Guitar Effects for the New Player...

Are you a guitar player new to the effects scene who  wants to spice up your sound? Interested in more crunch, more echo and adding a little wah-wah to your jams? The subject of guitar effects is a little too complex to cover in a single post, so this article will serve as a basic primer for players new to the world of guitar effects...

Effects come in a huge variety of different formats: individual pedals, multi-effects units, software based, amplifier based etc etc. But how do you know which option is right for you as a beginner player?

Perhaps all you need is simply a couple of pedals in front of your amp, or maybe you need the choice and added features of a multi-effects unit, or perhaps you would benefit from the advantages of software based modelling.

Best Multi Effects Pedals Under $100
Multi-effects units are the best way for new players to experience all types of effects in one package. The top picks would be either the Zoom G1ON or the Zoom G1XON which are around $50 and $70 USD respectively.

These affordable multi-effects pedals have the exact same features, with the obvious exception of the G1XON having a built-in expression pedal (to allow you to control effects such as wah, whammy and volume). Of course, not everyone will need the expression pedal, but if you think you might like to use effects such as wah, then for an extra $20 the G1Xon is a no-brainer.

Each unit features 100 effects and amp models, 5 of which can be used simultaneously. They have a built-in drum machine (metronome) - which is a HUGE bonus featuring almost 70 different patterns for you to practice along with at your own speed.

An accurate tuner ensures you are always playing at perfect pitch. Another awesome feature is the built-in looper, which allows you to record up to 30 seconds of high quality audio.

There's also a headphone jack allowing for quiet practice. Unbelievably at this price, both units also include a well-lit LCD screen for easy navigation of the menu system. An auxiliary input on the back allows you to connect a music source, (i.e., CD Player), to allow you to jam to your favorite songs.

Both units can be powered with 4xAA batteries. Alternatively they can be powered with a standard 9V PSU (such as this one), or USB mini cable (such as this one).

Check out this excellent overview and demo video from our friends over at GuitarWorld magazine.

These two really have everything you’ll ever need in one tidy little package – and all for less than the price of most single effects pedals!

Alternative Choices...
Vox Stomplab – link
Digitech RP55 – link

Best Multi Effects Pedal Under $200
You might be starting to think that Zoom sponsored this article, but it isn’t true. They just happen to make some of the best ‘bang-for-your-buck’ products at the moment.

If you have a little more cash to spend then my top two recommendations are the Zoom G3 and Zoom G3X at around $160 and $200 respectively.

As with the G1on above, both of these pedals are identical, save for the fact that the G3X has an expression pedal. The build quality is much higher than on the G1on and they have plenty of extra bells and whistles to help justify the higher price tag.

Both units include 94 different effects and 22 amp models and the ability to chain 6 of them together. Other key features include a built-in tuner, drum machine, looper with up to 40 seconds of recording. Three large LCD displays with corresponding foot-switches and knobs makes it easy to view and edit multiple effects at a glance.

Like the G1on above, the units can be powered via 4 AA batteries, but a 9V power supply is also included.

A key selling point of both of these multi-effects systems is that they can be plugged into your computer via USB to act as a recording interface! So once you get a little more advanced, either or these can be used to easily record your first masterpiece. As a bonus they come bundled with download licenses for Cubase LE, a very popular piece of recording software.

Alternative Choices...
Boss ME25 – link
Line 6 Pocket POD – link

Computer Based Effects
An excellent alternative option to floor based effects is a computer based unit. These are generally hardware interfaces that connect your computer via USB, with the processing being handled by your computer through specially designed software.

The disadvantage to using these types of unit is that you must always be at your computer for them to function. However the much larger interfaces provided by the software are far easier to use and more in-depth than the fiddly menus on a standalone effects unit. You also have the big advantage of everything being in one place.

For example…
Want to jam along to your favorite song? 
- Fire up iTunes or YouTube!
Need a backing track in E Minor? 
- Load up a backing track website!
Unsure how to sound like Hendrix? 
- Download a Hendrix patch!
Need to record a new riff? 
- You’re already hooked up and ready to go!

Good examples include the Studio Series from Line 6, Amplitube from IK Multimedia, GuitarRig by Native Instruments and ReValver from Peavey.

Many of these products will only include the software, which means that you will also need to buy an additional interface to connect your guitar to the computer. For this reason a product like the Line 6 POD GX would be excellent for a new player of effects, as it comes with everything you need right out of the box, i.e interface, cables and software.

Smartphone/Tablet Based Effects
As above, but swap the computer for your phone! If you own a compatible phone or tablet there are many interfaces which will allow you to use your device as a full blown digital audio workstation.

Popular Examples...
Apogee Jam Studio – link
IK Multimedia Amplitube iRig – link
IK Multimedia iRig HD – link
Line 6 Sonic Port – link



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