Just so we are all on the same page, a multi-effects pedal is a unit that features a combination of the commonly used sounds. It is also referred to as a Multi-FX. And it concentrates all of the pedals on your board into one easy to use (we hope?) package.
This will allow you to preset different effects and combinations of those effects, that can then be instantly clicked upon demand. They are perfect for a guitar player who has pedals and cables everywhere and has to reset them between (or sometimes even during!) songs. They offer an array of different sounds all in one enclosure.
But there is a lot of choice on the market, and which will be perfect for you? Let’s find out, as we take a look at the best Multi-effects pedals currently available…
- Top 10 Best Multi-Effects Pedals To Buy In 2021 Reviews
- 1 BOSS Electric Guitar Single Effect (ME-80)
- 2 BOSS Electric Guitar Single Effect (GT-100)
- 3 Digitech TRIO Electric Guitar Multi-Effect
- 4 Line 6 POD HD500X Guitar Floor Multi-Effects Pedal
- 5 Keeley Delay Workstation Multi-Effects Pedal
- 6 Electro-Harmonix SOUL POG Multi-effects Pedal
- 7 NUX Cerberus Multi-function Guitar Effect Pedal
- 8 VOX STOMPLAB2G Modeling Guitar Multi-Effects Pedal
- 9 Zoom Electric Guitar Multi-Effect
- 10 DigiTech RP55 Guitar Multi-Effects Processor
- Best Multi-Effects Pedal Buying Guide
Top 10 Best Multi-Effects Pedals To Buy In 2021 Reviews
1 BOSS Electric Guitar Single Effect (ME-80)
We tried to say effects pedals quietly, but Boss heard us. Where effects and pedals are concerned, they are never far away. But, we are happy with that, as the ME80 takes effects to a new level.
Boss of course, already supply an effect for just about every sound you can think of, and a few you don’t know about! And they have taken the most popular and placed them all in one device. Great Boss sounds all in one place, very interesting.
Simplicity all the way…
The familiar old footswitch found on individual Boss stompboxes has been dumped. And the footswitches are newly designed and much more efficient. Supported by the individual, easy to use control knobs, the whole setup is simple to use and understand. Likewise, individual sound modes may be selected and set up together in a very simple way.
It features eight multi-function footswitches plus an expression pedal.
All the Boss effects are there. Reverbs, delays, echo, pitch shifters, you name it, it’s probably included in the ME80. And, as mentioned, they all so easy to call up and use, so creating your sound has never been simpler.
The companies understanding of multi-processing and what is possible is second to none. They know what musicians want and have been providing it for years, but with the ME80, it’s all in one place.
Get some Pro sounds…
As an extra, free access to the Boss studio software opens up more options. Plus, there is a link to patches specially prepared by some Pro guitarists.
Considering what is included in the product, and its potential for sound shaping, the price is very competitive. Review number one and we are already looking at a big contender for the best multi-effects pedal.
- Effects are available through simple controls.
- Amazing selection of Boss effects.
- May take a little time to get to know the in-depth features.
2 BOSS Electric Guitar Single Effect (GT-100)
For over 25 years Boss has been at the center of sound development for guitars and basses with its vast array of effects pedals. And let’s not forget their excellent drum machines. If you can say anything about Boss, it is that they produce great effects that are easy to use.
The GT-100 is setting new standards and pushing the boundaries to see just what is possible. The excellent new CMOS, ‘Composite Object Sound Modelling’ processor recreates the sound of the classic vintage amps and then lets you develop those sounds further, giving you new tones and sounds to work with and to add to the original.
Better than the original…
This is of course version 2 and some things have been added like an acoustic guitar simulator, MDP reverb, and two new vintage amps. The Guitar to MIDI function allows you to input to a computer MIDI notes which could be synths or anything you like, just played on a guitar.
It is a little complex to use, but true to the Boss principles they have made every effort to simplify the process. There are two LCD’s and eight controls and a few buttons. It will take a little effort, but it will be more than worthwhile. And will open up a whole new world for the guitarist looking at different sounds and ways to produce things.
Not t be missed…
Simply being in control of several multiple parameters, all working at the same time is an experience not to be missed. And, of course, access to the Boss Sound studio is available offering even more options.
Boss may seem to have relaxed their ‘let’s keep it simple’ rule for this one, but a lot of people will be very glad they did. A stunning piece of kit. Expensive? Some will say so, but this quality and innovation will never come cheap. The best multi-effects pedal? Maybe? Read on to find out…
- Access to vintage modeled amps sounds via COSM
- Easy to use controls once the basics are understood.
- The price will scare some people.
3 Digitech TRIO Electric Guitar Multi-Effect
Digitech is well-known in the music business for producing some quality equipment at cost-effective prices. Their portfolio of great pedals includes the fantastic Whammy pitch-shifter and the Time Machine delay. They were originally a US company but were bought out by Harmann Industries when they were buying everything that moved. Who themselves were later acquired by Samsung in 2017.
They have always had a great passion for creating great pedals, and the Trio is an example that the passion still exists thankfully.
DigiTech has come up with a multi-effects pedal that offers a lot to any guitar player. But, it also offers facilities that very few other pedals can match.
It’s a clever little thing…
As a guitarist, have you ever wished that you could just start to play your new song and have your drummer and bass player immediately just tune in to your wavelength and start to play with you? Welcome to Trio, and all you have to do is plug your guitar in.
This little pedal will listen to what you are playing very intently, and then after a very short space of time produce a drum rhythm and a bass line to go with it. And you will find they are pretty good, with great tempos as well. In fact, hearing what an effects processor thought of your song and then producing its ideas is quite a game-changer. It may even change the way you write your music?
Pick a genre…
All controlled by a footswitch, it really couldn’t be much easier or effective. You can select from seven different music genres, and there are twelve styles for each genre. So the box knows exactly where you are coming from as you play.
It is a quite astonishing pedal that opens up so much potential and takes some aspects of music production to a new level.
Great effects pedal from a company known and respected for their innovative ideas.
- Offers up a lot of options in sound and music creation.
- Plenty of choices of styles built-in.
- Won’t suit people just looking for an effects processor and that’s all.
4 Line 6 POD HD500X Guitar Floor Multi-Effects Pedal
Line 6 was established in 1996 in the US. And in their relatively brief history have impressed many with the quality of their products. Especially impressed were the Yamaha corporation which bought the company and made it a wholly-owned subsidiary.
The POD HD500X is a good solution for musicians who want a wealth of sounds, new and old, at their fingertips. It includes in its effects world-class amps and effects that will allow you to produce some great sounds and some great music.
Mix and match…
It allows you to call up any one of the amps to work with and gives you total control over the sound it creates. You can set the tone and the dynamics to these well-loved vintages and modern powerhouse amps like never before. And then if you wish, apply classic or modern effects. You can even mix and match the various amps and cabinets to a level not experienced before.
Inside this box are over 100 studio effects selected for their quality. These can either be used individually, or you can use up to eight of them together to create a truly unique sound. Included are all the usuals – reverbs, delays, filters, etc. It takes its title of multi-processor very seriously and delivers exactly that.
Add your fav pedal…
If you have a special pedal or a series of them they can also be connected to the HD500X courtesy of two ¼” ports.
It is well-designed and laid out with backlit footswitches that give you control over presets and exactly what you are doing. As with all of these more complex multi-effect processors, there will be a learning curve to go through.
Is it the best multi-effects pedal? It has enough onboard to guarantee consideration.
- Amazing collection of amps and cabinets installed.
- Over 100 studio-quality effects.
- Could be considered expensive.
5 Keeley Delay Workstation Multi-Effects Pedal
Operating out of Oklahoma in the US, the company was established in the home of Robert Keeley in 2001. Since then it has risen to fame, and in an article in Guitar World, ‘has grown into one of the world’s top sellers of guitar effects pedals.’ Quite an accolade and supported by the work they do with musicians like Donald Fagen of Steely Dan fame.
Keeley has created what amounts to a small workstation rather than just a pedal. They have packed into a fairly modest-sized box the best delays, reverbs and an array of other goodies, all personally selected. It is a powerful tool for any guitarist. It boasts fourteen different voices with total control over every one.
Get your effects in tempo…
They have included an onboard tap tempo and an expression pedal, and if you want to attach any of your current pedals, they have made sure they can fit into the setup.
However, they have excluded one option that some may consider important. That is that there isn’t the option to store presets and call them up when required. We think that is a feature some will require. But this pedal set-up isn’t about that so much, it more of an analog mega stompbox than a highly programmable, re-callable digital FX processor, which many will prefer.
Durable and understandable…
It is well made and quite robust, and all the controls easily labeled. They have made it easy to use with as little fuss as possible and included mono and stereo outs and an In socket.
The sounds included are all of very high quality, with great reverbs and delays. So you can create a great sound platform, but it does lack a little in other options. We don’t want to be critical of it though, because for what it does, it does it very well and doesn’t carry the price tag of many of the others. It specializes in its area and if that is the area you are most interested in you will be very impressed.
Well done to Keeley for creating the Delay Workstation Multi-Effects Pedal, which is easy to consider as the best multi-effects pedal if the way it works and sounds is what you’re looking for.
- Some great reverbs and delays on board.
- Easy to use.
- Great sounds.
- No option to preset settings.
6 Electro-Harmonix SOUL POG Multi-effects Pedal
OK, here’s a question. What do you get if you take the Electro-Harmonix Soul Food overdrive and combine it with a Nano Polyphonic Octave Generator? The answer is this multi-effects pedal from Electro-Harmonix.
This New York company are not newcomers to pedal manufacturing, arriving in the mid-70s. And they have produced some very good effects pedals over the years, and now they have taken two of their best and combined them. Fans of both, or either in fact, will be jumping for joy.
Mix it up…
They have made sure it is functional, and you can use the two effects in either order giving you a range of new sound combinations. There is even an FX loop to allow you to put other pedals in the chain and even between them.
For those that may not be familiar, the Soul Food overdrive is an uncompressed effect that takes you from pure overdrive, through all the phases of distortion, through to the serious stuff at the other end of the scale.
The POG was a ground-breaking effect generating three octaves of notes or chords. It has high and low octave controls that let you combine a thundering bass with a sweet top end. These can make your guitar when played in chord mode, sound more like an organ. Put these two effects together, and what have you got? Something very special if you happen to like those sounds.
An extra dimension…
You can use the effects either as one pedal or separately and the effective routing or changing the order of pedals through the FX loop adds an extra dimension of options.
If you liked those two sounds as individual pedals, you will love this and all the extra options it provides. It’s easy to use with clear controls and a great sound.
- Two of EH best pedals in one pedal.
- FX loop to use extra effects.
- People may want more tonal options than just these two as a base to work from.
7 NUX Cerberus Multi-function Guitar Effect Pedal
Nux is a Chinese company who hasn’t been around for a long time but have produced some good effects pedals. They also have a branch office in the US. They operate in the lower ranges of the market, and this Cerberus multi-effect pedal is just one of the products where they have attempted to move up the league a little.
We wouldn’t call it complex; in fact, it is quite basic in its design and operation and is a collection of sounds and effects. The actual sound shaping is a little on the limited side, but there are some surprises. The sounds are very authentic and easily controllable. It is also easy to set up patches and banks and then a simple operation to call them up.
All the usual effects…
The Cerberus has four effects groups in each of the sixteen types of sound effect. They include delay, overdrive, distortion, chorus, phaser, and reverb. Thirty-two banks with 128 presets. And they have tried to create the sounds as authentically as possible, and the overdrive and distortion elements are analog and also have true bypass.
They have included some other features that have a positive impact on the board for any user. It has a tap tempo function which is always a useful addition, and also a chromatic tuner, which is obviously invaluable, but not found on every effects board? There is also a USB port for when you need to upgrade the software editor. It is, of course, MIDI compatible.
It is quite an amazing little effects machine with lots of options if all a little predictable and basic, but there are excellent possibilities to create sounds with it, which is what these pedals are all about.
- Easy to use with well laid out control panel.
- Some very authentic basic sound effects.
- Some will want more sound shaping options.
8 VOX STOMPLAB2G Modeling Guitar Multi-Effects Pedal
If you are a guitarist that is looking for a pedal that is quite small in size, that has just about every tone you may want to use, and costs less than a stand-alone reverb or overdrive unit; then this could be of interest for you.
The Vox StompLab is packed with sounds offering 100 modeling effect presets that cover all genres of music. Each effect has its sound engine taken from the VT+ amps and the multi-effect units from ToneLab. Ten separate styles that each contain ten presets based on genres. It also has an expression pedal for extra control.
Just so simple…
It has an easy to use control panel that isn’t cluttered and is comprised of just two click buttons a pedal and three rotating dial controls. There is an LED, three small button controls, and two small status lights — all very basic but simple to operate. You also get the ability to save and edit twenty user programs.
A built-in tuner and a headphone amplifier are built-in, and it operates on four AA batteries or an optional power unit. It is made in Japan and built with a metal housing and so will take some punishment as these things have to do occasionally.
All you could need on a budget…
As a unit, we don’t suppose it is going to win too many awards. It is simple and basic, but what it does it does very well indeed. At the price, it is great value and contains just about everything most players will ever need.
- Packed full of sounds.
- Very good price.
- Some will want more sound shaping options.
9 Zoom Electric Guitar Multi-Effect
Zoom has packed a lot of sounds into their GIX4 effects board in an effort to give you as much choice and control over the sound you want as possible.
They have included 13 different amps and cabinets that are steeped in history and known for their great sounds. As well as over seventy-five of the more established effects, both traditional and even some boutique sounds. There are the standard chorus, delays, reverbs, phasers, and flangers all onboard with the options to adjust the sounds of each.
Also added are some unusual extras, a Ring modulator, and pitch-shifting delay, and there is even a Sitar simulation.
Five at a time…
The systems are so designed to allow you to use up to five effects at the same time. And you can link them and place them in any order you choose. When you’ve got that sound you were looking for, you can save it to a user-created patch. And you can save up to fifty patches which ought to keep you occupied for a while.
We can go a stage further. There are 68 drum patterns built-in to give you plenty of opportunities to play along with some great beats. It can also produce a variety of time signatures, so most things are covered.
Let’s go even further…
It has a built-in looper that allows you to lay down up to 30 seconds of chord progressions and then loop and play over the top. Oh, and there’s an onboard tuner. They seem to have thought of most things, including the ability to access Zoom’s Guitar Lab software to edit and manage the effects and patches.
And after you’ve been through all of this, you turn to look at the price ready to wince, and you’ll get the shock of your life. All this in a budget-priced pedal. Quite outstanding from Zoom.
It also operates on 4 AA batteries, so if you’ve got one of the best portable amplifiers, you can busk with it or even take it camping with you.
- Packed with so many great effects, amps, and cabinets.
- Great price.
- At this price for what it offers, we can think of nothing.
10 DigiTech RP55 Guitar Multi-Effects Processor
Another candidate for best multi-effects pedal from DigiTech and this one is a bit special. This company does like to push the boundaries a bit. They also like to offer products that are within everybody’s price range when they can, and with this pedal, they have done both things.
This pedal includes 11 amplifiers to choose from, five cabinets to put the sound through, and twenty effects that are studio quality. Of those effects, up to eight can be used at any one time.
Dial it up and add some effects…
They have made the operation simple. It’s often hard to get an understanding of a new piece of equipment, but not so with the RP55. Just dial up the amp you want, add the effects and away you go.
Even in the digital age we live in, it is not easy to just place a stack of studio-quality effects into a box and expect them to produce great results. Some have tried, and it has not worked out very well. It will rely on the chip that is used to a certain extent, and the Audio DNA/DSP chip in the RP55 produces excellent results.
Slave to the rhythm…
They have included some interesting extras including a tuner and a built-in drum machine with over thirty patterns. It is built so that it is easy to use, with two pedals and a simple control panel, with an LCD that is simple to read.
DigiTech has tried to produce something a little different with some interesting and helpful inclusions and has succeeded. And all at a price that is less than one of the pedals that are included.
- Filled with some great sound options and easy to use.
- Great price.
- Some will want more sound shaping options.
Best Multi-Effects Pedal Buying Guide
Get ready to enter a minefield. But before we do, let’s just define what a multi-effects pedal is…
Simply put it is a pedal that brings together all the digital effects and some analog effects converted to be digital, including vintage amps and cabinets. It then puts them all in one box and lets you preset combinations of sounds to call up when you need them.
It will have all the major effects – chorus, delays, reverbs, etc. – and they can all be applied at the same time. They come in a variety of sizes and of course, prices, but they all have the same goal.
The difference between this and a regular pedalboard? The multi-effects pedal is all in one box.
Clearing up a home truth
Before we get into this, we would like to say something we feel is important. And this is in no way a criticism of the various manufacturers involved in the production of multi-effects pedals. No matter what anyone says, you cannot exactly replicate the sound of an analog product digitally. Some manufacturers get closer than others, but up until now, it simply cannot be done.
When you ‘re-create’ anything, it can never be as good as the original by definition. It might be close, very close, but it’s not the same and never can be. Digitally, effects processors are incredible things, producing sounds most of us only dreamt of, but when it comes to re-creating analog – digitally. Sorry, but we are not there yet.
Anyway on with this…
What are the benefits of a multi-effect pedal?
Well, quite a lot. You get an awful lot of pedals and options all under one roof. And at a fraction of the cost, you would have had to pay if you bought them individually. You wouldn’t have enough room on most stages to accommodate all the individual purchases.
The sounds you can create from a Multi-FX could not be created by individual pedals. And space? All of the pedals are in one place in one box with easy connections and not looking like someone has just dropped a plate of spaghetti on the floor with all the wires.
The ability to be able to create presets and then manage them and recall them for use often at the push of a button is a huge advantage. And not one you can easily manage with individual pedals. So the advantages are there and are all very valid.
What are the Cons?
Well, there are only two problems…
The first is what if it fails and goes wrong right in the middle of the gig? You’ve lost the lot. You must face the fact that it could happen, but you can reduce the risk. You do that by ensuring, as far as you can, that you buy a quality product from a renowned manufacturer.
If you buy a cheap version just because it’s cheap from a company no one has ever heard of, you might, we say might, be taking a risk. Buying from established names is a safer option in terms of quality of build and performance.
The other option…
The second problem is more subjective. In that, a lot of guitarists still prefer using individual stompboxes and prefer the way they sound. The sound is different; there is no doubt about that. But so is the practicality and usability. The best guitar pedal boards with the best pedals available on it will sound great, but it will never give you the practicality of a decent multi-FX unit.
If your style of play and use of pedals allows you to use individual pedals then great, but you will never get the practicality and variety that you get with a multi-fx, especially for the price. Unless you are very experienced, know exactly what you are buying and how to use it, and can afford the cost, one of the best multi-effects processors is definitely the best bet.
Once you’ve mastered the use of effects and know exactly what you want, then you can add boutique pedals and even move on to a complete pedal board with time. But a multi-fx will teach you what you need to learn along the way, so are a great buy.
Here is a big question because the range is so wide in what we have looked at. We would like to refer to comment in the last section about Cons. Just because it is a cheaper model doesn’t mean it isn’t any good. We looked at a couple of budget pedals, produced by quality manufacturers that were excellent in our reviews.
It is the reputation of the manufacturer that is important. While we are on the subject of reputations, some people cringe when they see something is made in the Far East. We don’t know why? The majority of the finest sound systems, mics, sound equipment, TV’s and some pretty decent guitars, etc. etc. etc. are all made out there.
What reputation has the manufacturer got? That is the important thing.
Set your budget, and stay as close as you can to it.
What effects do you want your pedal to have?
The list is almost endless, and you will want the usual favorites – Reverbs, Chorus, Delays. Overdrive, Distortion, and the myriad of others. Most of them have them all, but some include extras like ring modulators or drum machines. Is that important to you, or can you live without it?
The multi-effects pedal is a superb and invaluable tool, so make your choice wisely. It will be a great advantage to you and those you work with.