Sunday, January 4, 2015

Guitar Effects: Multi-FX Done Right

Soooo....just putting this out there for the guitar geeks. If I were to design a multi-FX pedal, I'd have to do it right. 'Cause no one else has.

Why do we like stomp boxes? I could list the reason, but don't have to for guitarists. For non-players, lets just sum it up by saying when I want the delay on, I don't wanna have to scroll thru options or pre-plan every move. Inspiration hits, I wanna just step it on. And I don't wanna spend my play time programming.

By contrast, multi-FX units are great for a variety of reasons. Again, no need to list them for the players, but for non-players, let's just sum it up by saying you get it all in a single box at a better price with no power or bulk hassles and a HUGE selection of sounds.

So, what would I do if I were to design a multi-FX pedal?

Easy, I'd have a long box with 7 on/off selectors plus an expression pedal.

Selector options would be "hard-wired" to a specific and stand-alone effects set, all with total parameter control, as follows:

1) Gain - this covers clean sounds through "high-gain" (i.e. - distortion/overdrive/fuzz) sounds.

2) Compression/amplitude - this covers compressor and boost effects.

3) EQ - this is basic equalization plus any auto (or dynamics-sensitive) filters, like envelope filtering (a.k.a. auto-wah).

4) Modulation - this primarily covers chorus, phase shifting, and flanging, plus any other FX (like the little used ring modulator) that use time-phase for sound construction.

5) Pitch Shift - this covers everything from old-school octave pedals to advanced pitch-shifting (harmonizer), which allows the user to set parallel or diatonic harmony(s).

6) Delay - this covers echoing and reverb.

7) Expression - this would be the on/off controller for the "expression" effects that are assigned to the expression pedal, and include volume, wah, and whammy.

The downfall of this hard-wired multi-FX unit is obvious to players: The inability to use multiple effects of any one type (i.e. - you can't use chorus and flange simultaneously, for one example, or delay and reverb, for another).

But that's just about the only meaningful downfall.

In one box, you'd have ALL the gain sounds of any other multi-FX unit; all the delay parameters of the best delays; basic octave through advanced harmonizing capabilities beyond any mere pedal.

In one box, without the hassles of individual pedals. And maybe even with the ability to change the signal path, add in cab simulators, and more...all in a single, clean, (relatively) inexpensive box.

YES, I know there have been several attempts at doing something like this (from the Digitech RP1000 to the Line-6 M13 - some of these have expression pedals and some don't), but no one has it broken down into 7 classes plus expression. I think this would be far superior (in the balance between simplicity and control) than anything currently on the market.

Of course, I say this with NAMM looking in on us, but....

Regardless, this would be THE multi-FX unit to change the game.

Now someone go build the damn thing....or tell me I've missed a great unit that's already out on the market and tell me what it is!

1 comment:

  1. And, of course, I haven't mentioned the group we could just call "other" that includes mechanical effects and talk boxes and Leslie speakers and old spring-reverb and sustainers (like the Ebow or sustainer pick-ups) and loopers and, of course, the almighty noise canceler.