Zoom G5 Multi-Effects Pedal Review
- Pros: Wide selection of amps, stompboxes and effects. Eclectic sonic possibilities, easy recording and intuitive operation. Great for live, studio or home use.
- Cons: Changing patches could be simpler. You won’t use some of the effects, from the pointless to the downright weird.
- Overall: An excellent pedal for the price, definitely the best choice for anybody on a budget.
- Amazon: Zoom G5 Multi-Effects Pedal
The Zoom G5 builds on the success of its predecessor, the G3, to offer an unparalleled array of effects, amp models and cool additional features like a built-in looper. It’s also fairly cheap, so it’s an endearing prospect for those new to the world of multi-effects and people looking to upgrade their old units. In essence, it provides 297 different pedalboards in one solid unit – enough for a different effects setup for every single song in your setlist with hundreds of slots to spare.
The Zoom G5 is Loaded with Features
The Zoom G5 allows you to include a massive nine stomp-box or amp models on one patch, and use them simultaneously. Finding anything approaching this for a comparable price is extremely difficult, and it allows you a huge degree of flexibility in your sound. Three patches make up a bank, and there are 99 banks. A little math tells you that you have 297 patches on the unit, all with separate amp models, effects and parameters. Although it’s nice to have that many options, even if you created a new patch every day it would take around ten months to reach the limit. Realistically, it would take several years to fill it up, unless you happen to be a member of some prolific and dangerously experimental band.
The Zoom G5 gives you plenty to choose from in the way of stompboxes and amp modeling. Zoom has modeled 22 amps, from vintage to modern, and gave each one a companion cabinet. This means you can create your own digital rig by combining different amps and cabs. You also get over 120 stompbox models, from distortion to delays and modulations, as part of the 145 effects on the G5. Plus, 50 patches have been designed by professional musicians, including Richie Kotzen and Rob Caggiano of Anthrax.
Four footswitches which cover the lower portion of the Zoom G5 are used to activate the effects and select specific patches. They work like stompbox footswitches in “Home” mode, and holding the fourth one down takes you into patch selection mode. Here, you press two pedals simultaneously to bank up or down, and then the corresponding pedal to select a specific patch. Each of these four pedals has three dials, three buttons and a dedicated display screen above it which are used to adjust the parameters of the effects and change effect types. The fifth footswitch operates the “Tube Booster,” which gives your signal an extra 16dB to help your solos stand out.
On the far right of the Zoom G5 is the “Z Pedal.” This is pretty unique in that it moves left and right as well as up and down, so you can control a total of three effect parameters using it. There are 20 effects which were designed with the Z Pedal in mind, but you can assign whichever parameters you like to it from any of the effects on the unit. You can create some pretty wild sounds using this effect, but you’ll often just produce something reminiscent of a time travel sound effect from a cheesy 80s television program.
There is also a looper pedal built into the Zoom G5. You get 60 seconds’ worth of looping time, and you can overdub onto your creations as much as you like. This is primarily operated by the far left footswitch, used for recording, playing back and overdubbing. You can also activate the “Undo/Redo” feature at the expense of half of your recording time. It’s not ideal, but even that looping time exceeds most similarly-priced multi-effects units, and most don’t even have the undo/redo function at all. There’s also a built-in drum machine, which you can use as a rhythm section while you practice or incorporate into loops. There are over 40 drum patterns, including four, eight and 16 beat rhythms, as well as additional options such as shuffle.
You can also use the Zoom G5 as an audio interface to record directly onto your computer. You get the Cubase DAW with the pedal, so you can set up your own home studio easily. It has a USB port, so connection to your computer is no trouble at all. There is also an optional free download of Zoom’s “Edit and Share” software, which you can use to edit and catalogue your copious collection of patches.
The G5 Has Unbeatable Value
There are very few things to complain about with the Zoom G5. The sound quality is great, and you have such control over each amp model that you can generally get something you like out of every one. Some of the effects may be a little superfluous (for example “Air,” which is supposed to create spatial depth by recreating the ambience of a room – generally, the actual room will do that for you), and some just sound odd (the “MonoSynth” springs to mind), but overall you’re getting a lot of top-quality effects in one unit.
The claim that you can have up to nine simultaneous effects does have its issues. It’s dependent on the processing power you’re using up, so if you run three amplifier models and a high-definition reverb you’ll probably be chastised about the DSP limit and stopped from adding more effects. If you’re not putting too much strain on the unit, nine simultaneous effects is absolutely possible.
The Zoom G5 is extremely intuitive and user-friendly, but changing patches is a somewhat lengthy process on-stage. You’ll have no problem activating and de-activating effects in real time, but between songs your band will have a little bit of time to fill if you have banks to scroll through. It’s not terrible, but two long button-presses, several double-pushes to scroll through the banks and a couple of confirmatory taps isn’t a seamless way of getting a new sound.
Overall, though, nothing really breaks down the appeal of the Zoom G5. It has several excellent features and ample options for effects and amplifiers, but the price really sets it apart. To find a similar level of functionality you might have to spend nearly twice as much as the price of the G5. Even if it didn’t have a looper, or if 10 out of the 22 amp models sounded like they were recorded underwater, the Zoom G5 would still be a great buy for the price. With everything you do get, the G5 has no real competitor in its price range. It’s the king of the pack.