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Rack Mount Effects vs. Pedals

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by Bassmanbob, Apr 12, 2005.

  1. Bassmanbob

    Bassmanbob Supporting Member

    When I was actively playing during the mid 1980's, it was generally considered that rack mounted effects were better than the small pedals. I've not been much of an effects guy since I started playing again 4 years ago, but now I'm starting up a band that will require me to get at least a synth, octave, distorsion, delay and a chorus.

    I've seen mostly pedal effects in magazines and in stores and many of the pros in Bass Player are using pedal effects too.

    Are rack mount effects still being used? Are they still considered better? What are the advantages and disadvantages to the two styles of effects?

    Thanks in advance, Bob
  2. Mo'Phat

    Mo'Phat Supporting Member

    Oct 1, 2003
    San Diego, CA, USA
    Rack effects are still being used, and there are some that far surpass pedals in both sound and value. But for effect-a-holics, nothing beats buying a pedal, plugging it in, testing it out, and if you don't like it, switching it out.

    Many people will glom onto 3-4 (or 8-10) of their favorite pedals, and that constitutes 'their' sound. Some go to pedals for their inherent simplicity, disregarding the fact that there's generally one setting they stick with so they don't have to twiddle knobs.

    I vaccilate constantly between rack effects and pedals. I like being able to pre-program dozens of different effect patches, calling them at-will via a midi foot controller...but there are some times when I just don't want to spend the 5-15 minutes programming a patch, renaming it, fine tuning it, etc.

    There is something to be said for the ease-of-use of a few pedals with a couple knobs on each.

    For your diverse list of effects (synth especially) I'd say to look into the Line 6 products. The Bass POD XT has plenty of effects, including manymany synths that are as good or better than most. Also, their stompboxes (the big, 4-button Modeler line) are very good for having a variety of different effects that are programmable.

    Boss made the SE-70 and VF-1, TC Electronics makes the G-Major, Lexicon makes the MPX-1, Rocktron makes the Xpression....there are still plenty of manufacturers that are catering to the Rack Effect market.
  3. johnvice


    Sep 7, 2004
    I preferred rack gear (past tense) as everything was wired up in my flight case. I plugged my bass into the front, speakers into the back and “on with the show”! I always loathed having pedals as all it would take is for one cord or jack to fail, and my whole signal chain would be brought down L.

    Also, I never like bending over to make adjustments.

    A few things changed my mind;

    1. Modern digital effects rack or floor have much better sound quality to their obsolete analog counterparts.
    2. Multi effect units have gotten so comprehensive that a single effect unit can replace a rack load of gear.
    3. Preset functionality on such multi effect units mean that you can change the parameters of several effects in the multi unit with the touch of one footswitch (and not have to bend over).
    4. Multi units can facilitate the synergistic use of effects. For example, I like to duplicate a signal one octave above and run this higher octave through distortion. I can do this with ease with my BOSS ME50-b

    You mention that the effects you are after are “synth, octave, distortion, delay and a chorus.” As you know what you want and have been playing bass since the 80s, you could benefit the most from a multi effect unit.

    That said, there are some shortcomings. No matter how much a multi effect can do, there are always things you still want. For example, the synth bass in the ME-50b is limited for my objectives so I use an AKAI Deep Impact SB-1 for most for most of my syth bass sounds. (For a casual bass syth user, the ME-50b might be fine for this)

    Also, while there are a few tone controls on it (bass, treble, variable mid) there is no parametric EQ on it. The ME-50b does have a midrange scoop effect but it is limited in functionality and tonal shaping. I did use a rack parametric EQ but found this to be overkill. The Yamaha NE-1 gives me exactly what I’m looking for.
  4. Tedintheshed

    Tedintheshed Banned

    Oct 8, 2004
    Columbus, Ohio
    I completely disagree with that. Digital effects have yet to surpass analog for sound quality.

    DrakeWeiss likes this.
  5. mrpackerguy

    mrpackerguy Supporting Member

    Jul 3, 2004
    Madison, Wisconsin
    You could always look at something like the Digitech BP200. 40 or 45 preset effects and amp mods, and 45 programmable and built like a tank. I had one and thought it was great, but then sold it in favor of a few analog stomp boxes.
  6. johnvice


    Sep 7, 2004
    I agree that MODERN analog is superior. That's why I specifically said OBSOLETE analog.

    When I replaced my 80s rack mount stuff with an ME-50b the sound quality is, IMHO, better.

    Objectivley it is quieter: as a few units create some hiiissssssssssssss.
  7. keb


    Mar 30, 2004
    I've never been a rack guy in all my years playing. I've always had a few pedals around. Back in the early 90's I kinda wanted one of those ART Nightbass units, but really they're kind of overkill for me. I like pedals in that, say, I don't like a particular chorus, I can switch it out for a different brand/model.


    Jan 25, 2005
    Des Moines, IA
    I've used a couple of pedals before, but I've recently become a BOSS VF-1 user (half rack space unit used by Michael Mannring, among others). I don't know how many pedals I'd have to use to be able to shape sounds for bass, lead, acoustic, and keyboards, but I don't want that much stuff @ my feet. It even has a vocorder for Zapp, Stevie Wonder, etc. effects.
  9. Kelly Lee

    Kelly Lee Yeah, I'm a guy! Supporting Member

    Feb 17, 2004
    Marana, AZ, USA
    I like my Nightbass for just about every situation. The only time I prefer a pedal (chorus) is with the punk band I play with now.
  10. Droog


    Aug 14, 2003
    By background is of a sound engineer and I love the idea of having everything racked up and spiffy. However for some people its just not a reality. I have yet to find an OD that I like in a rack variety. However more time based or synth like effects I think can be found for the rack. If I had lots of money to through at the situation I would buy one of those Voodoo Labs Ground Control effects switching setups, super slick and allows for everything to to stay in the rack, but thats lots of money.

    Quality of rack vs pedal, analog vs digital? whatever! Its about the sound. If you can make it sound good for you who cares. I tend to lean towards analog for dynamic effects and digital for time based, but that is just me.
  11. Bassmanbob

    Bassmanbob Supporting Member

    Hey Droog,

    That Graound Control looks interesting. $$$??? And How many basses can be plugged into it?

    Thanks, Bob
  12. Droog


    Aug 14, 2003
    I am not sure, but it looks like it has two input on the front. Even if it only has one not really that big of a deal, there are plenty of ways you can switch bass'es. A simple A/B/Y box would work.

    Took me a while to find some place with a priceGuitar Asylum. As you can see you will drop nearly $800 to get the system. Some day, still too pricy for me.
  13. The Reff

    The Reff

    Feb 11, 2004
    With the danger of stepping on anybody's toes - The Ground Control is a midiboard you use to control your midi-programmable FX-machines.

    If this is a misunderstanding then sorry in advance :)
  14. Droog


    Aug 14, 2003
    You are right, the Ground Control is just a contoller, but when you combine it with the GCX "switcher" you get the system we are talking about. Check the link I put up previously and all will be revealed.
  15. The Reff

    The Reff

    Feb 11, 2004

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