Multi-effects pedals have come a long way over the last few years. It wasn’t so long ago that we’d all recoil in horror at some of the harsh-sounding tones spitting from these boxes of aural torture.
But times have moved on, and things have changed; in fact, things have changed a lot!
Now, thanks to vastly improved processing power, multi-effects pedals are able to create some much more authentic amp and effect tones. Whilst we’re not going to pretend that they’re capable of producing an exact copy of either an amp or a standalone guitar pedal, they’re much, much better than they were.
Despite there being plenty of variety and choice in the multi-effects pedal market, we’ve narrowed the field down to just ten of the very best currently available.
So, let’s dive in and take a look at our top ten picks and find the perfect multi-effects pedal for you…
Top 10 Best Multi Effects Pedal To Buy 2021 Reviews
1 BOSS Multiple Effects Guitar Pedal
Boss has been around for going on 50 years and has a strong reputation for making guitar effects and pedals. The ME-80 fits firmly into the company’s philosophy of creating multiple tones in an easy to use package.
The ME-80 is unusual in today’s multi-effects pedal market, in so much as the layout is predominantly based on a knob-based rather than a screen-based menu. At first sight, this can seem to be complicated. However, the set-up is actually well laid out and logical. It takes only a short time to quickly get to grips with the vast array of tonal possibilities.
Firstly, the good news is that this can be operated by either battery or mains power. Secondly, it’s made out of thick gauge steel and looks ready to take some serious punishment. Thirdly, the amount of onboard Boss amps and effects is large.
If you’re looking for even more effects and tones, the Boss tone studio software provides an even more extensive range of cool effects and sounds. These, of course, can all be shaped and organized to whatever your specific musical needs might be. There are also ready-created patches, many from professional guitarists, readily available for download.
The main operation of the system is made easy and flexible by the use of the traditional stompbox-style switches. However, the ME-80 has divided each stompbox switch into a separate forward and backward operation. This means that each individual foot-switch has two rather than one function
The variety of effects and tonal possibilities available, both onboard and through Boss tone studio software, make it suitable for pretty much every guitarist and every style of music you’re ever likely to play.
With all these great features, we think this could well be the best multi effects pedal under 300 dollars.
- Battery or Mains operated.
- Dual functioning footswitches.
- Easy to use knob-based operation.
- Excellent Boss tone studio software.
- No Bluetooth connectivity.
2 BOSS GT-100 Guitar Multi-effects Pedal
The Boss GT-100 gives you plenty of the good stuff from the ME-80 we’ve just reviewed, but with a few other updates and improvements to make it even better. In fact, this is the latest updated version of the GT-100 and has even more processing power than the previous GT-100.
The fact is we love the improved, all-new CMOS (Composite Object Sound Modeling) processor. This has lifted the sound and tone quality to a whole new level. It has beautiful reworked old classic tones and introduced us to some new exciting ones as well.
In all, there are 26 amp simulations, including amps from Marshall and Fender. There are a multitude of effects, with 22 options for distortion and overdrive alone. These include modelings of such classics as the Big Muff, Tube Screamer, and Fuzz Face. Through the FX blocks, there are another 32 effects that can be easily accessed.
Some of the new features we really like include the new acoustic guitar simulator, new reverb, and two new amp models. Out of these three, we’re most impressed with the acoustic guitar simulator. Without a doubt, this is the best multi effects guitar pedal for acoustic guitar simulation. It genuinely surprised us with its precision and sound quality.
The Boss GT-100 has two small LCD screens and eight main control knobs. You can dial in pretty much all of your sounds from here. This makes the Boss GT-100 nice and easy to use. It’s easy to call up, and bank from a wide choice of factory presets or alternatively from your own original patches.
This choice of patches is extensive. Onboard there are 200 factory presets and room for a further 200.
The Boss GT-100 can, of course, can be hooked up to Boss tone studio software. And in common with all Boss multi-effects pedals, you’re able to access and edit a large catalog of patches, amp models, and tones.
The GT-100 is nice and easy to use with a great library of effects and tones for use either in a recording environment or whilst out gigging. Its new, improved sound quality makes it a good alternative to a full pedalboard of individual units.
- New generation processor.
- Very easy to use.
- 400 onboard presets.
- Access to Boss studio software.
- New acoustic simulator.
- It’s expensive.
- No Bluetooth connectivity.
3 Digitech TRIO Electric Guitar Multi Effect
The dimensions of the Digitech Trio, measuring 4.6 x 3.2 x 2.1 inches and weighing well under a pound, tell us that this is a pretty much a standard-sized guitar pedal. However, despite its size Digitech has managed not only to cram in plenty of features but also to include some interesting innovations.
The DigiTech TRIO uses state of the art beat and pitch technology to listens to whatever your playing and then generates a bass and drum track to match. To operate this function, simply stomp on the footswitch to let Trio listen to your song, then stomp on the footswitch a second time, and Trio will start to accompany you with bass and drums.
Although this feature is almost worth the entry price alone, there’s still plenty more to the Trio. This small effects pedal gives you the option of playing in seven different kinds of musical genres as apposed to offering specific amp modelings, as we see in most multi-effects pedals.
The different musical genres include; Blues, Pop, Rock, Alternative Rock, R&B, Jazz, and Country. Within each genre, you’re also able to select a further 12 song styles, thereby giving you plenty of versatility. You’re also able to switch between either 3/4 or 4/4 time signatures.
Additional features include the ability to control levels of bass and drums. Also, an external footswitch is available to more easily switch between presets.
This is a super-simple and compact multi-effects pedal. No doubt. The best beginners multi effects pedal, this is most likely to appeal to guitarists who don’t want to spend large amounts of time dialing in their tone. Or alternatively for guitarists who are not seeking a specific type of amp modeling or a specific sound.
It should be noted that this pedal does not offer effects such as; reverb, delay, fuzz, or chorus.
- The ability to provide unique bass and drum backing.
- Seven musical genres and 12 song styles to choose from.
- Super-simple to use.
- Compact size.
- No specific amp modeling ability.
4 Line 6 POD HD500X Guitar Floor Multi-Effects Pedal
The Line 6 POD HD500X is packed with features. For a multi-effects pedal, that’s got to be a good thing. And it is. However, what we like more than anything is the way it’s separated the main menu, from the EQ controls, from the footswitches.
This has been done in such a way as if feels like you’re operating three different units. Once you’ve dialed in your preferred amp modelings and various tones, you can then forget about them and concentrate on using the footswitches to recall whatever has been saved.
If you do want to do some on the fly tweaking, then you just need to focus on the seven volume and EQ knobs that are clearly separated and located almost in their own separate pedal.
The layout is genius. The Line 6 POD HD500X has got to be the best gigging multi-effects pedal or for use in any kind of live situation. It’s undoubtedly a hard one to beat.
Well, you get a superb collection of truly world-class HD amps at your disposal. All of which can be customized to death using an extensive bank of parameters and effects. In fact, there are over 100 studio and stomp effects to choose from. There is, of course, an expression pedal too.
There are eight setlist banks with each list capable of containing up to 64 presets.
The Line 6 POD HD500X has all the connections you’ll ever need for home, studio, or stage. For recording, you can connect your computer to the POD, via USB, and record studio-quality, multi-channel recording using your preferred DAW software. There’s also editor software to help make those fine adjustments and help organize your tones.
In short, the DSP power in the Line 6 HD500X gives endless possibilities for guitarists looking to create sounds old and new. The quality and range of effects takes this pedal to a new level
- Brilliant design and layout of the controls.
- High level of processing power.
- High quality of effects and amp models.
- 512 onboard presets available.
- Excellent build quality.
- No Bluetooth connectivity.
5 Zoom Multi-Effects Processor For Guitarists (G5n)
Zoom is a Japanese company who’ve been around for over 30 years and specialize in multi-effects. They not only produce effects for bass and guitar but also manufacture studio-rack processors. The new G5n represents their latest update on an already popular line of multi-effects pedals from this Tokyo based company.
There no doubt that the G5n has plenty of processing power. In fact is has 30% more DSP power than the outgoing model. It also has plenty of features, amp models, and effects on offer. For starters, it has no less than 200 memory presets that can be accessed via the four footswitches with 50 to each bank.
To help fill the presets, there are 124 custom factory patches, 13 amp modeling, and 13 cab modeling options. Additionally, there are also 68 different effects on offer, to include; reverbs, delays, flangers, overdrives, and phasers. The good news is that up to nine of these effects can be used simultaneously.
There’s plenty of scope to dial in almost any sound your ever likely to want. What’s more, for such a relatively inexpensive and compact unit, the quality of sound, and the ability to fine-tune it, is impressive.
What we don’t find as impressive is the layout of the control panel. It feels a little busy and not as intuitive or straightforward as we like to see. If you’ve used any of the previous Zoom effects pedals, you’ll be fine. However, if this is your first Zoom product, then you can expect to have to invest some time, with trial and error, and you’re head stuck in the manual until you get up to speed.
The Zoom G5n affordable multi-effects pedal has all the connections you’d expect and are ever likely to need. This includes a USB connection to connect to your computer to access updates and Cubase LE8 recording software.
If you want to find out even more, check out our in-depth Zoom G5N review.
- 200 Presets.
- 30% more processing power than the outgoing model.
- Nine effects can be simultaneously used.
- Regular upgrades and updates through their proprietary software.
- The controls are a little complicated.
- There’s no case included.
6 Electro-Harmonix SOUL POG Multi-effects Pedal
In our experience, the one thing you can expect from anything coming out of Electro-Harmonix is great sound quality. Actually, let’s make that two things, you can also expect rock-solid build quality. On both counts, the Electro-Harmonix SOUL POG Multi-effects Pedal doesn’t disappoint.
This is a fairly small-sized pedal. It measures just 8 x 3.5 x 7 inches and weighs slightly under 2lbs. Basically, it’s about double the size of a standard-sized guitar pedal.
The SOUL POG is not a multi-effects pedal in the same mold as all the other pedals we’ve reviewed. In fact, the Electro-Harmonix SOUL POG Multi-effects Pedal combines just two of their best-loved pedals, namely the Nano POG Polyphonic Octave Generator and Electo- Soul Food Overdrive, into one unit.
The SOUL POG allows you to use the Soul Food Overdrive or Nano POG Octave Generator either individually or in tandem. Regardless, you’ll get the same high-quality tones in either situation. So, since the combined cost of the separate pedals is the same as the SOUL POG…
The reason you might want to buy the combined unit is that the Nano POG gives you an additional mode plus effects send and return. The additional mode allows for improved polyphonic capabilities and enhanced harmonics. The send and return gives you the option of placing other effects between the signal path of the Nano POG or Soul Food.
This sturdy unit has just five control knobs and two footswitches to change between effects. The control knobs are for volume, treble, drive, dry, sub-octave, and octave up. Any learning curve to master this small multi-effects pedal is going to be small indeed.
- High quality effect.
- Sturdy build.
- Very easy to use.
- Additional mode switch.
- It only has two effects.
7 NUX Cerberus Multi-function Guitar Effect Pedal
The Nux Cerberus is a multi-effects pedal that focuses on a multitude of effects but with no amp modeling options available. The Nux has a total of 16 effects available. These can all be saved to 4 of the preset channels, each with 32 banks, giving a total of 128 saved presets.
The presets can be easily recalled via the four footswitches.
The main effects available are; delay, reverb, modulation, distortion drive, chorus, and phaser. All of these effects can be tweaked and played around with to your heart’s content. And then obviously saved and banked.
Delay, modulation, drive, and distortion are the four effects that take up the most real estate and have the best levels of adjustability. We’re sure you’ll agree that’s very much a fare call. However, the other effects can still be adjusted and tweaked to a lesser extent.
Although the Nux Cerberus is a bit knob heavy, it never the less is nicely laid out and easy to use. Each effect and menu is well separated and clearly defined in its own right without the whole unit becoming overly confusing.
The only criticism we have about the unit is that the less prominent menus have too small a font. It’s difficult to read, especially whilst gigging and in darker conditions, for the more visually challenged amongst us. We mean old and short-sited guys!
Unlike a lot of multi-effect pedalboards, there is no integrated expression pedal. You can, however, by separate purchase, buy one to be plugged in externally. We can kind of see the point as it does make the pedal smaller and does away with a function you may not require. However, we still feel this is a negative as we always like to see an onboard expression pedal.
This is a nice and durable unit that doesn’t take up too much space on your pedalboard and is a great alternative to having a bank of standalone pedals. It’s also obviously significantly less expensive than the standalone options.
- Nice easy to use control panel.
- 16 different effects available
- 128 presets.
- No integrated expression pedal.
8 VOX STOMPLAB2G Modeling Guitar Multi-Effects Pedal
Vox are better known for their amps, but hey guys, they make great pedals too.
This little unit has plenty going on. There are over 100 modeling options and effects available. This includes a total of 44 different amp emulations, including the legendary VOX AC30, together with a choice of 12 cabinets. The effects include wah, acoustic simulator, modulation, compression, drives, fuzz, overdrive, and distortion. Additionally, there are several delays and reverb options, plus two chorus options, flanger, phaser, and tremolo.
That’s an impressive amount of features for such a small and inexpensive unit. But there’s more; the VOX STOMPLAB2G also has a hundred onboard factory presets with room for a further 20 custom patches. The factory presets are divided into various styles to include; Jazz, Pop, Blues, Rock, Metal, and It’s even got nine separate bass categories!
The fact is that the range of amp modeling and effects will pretty much cover most eventualities you’re likely to encounter. And while we think it’s a great effects pedal for any guitarist, we feel because of the way the amp modelings are categorized, and because of its simple labeling, it’s particularly suitable for beginners.
The VOX STOMPLAB2G Modeling Guitar Multi-Effects Pedal is sturdy enough for use at home or on the road. It certainly has enough effects for gigging. However, since some of the amp models sound less than subtle, we’d advise you do some tweaking on some of the factory presets to build up your own catalog of cool sounds.
The bottom line if this little multi-effects pedal offers outstanding value for an incredibly low price.
- Easy to use for a beginner.
- Small and compact.
- It has a good range of effects.
- Excellent value.
- The tones of some of the effects are not subtle.
- The battery life is short.
9 Zoom Electric Guitar Multi Effect (G1X FOUR)
Here’s a more compact and affordable multi-effects pedal from our Japanese friends at Zoom.
The Zoom Electric Guitar Multi Effect (G1X FOUR) measures 6.2 x 8.5 x 2 in will take up the same amount of space on your pedalboard as around two standard guitar pedals. This small package has 13 amp modelings, 70 built-in effects, 50 user patches, 68 built-in rhythm patterns, a looper, and an expression pedal.
The 13 amp simulators include classics from Orange, Fender, and Marshall. There are also cab simulators from the same big brands. The 70 built-in effects, which can be used together with the amp modeling options, include; ring modulation, sitar simulation, and pitch-shifting delay.
We also think you’ll agree that it’s good to have 68 onboard drum patterns with the ability to loop them for up to 30 seconds. Although it would have been nice for a longer loop period, considering the price of this unit, the built-in rhythm patterns and looper offer outstanding value.
The G1X FOUR has all the same connections you’re likely to need, and all the same connections as the Zoom G5n we reviewed earlier. This, of course, includes a connection via USB to your electronic device to access any updates and to utilize Cubase LE8 recording software.
Overall, the sound of the effects and amp modeling options is pretty good. It’s certainly on par with similar units at this price, if not better. Another positive with this unit is that we think it’s actually better laid out than the more expensive Zoom G5n we reviewed earlier.
We gave the Zoom G5n a bit of a hard time for having an overly complicated control and menu design. However, we’ve no such complaints with the Zoom G1X FOUR. In fact, we feel very much the opposite of the G1X FOUR. This little unit is far easier to access the menus, call up effects, and save patches.
We believe the price and easy operation of this pedal makes it a great buy for a beginner. We also believe it’s the best multi-effects pedal under 100 dollars. And if there’s something better than this at the same price, then we certainly want to see it.
- Good quality effects.
- It has 68 rhythm patterns available.
- Easy to use.
- No case included.
- Only a 30-second loop program.
10 DigiTech RP55 Guitar Multi-Effects Processor
We’re finishing our review with another pedal from Digitech.
The DigiTech RP55 Guitar Multi-Effects Processor is a more affordable multi-effects pedal than the DigiTech Trio we looked at earlier. However, although it’s small and inexpensive, Digitech has still managed to pack in plenty of features and functionality.
In some ways, this feels like a much more traditional style of multi-effects pedal than the Digitech Trio we reviewed earlier. Rather than having sound modeling choices based on musical genres, the Digitech RP55 goes down the tried and tested route of providing 11 amp modeling and five cab options based on well-known amplifier brands.
Additionally, there are 20 studio-quality effects on hand, with up to eight capable of being used simultaneously. That’s something we really like and are surprised to see in such an inexpensive unit – Nice one Digitech.
There’s plenty of opportunities to dig deep in the RP55’s menu to not only change effects but to change EQ patterns, and even to change from a single coil to a humbucker pickup sound. However, you still don’t get the flexibility to make the kind of smaller adjustments you’re able to make on a standard guitar pedal.
The Digitech RP55 also has a built-in drum machine with 30 different patterns and a built-in tuner. The drum patterns are fine to jam along with. The tuner is accurate but is possibly the most complicated thing on the whole pedal to use.
To access the tuner, you have to step on the footswitches together for quite sometime before the tuner becomes operational. We’re not sure why it was made so difficult to use.
Like its big brother, and other than the tuner, this smaller unit is also really easy to operate. Though its features and functions are very different from the DigiTech Trio, it’s still super easy to use and is still likely to appeal to any guitarist not wanting to invest a large amount of time dialing in their preferred tones.
- It has good quality studio effects.
- There are 20 onboard drum tracks.
- It’s affordable.
- The menus are easy to use.
- The tuner is difficult to access.
- A power supply not included.
Best Multi Effects Pedal Buyer’s Guide
Multi-effects pedals have come a long way in a relatively short space of time. Largely down to much higher levels of DSP, modern-day multi-effects pedals are able to do much more, produce much better tones, in a much smaller unit.
The best Multi effects pedals are now seen as a viable alternative by a growing number of us guitarists in an ever-increasing number of situations. The cost equation and the convenience of having so much in such a small space make these units increasingly popular. As does their increasing ability to allow for creative input.
Though there’s still a difference between the sound quality of a standalone guitar pedal, and a multi-effects pedal, the sound quality of modern-day quality multi-effects pedals is pretty convincing. What’s more, the margins between the two are continually decreasing.
There’s absolutely no doubt that in the present-day market, the multi-effects pedal has a strong presence in the guitar world, with an even stronger future ahead.
There are some effects we’d consider a must-have on a multi-effects pedal. These would include; delay, overdrive, distortion, fuzz, chorus, tremolo, phaser, flanger, and modulation. Not only would we expect to see these effects, but on the more expensive models, we also like to see multiple models of each effect.
Other desirable features would include the ability to further shape the tone of each individual effect. Standalone pedals tend to be much more comprehensive in this regard. The more functions to alter each effect’s tone, the better.
We also like to see a multi-effects pedal being able to run multiple effects at the same time. If the pedal can only run a couple of effects at once, it kind of defeats the purpose of the pedal in the first place. We think around six simultaneous effects to be a minimum.
We’d also expect to see a looper, with a good length of looping time, and a chromatic tuner.
Let’s Talk About Sound…
We’re sure you’ll agree that one of the most important factors to consider when purchasing a multi-effects pedal is the sound quality. There’s no real point in having a hundred effects that all sound like shit. Better to have just a few sounding good ones.
There are plenty of multi-effects that now advertise themselves as having studio-quality effects. And it has to be said that these effects are close to the original effects on which they’re based. Take a look at the amount of DSP power the units have, and it will give you a clue as to if you’re likely to get decent sound quality.
The more comprehensive multi-effects pedals will generally offer a wide range of amp simulations, with most probably some cab simulations as well. Amp simulation, like effects, has become increasingly sophisticated and is now able to offer some high-quality authentic tones.
Most of us (Probably 99.88% of us) don’t have either the room or cash to own a large collection of amps. If only! A multi-effects pedal with modeling amps, therefore, makes perfect sense.
What also makes sense is to have the capacity to quickly change between different sounding amps. If you’re a gigging musician and your setlist demands a diverse selection of different sounds, this is definitely useful.
The best-multi effects pedals should offer plenty of amp and cab options but also with the ability to easily fine-tune, store any, and recall your presets. We’re sure you’ll agree that having to stumble around between songs, whilst trying to recall your tones or presets, is not a good look!
Most multi-effects pedals have the capacity to be connected to some form of audio software. This is more usually via USB. Once connected, the user is then able to tweak and modify any existing sounds as well as having access to recording software.
Generally, if a unit has a high powered DSP, then it’s likely to have some powerful software to match.
Before deciding to buy a particular multi-effects pedal, it’s worth checking the quality and the level and frequency of any updates the software can offer.
Do I Really Need a Multi-effects Pedal?
The fact is that although no one actually needs one, regardless of the level and experience of the player, there’s almost certainly going to be a place for a multi-effects pedal of some kind on your rig.
One of the main advantages is the sheer amount of effects you can have for such a small cost. The price of buying authentic alternatives, on which the effects and amps are based, doesn’t even bear thinking about.
As well as having a huge variety of effects, a multi-effects pedal also gives you the convenience of having everything contained neatly within one unit. With fewer cables and connections, you get the added benefit of there being less likelihood of something going wrong.
Multi-effects pedals also have built-in presets, making it easy to recall your saved patches. The software associated with these units also allows you to store and recall specific tones and sounds from your favorite artists. Not something you would be able to do very easily otherwise.
The biggest disadvantage with multi-effects pedals is the sound. The truth is that no matter how good the unit you’re still very likely going to be able to distinguish between the original sound source and the multi-effects sound source.
However, you do tend to get what you pay for, and the more expensive multi-effect pedals, with better processing power, are ultimately likely to create higher quality and more authentic sounds.
Another big disadvantage of a multi-effects pedal is that they don’t always offer the same level of functionality or ability to change parameters as the original effects or units.
Old School Options
Not sure if an all-singing, all-dancing multi-effects pedal is the way to go? We completely understand! Individual pedals have so many disadvantages – expensive, less programmability, more hassle, etc. etc. But they do have one big advantage in that they tend to sound far better.
So, if you fancy going old school, check out our reviews of the Best Digital Delay Pedals, the Best Reverb Pedal, the Best Tremolo Pedals, the Best Phaser Pedals, and the Best Flanger Pedal currently available.
Plus, you’ll also need the Best Guitar Pedalboard on the market to put them on.
So, What Is The Best Multi Effects Pedal?
Did you find something suitable?
We hope so.
We honestly believe we’ve covered all bases and given you plenty of good options to consider. So, before we go, it just falls upon us to leave you with what we think is the best multi effects pedal from the ten we’ve reviewed.
Our top pick is the…
We really loved this multi-effects pedal for the excellent quality, and wide range of effects, including its massive 512 onboard presets capacity. We also loved its excellent build quality, brilliant design, and the simple layout of its controls.
A real winner in our books.
Enjoy your music and enjoy your playing.