I found the Crunchy Shell Distortion to be less bassy than the other OD/distortion pedals I had laying around. Playing the Crunchy Shell over a backing track, it cut through the mix really well and never became muddy. Turning down the tone knob and toggling the Hard/Soft switch to Soft certainly darkened the tone a bit, but I still found the Crunchy Shell to be aggressive enough to cut through the mix. Although this would not be my go-to pedal for warm tones, the Crunch Shell isn’t a one-trick pony either. The gain knob gives the Crunchy Shell a range from slightly breaking-up overdrive to heavy metal distortion.
I have to be honest that I didn’t want to like this pedal. In fact, it sat on my desk for a couple of months with a few other pedals I’ve been meaning to demo. One day I was building a new pedal board, however, and decided to plug it in for a quick test. I was blown away at how thick it sounded. The other distortion/overdrive pedals on my board at the time were a Keeley modded Blues Driver and a Mesa Boogie V1 Bottle Rocket. I kept switching between them to make sure I wasn’t crazy, but the Ultimate Drive was beefier than the other two, while perhaps not quite as dynamic as the tube-driven Bottle Rocket, or as sparkly as the Blues Driver, which has the ability to clean up almost completely. That said, I found myself leaving the Ultimate Drive on and having a lot of fun with it.
Zoom has since superseded the G3 and G3X with the new G5, but it doesn’t take much scrutiny of the specs to realize that many guitarists would consider saving a bit of money by buying the old pedal. Would you lose out on some functionality? Absolutely, but the question you need to ask yourself is, do you really need 140 effects, or is 100 still more than you know what to do with? Are you likely to fiddle with combinations of effects to actually manage to use nine simultaneously without hitting the DSP limit, or is the maximum of six (as found on the G3/G3X 2.0) enough? There may be a funky three-parameter expression pedal, some extra looping time and more footswitches, but since the G3 and G3X use the same effects processor as the G5, would a second-hand older pedal be an absolute bargain in comparison to the new flagship model?
The Boss GT-10 was once Boss’ flagship multi-effects unit. It has since been surpassed by the GT-100, but the original still has a veritable army of fans and you could easily pick one up second-hand at a reduced price. If the advanced bells and whistles of the GT-100 seem too much for you, the Boss GT-10 is a pretty legendary unit and still a respectable part of any guitarist’s set-up. With models based on classic amps throughout history and versions of all the major classes of effects, some players won’t need anything other than the GT-10.
The Digitech RP1000 is the beast of the RP bunch. Packing a massive fourteen footswitches in addition to an expression pedal, it has the most obvious potential for extensive live use out of any of the RP models. There are so many options for multi-effects units, though, and options like the Boss GT-100 and the Line 6 POD HD series combine amp modeling with multi-effects to offer a similar package. The Digitech RP-1000 is the most expensive unit in the entire range, so learning about the features and limitations of the pedal is essential before you make your decision.
The Digitech RP500 is the second-largest member of the RP series, making it a definite option for players looking for something to use as a gigging companion. Digitech’s smaller units generally fall a little short of being up to the task, but they get pretty much everything else right. The extra size looks set to be the RP500’s savior, allowing it to offer everything on the smaller units with the added bonus of genuine hands-free capabilities. But does it deliver?
Digitech’s RP series of multi-effects pedals are the more traditional models they offer, without the technological trappings of their new iPB-10 Programmable Pedalboard. Traditionalists know that a good multi-effects unit doesn’t need to incorporate an iPad to be user friendly, and in comparison to the new unit the RP models are considerably more affordable. The RP1000 might be the big dog of the pack, but the Digitech RP355 still has plenty to offer guitarists, with a total of 124 amps, cabinets, stompboxes and effects all packed into a sturdy, durable package.