Boss GT-100 Multi Effects Pedal Review
- Pros: Extremely user friendly, wide range of sounds, improved amp modelling and unparalleled control over signal chain.
- Cons: Lacklustre looper and lack of external memory.
- Overall: A great multi-effects unit that builds on an already successful model.
The Boss GT-10 is a legendary beast. Boss (or Roland, if you prefer) has a reputation of producing top-quality effects units, and the Boss GT-100 is their new go-to-guy. It’s an updated version of the GT-10, and aims to become the new king of multi-effects. From a purely financial perspective, putting out a new effects pedal regularly makes a lot of sense. People are reminded of the things they love about their favorite pedals and eagerly order the new unit for even the most trivial of upgrades. The real question is whether the Boss GT-100 offers something to guitarists, or to Boss themselves.
The GT-10 is Dead; Long Live the Boss GT-100
The new incarnation of Boss’ multi-effects unit does look unfortunately similar to the GT-10 on the spec sheet, but there are some valuable changes. The most noticeable thing straight away (apart from the ordinarily gargantuan proportions) is the lack of menus and the accompanying chunky instruction booklet. Everything on the Boss GT-100 can be controlled using the pedals, dials and buttons on the unit. You don’t get lost in menu-mazes or miss functions because they’re stuck in uncharted territory; everything is right there in front of you. There are also twin-LCD screens to display the required parameters without need for complex menus.
Like Line 6 did for their HD series, Boss has overhauled their digital signal processing engine, to capture new levels of precision from the COSM amps. The result is a more responsive and dynamic simulation of classic sounds, and one which you can further customize on the pedal. The sounds you can get out of the unit work as patches, which are essentially a combination of amplifier models, effects and specific parameters you can call up again using the unit’s footswitches. There are 200 factory preset patches, and another 200 you can set yourself.
Patches are constructed from blocks, each of which contains an element of your overall sound. There are blocks for pre-amp (amp model), distortion, EQ, chorus, delay, reverb and compression, as well as two for some additional FX of your choosing. The Boss GT-100 supports effects loops, so you can build an external effects unit into your chain too. The best thing about these models is that you can put them in any order you like, so you aren’t confined to a particular layout. The expression pedal can be added into the patch too, and you can assign it to control various parameters. You can also adjust the parameters for each sound when you’re setting up the patch using the dials found beneath the dual LCDs.
Within a patch, you can also have two distinct channels (with their own effects and models) if you want to have a stereo output. One of the most amazing features is that you can either split these two channels up using a noise gate-style threshold or by pitch. That’s right, if you wanted different effects, amps or settings on different bands of frequency, your wish is completely facilitated by the Boss GT-100. Your high notes can sing while your low notes roar.
The Boss GT-100 unit is dominated by pedals. The large expression pedal covers the right edge, and six line the bottom half. The four to the left are used to select a specific patch from the “Bank” on which it’s stored. The two on the upper half of the unit allow you to scroll through the banks. If you don’t want to use the unit like this, you can change the footswitches to function more like a traditional pedalboard, activating and deactivating different effects with each tap of the foot.
The remaining two pedals are dedicated to two new features. The ACCEL pedal can be set up to apply several specialty effects, such as laser beam, warp and ring modulation. That means you can toy with crazy sounds like Jimmy Page wielding a violin bow and create noises stranger than Tom Waits mangled in a sonic kaleidoscope. The looping function is controlled by the neighbouring pedal, which operates as a “Record/Play/Overdub” pedal.
OK, What’s the Catch?
It’s natural to assume that something is going to hold this pedal back, but Boss really has made several valuable changes. The inclusion of an expression pedal, the improved amp modeling, the dual-channels within each patch and the multitude of ways to customize your sound are plenty to get excited about.
There are some problems with the Boss GT-100, but the truth is that they are relatively minor. The biggest issue is with the onboard looper, which although a cool additional feature isn’t anywhere near as well-equipped as the dedicated units. It doesn’t even have any lasting memory (not even a USB stick for your favorite loops), and there is only one pedal to control it. Boss has dedicated loopers on the market, so they may have purposefully held back some functionality there.
Other than that, the only real issues with the Boss GT-100 are things like the lack of memory expansion. Although 200 presets is plenty for most players, there is no real reason to not add a USB memory stick (which they did on the GR-55) for additional patches when they were needed. These criticisms aren’t exactly substantial, though, because the GT-100 gives excellent audio quality from 26 amp simulations and a mass of effects. A sub-par looper and some minor oversights don’t really compare.
The Boss GT-100 is the next step down a long road for Boss, and as guitarists we’re getting to enjoy levels of user-friendliness we’d almost forgotten were possible. It might not be the most affordable multi-effects unit available, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find one that tops it on functionality. It’s also well-constructed, so it won’t break into fragments if it gets a knock or two on the way to a gig. The Boss GT-100 may be a money-making update for Boss, but it’s clear they’re still thinking of the guitarists who use the products, and they’ve made something the majority of them would love.