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Online Guide Guitar Multi FX
Concept

 

From the late 60s onwards,
EffectsGeneral term applied to audio processors for dynamics, time, ambience and equalisation whether in the form of 19" rack units, guitar floor pedals, or software plug-ins.
effects
(we’ll use the shortened form ‘FX’ from hereon) gradually gained popularity with guitarists. FX units came in many shapes and sizes in the 70s, but by the 80s, two formats had come to dominate - the compact FX pedal, and the 19” rack unit.

Compact pedals offer easy and relatively cheap access to a huge variety of
EffectsGeneral term applied to audio processors for dynamics, time, ambience and equalisation whether in the form of 19" rack units, guitar floor pedals, or software plug-ins.
effects
, from various types of
DistortionIn most cases distortion is an undesirable alteration to a signal which occurs when a piece of equipment is driven with a input level that is too high for its operating level. Sometimes, as in the case of guitar distortion, this can be an intentional and desirable effect.
distortion
and
OverdriveA type of distortion pedal that aims to emulate an overdriven guitar preamp, rather than a straight distortion or fuzz pedal, and so retains more of the original guitar sound.
overdrive
, to
Chorus1) A delay-based effect that simulates the sound of a group of the same instruments. Regarded as a soft modulation, effect it can create rich textures through phasing and mixing of layers. 2) The part of a song that acts as a recurring theme or refrain.
chorus
,
DelayAn outboard unit used to create time dependent effects where a source signal is sampled/recorded and replayed later by a adjustable amount, either singly or in multiples. The amount of delay results in a range of effects from chorus and slap back to rhythmic echo. Also used for time correction in large PA systems.
delay
, phasing,
ReverbReverb is an effect that simulates the reflection of sound waves from the surfaces of an enclosed area such as a room or hall. After the initial direct sound arrives at the listener, reflections from the surrounding surfaces follow and gradually decrease in intensity as they are absorbed.
reverb
and pitch shifting amongst others. Compact pedals have simple and obvious advantages - trying new sounds is easy, and pedal setups can be infinitely customised. Three pedals can be connected in six ways, four pedals in twenty-four ways… the possibilities soon become practically endless.

Floorboard Vox Tonelab SE

Large pedal setups have obvious disadvantages however. Long chains can introduce more
DistortionIn most cases distortion is an undesirable alteration to a signal which occurs when a piece of equipment is driven with a input level that is too high for its operating level. Sometimes, as in the case of guitar distortion, this can be an intentional and desirable effect.
noise
than some players find acceptable, and batteries have to be changed frequently, or if power supplies are used, cabling can become complex. FX pedal voltage has recently become almost completely standardised at 9V DC, but in the early days, an FX
PedalboardA floor-mounted unit on which FX pedals and footswitches may be arranged and connected, often incorporating a power supply.
pedalboard
might have required many different power supplies. Like Christmas tree lights, such long chains can fail completely if just one part fails. All else being equal, one would not choose to place a complex array of
AudioGenerally used to mean "sound"; technically it describes periodic fluctuations of air pressure or electrical energy at frequencies and amplitudes within the human range of hearing; sound, or electrical energy that represents sound; acoustic, mechanical, or electrical frequencies corresponding to normally audible sound waves.
audio
equipment on the floor and subject it to the ravages of dust, dirt and spilt beer!

The rock ‘dinosaurs’ of the 70s, looking to replicate sounds from expensively produced albums on stage, began to take studio equipment on the road. Studio FX units in this era did one job each, were generally expensive, and required constant maintenance – particularly so in the case of ‘trademark’ devices such as
LeslieA speaker cabinet containing speakers on rotating arms, producing a combination of tremolo and vibrato effects as a result of the Doppler effect. Originally designed as part of the Hammond organ amplification but also popularized by psychedelic rock guitarists, notably Jimi Hendrix and David Gilmour.
Leslie
speakers and tape
DelayAn outboard unit used to create time dependent effects where a source signal is sampled/recorded and replayed later by a adjustable amount, either singly or in multiples. The amount of delay results in a range of effects from chorus and slap back to rhythmic echo. Also used for time correction in large PA systems.
delay
machines. Chaining them together in such a way that the guitarist could access combinations of sounds quickly was a complex task. While Pink Floyd or Genesis could afford technicians to take care of all this, the average working band could not!

By the mid 80s, studio FX processor design had widely adopted the standard 19” rack design, and solid-state electronics had achieved a high standard of sound quality and reliability. Processors could be permanently connected and transported in a portable rack. While many such units can be operated via
FootswitchA switch operated by the foot to turn on or off a function while both hands are playing an instrument as in guitar effects pedals or synthesizer patch changing.
footswitch
, a full rack could involve a tangle of separate
FootswitchA switch operated by the foot to turn on or off a function while both hands are playing an instrument as in guitar effects pedals or synthesizer patch changing.
footswitch
cables, drastically reducing the practical elegance of such a solution.

Boss VF-1 Rack unit

A ‘multi-FX’ processor does exactly what it says on the tin - provide several
EffectsGeneral term applied to audio processors for dynamics, time, ambience and equalisation whether in the form of 19" rack units, guitar floor pedals, or software plug-ins.
effects
simultaneously. Multi-FX units come in various formats – we’ll take a look at the most common over the next few pages.

 

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