Login / Register  0 items | $0.00 New @ What is KVR? Submit News Advertise

Why are FX boxes still so popular?

User avatar
18366 posts since 20 Jan, 2008

Postby Numanoid; Sat Mar 15, 2014 10:19 am Why are FX boxes still so popular?

Everytime I visit a music store it seems the display of FX boxes has got bigger than last time.

Why are "one trick pony" stomp boxes still so popular?

I would have expected that multi FX boxes would be all the rage now, as they can do lots more, less to carry around, as well as being less costly

I overheard a customer in the shop today, who said "I don't play or own a guitar, but I really want one of those boxes, they look so cool"

So is that maybe why they still sell so well, bling for the middle aged?
Moving the goal posts, one at a time
User avatar
9331 posts since 22 Jul, 2002, from Eagan, MN

Postby ew; Sat Mar 15, 2014 11:16 am Re: Why are FX boxes still so popular?

1) Routing flexibility. Most multi-effect boxes have limited options as far as the order of effects go. Some of the smarter designs (Line6's M13 for example) allow for flexible routing, and have external effects loops so you can place some effects pre-amp and some in the amp's FX loop, but they're rarities.

2) Sound. Models can come close, but often they're lacking some little instability that makes the real thing so special. And, don't even get me started on models of distortion pedals.

3) No D/A or A/D conversion if you keep things in the analog realm.

4) Real time control. With a lot of multi-effect devices, you'll have to do some menu diving in order to tweak certain parameters- try doing that live.

That being said, I use multi-effects myself. However, I also use a couple MIDI footcontrollers with them and I've spent lots of time programming everything so I have realtime control over what I want to control. The only standalone effects I use are distortion and wah. YMMV...

A spectral heretic...
User avatar
8431 posts since 26 Jun, 2006, from San Francisco Bay Area

Postby zerocrossing; Sat Mar 15, 2014 11:27 am Re: Why are FX boxes still so popular?

Except for my zvex fuzz factory and cluster flux... Oh yeah and a Vox bulldog tube distortion.. Oh wait. A Blackstar twin channel tube distortion...

What was the question? :hihi:

For live use I'd never use stomp boxes again. For studio use, pedals can have a unique feature or charm not found in multieffects boxes. Basically, what ew said.
Zerocrossing Media
4th Law of Robotics: When turning evil, display a red indicator light. ~[ ●_● ]~
3818 posts since 22 Jan, 2005, from Sweden

Postby lfm; Sun Mar 16, 2014 12:32 am Re: Why are FX boxes still so popular?

ew wrote:3) No D/A or A/D conversion if you keep things in the analog realm.

Can be true or not. Many boxes today are digital stuff anyway. Rolands COSM stuff and Digitech are all digital and you get AD/DA stuff on each box.

So you havae to look for "true analog signalpath" or similar.
User avatar
4984 posts since 13 Jan, 2003, from Kent, UK

Postby GaryG; Sun Mar 16, 2014 1:40 am Re: Why are FX boxes still so popular?

Maybe a workflow/mindset thing too. If you're playing guitar then you're playing what is ultimately a pretty simple instrument; couple of knobs and a switch or two. Moving over to adjust some stomp boxes is kind of a 'parallel' flow, still just messing with a couple of controls. If you are using a laptop with guitar rig or something then you're out of the guitar zone and into mousing and windowing and stuff. Even a multifx causes you to stop and think differently generally (reacquaint yourself with what's set up as what etc).
User avatar
4047 posts since 15 May, 2002, from Brisbane , Australia

Postby morelia; Sun Mar 16, 2014 1:58 am Re: Why are FX boxes still so popular?

For me it's the modular nature of a pedalboard. If I grow to not like a pedal I can change it without losing the elements I like. Over the years I've had various fx boxes and sold them all because although there were aspects I liked there were some I didn't.
My Music >>> °morelia ° Intel Core i5 750 2.66GHz, 12gb, Windows 7 (64), Focusrite Saffire 6 USB
3098 posts since 10 Sep, 2003, from Karlskoga, Stockholm, Sweden

Postby Crackbaby; Sun Mar 16, 2014 2:19 am Re: Why are FX boxes still so popular?

One downside with zoom's G13 is that you have six slots. You can put any combination in any order and there's lots of effects. So why is this bad? Well, you fill up two or three.. then you ask yourself - what should i put in the other three or four empty slots? Maybe the answer should be "nothing" and you instead should tweak the effects you already got. But it's more rewarding adding an extra effect as you can hear the difference much clearly. Tweaking the gain control which requires "push button" "bush button again" to reach is much less rewarding. Tweak the presence? Another two pushes.
The zoom takes a few seconds to start up and that's for me a little turn off.
Too many effects to learn also. Trade me a delay and a modulation fx of some sort and i can learn them fully, master them like a piano.
Acid Mitch
1711 posts since 5 Oct, 2005

Postby Acid Mitch; Sun Mar 16, 2014 2:20 am Re: Why are FX boxes still so popular?

Numanoid wrote:Why are "one trick pony" stomp boxes still so popular??

Some sound good.
They are affordable.
With some there are no direct alternatives.
It either sounds good on your source, or it doesn't. No tweaking for hours to get results you want.(or tweaking for hours to be unsatisfied)
You can easily combine them for unique effects.
They are easy to use. Most of them you don't even need to look at the manual.
Most are battery powered, which is ideal for busking,etc.

Need any more reasons than that ?

Numanoid wrote:
I overheard a customer in the shop today, who said "I don't play or own a guitar, but I really want one of those boxes, they look so cool"

But that's not unique to stomp boxes. People want to own all sorts of stuff they will never use because "it looks cool". Everything from cars to stamps are collected by people.
731 posts since 27 Jun, 2011

Postby wasi; Sun Mar 16, 2014 2:32 am Re: Why are FX boxes still so popular?

IMO mid-range multi-FX devices can do a lot on paper, but it won't always sound up to par (or require a lot more work to get it there). A TS9 however will be a TS9 from the moment you plug it in.

Kind of like amp modelling too. There's some great stuff out there, but it takes time to get it right, and even then it may not be as 'all round' good as a real amp. If you have a great amp however, you just flip a switch.

I think it's telling that high-end amp an effects modelling still costs a small fortune (axe-Fx, Kemper... anybody else?).
The main reason I haven't dropped that kind of money is that I fear that after the honeymon wears off, my hardware will creep back in one step at a time ("just the multiband Distortion", "just the philisopher's king", "just the BB", "I prefer the strobostomp for tuning", "the hexacomp does some weird stuff", "I'd rather use my amps' preamp"). It keeps happening to me with VST modelling too.
929 posts since 1 Jul, 2008

Postby stimresp; Sun Mar 16, 2014 2:53 am Re: Why are FX boxes still so popular?

I had two Zoom MultiFX pedals, and although they were generally great, I really didn't gel with the sound. No balls!

Then I started to build my own pedals from kits. Fun, inexpensive hobby, and I've ended-up with some unique and great-sounding boxes. I hadn't picked-up a soldering iron until 2 years ago. The circuits are simple enough to understand and mod/experiment to your own tastes. My rig now has balls aplenty, and I've moved-on to breadboarding my own FX.
User avatar
Rad Grandad
25279 posts since 5 Sep, 2003, from New England U.S.A.

Postby Hink; Sun Mar 16, 2014 9:17 am Re: Why are FX boxes still so popular?

for me there are a few reasons...one in my guitar chain I do not use many modulation fx just a little reverb/delay. It's key imo for me to monitor through fx but not record my signal with fx so a rackmount multi-fx is a good fit. In my studio with most of my amps I use a Lexicon MX-400 because I can adjust it in the computer. My practice rig (Egnater Rebel on a 1x12) I use my old Alesis Midiverb IV but that's because I have it and it works for now. I'm going to build a reverb pedal because my amps (except for a Marshall Tube Pre-amp) all have mono fx loops (IMHO delay and reverb should come between the pre-amp and power amp, not in front of the amp) so a mono pedal for reverb will get the job done there.

For pedals I'm looking for the right flavor of overdrive/distortion (I'm not big fan a fuzz tbh), besides an NS-2 NR pedal, an old Boss Super Chorus (which I use to use more as a splitter) and an ABY box (better than the chorus as a splitter :hihi: ) all my pedals are some form of an OD, distortion or a booster which imho do belong in front of an amp. A multi-fx unit just has a lot of stuff I dont need. I do have a POD XT Live that I could use but again it's way over kill for me. I want a one trick pony, I just want it to do that trick really well. I do not need stereo processing at all in my guitar amps and when I did go the whole stereo route it really did not do much to impress me...at least not for the amount of work I put into my rig to be stereo (rewiring my cab and stuff)

Also like stimresp, these days there some great kits out there that save you money and teach you along the way. I was raised on RadioShack P-boxes when I was kid I even built my first multi-meter. (my dad was an elctro-mechanical engineer at Raytheon for 43 years and he raised me this way). It's fun to build a peday, you can go to Mammoth Electronics and get painted and pre-drilled enclosures for around 12 dollars and some places (like General Guitar Gadgets) let you order the kit without an enclosure which is typically a 12 dollar savings so really all the painted enclosure costs you is the shipping on the enclosure.

For others there are many other reasons but that's the biggest reason for me, on my guitar I do not use a lot of fx and if I do I do not want to be committed to how I recorded it (though I do record the returns from my Lexicon as well just in case I really want to use the FX I recorded with)...my guitar chain has one pedal behind the ABY box and the ABY box is there to split my signal so I can also record a dry guitar out as well. FWIW I use the NS-2 on my practice amp and a ISP Decimator Pro Rack G in the studio.

Many of life's failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up. Thomas A. Edison
User avatar
Mister Natural
1721 posts since 28 Oct, 2007, from michigan

Postby Mister Natural; Sun Mar 16, 2014 4:31 pm Re: Why are FX boxes still so popular?

GaryG wrote:Maybe a workflow/mindset thing too. . .

I think a lot of guitar player's mindsets are stuck in the 20th century
"the digital photo of that guitar just doesn't have the same warmth as an analog photo for me"
29 posts since 24 Jun, 2012, from Germany

Postby cookedvulture; Sun Mar 16, 2014 5:52 pm Re: Why are FX boxes still so popular?

Mister Natural wrote:I think a lot of guitar player's mindsets are stuck in the 20th century

This might me true indeed. You may even go one step further and say many guitarists are stuck in the 1960s/70s.

My impression is that stomp boxes make it easier to create a unique sound. You can even see the settings and don't have to klick through several menues and parameters (I've become sick of parameters and one million possibilities to handle over the years). Just plug it in and you'll get what you expect.

Another thing is that they seem to cut more through (speaking of analog stomp boxes), they seem to be more present. Turn up the tone knob of a tubescreamer plugged into a nice amp and you'll know what I mean. At correct settings it can even sing. I guess many (affordable) multi fx units don't have high quality converters which might be an explantation.

I mostly use a TS-9, an old Japan Korg compressor and a DIY tonebender mkII, sometimes an Arion Chorus for cleans. Those were enough to find my sound. Please consider how simple this setup is. It also works fine infront of my audio interface going into ampsims.

User avatar
18366 posts since 20 Jan, 2008

Postby Numanoid; Mon Mar 17, 2014 5:57 am Re: Why are FX boxes still so popular?

Acid Mitch wrote:They are affordable.

Some like the Boss DS-1 can be picked up for less than 100 dollars here (in Norway). But most looks to be costing at least 150 dollars, if not 200. Compared to multi fx boxes, it quickly becomes expensive buying a new box everytime when needing to add a function like delay, reverb or flanger
Moving the goal posts, one at a time
29 posts since 24 Jun, 2012, from Germany

Postby cookedvulture; Mon Mar 17, 2014 8:31 am Re: Why are FX boxes still so popular?

I paid about 200 dollars for my 4 main stomps, most of them used at the bay. The screamer is not an ibanez but who cares as long as it sounds good. If you want all the possibilities a multi fx unit is offering as single stomp boxes it might get quite expensive, that is correct.

Moderator: Moderators (Main)

Return to Hardware (Instruments and Effects)