Some time ago, multi-effects pedals were jack of all trades, master of none. However, the term is no longer applicable today. The rapid development of modern processors has allowed multi-effects pedals to cover all tonal bases with excellent qualities. In this article, we will show you the 7 best guitar effects that you should consider for your music equipment.
Continue reading below to learn more about:
- Our selections of the best guitar effects in the market
- The features and capabilities of every model
- The sound quality of every model
- The pros and cons of every model
1. Boss MS-3
The first in our list of best guitar effects is Boss MS-3. This is a very exciting pedal board development, as professional pedal boards are more and more based around switching systems that can swap stompboxes easily. Boss MS-3 offers an ingenious solution by providing programmable loops on three pedals and a rich library of 112 effects.
Boss MS-3 is a truly powerful unit. It is able tocontrol external effects, switch your amp channels, and work with MIDI-equipped pedals. It also has a built-in tuner, global EQ, and noise suppressor. In short, it has gathered all the things that guitar players could ever want and crammed them into a single compact unit.
Integrating Boss MS-3 into your rig may take some time. You need to hook up your external pedals around the rear to the sends/returns, then select either manual mode or memory mode. The same thing applies to the internal effects. Setting up the amp channels and MIDI involves some menu diving. Nevertheless, once Boss MS-3 is ready, it is such an amazing almost dream-like unit.
This unit has 200 patch memories, each with four effects or pedals or presets. The loop switcher has limitless potential, and is backed up by the unit’s high-quality tones. There are pristine modulations, all of the essential reverbs and delays, the dynamic Tera Echo, the sequenced tremolo Slicer, along with niche yet useful effects such as acoustic guitar sim, sitar sim, and Slow Gear auto fade-in.
There are just some minor weaknesses. First, the display screen is a little bit too small, so the set-up process takes some effort. Second, although they are not bad, the drive tones still can’t beat good-quality standalone drive pedals.
|- Effective, powerful concept||- Screen is rather small|
|- Rich effects, including some niche yet useful ones||- Drive tones aren’t the best|
|- Supports MIDI|
|- Programmable loops on three pedals|
|- Built-in tuner, global EQ, and noise suppressor|
Get the best price for Boss MS-3 here!
2. Line 6 Helix LT
The older sibling, Line 6 Helix, received applause when it was first released in 2015. People agreed that it had the most advanced floor processor at the time. It brought a definite step-up from Line 6’s HD series in terms of sound quality. However, due to the expensive price, it was never going to be a pedal board that every guitar player could own.
To reach a wider audience, the company has produced a more affordable model, Line 6 Helix LT. It comes at around three quarters of the original Helix’s price. Obviously, a few features have been sacrificed in order to create the necessary cost saving. But the essentials are right there. Line 6 Helix LT is lighter than the original Helix by more than a kilogram. One reason is because it comes with a bent steel chassis instead of extruded aluminum.
The small LCD strips below the footswitches have been removed, replaced by the Performance View in the main display. Line 6 Helix LT has one guitar input. Unfortunately, it does not have any aux input, XLR input, or CV output. Dedicated external amp switching and S/PDIF digital connections have also been removed. Still, external amp switching is possible via the single expression pedal socket. There are two send/return loops, which should be sufficient for most guitarists.
Line 6 Helix LT has 12 footswitches in the center. There are 62 amps, 37 cabs, 16 mics, and 104 effects. The 1024 presets have four stereo signal paths for various routing options. The sound quality is truly impressive, very similar to the original Helix.
However, compared to the other models in the market, this model is still pretty expensive. So, does Line 6 Helix LT offer enough value for the money? Yes, it does. All the effects, along with the impressive sound quality and intuitive design, give a very good value for the money.
|- Helix sound quality at a more affordable price point||- Still pretty expensive compared to the other models in the market|
|- Impressive sonic flexibility||- Limited connectivity|
|- Easy and intuitive to use|
Get the best price for Line 6 Helix LT here!
3. Hotone XTOMP
Hotone XTOMP is a little different than your typical pedal board. It is like a blank-canvas pedal board which can be loaded with any effect you want. And the innovative design truly works. It is easily one of the best guitar effects that should be considered by travelling musicians.
Many guitarists change their pedal setups on a regular basis. If you are one of such guitarists, Hotone XTOMP can give you a huge value for the money. With Hotone XTOMP, you can change your effects without buying, selling, or swapping your existing pedals. This smart pedal connects to your iOS or Android smartphone via Bluetooth to change the on-board effects.
When the mobile app was first launched, there were 51 effects available for free. You can also use ‘combo’ effects, which put two types to work together. Additional effects have been introduced, and the company says that the library will soon have more than 300 tones available online.
Hotone XTOMP looks sleek with a compact footprint. It is just as large as an iPhone. It features six unmarked knobs, each is surrounded by a glowing halo. The halos are color-coded to indicate the active ones. You can see the knobs assignments and colors on the mobile app.
The sound quality is good. The Comprehensive Dynamic Circuit Modeling (CDCM) sounds very accurate. You will be impressed by the reverbs, delays, modulations, as well as the company’s own creations. However, note that the mobile app is not compatible with some devices – mostly the older ones. So, you need to check first whether your smartphone can run the mobile app or not before purchasing this unit.
|- Various built-in effects||- The unlabeled knobs aren’t intuitive to use|
|- Good quality sound||- Not compatible with some devices|
|- Fast loading|
|- Compact and stylish design|
|- Handy bypass options|
Get the best price for Hotone XTOMP here!
4. Line 6 Firehawk FX
The next one in our list of best guitar effects is Line 6 Firehawk FX. At first, Line 6 Firehawk FX may remind you of another successful model from the company, Line 6 POD HD500X. The size and layout are indeed similar. However, this Bluetooth-enabled unit comes with 108 amps, 120 effects, and 24 cabinets, including some digitally modeled sounds that are familiar to the users of the POD HD series.
Line 6 Firehawk FX offers a huge bang for the bucks. It is an excellent and versatile choice suitable for home practice, recording, and gigging. This unit has blocks for gate, amp/cab, wah, stomp, compressor, modulation, EQ, delay, reverb, and volume. You can also have a block for an external stompbox and pedals, and there’s a built-in looper that is activated by a simple footswitch. You can adjust the order of the block in various ways.
The Bluetooth connectivity offers various advantages. You can stream music into the unit in order to mix it in proportion to your guitar sound for playing along. You can also access the web-based Tone Cloud to download tones from other users or upload the ones you made by yourself. You can also recall an unlimited number of presets via Bluetooth, in addition to the 128 onboard presets.
However, Line 6 Firehawk FX tends to have a slight lag when changing presets. Hence, the most practical way of using Line 6 Firehawk FX is by sticking to just one preset throughout a song. You can bring effects in and out as needed.
|- Unlimited presets||- Has a slight lag when changing presets|
|- Flexible customizability|
|- Great connection options|
|- Great value for the money|
Get the best price for Line 6 Firehawk FX here!
5. Boss ME-80
Boss ME-80 comes an ingenious design. It has a set of footswitches that can be used in two ways, either for instantly recalling complex patches with multiple effects or for switching individual effects pedals. Each patch can be constructed with up to eight simultanoues effects, including the COSM amp sims if you want them.
The range of onboard effects of Boss ME-80 is incredibly wide. It has all the essential standard effects, plus the results of the company’s innovations such as the famous Terra Echo. This effect incorporates the Multi Dimensional Processing (MDP) technology to produce a great range of ambiences.
Boss ME-80 is already equipped with a built-in USB audio interface and a powerful DAW that allows the recording of dry sound while listening to the effects, so that you can re-amp it later. This unit also has a built-in tuner, tap tempo, and phrase loop that can record for up to 38 seconds.
Although Boss ME-80 is designed to be simple and straightforward with minimal menu diving, don’t let it fool you. It is very versatile, and is packed with outstanding sounds. The rotary switches and knobs will allow you to tweak parameters and assign effects very easily. This is an excellent choice for an all-in-one effects solution.
You can connect this unit to a PC to access the Boss Tone Studio application. Here, you can find a graphical interface for tweaking and archiving the unit’s effects. If an internet connection is available, you can also access Boss Tone Central to download free patches created by professional guitarists.
|- Wealth of effects & features||- No on-board graphical interface for those who prefer it|
|- Great sound quality|
|- Very easy to use|
|- Very good value for money|
Get the best price for Boss ME-80 here!
6. Line 6 M13
In short, Line 6 M13 is a pedal board with a chain of four stompbox modelers. The company was hugely successful with four-switch stompboxes, and Line 6 M13 comes with all the sounds of those earlier models. Each modeler has three memories, which are equating to three footswitches under each control panel. You can store three sounds on each modeler.
Now, the awesome part: each modeler can run any of Line 6 M13’s five main effects types, which are delay, modulation, distortion, filter, and reverb. In other words, the three memories in a modeler can be filled with different sounds, so you can put effects wherever you want in the signal chain. Even if you want four different delays to run simultaneously, Line 6 M13 can do that for you.
If you press the scenes footswitch, the whole display will be replaced by 12 scenes that can be selected with the main modeler footswitches. Each scene is a new configuration of the four modelers, each with three possible uses. Line 6 M13 will never run out of possibilities.
Saving is very easy. Actually, you don’t need to save anything, as the unit automatically keeps track of the last adjustment on every module. However, if you don’t want the unit to overwrite the previous settings, you can switch to the ‘manual save’ mode.
Line 6 M13 has a tap tempo switch for controlling the delay and modulation effects. Another switch activates the looper, which can record for up to 28 seconds in mono. You can play the recorded loop at half speed or in reverse. In the end, although Line 6 M13 has fewer effects than some other models, it still has plenty to offer.
|- Incredibly flexible and versatile||- Not as many effects as some other models|
|- Effects can be placed wherever you want in the signal chain||- The interface can be a little confusing at first|
|- Automatic save|
Get the best price for Line 6 M13 here!
7. Tech 21 Fly Rig 5
If you need something that can travel wherever you go, pick Tech 21 Fly Rig 5. This is the best guitar effects when you need to travel light. A compact and very portable pedal board, yet the metal construction is very robust. It is powered by a slim 12V DC adaptor. Note that the adaptor is auto-switching, so you can literally use it in any country in the world. It supports voltages between 100V and 240V.
At the heart of Tech 21 Fly Rig 5 is the SansAmp. The sound quality is good, with a Fender-ish clean tone. If you use an external amp, the SansAmp is still useful for fulfilling the function of an overdrive pedal. In front of the SansAmp, there is the Plexi section, which is based on the company’s Hot-Rod Plexi pedal. One footswitch can emulate the sound of a late-60s Marshall, complete with the natural overdrive and distortion.
The second ‘Hot’ footswitch can be used independently of the Plexi section, and will bring a 21dB boost. The last one in the signal chain is the DLA, which is a delay with tap tempo. In the end, the effects and features are not as rich as the previously discussed models, but Tech 21 Fly Rig 5 still has its own advantages. This is an extremely functional and efficient unit with the most essential effects.
|- Extremely compact and portable||- Limited effects and features|
|- Robust metal housing|
|- Excellent sound quality|
|- Can be used in any country|
Get the best price for Tech 21 Fly Rig 5 here!