I'm looking at Zoom G3Xn and even the HeadRush Multi-Effects Pedalboard. I'm trying to compare the multi-effects pedal to dedicated effects pedals. Dedicated pedals can easily run $100 each. While the Headrush is pretty pricey, the Zoom is only 200 bucks. I have a Marshall DSL5C (all valve) and I love the sound for playing in the house. I want to get good sound through this amp and I don't know what to choose or even how to compare these pedals.

I've seen some youtube videos of the G3Xn and they basically say it's silly to pair up with an expensive amp. But, they don't say why. Are these multi-effects pedals digital (in other words like the difference between a valve and a solid state amp)?

  • 5
    I used a very expensive high end rack mounted digital multi-effect unit for several years. Then one day I just brought like four different analog pedals to band practice and used the amp's spring reverb. Everyone remarked on how much better I sounded. If you really want to learn your own preference, maybe try picking up a few options from a place with a good return policy and see/hear for yourself. Aug 26, 2017 at 23:03

4 Answers 4


This may be considered off topic given that it's kind of a gear recommendation. But I'll give the general concept of multi vs stompbox a go.

Firstly, any time one thing is emulating another, it will never be a perfect emulation. It may be better or worse according to personal preference, but it will probably be different. And even among dedicated pedals that are supposed to do the same thing—even two that emulate the same circuit—there will be vast differences in opinions from person to person.

So if you want a specific sound, probably try to get the thing that makes that sound. But if you aren't after a particular sound—say you just know you want certain effect types like overdrive, wah, delay, etc—then just try the cheaper/convenient option first and see if it works for you. You won't know if you'll like it until you try it.

That said, along with the emulation point, there's another broad generalization about the economics at play. Any time you get a bunch of stuff for a lower price, that probably means that there are compromises being made somewhere to hit that price point. In the case of a single dedicated pedal, the designers are probably spending more time on that particular effect whereas with a multi-effects unit the designers may be spending less time on each individual effect or feature in order to keep the cost down. That doesn't mean you shouldn't buy it though. If it sounds good to you then why pay more?

Are these multi-effects pedals digital (in other words like the difference between a valve and a solid state amp)?

Basically yes they are digital. Sometimes there are pedals that might include several analog effects in one pedal, but multi-effects units like a Zoom are usually completely digital. Some dedicated pedals are digital too and it's not necessarily a deal-breaker.

But the tube/solid-state analogy isn't really apt. Both solid-state and digital can be fine and aren't inherently bad. But solid-state amps rarely emulate tube amps well. Digital pedals (or software more generally) can typically emulate analog effects much better than solid-state can emulate tubes.

EDIT: followup to your comment

I mean obviously there is a reason people pay $1500.00 for effects as opposed to $200.00.

The number one reason in my book, which I sadly left out until now, is the modularity. You can pick your favorite sounding pedal for each effect. Or you can still skimp and buy a cheap pedal if you're not that concerned about that particular effect. But you have the choice.

I do wish the answer delved more into the types of pedals (Digital/SolidState/Analog/Tube?) and what each type is targeted towards.

I wouldn't worry so much about the circuitry rather than the sound. But that said most pedals are either solid-state analog, digital or some combination of the two. Pedals with tubes exist but are relatively rare. Things like overdrives tend more to be analog while some time-based effects, especially reverbs, tend to be digital. Generally the more a pedal does or the more dramatic the effect the more likely it might involve some digital processing simply because it may be hard to recreate that effect with analog circuitry alone and especially at pedal scale.

For example reverbs are typically digital because in the analog realm you're pretty much limited to either spring, plate, or something closer to a delay and springs and plates take up too much space for a pedal.

Some, like a delay, could go either way where the analog ones tend to accurately recreate the sound of the era before digital delay (ex 70's bucket-brigades) but they tend to lack features compared to digital delays.

Sweetwater has pretty good filtering for this kind of thing. You can drill down to each type of effect and then use the filters on the left to see only the analog or digital ones.

All other things equal I tend to prefer keeping my signal path analog, but I wouldn't shy away from a digital pedal based on that alone (I mostly prefer my amp's spring reverb but do have a digital reverb and use a Boss multi-effect sometimes).

  • Pretty good answer. I will say I'm not looking for a gear recommendation. I'm looking for gear understanding. I mean obviously there is a reason people pay $1500.00 for effects as opposed to $200.00. This answer gives me something to chew on. I do wish the answer delved more into the types of pedals (Digital/SolidState/Analog/Tube?) and what each type is targeted towards. Tone preferences is a given. Price, # of effects per $.... in the world of amps I think its fair to say enough people prefer the sound of tube amps to pay extra $ for heavier amps with less modern bells and whistles. Aug 27, 2017 at 2:24
  • @P.Brian.Mackey I've updated my answer to respond to your comment. I didn't have enough room here.
    – user37496
    Aug 27, 2017 at 7:24

Update 8/8/19

I feel differently about this now. Maybe I'll add more details later.

Original answer

I recently moved from having some individual analog and digital pedals to a Line 6 pod hd500x, and I'm happy. The reasons I made the switch was that I play at church, and people complained about the amp being too loud. I was having a lot of noise which turns out that the compressor pedal was bad. Finally, I wanted access to a large range of sounds without having to spend ~$100 per pedal. There's a professional guitarist/musician named Lincoln Brewster who I know used and played live with a line 6 floor pod (he may still do that, and he might record with it too), and IMO his tone is awesome. He's a solo musician now, but at one time was the guitarist for Steve Perry after Journey. I have no problem with analog pedals, and if money was no issue, I would tinker with both setups. I could have solved the loud amp problem by putting it in a closet or box and micing it, and figuring out some kind of monitoring solution. One nice thing about the Line 6 Pod is that I can go direct to PA, and whatever monitors I have. I decided that it was worth it to me to make the switch to digital multi-effects instead. I'm not a tone expert and I'm still experimenting with it, so I can't comment too much about tone quality, but I'm satisfied.

Proof of Lincoln Brewster's use of floor Pod here

His patches here


It depends on whether you're more interested in the sound coming from the amp, or the sound going to the audience through the PA. I have found that in the venues I play in the main speaker sound in the venue can't really distinguish between independent pedals and multi-effects boards when it comes to sound quality.

However, if you're recording for release, independent pedals are your best bet. Get the best sound you possibly can for recording.


After years of wrestling with multieffects I eventually realised they just don't have it yet, at least for distortion/overdrive. A £20 Chinese Tubescreamer clone can knock the overdrive from a multieffects out of the park, no contest. I'll try again in 20 years.

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