Stomp Box vs Multi Effects Processor

multi effects vs stomp box for guitarI’m 15 years old and have been playing guitar for about three years. Recently, I’ve become obsessed with the vas array of effects on the market. I currently own a DOD flanger and a Vox distortion booster, but I’m hell-bent on getting a wah, delay, octave, phaser and a million others. My dilemma is that I don’t know whether to get a truckload of pedals or a single multi-effects processor.

I am willing to spend more money to purchase individual pedals, but I don’t want to if I can get the same sounds from a single unit. I was hoping that you could tell me the advantages and disadvantages of each, and if there’s a multi-effects of each, processor you would recommend. Thanks


Good question, Shane. You would think a flanger’s a flanger whether it’s in a stand-alone box or one of several effects in a mutli-effects processor, right? Wrong! I can’t tell you exactly why this is, but to my ears stand-alone effects pedals always seem to have a purer, more realistic tonal quality than multi-effects units. And bet your ass the guys who make multi-effects boxes put plenty of research into making their all-in-one jobs more believable-sounding. Pedals probably sound better because their electronic circuits can be optimized to produce one sound, as opposed to a circuit in a multi-effects unit that has to produce many different effects and tones.

Recently, I reviewed the BOSS GT10 multi-effects processor, and was rather impressed by the quality of the sounds and the lack of “synthetic-ness” it possessed. Multi-effects boxes can be very useful in certain situations. For example, in a home studio it’s great to have a large variety of sounds to draw from and the ability to go direct so you don’t wake up the neighbors. As you pointed out, multi-effects processors are more economical in terms of how much you get for your money. Good sound, however, should always be a priority; worry about the quality of the effects, not just the quantity. All things considered, I’d take my time, build slowly, spend the extra dough and go for the pedals. Unless, of course, you’re loaded, in which case you should just buy everything.


  1. Been looking for articles to which I can convince myself whether to go for multi-effects or stomp boxes. The lines “Good sound, however, should always be a priority; worry about the quality of the effects, not just the quantity. All things considered, I’d take my time, build slowly, spend the extra dough and go for the pedals.” motivates me to go for single pedals. Nice article! Cheers!

  2. That’s right. While effects processors are decent for anyone who want a bunch of effects without much cost, stomp boxes are the better way to go in the long run.

    What are the top effects that you want to buy first?

  3. Hi, thanks for your reply. I would like to start with reverb, delay and distortion and currently looking on these effects:

    – Electro Harmonix Holygrail Reverb
    – Boss DD-5
    – AC Booster
    – Ibanez TS9

    Would appreciate if you could comment and recommend some other effects you think is good to have.


  4. I was thinking about buying the Boss ME-70. I ve been playing guitar for over 2 years and i want ilarge variety of boss effects. Would you recomend me this over single effect stompboxes.

  5. I was thinking about buying the Boss ME-70. I ve been playing guitar for over 2 years and i want ilarge variety of boss effects. Would you recomend me this over single effect stompboxes. Thanxs.

  6. In the long run (and if you don’t mind spending the extra cash), you should go with the stomp box effects. But it really depends how serious you are about your guitar playing gear. The Boss ME-70 is fine too, but the stomp boxes offer more in the long run.

  7. Well is that its for my b irthday present but Im not really between the ME-70 or a stompbox, Im between a Marshall Mg50fx and the ME-70. What would you recomend me.

  8. Hail,

    Playing for 15 years and had 2 multieffects, Digitech Rp-6, RPx-400 Rp-6 @old-school@ was fantastic 10 years ago and still is. Rpx-400 sounds crap but is good as home studio. I’ve used to tried few different multieffects but now have BOSS stompboxes and never ever sounds better. Of course good tube amp i nice gear do the job and main thing is You. For home use i have: Epiphone custom with emg’s pickups, Fender champion 600 5w tube amp – louder than hell !!! BCB-60 pedalboard and from left to right: RC-2,RV-5,CH-1,DS-1,MT-2,AW-2,MT-80(tuner) for effects incl pedal board i’ve spent 330 pounds (ebay) Normally will cost me around 500 just had luck 🙂 top multiefect for ex. BOSS GT-10 will cost You 300 second hand. So it looks like more less same money for it just need to be patient and looking for bargain !! Good luck

  9. Hello everyone, I’ve been playing for about 11 years now. For a hobbyist, i would recommend multi effects pedal. But for performers/regular musicians with gigs, i would suggest individual pedals. They’re much sturdy and would last a lifetime. The buttons on multi effects normally goes bad first. You could lose your patches on a live gig in case of sudden power outage by any means on multi effects. It doesn’t sound good not unless you bring your own amp on a gig. Individual stompboxes has detailed, accurate and warmer sound.

  10. Ive been playing guitar for about two years now and I have a Zoom multi effects pedal. i tested it out and compared stomp box pedals to it, and i couldn’t seem to tell the difference in sound quality. In my opninior, i love multi effects pedals because you dont need to worry about hooking up stomp box pedals in the right order to get the best tone, you dont have to worry about different cables breaking. If you do get a multi-effects pedal, it’s very important to match it with the right amp. I matched my zoom pedal with a raven half stack, and it is sweet.

    The half stack gives a good chunky sounds and the pedal always add’s that extra kick im looking for.

    Also another benefit i think is that you can make an effect patch you want with a mix of distortion chorus and reverb or w.e, and can save it in. that way live (you need your own amp that you made the effect to match with) instead of going down to adjust your pedals for the next song, you can just simply click a button to the right patch.

  11. My first pedal was a Zoom and I didn’t really like it. Once i started playing gigs and recording the sound began to seem a bit synthetic, though that isn’t to say yours is the same one or sounds bad. For the last few years i’ve been playing through a digitech and i’m again ready to upgrade, and not sure of what to get.

    Options seem to be buying a heap of individual Boss pedals and linking them (which could get annoying) or a Line 6 M13 which is a stompbox combo… i’ve heard mixed reviews about this pedal though. A boss GT10 is also an option, but i havent played one yet…

  12. Hi everyone, I’m 16 years old, and I’m playing guitar for about 7 years, I’ve started on an acoustic, then I’ve got a big bluesy heavy guitar, something like BB King’s, with 2 humbuckers, and my dad found a VOX ac30 from a friend, LOUDER THAN HELL!! but on it it was just the top boost channel, and the natural bright overdrive when you crank it up! Daddy’s friend needed them and took them. Now I have a Yamaha EG 112, but I’ve changed the pickups, Dimarzio BluesBucker on the bridge position, and two Fender Singlecoil Noiseless pickups. I also had a Fender Frontman 212R and a KORG AX1500G, wich is a little devil, it has anything inside, and if know how to set the right tone, you can get out of it just anything, I’ve also tried a BOSS stomp boxes, like DS-2, CH-1, on MY AMP WITH MY GUITAR, I could not hear any big differences, but I will never forget the warm, bright tone of the tube ac30. So, forget the pedals, they are just the spice in the food, first off all, you must get a good, natural sounding amp, no matter if it’s tube or solidstate, than you get a good guitar, and the most important is you…I’ve had seen friends that have Marshalls JMC 800 with 4×12 cabinets and with expensive heavy relic fender strats, but still, with that expensive rig, they sound like shit. Afterall no matter if you buy a multi effect unit, or stomp boxes, first of all, TRY THEM WITH YOUR AMP AND YOUR GUITAR! but, first, you must have a good amp and guitar, for me the BOSS-DS 2 is the greatest distortion pedal I have ever heard,they sound much better on tube amps, but it would sound like chainsaw if you play it with Squier and some cheap amp.
    Thankyou for reading my post 🙂
    P.S. Sorry for my english if I have mistakes.

  13. good conversation!

    i’m a female guitarist/singer/musician. ive been playing solo and in bands for over ten years now.. wow. and lately i’ve decided to work on a solo project where i have a loop station running. by myself, i loop drums, guitars, vocals, keys, etc in and out to build the songs.

    i love single stomp boxes but i feel i need my feet working and focusing on the loop pedal. ive never really considered the multi effects pedals until someone talked up the BOSS GT10 multi-effects.

    does anyone have any thoughts on my situation.

    it seems the multi effect system could allow me to fuss less with the effects pedals and more with the loop, but i don’t want to hurt the sound quality.
    also, the loop and guitar is running direct through the PA for shows.. don’t know if that would affect the choice i should make…

  14. Petar is spot-on right. You can have the best stomp boxes and the best multi-effects units money can buy, but if your guitar and amp sound like crap, the sound isn’t going to be there. Say you have a multi-effects pedal that was set to amp model a Marshall stack. With a crappy guitar its just going to sound like a crappy guitar played through a Marshall stack.
    Or if your amp is crap, you can have the best multi-effects unit on the market sending it a Marshall stack signal but its not going to sound like a marshall stack. If an amp is crap, it would be like trying to get an audiophile sound out of an old AM radio. It just can’t happen.
    And if your guitar is of poor quality, you can have a sweet amp and the best stomp boxes, but it won’t sound very good with that crappy guitar. Have someone plug in a decent guitar and you WILL hear a VERY big difference!!
    So, yes, concentrate on getting a great sounding guitar, and a good amp. Personally, I prefer a tube amp. Believe me, having a loud solid-state amp with good effects, whether they are stomp boxes or a multi-effects unit can sound real good through a solid state amp. But for each note played, there are so much more harmonics that are created with a tube amp.
    If you are playing in a band with solid-state gear, and can’t cut through the mix to the point you are dialing up your highs and lows in an attempt to make your guitar more heard, it is because that solid-state amp isn’t giving off as much harmonics with every note.
    You will find that with a tube amp, every note will come through and be able to be heard easily, even at lower volumes, because tube just gives off a bigger spectrum of harmonies with each note.

  15. Hi,I have a gretsch Superchet 1972 and play through a 1957 valve jazz combi with a celestion speaker.I have tried in vein to use a boss GT8 effects pedal to produce a veriety of sounds without looseing most of the fresh tone.Can anyone help me.I want to sel the boss but dont know what to buy.I like compression echo reverb and eq. regards philip

  16. After having played guitar for 18 years and played live for most of it, I choose multi effects pedals, but not just any one. The Korg brand sounds great, AX30G, AX300G or AX3000g. Switching between patches is completely silent and the effects are realistic. They also blend the tones between each effect very smoothly so it comes out as one BLENDED effect and sounds very warm. The AX300 offers a tap delay which ROCKS. Looking for that Edge sound, here it is, in a multi effects pedal. Also, when playing live, I can switch to another patch by touching one patch pedal, which adds many effects, whereas with individual pedals I would have to turn off my chorus pedal, turn on the phaser, hit delay and overdrive…CRaZy!!! Like Dark and Edgy girl says, I need to focus on my playing.

  17. As guitarygary said, it depends on the multi-effect unit, you can have up to 20 stomp boxes in one unit, combining them you can get thousand of different sounds, even on live gigs, messing with the knobs you can be a DJ rather than a guitarist (which I prefer to do) 😀

    For example:
    John Frusciante, the former guitarist from Red Hot Chili Peppers, on the last tour had 20 stomp boxes, from the BOSS – DS-2, to MoogerFooger UFO filters. But he rarely used more than 4 pedals at once. It’s hard to manipulate with all of them. As guitarygary says: CRaZy!!! (You’re right buddy 🙂 ) But he still sounds fantastic :).

    On the other hand,
    Tom Morello from RATM and Audioslave, famed for his unique guitar playing, has only 7 stomboxes, but he can blow your mind with combining those 7 boxes.
    And some of the world’s best guitarist, are using only the volume knob to “switch” between clean and overdrive. AND THEY SOUND AWESOME!
    Conclusion? It depends on your style, and your understanding about music.Everyone is different, your playing can sound stupid to you, but it can sound amazing to somebody. You can use guitar effects to hide behind them, or you can use them simply to PLAY GUITAR!

    I’ve gone little too far from the main topic. I prefer using the multieffect unit. It’s simple, and all in one. Sometimes I add some stompboxes around, like wah-wah, delay, etc. That’s the combination I prefer.

    Stomp Box vs Multi Effects Processor?
    They sound the same, just the technology has gone that far, it puts variety of stompboxes in one unit. But as I sad, there are many many kinds of fanatics, every single man hears differently. What sounds best to your ears, that’s the right stompbox/multi-effect for you.

    Cheers and ROCK ON!

  18. Picked up a Korg AX1500G recently and one of the tricks of this baby is an 8 second loop built in. (See Petar’s comment on this from 10/13/10) Play through and record, then play over the recording, all built into this rocket ship. The Korg AX300G has a random step filter and a cross delay. When combined, you get a sound effect just flowing like water. For church events this baby is HEAVENLY! I’ll be using it tomorrow.
    A great individual pedal for boosting your signal is the Seymour Duncan Pickup Booster. It keeps your tone just like it is and then kicks it up to whatever boost level you dial in. You can set it to change the frequency slightly to imitate a Humbucker Neck pickup or Humbucker Bridge Pickup if so desired. It’s like 3 pedals in one and it only takes up the board space about the size of an MXR Pedal. SWEET!!! Never forget, Learn to play guitar before using pedals.

  19. Multi-Effects processor is so much cheaper (when you add everything up) and sounds just as good. Plus you can program a ton of different combinations.

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