Author Topic: Multi-fx for a beginner?  (Read 2251 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline Badger_5

  • Newbie
  • Posts: 9
  • Good Vibes 0
Multi-fx for a beginner?
« on: February 22, 2018, 11:44:32 am »
Hi all, so first a little background - I've been learning guitar for about a year and a half now. I got about half way through Justin's beginners course before I decided to start having face-to-face lessons, so it's hard to gauge where I am on the JustinGuitar scale - maybe beginner/intermediate. I'm starting to get barre chords down fairly strongly and I've learnt a couple of basic solos. I play a Tele Classic Vibe with a Black Star HT1r amp and I've been really happy with my set-up so far.

Two things I've been working on have lead me towards effects - Creep, which in Justin's video he guides you through the use of delay and other effects to get the sound and shows how you can layer using a looper pedal; and the Californifcation solo with its use of a compressor. I'd also like to learn some White Stripes, and so naturally I might want some distortion.

Originally I figured I'd pick myself up a distortion and looper pedal as these seemed a bit more often used than compressors and some of the other effects mentioned in the lessons. After a little more digging, I found that multi-fx pedals came pretty highly recommended for beginners - particularly as you can try everything at a relatively low cost. So yesterday my shiny new Zoom G3xn arrived with a million functions and I feel, well... a bit overwhelmed and concerned I've bought a massive distraction.

Having so many options is a little bit paralysing - both because there's a steep learning curve with all the functions, but also because it seems hard to fully 'explore your gear' when you have so many different things to explore. I feel I could easily spend a lot of time skimming the surface of lots of effects and spend hours getting used to the functions, all during time where I could have been practicing the basics. Of course I've only had the G3xn 24 hours, so perhaps I should give it more time.

I feel like I'd have been happier with a couple of standalone pedals that I could really play around with and then trade out / build on as I mature into it. I'm also tempted to just keep exploring what my HT1r can do and leave the effects behind until I get better at the guitar.

It'd be great to know what you all think - are effects a bit of a distraction at this point, or is it important to start on that journey too? And if it is worth playing around a little with effects, what approach would you recommend for getting going?

Thanks for your advice!

Offline DarrellW

  • Stadium Superstar
  • ******
  • Posts: 2086
  • Good Vibes 84
  • What on earth was I going to do???
Re: Multi-fx for a beginner?
« Reply #1 on: February 22, 2018, 12:42:21 pm »
I think that if you stick to using the effects that you need to use for a particular piece on it then you should be OK, but if you’re getting distracted by all of the other things it will do it’s going to be a problem.
It’s just the same for me, I have the ID core BEAM, it’s got less effects than a multi-fx but nevertheless can easily prove to be a distraction from what I really want to do.
So in real terms if you’ve got the discipline to use only ones that you need to it’s going to be fine, if not then put it away until you feel you can.
My singing sucks so I’m learning Guitar and Ukulele, it’s fun 🌟

Offline close2u

  • Administrator
  • All Time Legend
  • *****
  • Posts: 10658
  • Good Vibes 399
  • Teesside, North East England.
Re: Multi-fx for a beginner?
« Reply #2 on: February 22, 2018, 12:50:01 pm »
I had a Zoom G3 then a G3X.
Fabulous kit, don't sell it.
But limit yourself to one or two fx to begin.
That should avoid overwhelming your mind.

Offline Majik

  • Stadium Superstar
  • ******
  • Posts: 1869
  • Good Vibes 102
Re: Multi-fx for a beginner?
« Reply #3 on: February 22, 2018, 12:53:30 pm »
I think it's important to point out that any sort of pedals can be a distraction, and induce option paralysis.

If you bought standalone pedals, you would have to decide which type of pedals to buy, and then worry about which specific ones, what order to connect them, how to power them, whether to get a pedalboard, and whether the pedal you bought are the right ones, etc.

At least with a multifx processor, you know you have everything available to you (within reason) without having to do loads of research and additional shopping.

And, frankly, as a beginner, it's a minefield as every recommendation you get from other people will only serve to confuse you further, because every recommendation will only be an expression of that person's personal preference. Pedals are a very personal, subjective thing: what someone recommends as "best" could be the worst thing for you.

Now I've clarified that, if you want to explore different FX, the approach I would take is as follows.

Firstly, do some research on what each of the different pedal types do. This article may help, as might this one.

The second thing is to explore each effect in isolation. The best way to do this is to set up a patch in the multifx unit which has everything disabled. Then enable one effect at a time (focusing on the ones that interest you first) and play with the options and settings for that effect to see what sort of impact they have on the sound. Multifx units usually give you multiple models for each type of effect, so you can explore that too.

So, for instance, if you decide to explore distortions, starting with everything off, select a distortion pedal model. This will start off with default settings for things like level. Play your guitar a bit to get to feel how this sounds, and then tweak some of the settings. Once you are happy you understand that, select a different distortion model and give that a try. Note that each model may have slightly different controls, which reflects the controls on the physical pedal being modelled.

Then do the same with, for instance, delay after making sure you've disabled any effects you were previously playing with.

Once you've done this for the main effects you are interested in, you can experiment with combining them. So, for instance, you might want to try a distortion with some delay.

You probably only need to spend 10-15 minutes exploring each effect type to get a feel for what each one does. Exploring combinations is likely to take longer.

But there will also be a learning curve in using the pedal itself, knowing how to select effects and enable/disable them. Experimenting with individual effects in this way will give you a focus and will help you learn your new tool.

IMO it's worth taking a few hours to learn this stuff. Skimming the surface of each one is fine as you will be getting an understanding of what they all do as well as learning how to control your new pedal. Once you've done that you will have the knowledge and familiarity with your unit to dive deeper, focusing on the specific things you want to look at in more depth.

A couple of notes:

1. Most multifx units include some sort of amplifier and cabinet emulation. If you are plugging into something like the HT1R you should probably disable this. There's no harm experimenting with these if you want, but it's probably pretty low on your priority list of things to learn on the pedal.

2. Although it's a common pedal, the looper isn't really an "effect" in the same way as things like delay and chorus are. It's more of a separate function..

3. The in-built preset patches on these pedals should largely be considered as a "demo" of what is possible. In practice, most of them are often quite over the top and unusable. On the multifx processors I have, I probably only have seriously used 2 or 3 of the preset patches.

4. Related to that, learning how to build your own patches is the key to getting the best of these pedals. Similar to my suggestion on how to explore individual effects, the best way to build your own patch is to start with very basic clean settings with all effects disabled, and then enable the things you want one at a time.

Most of the time, you are likely to end up with very simple patches which only use one or two effects. Just because you have an arsenal of effects available to you, that doesn't mean you have to use them.

For instance, a simple, but highly useful patch might consist of just some distortion and reverb. You could add a noise gate to that if the distortion is fairly high gain.

Have fun!

Cheers,

Keith
Guitars: PRS Singlecut S2, Fender Tele Lite Ash, G&L Legacy Tribute, Freshman Apollo 2 OCBX
Amps: Bugera G5 Head, Boss Katana 100
All sorts of other stuff.

Offline close2u

  • Administrator
  • All Time Legend
  • *****
  • Posts: 10658
  • Good Vibes 399
  • Teesside, North East England.
Re: Multi-fx for a beginner?
« Reply #4 on: February 22, 2018, 01:21:58 pm »
Excellent wisdom from Keith.

Offline Badger_5

  • Newbie
  • Posts: 9
  • Good Vibes 0
Re: Multi-fx for a beginner?
« Reply #5 on: February 22, 2018, 01:43:16 pm »
Thanks all - and especially Keith for the really detailed and useful reply. I've just been exploring the compressor and fuzz effects on their own and it does make things a lot more manageable to handle things that way. I think I can see the way forward with it now, so thank you.

I suppose there's still an underlying question in my mind about whether I should really be playing with these things or waiting until later on when I've improved. I suppose the best approach with that is to see the effects as something I look towards once I start to get a song down - so finding the right sounds becomes the icing on the cake as it were.

Offline Majik

  • Stadium Superstar
  • ******
  • Posts: 1869
  • Good Vibes 102
Re: Multi-fx for a beginner?
« Reply #6 on: February 22, 2018, 02:30:58 pm »
Ultimately it's up to you and your time constraints.

Personally, I think a little playing with this stuff is worthwhile, especially if it inspires you to play. And some riffs or songs really don't sound right without some fx on.

Depending on the songs you are trying to play, some sort of overdrive/distortion/fuzz is likely to be useful. As these can make such an obvious change to the guitar tone, these are really useful to get acquainted with early on. For a start, playing with distortion/overdrive/fuzz will boost any string noise. Being able to control that using muting, etc. whilst playing is an important part of learning electric guitar.

Plus, it can inspire your playing. Playing AD/DC riffs on a clean amp isn't that much fun. Playing them with a good chunk of overdrive is a different matter entirely!

With a single-coil guitar, adding a noise gate in can help control some of the lower-level string noise.

I would suggest you start with these.

After that, I would look at delays: if you are doing certain songs, then delay can be very important. An example of this is lot of U2 songs. Trying to play, for instance, Pride without a delay effect isn't really sensible.

Compressors can be useful, but the effect it has on the sound is often fairly subtle. Personally I would use a compressor more to "fine tune" the sound than anything else. This would be a candidate to experiment with later IMO.

Reverb is also a nice one to have, but you have reverb on your amp, so I would be tempted to ignore the reverb capability on the Zoom for now, and just tweak the reverb knob on your amp to taste.

Cheers,

Keith
Guitars: PRS Singlecut S2, Fender Tele Lite Ash, G&L Legacy Tribute, Freshman Apollo 2 OCBX
Amps: Bugera G5 Head, Boss Katana 100
All sorts of other stuff.

Offline Badger_5

  • Newbie
  • Posts: 9
  • Good Vibes 0
Re: Multi-fx for a beginner?
« Reply #7 on: February 22, 2018, 03:03:22 pm »

Depending on the songs you are trying to play, some sort of overdrive/distortion/fuzz is likely to be useful. As these can make such an obvious change to the guitar tone, these are really useful to get acquainted with early on. For a start, playing with distortion/overdrive/fuzz will boost any string noise. Being able to control that using muting, etc. whilst playing is an important part of learning electric guitar.

Plus, it can inspire your playing. Playing AD/DC riffs on a clean amp isn't that much fun. Playing them with a good chunk of overdrive is a different matter entirely!

Definitely true, although the HT1r does have overdrive built in too. So there are options to experiment with that and come back to the wider effects once I've played around - by which time it will no doubt be the GZ4T or what have you. The main issue with overdrive being built into the amp is that you can't switch to it with your foot, so no way to easily change the sound mid-song.

I think I'll stick with it now and have a play around. Thanks for your advice.




Offline J.W.C.

  • Arena Rocker
  • *****
  • Posts: 627
  • Good Vibes 24
Re: Multi-fx for a beginner?
« Reply #8 on: February 22, 2018, 09:04:03 pm »
For amp drive and changing it up, you might try something like this:

Set you amp's gain to a nice crunch.
Roll your guitar volume back to get a cleaner sound, and up to get the full crunch.
Set your Zoom so that you can switch on overdrive. Use this to goose your amp's crunch if you want more gain/boost for a lead.

That kind of setup will give you several types of tone, from clean(ish) to crunch to lead. Another thing you might experiment with is setting your basic crunch tone up with the guitar's tone rolled back a bit (and maybe more treble on the amp than you'd usually dial in). When you roll back your guitar's volume, it cleans up the tone, but it typically loses some treble. If you have your basic crunch tone set with your guitar's tone rolled off some, you can roll of guitar volume and increase guitar treble to compensate for that.

As far as other effects, I agree with the previous advice about trying one effect at a time and learning how it affects the sound. Have fun with it.

Offline Badger_5

  • Newbie
  • Posts: 9
  • Good Vibes 0
Re: Multi-fx for a beginner?
« Reply #9 on: March 10, 2018, 06:11:41 pm »
OK, so in the end the Multi-fx went back. I think all of the advice above is completely valid - not having to do lots of research to find the right thing, saving money by not swapping pedals in and out, being able to easily experiment (although taking the effects one at a time) and so on - but there was just something about having this complex machine in the middle if my set up that was really killing the vibe for me. At the end of the day, all I wanted was a distortion pedal to sit between my guitar and amp. I guess I'm also more on the old school, vinyl collecting, side of the spectrum and so I wanted to try the actual little boxes.

Anyhow, I came across a guide (http://guitargearfinder.com/guides/beginner-guitar-pedal-rig-setup-and-recommendations/) that suggests building a board with a few of the more fundamental pedals and then adding a Multi-fx for experimenting with the more out there effects. For now I've just picked up an (apparently) quite versatile distortion pedal (Procro Rat 2) and I feel I'm getting more out of it as I can only focus on that. I've spent quite a lot of time just trying to dial in the sound of 'Fell in love with a girl' using my amp, pedal, and guitar pots. It's taken a lot of tweaking, but I'm getting closer. With the Multi-fx I doubt that I'd have been able to resist switching around all the other effects to try and find a shortcut.

All of that being said, just picking out the Rat was enough to give me a taste of the rabbit hole this is! Tubedrivers, OCD, Plimsoul, Soul Food, my god... the variety. Not to mention seemingly endless debate over the minuscule differences between the original Rat and the Rat 2. It took me a lot of time reading and watching reviews to get a sense of what I wanted - and after all that am I sure I've got the right thing? No, definitely not. But at least having just one thing is forcing me to experiment with it.

Anyway, like most things, I imagine this comes down a lot to experimentation and personal preference. I'm sure that other beginners - maybe the majority - will find they prefer having a lot of options readily on tap through a Multi-fx. Maybe after a little while I will do too! If I find that I'm not enjoying or getting the most out of this approach I'll be sure to post back here.

Thanks again for the suggestions.
« Last Edit: March 10, 2018, 06:26:54 pm by Badger_5 »

Offline Damian666

  • Bedroom Rocker
  • *
  • Posts: 20
  • Good Vibes 0
Re: Multi-fx for a beginner?
« Reply #10 on: March 16, 2018, 08:08:15 pm »
Interesting thread as I've just been considering getting a multi fx unit to use it with headphones instead of a practice amp. Would that be a good idea? Anybody else done that?

Offline DarrellW

  • Stadium Superstar
  • ******
  • Posts: 2086
  • Good Vibes 84
  • What on earth was I going to do???
Re: Multi-fx for a beginner?
« Reply #11 on: March 16, 2018, 08:18:02 pm »
Have a look at this thread, it can be done for a lot less money especially if you use an iPhone or iPad
https://justinguitarcommunity.com/index.php?topic=43185.0
My singing sucks so I’m learning Guitar and Ukulele, it’s fun 🌟

Offline Majik

  • Stadium Superstar
  • ******
  • Posts: 1869
  • Good Vibes 102
Re: Multi-fx for a beginner?
« Reply #12 on: March 16, 2018, 08:43:36 pm »
Using a multifx unit with headphones for practice is something I've done quite a bit, and it works nicely if you need to practice quietly.

In fact I'm in a hotel this weekend with not much to do (at least not much planned) and I've bought my G&L and a portable FX unit and headphones with me.

On the other hand, headphones isn't as good as a decent practice amp. I'm not sure I would recommend such a system as a complete replacement for a practice amp, especially as many practice amps have headphone capability.

Cheers,

Keith

Sent from my [device_name] using JustinGuitar Community mobile app

Guitars: PRS Singlecut S2, Fender Tele Lite Ash, G&L Legacy Tribute, Freshman Apollo 2 OCBX
Amps: Bugera G5 Head, Boss Katana 100
All sorts of other stuff.

Offline Joerfe

  • Stadium Superstar
  • ******
  • Posts: 2926
  • Good Vibes 107
Re: Multi-fx for a beginner?
« Reply #13 on: March 16, 2018, 10:06:00 pm »
On the other hand, headphones isn't as good as a decent practice amp.

When using a fx unit live, a normal setup would run the unit through the PA and to a stage monitor.

Makes me think if a stage monitor would suffice as an optional speaker for a fx unit?
Many Helix/Fractal/etc owners use frfr speakers, and I’m wondering whether a simple monitor would do a decent job.
/Jesper

Sigma SOMR28H, Fender Classic '50s Tele, Fender Std Stratocaster, Gibson lpj '14, BOSS Katana 100-212 amp.
Me on da Soundcloud https://soundcloud.com/jesper-j-rgensen-11

Offline Majik

  • Stadium Superstar
  • ******
  • Posts: 1869
  • Good Vibes 102
Re: Multi-fx for a beginner?
« Reply #14 on: March 16, 2018, 10:08:35 pm »
I know someone who uses a Digitech RP350 with a full-time range PA speaker, and has used it for professional performances with a full orchestra.

So why not.

Cheers,

Keith

Sent from my [device_name] using JustinGuitar Community mobile app

Guitars: PRS Singlecut S2, Fender Tele Lite Ash, G&L Legacy Tribute, Freshman Apollo 2 OCBX
Amps: Bugera G5 Head, Boss Katana 100
All sorts of other stuff.

 

Get The Forum As A Mobile App