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Guitar multi FX vs stomp boxes
May 30, 2011 6:38 PM   Subscribe

GuitarFilter: Multi FX vs. Pedals. In particular, I'm trying to figure out whether I should buy a $100 floor controller for my Line 6 Pod XT, or stump for a couple of pedals instead. Lots of snowflakiness inside.

My current gigging set-up is as follows - a Jazzmaster and Burns 12-string which go into in order, a Crybaby Wah, a ProCo Rat and a Danelectro delay. These then go into a Fender Twin Reverb, usually the Reverb/Trem channel. I also have an acoustic with the Baggs M!a pickup which goes direct into the PA.

This set-up sounds awesome, but I need a bit more. In particular the 12-string really needs a compressor, and both electrics need a boost for solos. So I could just buy a compressor and boost pedal, but it's getting to be kind of a lot of pedals.

However I do have a Line 6 Pod XT which I bought a few years ago and don't love. Another possibility would be to buy a floor controller for this and use the in-built compression and levels, bypassing the amp and cab sims, and control this from an FBV express foot controller. This would cost half as much as the pedals.

Am I right to feel hinky about putting a digital box in my signal chain? How do the inbuilt fx in the POD compare to a good quality stomp box, especially compression?

(My sounds range from sparkly clean for the 12 to Sloan-style distortion. Leads are mostly Matthew Sweet/Television style. You can hear examples on the tracks I posted to music.mefi)
posted by unSane to Media & Arts (12 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
I was going to recommend the Barber Tone Press but then I noticed you have it linked in your question ! I would definitely go with the two extra pedals -- it may seem like a lot but I think it would be simpler in operation compared to a multi-fx pedal, and honestly I've never been too impressed with the compression on units like the Pod. The other thing to consider is the Barber can be used as a boost of sorts on its own so depending on your needs it might be fill both roles?
posted by Lorin at 7:06 PM on May 30, 2011


I've always found the multi effect units to be pretty crappy. They tend to do a bunch of different things which sound okay, rather than one thing that sounds good. They also tend to be on the flimsy side. I highly recommend building a pedal board to make setup/breakdown of multiple effects easier.
posted by TheCoug at 7:41 PM on May 30, 2011


Separate pedals, for sure. I've tried several times to make the PodXT Live work in a live setting and it is always just frustrating and never sounds right.
posted by The World Famous at 7:52 PM on May 30, 2011


The pod is not really designed to be run in front of an amp like a Twin, and even just running into a tube power amp sounds pretty bad in my experience.

There's a new line of products from Line 6 that are just multis with no amp modeling (which mucks up the sound when running into an amp). The M13/M9/M5 have literally over a hundred effects, and if you ever wanted to get into shoegaze territory or whatever it would definitely cover the bases for effects mania.

The units do have a VERY solid compressor model, the tube comp. But if you're not planning to use the other stuff it's not worth it.

There is a combination Compressor/Overdrive made by Visual Sound that might fit the bill. Otherwise you can't really go wrong with separate pedals- comps are basically just the Boss CS or any of the Dyna Comp / Ross clones- there are many. There are a few outliers beyond that, but I'm guessing you're not dropping $400 on a compressor pedal.

Boosts and overdrives are many. Too many, really. Maybe a Digitech Bad Monkey (the worst name) or Boss Blues Driver for bargain quality, Zvex Super Hard On for high end goodness. If you've never used a Tube Screamer start there though.
posted by tremspeed at 7:59 PM on May 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Another vote for multiple pedals. Multi-effects have always sounded a bit too artificial for my tastes, and I've never really found anyone who uses all of the options afforded by them. Also, seconding the pedalboard idea. they an be bulky to transport, but it is so much easier than trying to break down and reassemble a multi-pedal setup every time you want to use them. I found too when I abandoned a multi-effects unit after a brief flirtation that when I went back to pedals, I really learned how to use them to get the kinds of sounds I was after. I felt like the multi unit just made me lazy, and I just used preset patches and programs to approximate what I was looking for.
posted by doogan nash at 9:58 PM on May 30, 2011


If this is for live use, get multiple pedals: they tend to be built to stand a bit more abuse, and there's no menu-diving.

check out the MXR micro amp: knob for setting amount of boost and a toggle switch. doesn't alter the sound much, if at all, just makes it louder. if you've already got a tone you like, that might be a good option.
posted by dubold at 1:11 AM on May 31, 2011


Guitar tone is inherently special snowflake. There's some magic that happens patching stuff together that you can't get from an all-in-one unit.

I picked up a Bad Monkey a few years ago for $20 at store closing, and have been amazingly satisfied with it. I use it to get more compression and overdrive out of the clean channel on Fender Amps, since the dirty channels sound thin. I don't even have it on the floor now- just keep it at the end of the chain set to a sweet spot the fuzzes out when the pick ups are all the way up.
posted by bendybendy at 3:57 AM on May 31, 2011


Another vote for multiple pedals, for the reasons listed above.

One thing that's made my multi-pedal setup super easy to deal with at shows- I took a hunk of plywood, maybe 2'x3', and ran strips of soft velcro across it lengthwise; I then cut up a bunch of short strips of prickly velcro and stuck them to the bottoms of my pedals (for some pedals, I had to either remove rubber feet or drill little indentations into the plywood). Then I can just keep my pedals all attached to the board, but not permanently. Bonus: I also looped short bits of prickly velcro around 6" patch cables, and just keep them stuck to the board, too, when in transit. So setting up the whole pedal rig's just a matter of plugging in the patches.

Put a handle at the top of the board, and you're gold.
posted by COBRA! at 1:22 PM on May 31, 2011


Yeah I already made my own pedalboard out of ply and put it in an upside down suitcase. I'll need to make it bigger if I go the pedal route!

Thanks for all the replies, guys, nice to have unanimity. I'll post the results in music.mefi when I get the rig together.
posted by unSane at 1:27 PM on May 31, 2011


Mate, I have the perfect pedal for you: the JangleBox. It's a gorgeous little compressor with an optional treble boost (set it to dark, normal, or, for the treble, bright). It was made specifically for jangly music, which is mostly what I use it for, but you can use it for whatever you need a compressor for. This is my favorite pedal and from what you've written I think it's especially suited to you.

There's also the JangleBox 2, which, from what I understand, is a more intense version of the first one. I think most people looking for a compressor would be completely happy with the original JangleBox, but from what you wrote in your post, I think for you it might be worth taking a look at the JB2 -- for one thing, it has a separate boost switch, which it sounds like would be helpful to you.

A new JangleBox (special Byrds edition) is coming out this summer so it might be worth keeping an eye out for that but to be honest I don't think it will be that different from the main two.

Don't know what your budget is but these pedals are a bit expensive, but in the opinion of this broke bedroom guitarist they are totally worth it. (I bought mine from someone on the MusicRadar forums for significantly lower than its normal price -- there are a few forums that are good for buying/trading pedals, so it's definitely worth keeping an eye out. I've seen some on eBay occasionally as well.) There are sound clips of both pedals on their web site and on YouTube.

Incidentally, I sometimes use this pedal with a 12-string Rickenbacker and it sounds amazing -- the dreamiest jangly thing ever. I have also witnessed Twin + JangleBox and it is a really, really good combination.

Anyway. About the Line 6 thing, I personally would just get pedals. You have such nice stuff and if it was me I would feel the effects unit was diluting that. But it's totally up to you -- tone is so subjective and personal, isn't it?

As you might guess I'm happy to ramble on about the JangleBox for a while so feel free to MeMail me if you have any questions about it. Good luck with your search!
posted by Put the kettle on at 8:08 PM on May 31, 2011


Thanks -- the compressors I've been looking at are the Barber Tone Press, the Diamond one and the Janglebox. I suspect the Janglebox is going to be too extreme for me -- the Diamond is available locally so I might go and give that a try I think. I might be wrong though...
posted by unSane at 3:38 AM on June 1, 2011


Okay, here's an update. I found a store which had both the Janglebox and the Diamond in stock and went and A/B'd them, along with the MXR Dynacomp. The Dynacomp just sounds like a regular pedal compressor to me -- takes away a lot of the attack, very squashed sounding, highs sound pretty muffled, but on the other hand very beefy sounding. Would be great to overdrive a valve amp.

The Diamond sounds like a really good rack compressor. Very progressive, lots of range, doesn't sound squished even dimed. Doesn't get into extreme territory.

The Janglebox, holy crap, this thing is extreme. It does one thing very well, which is to replicate the uber squished, uber EQ'd 12-string sound of Byrds/Beatles. But subtle it is not.

In the end I walked out with the Diamond. It will do the Janglebox thing with the compression set to max and the EQ tilted all the way to the treble side, but it had a mass of usable sounds.
posted by unSane at 8:22 PM on June 1, 2011


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