Choose A Between Individual Pedals or a Multi-Effects Unit

Imagine you are a young guitar player sitting in your bedroom at home and playing your favorite songs. As you play more, you begin to hear how the music you play is crafted, and you seek to find out how certain sounds are created. Sometimes it’s a percussive element that involves attacking the strings in a unique way with either a pick or your fingertips (or fingernails, but that’s another discussion).

Other times, though, you find there are sounds that add to the music in such a way that the addition is clearly manmade, but their impact is astounding. Unable to rest, you hop online & see your favorite guitarist jamming away, but there is obviously something going on at their feet. Suddenly, realize that they are stepping on various buttons that help in the creation of the sounds you found so awe-inspiring. You now know that whatever it is he/she is stepping on, you need to own the same equipment.

Such is one possible foray into the world of effects for guitarists. Not satisfied with the basic function of connecting their instrument to an amplifier, guitarists have sought to manipulate their guitar signal to create other-worldly noise. There was a time about midway through the 20th century that these types of effects were rudimentary & time-consuming to create in the studio. Savvy manufacturers quickly understood that there would be a way to monetize the effects industry if they could provide these effects to musicians in a more direct way and quite literally put them at their feet.

Herein lies the genius of the multi-effect (ME) unit. This “all-in-one” solution to having all of your effects in one box meant making one expense as opposed to buying individual pedals for certain sounds. Say an ME unit provides twelve effects for $100.00. If you bought each effect in a stand-alone pedal for $50.00/pedal, you’d be looking at $600.00.

However, it needs to be understood that quality of the product is paramount to the success of the effects market for guitarists. In fact, recent high-dollar effect offerings under the ’boutique’ moniker have shown that guitarists will hand over four figures for an individual effect pedal if they feel that this effect is of the highest quality & doesn’t degrade their tone.

What also separates users of individual pedals & multi-effect units is the environment in which they’ll be used. For example, a church band may opt to use ME units because they can more easily connect them directly to the house PA system & do away with the stage volume issue associated with an amplifier. This option also allows for effects “patches” to be saved for certain songs. While convenient, an individual pedal user may feel a bit too constrained & unable to activate sounds as the moment takes them.

All in all, every guitarist’s experience will be an individual one. Whether you choose individual effects pedals or go the way of the multi-effect unit, you are taking an important step to establishing your signature sound, and you need to rely on what inspires you the most to keep making music.