Guitar effects pedal, whether multi effects pedals or individual pedals, have been an integral part of guitar world. Most guitar players have used multi effects pedals or individual pedals or mixed of both in their pedalboard to achieve the tone they need.
But which is better? Multi effects Pedals or Individual Pedals?
If you are planning to buy but can’t decide which path to go to, then let me help you decide by presenting to you the pro’s and con’s of each. You might have read or heard from fellow guitar players that the individual pedals are way better than multi effects but that is a long time ago. Multi effects pedals have improved so much that it can now go head-to-head with the stompboxes.
So let’s start dealing with the advantage and disadvantages of each pedals and see for yourself what will work for you. I’m gonna tell you now that I won’t be discussing anything that is related to tones since there is no better of the two. It all depends to your preference and I can say that multi effects today can stand against individual pedals, in regards to tone, and you won’t even notice the difference especially on live performances.
Let’s start with the Individual Pedals
Individual Pedals or Stompboxes are abundant in the guitar world. There are a lot of options to choose from. From small ones to big ones, and there are even effects that I don’t even know today. You can even buy used ones and it still works perfectly. I have used a set of individual pedals and they are fairly easy to use, but let’s see if this is the route you should take.
Advantages of Stompboxes
1. Choices are Abundant
Just like I said, there are many options you can choose from. For example, you can find hundreds, if not thousands, of option for just an overdrive pedal. And even a single brand has a lot of variations for an overdrive. This can be overwhelming at first but this is an advantage for us since you can definitely find the best pedal to put in your pedalboard.
Sticking to one brand is also not advisable. There are popular brands, of course, but do not let it blind you in choosing your stompbox. There are unknown brands that are way better than those popular brands, but that is not always the case. What I am trying to say is you should carefully try as much as you can until you find the pedal that you need.
Since you have a lot of choices, you can build the best pedalboard depending on your preference without depending on the brand. You can also try buying used ones and if you don’t like it, trade it to another until you can find what will suit your needs.
2. It is fairly easy to use
Tweaking your tones have been always easy when talking about stompboxes. Most stompbox have rotary knobs in it and there is the designation of what does it do. Turning the knobs while playing will give you a gist of what does it do. You don’t even need a manual to operate it.
So, this is one of the advantage of individual pedals. Very easy to shape your tone and just keep on experimenting until you find the sweet spot that you are looking for.
3. Cost can be broken down one at a time
Don’t get me wrong in this, if you add all the cost on every stompbox and other things you will need, it will be a huge sum of money. But good news is, you don’t have to buy it all in one go. I recommend that you buy one guitar pedal at a time so that you will have time to master it. Buying 2 or 3 pedals in one go can be counterproductive and you won’t be able to efficiently use it right off the bat since you don’t know the sweet spot yet.
Since you are going to buy one at a time, the cost can be broken down and your wallet won’t feel the losses that much. You can try buying once per month. That way, you’ll have time to experiment with it and your budget will not hurt too much.
4. Stompboxes are known for its Durability
This thing is very durable. You can even find one on the used market that has a lot of scratches and still works perfectly fine. It can survive for a lot of years especially if the casing’s quality is high and not just made of cheap plastic or metal.
But not all stompboxes are durable. There are companies that sacrifice durability to lower the cost and I advise that you avoid this. You might be tight in budget and choose these kind of stompboxes but I recommend that you should not. Buying durable stompbox is wiser and you can even sell it at the same price if you don’t like it. But selling the plastic and not durable ones can be hard since they are more prone to faulty electronics.
Disadvantages of Stompboxes
1. Too many cables and a power supply is needed – Higher cost
This is common sense but I thought of reminding you of this. Cables are not that expensive but it is still a cost for us and failing to consider this can hurt your budget. Also, having a decent power supply means spending some cash. I would not recommend buying a cheap power supply since it can be faulty and it can be a problem in the long run.
So before buying your pedals, cables, power supply, and even the pedal board, make sure you have saved some decent cash so that you won’t get bankrupt. You don’t have to hurry in buying these. It can wait.
2. Weight can be a Problem
If you are often travelling and bringing the pedalboard is necessary, then it can pose a problem. The stompbox alone is not heavy, but when all of it is added, it will be heavy. Especially, if you really have a lot of stompboxes in the pedalboard, the weight of it plus the guitar can tire you out and it will result to a bad performance.
If you go to this route, don’t use a lot of stompboxes. Don’t bring what you are not going to use. There are some pedals that is 2-in-1 or even 3-in-1. Consider those kind of pedals when you are travelling. These pedals are those who have more than 1 effects. It can work as Chorus, or delay, or reverb. Look for those pedals.
3. Changing Tone can be a lot of work
Every stompbox change the tone of your guitar individually and tweaking it on live performances can be a lot of work. Let’s say you are using a clean tone. A reverb pedal is on and then you are supposed to go from clean to a dirty tone. You have to turn on the distortion, boost, and/or delay. This means you are going to tap at least 4 times, just by turning on or off the pedals.
I know you get the point. You might look like you are doing a lot of foot dancing and at worst, you may have to bow down to rotate some knobs. This situation is normal for those with individual pedals so assess yourself if you can manage it on live performances.
4. You have to rely on the Amp to have a good sound
Since stompboxes alter the tone, without a good amp, your tone won’t be that great and every amp is different. In your practice amp, you might know the sweet spot of your pedal, but when you go on the venue and the amp is different, then your pedal will have a different setting. Your setting can be too hot or has too much high end so you should try it first before the start of the show.
Having a good amp is needed because it is the half part of your instrument. So even if you have the best pedal in the world, if your amp is no good, the pedal won’t work the way you want it to be.
Now, let’s take a look at multi effects pedal