Multi effect pedal vs. single effect pedals

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by gary mitchell, Apr 29, 2018.

  1. Please share your thoughts and why you think that way.
    madbass6 likes this.
  2. smeet

    smeet Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 27, 2006
    Woodland Hills, CA
    I used only single effect pedals for decades. They sounded better and the setup was more flexible and customizable. I got high end effects and spent a fortune on them. Digital multi effects like the zoom B3n just didn’t have the sound quality. But the hassle of a big board, power supply stuff, cables going bad,etc, always bugged me.

    Recently I got rid of all my single effects and replaced them with a Line6 Helix HX Fx. It sounds great, it’s enough for my current needs, it’s small and convenient and has great features and flexibility.

    I think current digital mutieffect technology is finally good enough to warrant a look from serious effects users.
  3. knumbskull


    Jul 28, 2007
    Depends on your needs.

    I prefer individual pedals for dirt/tone shaping. If you want to play with lots of modulation/pitch/time effects at once, a good quality multi could be the way to go.
    Driven Crane, smeet and omie like this.
  4. smeet

    smeet Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 27, 2006
    Woodland Hills, CA
    I kind of agree, but I’ll add that the Darkglass B7K model in the HX is really good.
    gregmon79 and knumbskull like this.
  5. Shadowkast


    Aug 20, 2016
    The Dreadfort
    I like and use both.

    Multis are more useful for live use, particularly digital boxes which most multis are. Preset recall, less stuff to transport and connect, fewer things to remember and fiddle with. It's also less things to sound bad through a venue's sound system that you often have limited control of.

    Individuals are often better for at home experimentation and recording. Take the time to sculpt the exact sounds you want to make.
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2018
  6. Blaargh


    Apr 4, 2016
    I think cheaper/older multi-FX units are a good idea if you're getting into effects and trying to figure out what kinda stuff you like. Newer things like the Helix seem to be much higher quality in general- Soundwise I probably wouldn't have a problem with one.

    Personally I enjoy single units though. I'm the kind of person that prefers books to eReaders, vinyl to streaming (not that I don't use a Kindle or Spotify, mind)- There's something more romantic about lusting over certain pedals, getting them, tweaking them, fiddling with the signal chain. I'll always prefer fiddling with all the knobs over scrolling through menus. Besides, I have plenty of pedals that may not be technically better, but I love their idiosyncrasies- My Deluxe Memory Man doesn't have that much delay time, but I've never heard a digital emulation that I like more.

    I'm not trying to say that multi-FX are bad, they just don't excite me and that's not necessarily logical.
    Zane DeBord, knumbskull and Hypocrite like this.
  7. Unknown-1.jpeg I am a guitar player also are was, i play more bass then guitar these days. Seems we have a shortage of bass players around here. I played lead guitar, and I play everything from country to rock to metal and 35 years worship in church. Any way I use to not like pedals so I use rack effects with a midi pedal. I have thought about getting 3 Alesis Nanoverbs one for delay, one for chorus, and one for reverb. The Nanoverb is a Half rack effect, effect and has a bypass on the back. I have talk to Alesis and they said they could handle bass easy no problem. They have different effects but I would like i said buy 3 one for chorus one for delay and one for reverb. And they are as cheap as most pedal, and just use a bypass switch for each like a a switch on the floor. Its and idea when i use to play guitar I used a couple Yamaha SPX90s and a lexicon. But I played rock and metal and used them in church. I would make me a little wooden rack with a slot for each one and have it angled up at me and have 3 bypass switches, i don't know if i would do that but its an idea ou all think i am crazy. I just found out Alesis does not make the nanoverb anymore but tc electronics makes these and they said they would work great on bass guitar. $99.00 a pop.
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2018
  8. Shadowkast


    Aug 20, 2016
    The Dreadfort
    One intriguing pedal I'm dying to try is the Dr. Scientist BitQuest. Small (ish) form factor with knobs. It is a multi effect but interacts like a single pedal. Awesome experimental sounds, from what I've heard. Seems like a masterpiece.
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2018
  9. DDXdesign

    DDXdesign formerly 'jammadave' Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 15, 2003
    I posted a little missive on this a few months ago. Quoting myself might be bougie but it's relevant to the OP's interests:

    As a guy who has been back and forth between individual pedals and multieffects units a few times, I can tell you the following tends to happen:
    - I don't need all these individual pieces, I can just get one unit that does all I want/need!
    - Look, this one has 467 different effects and a tuner and metronome and makes toast and is only 200 bucks!
    - Bye bye big expensive heavy board, hello convenience!
    {....some amount of time passes...}
    - Oooo that new fuzz from Buttnugget Effects looks killer...
    - Aw maaaan my multiFX is awesome except for this ONE effect type that I really want...
    - Well if I'm going to have the fuzz separate and the other special thing separate as it is, why do I even HAVE this all in one thing???
    - Bye bye jack of all trades but master of only a couple, helloooo individual endlessly-reconfigurable stompbox glory; oh how I've missed you!

    Winton, Polfuste, Bassmunnky and 13 others like this.
  10. primussucks9126

    primussucks9126 Supporting Member

    Jan 1, 2008
    Bronx, NY
    I've used nothing but single effects since I started playing 13 years ago.

    I recently got a B3n because I wanted to see if I could get into the bigger/pricier units like the Helix without such a drain on my wallet.

    It totally changed the game for me.

    Most gigs I've had don't really allow for much Sonic wackiness, so I have a pretty standard utility board. Tuner, dirt, comp, some phase and delay.

    No room for anything fun like octavers and envelope filters, etc. I would need a HUGE board to get similar sounds, and it's just not practical for me. The ability to change pedal order, easily A/B similar pedal types and patches is a big time saver, which makes me even more inspired to experiment with sounds.

    I was skeptical of the whole multi fx thing, but I was able to replicate all of my pedals with the B3n. Seriously. I got the drives and phase to sound identical to my analog pedals. The only exception is my Carbon Copy delay, because there isn't a Zoom model that can get weird when you twist the knobs.

    It isn't perfect. The octavers are just ok, the drives sound good but aren't particularly touch sensitive, the fuzz could be better, but with all the additional EQ options and amp sims, I can get just about any sound that I want.

    I've used the Helix Native software, and it blew me away, but for $150, I'm gonna stick with my Zoom for a while.

    Edit: I should add that I have spent 0 time with the stock patches and went straight into building my own. If you like to tweak, multi-fx are great, if you just want to plug and play, single pedals can be better.
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2018
  11. I used to hate multis and just wouldn’t use them.

    I have quite a lot of individual pedals. I use a bunch. Lately, I felt like reducing, simplifying. Got a Zoom B1on. Envelope filters, comp, eq, phaser, are all great. Even made a good fuzz patch. Not impressed with overdrives, but... the Zoom won’t make me abandon all my individual pedals, but some might stay home when I’m out for rehearsal.

    Whatever works for you, but those little Zoom are quite nice!

    So for now, I’m in hybrid mode. Single and multi!
    hintz likes this.
  12. primussucks9126

    primussucks9126 Supporting Member

    Jan 1, 2008
    Bronx, NY
    This is a real thing. I JUST got the Zoom, and I'm already looking at new dirt and other speciality effects (the aforementioned BitQuest being one, since the B3n doesn't have one).

    I just have to keep reminding myself that I already like my tone, and the audience probably won't be able to hear the difference. Beinf desperately broke helps, too.
  13. brocket

    brocket Supporting Member

    Sep 12, 2017
    Coastal NC
    I had a Line 6 M9 for awhile, bought at the $250 clearance price. It was pretty decent. The big thing I used it for was figuring out what effects I liked and would actually use. Once I figured that out (turns out, I could use a compressor, maybe a light OD, and possible EQ for switching basses, none of which are mandatory), I sold it. It was nice having all of that available at my feet to learn that I’ll likely never use most if it. Since the list of pedals I’d actually use is so small, it makes more sense to be good individual pedals.
    LowActionHero likes this.
  14. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Yamaha, Ampeg, Line 6, EMG
    JimmyM's Law Of The Multi:

    --- 3-4 sounds will be pretty good.

    --- 3-4 sounds will be only OK but usable in a pinch.

    --- The rest will suck.

    --- None will sound as good as dedicated pedals.
  15. I just recently added the Boss Gt-1B to my board. Having some experience with them in the past, I decided to leave my tuner, micro pog, and MXR DI (with overdrive channel) on the board. I was able to remove my envelope filter, delay, EQ, and chorus pedals.
    Like most “affordable” bass multis, there a lot of useless stuff and downright unusable stuff (looking at you numerous synth patches and overdrives).
    Now that these units can be linked with a computer for editing, creating useable patches is pretty easy especially when putting together amp types, modulation effects, and compression.
    In the end I’m a proponent of using both simultaneously so long as the pedals work well together.
  16. roller

    roller Supporting Member

    Mar 30, 2014
    +1 for both.

    I have three or four individual pedals I really dig. Can I get similar sounds to them from a multi-effects box? With some, I'm sure I could get myself in the neighborhood... never tried. I just love being in that warm, familiar, cozy place when I plug into a pedal I've used for years. It's kinda that special beer... you've tried other brews and, while adequate, they just don't quite have the same taste as your #1... so after a while, you just run back to ol' trusty.

    My multi-effects box of choice (Henretta Six-Speed) is actually six individual analog pedals of my very own choosing and order... all in one housing... all true bypass... a buffer for the whole unit... and it's just superbad. :smug: For me, the digital multi units (like the Zoom) have never offered what I'm looking for in sound or ease of use.

    Here's an example of why I like both: my Pigtronix Philospher Bass Compressor (optical) is just so dang sweet and fat... while the Orange Whip in my Henretta is a much more basic compressor that's geared for guitar and bass. Don't get me wrong -- the Whip is a solid unit, but the Pigtronix just delivers such a specific, bass-friendly flavor. In some situations, using both is really nice.
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2018
  17. I prefer single pedals. If I went digital it would have to be high end, like Eventide or Strymon.
  18. Does the aftershock count as a multi? Before that last multi I bought was around 2010... I appreciate they have changed a lot since then but I’ll follow jimmys rules. And for me with limited time to practice / do stuff, I hate programming, give me a few switches and knobs any day!
  19. Charlzm

    Charlzm Guest

    Mar 25, 2011
    I have been using a Line 6 Bass POD XT Live for about a decade. I have only recently added a Darkglass B7K Ultra because I just couldn't get the overdrive I wanted from the Line 6 models. Still use the Line 6 for everything but dirt/distortion now.
    BluesWalker and jtemple like this.
  20. That Coyote

    That Coyote

    Apr 7, 2017
    Individual pedals and a Boss ES-8. Best of both. IMHO