventide has one of the best reputations in the music industry, and for good reason. The legends of the harmonizer, Eventide’s offering on this list, we’d argue, is nothing short of out of this world.

The Eventide H9 is capable of running all the companies stomp box effects. There are several which come preinstalled, however, the rest of the effect algorithms need to be purchased separately.

In terms of preinstalled stomp box effects, you get Shimmer and Hall from Space, Chorus and Tremolo/Pan, H910/H949 and Crystals, Tape Echo and Vintage Delay, all of which come from a variety of previous models.

The H9 also features both wired (USB) and wireless (Bluetooth) connections for use with the free H9 Control Editor and librarian software (Mac, Windows, and iOS app) which can be used to edit, create, and manage presets.

You can also purchase new algorithms and change the system settings.

Pros

  • App-based editing is very effective
  • Easier way to get Eventide sounds

Cons

  • Can only run certain effects at one time
Sale
Eventide H9 Harmonizer Pedal
  • Preloaded with 9 effect algorithms and 99 presets
  • Wide variety of spatial effects including reverbs, delays, and unique combination effects
  • True analog bypass
  • MIDI via DIN and USB
  • ModFactor: Chorus & Tremolo;TimeFactor: Tape Echo & Vintage Delay

Notable Mentions

As we’ve mentioned before, there are hundreds of multi effect pedals to choose from.

Whilst we’ve kept the above list as concise as we could, we felt that we couldn’t have the best multi effect pedal list without some notable mentions.

Zoom G5n

Zoom G5n

Some of us remember the Zoom 505 unit released in the 90s, and this heritage is something that Zoom have included in the Zoom G5n, bringing it to a new generation of guitarists.

The Zoom G5n is a worthy contender for those looking to start off with multi effect pedals, or those who want to expand their arsenal.

There are 68 digital effects, 10 amp and cabinet emulators, plus a stereo looper capable of up to 80 seconds of loop time, all packed inside the Zoom G5n.

Zoom G5n Guitar Multi-Effects Processor & Zoom CBG-5N case
  • 68 High-Quality Digital Guitar Effects 5 Amp Emulators & 5 Cabinet Emulators 100 Factory Patches 4 Stompbox Switches
  • Zoom CBG-5N case
  • Semi-Hard Case Stretch Bands to Secure Unit Padded for Protection
  • The G5n comes equipped with freshly-developed takes on not only the most-essential guitar sounds like overdrive, distortion, compression, EQ, delay, reverb, flanging, phasing, vibrato, and chorusing, but also obscure multi-effects such as Seq Filter, Gold Drive, Reverse Delay, HD Hall, and OSC Echo. You can connect the G5n to your guitar amp, or directly to a PA system or audio interface using the 10 brand new onboard amp and cabinet emulators.
  • Choose from classic amp models like the Marshall JCM800, Fender Twin Reverb, MESA Boogie Mk3, or Bogner Ecstasy Blue Channel, all of which can be adjusted exactly as you would with the knobs and switches of the real thing. Pair your amp with one of the 5 newly-created cabinet emulators to complete the sound.

Line 6 HX Stomp

Line 6 HX Stomp

The HX Stomp is kind of like the diet version of a full sized Helix. It’s very pedal board friendly and budget friendly to boot.

Packed inside the HX Stomp are 300 effects, some of which are the Helix, M Series, and legacy Line 6 patches.

There’s also the cab, amp, and mic options available in the HX Stomp’s bigger brother, the Helix.

Not only are the sounds of previous Line 6 units included, the HX Stomp also features a full-color screen, making it easy to see and use the different effects.

Whilst the controls on the front of the HX Stomp might seem limited, there is plenty of room for customization. There’s a broad array of professional-level effects to explore and use.

Line 6 HX Stomp Multi-Effects Guitar Pedal, Black
  • Utilizes the same HX Modeling as Helix
  • More than 300 effects and models from Helix, M-Series, and legacy Line 6 products
  • Up to 6 simultaneous amp, cab, and effect blocks (including a looper and IR loading)
  • 3 capacitive-sensing footswitches with color-coded LED rings facilitate fast editing
  • TRS dual expression pedal/footswitch input extends creative control capabilities

HeadRush PedalBoard

HeadRush PedalBoard

No multi effect’s pedal list would be complete without an entry from HeadRush. The HeadRush PedalBoard has one of the most guitarist-friendly user interfaces on any multi effect pedal unit.

The best feature of the HeadRush PedalBoard is its large seven-inch touchscreen, which can be used to edit patches or create new ones. In appearance, it looks very similar to the Line 6 Helix, as it has 12-foot switches and a treadle.

In terms of sound, the closer you get to a cleaner amp sound, the more convincing the HeadRush PedalBoard becomes.

HeadRush Pedalboard | Guitar Amp & FX Modelling Processor With Eleven® HD Expanded™ DSP Software, 7-Inch Touchscreen, Expression Pedal, Built-in Looper, IR Support and USB Audio Connectivity
  • Find Your Signature Sound – Custom-designed quad-core DSP system with Eleven HD Expanded DSP software provides authentic amp, cab, mic and FX models for unrestricted tone-sculpting capability
  • Easy-To-Use & Made-To-Move - 7” high-resolution display with intuitive touch interface creates rigs in seconds; Housed in a durable road-ready steel chassis with integrated cable channel organizer
  • Power To Your Performance - Gapless pre-set switching with reverb/delay tail spill over, Looper with 20 minutes of record time and hands-free edit mode for quick on-the-fly live editing
  • Expanded Sound – USB connectivity for loading your own custom impulse response files; includes Celestion digital IR downloads to get you started from the get-go
  • Studio Grade Capture - Record and reamp via USB with quality up to 24-bit/96KHz

What Should I Keep In Mind When Looking For An Effects Pedal?

The one thing you won’t be short of when looking for an effects pedal is choice. The market is absolutely full of different brands, units and price ranges. The biggest factor you should keep in mind is, primarily, your budget.

That being said, it’s essential to consider how easy the multi effect pedal will be to use, along with its bank of effects. If you can’t use the pedal effectively and with ease, it’s a tool that’s not serving you.

It’s common that different multi effect pedals will focus on a different set of effects. Most of them stick to the fundamentals like delay, modulation and reverb.

However, there are some which throw a few curveballs at users in terms of effects. These are usually the very expensive FX boutique pedals.

Is There Such A Thing As Too Many Effects?

It’s important to be honest and realistic about the effects you’ll make the most use of. It’s most likely that there will be a small handful of effects which you’ll actually use.

There are two schools of thought regarding whether there’s such a thing as too many effects.

Those who believe that you’d be better off with a small unit which is capable of handling the effects you make use of the most with ease.

Then there are those that believe having a multi effect pedal can unlock sounds which spark creativity. The more effects a pedal has, the more chances you have of discovering a unique sound.

There’s no right and wrong way to view the amount of effects in a unit.

Discovering a new sound thanks to the huge number of effects is something that happens all the time, and is definitely a positive of having these effects at your fingertips.

You might be looking for something which has as many effects crammed into a single unit as possible. If this is indeed what you want, you’re not going to be short on options, as there’s plenty of choice across the price scale.

Rounding Up

The possibilities and applications for multi effect pedals is only going to increase in the future.

We’re already starting to see greater connectivity between multi effect pedals and technology like smartphones/devices, allowing users to change settings and edit parameters on the go.

It’s also becoming common for multi effect pedals to double up as amp modellers and audio interfaces.

USB enabled units are easy to connect to laptops used in music production, meaning you can record songs onto a digital workstation like Pro Tools or Ableton Live.

The best advice when you’re in the market for a multi effects pedal is usually the simplest. Have a clear idea of what you need, want, and are going to use and find a unit which ticks as many of these boxes as possible.

It’s also vital to set a clear budget, as it’s easy to get bogged down by quirky features and extra bells and whistles.