There comes a time when, as a guitarist, you’ll want to try effect pedals. They are like the supplies and tools artists need to express their creativity. Effects will color, flavor, and tailor the sounds you produce in so many ways. Now, you will find many effects and the variety of pedals available for sale might trigger some confusion.
If your budget does not allow you to get a separate pedal for every effect you want to add to your sound, an alternative is the multi-effect pedal. This choice has its own advantages and disadvantages, though.
If you’re undecided as far as the purchase of such a pedal is regarded, you might want to check out this post to learn more about the pros and cons of multi-effect pedals.
What are multi-effect pedals?
Before buying such a pedal, you need to know exactly what it can provide you with in order to make an informed decision. As the name suggests, a multi-effect pedal is a single device that can provide various effects including chorus, flanger, delay, overdrive, and distortion effects.
Such pedals feature a plastic or metal housing and a digital display so you can select your favorite settings. Many models boast a foot switch as well so you can easily change the effect or setup.
Advantages of multi-effect pedals
As we’ve said before, such pedals have their pros and cons. One of the reasons that makes them a good option is the fact that, especially if you are a beginner, they provide the player with a lot of room to experiment and try different effects. As a novice, you might want not to spend too much on effects before knowing which ones are right up your alley.
And this is another reason why multi-effect pedals are preferred by many newbies. Their price is relatively affordable and getting one will cost you significantly less than buying separate pedals for multiple effects.
Plus, these pedals still allow the user to enjoy a bit of customization as some of them will allow you to select the rate and extent of the effect. Some models boast many built-in features that will help you experiment a lot and even allow you to create presets for your songs.
Another great thing about these pedals is that they require only one cable in and one out and since it is a single unit, you will need a single power supply. This means you won’t have to buy several power supplies, which again makes it a more affordable option.
Then, there’s the space you will save by using a single pedal to achieve various effects instead of using several individual pedals. You won’t even need a pedalboard, which will further cut your costs. Plus, storing and transporting it will be comfortable and simple.
Disadvantages of multi-effect pedals
Now, all those advantages might be lessened by the drawbacks multi-effect pedals have. The first thing that comes to mind is the quality of the effects delivered. It’s one thing to use the best value delay pedal for delay effects and it’s another thing to use a multi-effect unit to enjoy them. A difference in sound quality is often noticed.
It is well-known that digitally created sounds lack the authentic feel of the sounds created by analog pedals. Since digital effects will try to recreate the analog tone, the output will show it. If you are a beginner, you might not even sense this difference but as you improve, you will hear it.
Experts don’t recommend them for live performances. It is easier to make some minor adjustments that might be needed during gigs if you use individual pedals for different effects. You simply kneel down and adjust the pedal. It won’t take more than a couple of seconds. With multi-effect pedals, it might get a bit more complicated and, during live sets, you might not afford that.
And that takes us to the fact that they don’t allow users to fine-tune the effect and while that might not be a problem if you are just a hobbyist experimenting with effects now and then, it might turn into a significant limitation if you want to become a pro.
Multi-effect pedals can help you experiment some really cool things depending on your skill level and goals. They are usually appreciated by beginners and casual players who don’t intend to improve too soon, become professional players or don’t have live gigs. If that’s your case, then going for such a pedal will indeed help you get more sonic flavors.
In case you take guitar playing seriously and plan to advance, you might want to try a more expensive multi-effect pedal. Some models can do a great job indeed but they have a high price attached that, in the case of high-end units, can reach even $2,000. Such models, though, can work well even on stage.
Even so, you will most probably want individual pedals at some point. And then, there’s the real need of such a pedal. Do you really need all those effects? Many guitarists stick to a few effects they get to master. However, experimental players do go for all sorts of effects. This is another factor that should be considered, the styles you usually play.
You might think that it is best to buy a multi-effect pedal to have a plethora of effects at your disposal, just in case. Yet to compromise the sound quality you get when using a multi-effect unit just to have the possibility to try new effects when the need or desire arises is something you should seriously consider.
If you know that you will often use just two or three effects, getting individual pedals to achieve those effects is recommended, especially if your activity includes live performances. Otherwise, for hobbyists on a budget, a multi-effect pedal will indeed offer a variety of sonic adventures.