The selection of guitar multi-effect processors has exploded in recent years. While you had to spend a fortune on good-sounding digital effects in the 80s, guitarists now have a wide choice of multi-effects for every budget and guitar sound. But the growing selection doesn’t necessarily make the choice any easier. One reason why we’d like to shed some light on the gear jungle today.
For the sake of clarity, I have divided the units listed below into four categories. We begin with all-in-one multi-effects processors with a built-in preamp and speaker simulation in the upper and medium price ranges. Next are pure effects processors, which are often programmable, and last but not least, semi-analog multi-effect foot strips.
Guitar multi-effect processors with built-in preamp and speaker simulation (high-end)
These devices combine an amp simulation/modeler and a multi-effects processor. As they represent the state of the art of all-in-one guitar processors, most of them fall into the higher price range. This is due to high-quality components, intricate modeling algorithms, and also the use of impulse response-based speaker simulations.
Kemper Profiling Amplifier
The Kemper Profiling Amp is primarily designed to deliver authentic reproductions of other (profiled) amps. It also lets you create profiles yourself, so you can leave your extensive amp collection at home. The effects section also has a lot to offer. The Kemper is available in various versions, with or without a built-in power amp. A floorboard variant, which uses basically the same processor, is also available.
Kemper Profiling Amplifier Head BK
Kemper Profiling Amplifier PowerHead
Kemper Profiling Amplifier PowerRack
Kemper Profiling Amplifier Rack BK
Kemper Profiler Stage
Fractal Audio Axe-FX III / FM9 / FM3
Many consider the Fractal Audio Axe-FX III and the floorboard variants FM9 and FM3 to be among the best of the best in terms of sound and possibilities. These units use fully DSP-based amp models and present the user with a very lush effects section including Impulse Response (IR) slots.
Neural DSP Quad Cortex
The Quad Cortex by the Finnish company Neural DSP is a floorboard processor that allows you to create your own profiles of amps or distortion effects. It also offers a huge variety of built-in amps and effects that can be tweaked to your liking. This makes the Quad Cortex a combination of profiler and modeler, paired with an effects section.
Neural DSP Quad Cortex
Line 6 Helix
The Line 6 Helix hits a similar note as the Kemper Stage, meaning it delivers digital amps, IRs, and a large effects section in a floorboard format.
Line6 Helix Guitar Processor
Line 6 Helix LT
Much cheaper than the standard Helix is the LT variant, which has a few limitations compared to the flagship, but is identical in terms of sound quality.
Line6 Helix LT Guitar Processor
The flagship of the Boss lineup has a very high-quality DSP engine and is therefore also priced higher than the previous models. The GT-1000 is a state-of-the-art modeler with a huge selection of amps, effects, and speaker simulations.
Guitar multi-effects processors with built-in preamp and speaker simulation (mid-range)
You’ll also find many professional, great-sounding and highly usable guitar multi-effects in the mid-range price segment.
While it’s considerably cheaper, the HoTone Ampero offers almost all of the features of the top dogs. This includes plenty of amp models, effects, and an IR-based speaker simulation that allows you to load your own IRs. With four footswitches and an expression pedal, it’s a great unit for performing live.
Line 6 HX Stomp
The HX Stomp offers you the acclaimed sound quality of the Helix range in a very compact package. While the sound is on par with the top-of-the-line models, you will need to make some compromises in terms of controls, possibilities, and ease of use.
Line6 HX Stomp
With the Headrush Pedalboard and the Headrush Gigboard, the manufacturer has held a firm place in the amp modeler segment for a few years now. Their latest coup is the MX5, a compact multi-effects unit with amp modeling, effects, and a built-in looper. When Headrush first appeared on the scene, they were the first multi-effects with touch screens. Meanwhile, other manufacturers like Neural DSP also rely on this technology. In addition to user-friendliness, the MX5 scores with a small, but functional expression pedal and a wealth of sounds. Furthermore, it offers the option to load your own IRs.
Even though the Boss GT-100 has a few years under its belt (having been released in 2012), it’s still the preferred central effects unit and switching station of many guitarists. Besides flexible effects routing, it allows for using the 4-cable method, and even amp channel switching.
Mooer GE Series
The Mooer GE 300 is an updated version of the popular GE 200. In addition to a wide range of amps and effects with easy-to-use editors, it offers an ample supply of footswitches and an expression pedal – all for an affordable price.
Mooer GE 300
The Mooer GE150 is a slimmed-down and cheaper version.
Mooer GE150 Amp Modelling & Multi
Pure guitar multi-effect processors
Pure digital multi-effects without amp simulations are often found on pedalboards as a supplement to analog pedals. Besides other advantages, this approach allows you to combine the best of the digital and analog worlds.
Eventide H9 Max
The Eventide H9 is a high-quality multi-effects unit that can be loaded with various effects algorithms. The fully equipped Max version comes with more than 50 algorithms that cover a wide range of pitch, modulation, delay, and reverb effects.
Eventide H9 Max Harmonizer
Line 6 Helix HX Effects
The Line 6 Helix HX Effects offers the effects section of the Helix floorboard, minus the amp section. However, it does include all distortion models and the cabinet simulation. With two programmable loop-in paths, the HX Effects also makes an excellent control center for your pedalboard.
Line6 Helix HX Effects
The MS-3 combines built-in effects with a loop switcher that lets you loop in three external pedals, providing an ideal central control unit for an otherwise analog board.
Boss MS-3 Multi Effects Switcher
Semi-analog Multi-Effect Boards
These handy effect boards combine distortion with a handful of other effects. This makes them great portable all-in-one solutions for on the go – most of them even fit in your hand luggage.
Valeton Dapper Mini 4
The Dapper Mini 4 combines four essentials in one handy box: tuner, drive, chorus, and a tappable delay. It’s also got a headphone output with a speaker simulation.
Valeton Dapper Mini 4 Effect Strip
Carl Martin Quattro
The Quattro offers two channels of distortion, compressor, chorus, and tap delay, plus a loop-in path for external effects. Moreover, it is very generously equipped with six footswitches.
Carl Martin Quattro
Tech 21 SansAmp Fly Rig 5 v2
The Fly Rig is available in several versions, including Richie Kotzen and Paul Landers signature models. The pedal combines distortion, a preamp with speaker simulation and a delay pedal in one unit. It’s also got a loop-in path for external pedals.
Tech 21 SansAmp Fly Rig 5 v2
Tech 21 SansAmp Fly Rig RK5 v2
Tech 21 SansAmp FlyRigPL1 Paul Landers
More about Guitar Multi-Effects
- Best Amp Modellers for live and studio
- Pedalboard Accessories: The best cases, power supplies, and more
- Best Guitar Pedal Order: How to set up your Effects Chain
- 7 Guitar Effects Pedals you need to know
This article was originally published in German on bonedo.de.
* This post about guitar multi-effects contains affiliate links and/or widgets. When you buy a product via our affiliate partner, we receive a small commission that helps support what we do. Don’t worry, you pay the same price. Thanks for your support!
- Kemper Profiling Amp: Remise 3
- Axe-FX III: Remise 3
- Quad Cortex: Remise 3
- Line6 Helix: Remise 3
- Helix LT: Remise 3
- Boss GT-1000: Remise 3
- HoTone Ampero: Remise 3
- Line6 HX Stomp: Remise 3
- Headrush MX5: Remise 3
- Boss GT-100: Remise 3
- Mooer GE 300: Remise 3
- Eventide H9: Remise 3
- Line6 HX Effects: Remise 3
- Boss MS-3: Remise 3
- Valeton Dapper Mini: Valeton
- Carl Martin Quattro: Remise 3
- Tech 21 Fly Rig 5: Remise 3