The Best Compact Guitar Multi Effects Pedals
These are compact and affordable multi-effects pedals that have impressed guitarists the world over. Ideal for beginners, but also great for experienced players who are working with a limited budget or who want to downsize their rig.
Zoom G1X Four
The Zoom G1x Four comes from a long line of compact multi-effect pedals from Zoom. The form factor that started with the Zoom 505 continues to this generation.
The G1X Four retains the two-pedal setup popularized by it's ancestors and obviously gives a nod to them with the aesthetics.
Similarities end there however, as the Zoom G1X for runs on an entirely modern engine
- Effects: over 70 built-in effects
- Amp Modeling: 13
- Presets: 50
- Footswitches: 2
- Input: 1 x 1/4"
- Output: 1 x 1/4"
- Extra Features: Can be Battery Powered (4 x AA for 18 hours operation) or USB powered, Chromatic Tuner
- USB: USB (For Update and Power)
- Dimensions:156 mm (D) × 216 mm (W) × 52 mm (H)
- Weight:1.34 lbs
Newbies and seasoned touring musicians write praises for the Zoom G1X Four. One called it a "sleeper hit" as the market is generally more aware of other brands (at least in North America). For the price, it also presents incredible value for many reviewers who ended up loving the pedal after buying it on a whim. The amp models also sounded good enough for recording according to some audio engineers who bought the unit.
Built-in presets don't showcase the unit's capabilities. While not steep, the pedal still has a learning curve.
It's ancestor, the Zoom 505 paved the way for the compact digital multi effects market today. The 505 found itself in the gigbags of a great number of musicians. The G1X Four continues from this legacy by providing great sounds, great effects and great portability all within reach of even the most budget-conscious musician.
Zoom MultiStomp MS-50G
The biggest selling point of the Zoom MS-50G MultiStomp is its small single pedal size. This means that you get to enjoy the benefits of multiple effects, amp models, and preset switching while keeping the size similar to regular stompboxes.
The MS-50G lets you use up to six of effects simultaneously, from its large pool of digitally modeled effects (47) and amps (8). And all of the settings and parameters are adjusted via its intuitive interface, albeit with just a single footswitch. You can save each preset you create or edit, just store them into the pedal's 50 memory banks. This flexibility gives you an unprecedented tone options.
Other noteworthy features include its built-in chromatic tuner and its versatile power options, which include 2 x AA batteries or via a USB power source.
If you're worried that a single switch means it can only turn on one patch at a time, fear not: The unit can be set up so that the single footswitch cycles through selected patches.
- Effects: 47 (6 Simultaneous)
- Amp Modeling: 8
- Presets: 50
- Footswitches: 1
- Input: 1 x 1/4"
- Output: 2 x 1/4"
- Extra Features: Can be Battery Powered (2 x AA) or USB powered, Chromatic Tuner
- USB: USB (For Update and Power)
- Dimensions: 5.13" x 3.05" x 2.3"
- Weight: 0.77 lbs
Most users and experts agree that the Zoom MultiStomp MS-50G is a high quality and high value pedal. But it's not just about bang per buck, because many are satisfied with the quality of its effect and amp emulations. Trevor Curwen on Music Radar was convinced of its performance saying, "While not all of the sounds are going to appeal to all players, there are enough usable tones here to make this a very practical item for just about anybody who uses effects."
There are a few users who found the controls to be somewhat confusing, but this should be easily addressed by watching tutorials or reading the manual.
All in all, get the Zoom MultiStomp MS-50G if you want your multi-effect needs served by a standard size pedal.
The Mooer GE200 follows the usual appearance of many compact digital multi-effect pedals.
While it offers effects as per the usual, the GE200 is known in the community for its amazing amp modelling.
It features a staggering 55 amp models from vintage to boutique and 70 effects.
This is rounded out by the ability to use 3rd party cabinet impulse response files and flexible routing options.
- Amp Modeling: 55 with 26 Cab Impulses
- Presets: up to 200 Presets
- Footswitches:3 + 1 Exp
- Input: 1 x 1/4" In, 1 x 1/4" Exp, 1 x 1/8" Aux
- Output: 2 x 1/4", 1 x 1/8" Headphone
- Extra Features: Chromatic Tuner, Programmable Outputs, Drum machine, 3rd Party IR support
- USB: USB (For Interface use, Update and Power)
- Dimensions: 11.69" x 5.73" x 1.79"
- Weight: 4.88 lbs
Many users praise the amp modelling quality in the Mooer GE200. They bought the unit as a backup for their larger rigs but some ended up using it as their main gig pedal after hearing the sounds. The ability to use your own IR cabinets was also deemed a plus by many as they are able to get the same sounds live as they have in the studio. The build quality and portability also receives praise.
Users report problems updating the firmware to 2.0. As of July 2020, posts in fan groups and forums suggest that the issue has since been fixed.
If you want a multi effect pedal that's focused on delivering great amp tones or if you want a backup in case you don't want to bring your full rackmount rig to a rowdy club, get the Mooer GE200.
The Best Guitar Multi Effects Processors
These are what the market considers as the best guitar processors, as expected most of them are flagship models from familiar big name manufacturers.
Zoom carries on their line of large-format multi-effects units with the Flagship Zoom G5n. It takes the best of the company's take on several different pedals, effects, and amps and refines them.
Featuring 4 individual screens for each active effect (and a total of 9 simultaneous) and a longer screen for an overview of the signal chain, you get a bird's eye view of every effect you load.
Zoom is known for their great suite of effects and models ranging from vintage fuzzes, boutique overdrives and even rare delays and modulations with full tweakability for all of them.
The 4 screens include individual knobs to mimic an analog workflow.
To round out the features, an 80 second looper is included.
- Effects: 68 (9 Simultaneous)
- Amp Modeling: 5
- Presets: 100 artist presets, 200 user presets
- Footswitches: 9
- Input: 1 x 1/4" (instrument), 1 x 1/8" (aux in), 1 x 1/4" (control)
- Output: 2 x 1/4" (left/mono, right), 1 x 1/8" (headphones)
- Extra Features: Chromatic Tuner, 80 second looper,
- USB: 1 x Type B USB (For Update, Audio Interface and Power)
- Dimensions: 17.87" x 8.85" x 2.95"
- Weight: 7.5 lbs.
Users praise the unit for being an incredible value. Some reviewers mention that it's primary competitors cost hundreds of dollars more. The onboard effects also received praise for their sound quality and feel. The ability to tweak effects analog style was also mentioned as a plus. 4 effects can have their controls visible at a time so analog pedal tweakers enjoyed this feature the most.
Not enough amp models. While the included ones are great on their own, other people looking for specific tones wanted a bit more. No option to load your own IR Cabinets.
Zoom has always been like a brand for the masses. The working guitarist that just needs something that works. This doesn't mean that Zoom products compromise on quality as they present incredible value. This amount of features comes rarely at this price point. If you're a budget conscious guitar player that wants a digital multi-effect to satisfy your tweaking needs, the G5n is a great pick.
The Boss MS-3 is a multi-effects pedal that is not meant to replace your favorite pedals, rather it is meant to help you make better use of them.
It has more than enough effects (112) for most musical applications, but what makes it special is its old school approach that lets you incorporate pedals and amps into your rig, along with its built-in effects.
First off, it has three effects loops that let you control pedals (or groups of pedals) right from the MS-3. It can also be used as a foot controller for amplifiers, which allows you to change the channel on your favorite amps and employ effects in the comfort of a single compact box. This makes the MS-3 a very versatile unit, catering to vintage amp/pedal users while adding the comfort of modern digital effects processing and preset control.
Since it has its own noise suppressor and global EQ, you can tame noisy pedals and shape their tone a bit more.
All of these features are on top of the many built-in effects which are Boss quality good by themselves.
- Effects: 112 (6 Simultaneous)
- Presets: 200
- Footswitches: 5
- Input: 1 x 1/4"
- Output: 2 x 1/4", 1 x 1/4" (control out), 2 x 1/4" (control in), 6 x 1/4" (3 pedal loops)
- Extra Features: Tuner, Noise Suppressor, Global EQ
- MIDI: Out
- USB: Preset Editor/Update
- Dimensions: 2.68" x 9.68" x 3.87"
- Weight: 2.44 lbs.
Most reviews are coming from users who have nothing but good things to say about their experience with the unit. One user summarized what most reviewers felt by saying that the MS-3 is a "game changer". But it's not just about its amp and effects switching, because many were just as impressed with the sound quality of many of its built-in effects, including its overdrive and modulation sections. Its compact and portable design is also very much appreciated, making it an easy addition to any setups.
There aren't that many complaints, other than some requests for extra features like having a software editor, and a built-in audio interface.
The Boss MS-3 is the go-to multi-effects pedal for those who want to enjoy digital control without totally giving up on old school pedals and amps. Get it if you need something to tie your rig together while providing great effects.
At the core of this guitar processor is Roland / Boss' COSM technology, which gives the unit over 25 amp models and 44 effects.
While the number of effects may not be as many compared to recent releases, others don't have the same deep control and sound quality that the GT-100 provides.
Speaking of control, instead of merely choosing your preferred amp, this processor lets you custom build your virtual amp and cabinet, an interesting feature that allows for even more freedom in crafting your own tones.
Another feature that users are fond of is the ability to assign effects to its many footswitches, making the unit behave much like a regular pedalboard.
Other notable features include polyphonic tuning and USB recording.
- Effects: 44
- Amp Modeling: 25+
- Presets: 400 (200 factory + 200 User)
- Footswitches: 8 + Expression Pedal
- Input: 1 x Instrument, 1 x TRS Male 1/8" (aux), Footswitch
- Output: 2 x 1/4" (main), 1 x TRS 1/4" (phones)
- Extra Features: Tuner, Amp Customize, OD Customize,
- USB: Editing, Audio Interface
- MIDI: In/Out/USB
- Dimensions: 4.06" x 21.38" x 10.69"
- Weight: 10.625 lbs.
Even with newer releases, many still prefer the Boss GT-100 because of its reputation for reliability and practicality, both of which are synonymous to the Boss brand. While it may seem outnumbered in terms of features, it makes up with its amp and OD customization, which many use to craft their own sounds.
There are a few users who feel that the software editor does not do the GT-100 justice, especially when compared to what others have to offer. Thankfully, setting it up via the unit itself is not too hard, but some still wish for an improved editor.
If you're looking for a tried and tested multi-effects processor, then get the Boss GT-100. Given the company's reputation for durability and product longevity, the real challenge is not letting it outlast your interest in playing.
Line 6 Helix LT
Being the smaller and more affordable version of the Line 6 Helix Floor, Helix LT makes Line 6's high-end digital sound processing technology more accessible and affordable.
It features the same dual DSP HX modeling engine that replicates minute details of amps and effects, improving on the already impressive modeling capabilities of their POD HD line.
With over 100 effects, there's really no shortage of virtual stompboxes to play with, while the unit's complex signal routing capabilities allow for a wide variety of effects combination. Add to this Helix' acclaimed amp modeling features, which lets you mix and match 62 amp, 37 cabs and 16 mics.
If that's not enough, you can also make adjustments to the amp models to better personalize your sound.
To match its complexity, Line 6 designed the interface to be simple yet intuitive, courtesy of its color LCD display and colored LED rings.
- Effects: 104
- Amp Modeling: 62 amps, 37 cabs, 16 mics
- Presets: 1024
- Footswitches: 12 (Touch Sensitive) + Expression Pedal
- Input: 1 x 1/4", 2 x 1/4" (FX Returns)
- Output: 2 x XLR, 2 x 1/4", 1 x 1/4" (headphones), 2 x 1/4" (FX Sends), 1 x XLR (AES/EBU, L6 link)
- Extra Features: Dual DSP HX modeling engine, Touch-Sensitive Footswitches, 60-sec Looper, Compatibility with Variax and Line 6 Amps
- USB: Editing, 8in/8out USB Audio Interface
- MIDI: In, Out/Thru
- Dimensions: 3.7" x 20.9" x 12.45"
- Weight: 12.45 lbs.
Reviews of the Line 6 Helix LT are replete with good words, impressing even tone snobs who admit that that the hype surrounding this unit is real. Tone quality and versatility are two features that get the most praise from users, while there are also a good number who commend it for its easy to use workflow.
There were a few who were irked by the unit's streamlined input/output options, specifically its single guitar input, the lack of aux input and headphones output . Still, even those who had concerns are still pleased with their purchase, with most agreeing that the Helix LT is a worthy investment.
If you're looking for a powerful guitar processor that's streamlined and reasonably priced (at least compared to others with the same feature set), then the Line 6 Helix LT is for you.
Line 6 Helix Floor
At publication time this was the Highest Rated Guitar Multi Effects Pedal.
Line 6 continues to dominate in the world of floor-based guitar processors, with their flagship unit Helix Floor leading the charge.
It combines up-to-date amp and effects modeling technology with extensive input/output options, resulting in a true, jack-of-all-trades processor that works great in both live performance and studio recordings.
At the core of this pedal is the Line 6 HX technology, which emulates the behavior of actual amp and stompbox components. This means that instead of merely copying the sound, it recreates the entire pedal or amplifier in digital simulation, allowing the models to respond to guitar tone and adjustments much like the real thing.
While it originally had 70 effects, firmware updates have raised this number to 104, which is more than enough to keep you busy for months, if not years. Amp, cab and mic models were also increased to 115. Since Line 6 is well known for providing updates, it is reasonable to expect more expansions in the future.
It does everything that the Helix LT can, with some extras, most notable of which is the LED scribble strips for labeling each footswitch. The Helix Floor also comes with expanded input/output options to work with mics and other instruments.
- Effects: 70 (104 after firmware updates)
- Amp Modeling: 62 amps, 37 cabs, 16 mics (after firmware updates)
- Presets: 1024
- Footswitches: 12 + Expression Pedal
- Input: 1 x 1/4", 1 x XLR, 1 x 1/4" (Aux), 4 x 1/4" (Ext Control), 4 x 1/4" (Return)
- Output: 2 x XLR, 2 x 1/4", 1 x 1/4" (Headphones), 4 x 1/4" (Send)
- Digital Inputs: 1 x S/PDIF, 1 x RJ45 Variax in
- Digital Outputs: 1 x S/PDIF, 1 x XLR (AES/EBU)
- MIDI: In, Out/Thru
- Extra Features: Dual DSP HX modeling engine, LCD scribble strips, Touch-Sensitive Footswitches, 60-sec Looper, Compatibility with Variax and Line 6 Amps
- USB: Editing, 8in/8out USB Audio Interface
- Dimensions: 3.58" x 22.05" x 11.85"
- Weight: 14.6 lbs.
A lot of guitarists describe the Line 6 Helix Floor as something amazing and too good to be true. Commendations for it's incredible versatility and sound quality are common place, with many describing it as the best guitar multi-effects processor on the market today. There's simply no denying its continued success, along with the high review scores that it continuous to attain. Premiere Guitar's Joe Gore properly summed up what most people feel about the Line 6 Helix Floor: "Great sounds. Cool design. Solid construction. Extraordinary connectivity. Good price."
While there are those that are satisfied with its intuitive design, there are still some users who wish for a more simpler way of managing its settings. Weight and bulk also came up, along with its hefty price tag, still most are more than happy to recommend the Line 6 Helix Floor to more people.
If you're looking for one of the best multi-effect pedals that money can buy, then get the Line Helix Floor. Despite being feature packed, filled to the brim with tone and tweakable to your heart's content, it's still priced lower than other modellers at the same performance point.
Kemper Profiler Stage
The Kemper Profiler took the guitar landscape by storm when it was first released as a preamp in both rackmount and standard form. Then came the Powered versions that accelerated the presence of the Kemper into the fore.
With the release of the Profiler Stage, Kemper once again taps into a different market segment, this time for musicians looking for the same amp profiling capabilities in a multi effects pedal setup.
The unit essentially combines the features of the usual Kemper Profiler unit with the optional footswitches to provide an all-in-one solution best suited for live performance.
- Effects: Kemper Stomp FX, Delay, Reverb
- Amp Modeling: Preloaded Amp Models, Kemper Rig Exchange Cloud, Ability to Capture New Profiles
- Footswitches: 14
- Input: 1 x 1/4" (instrument), 1 x 1/4" (return/profiling), 3 x 1/4" (return), 1 x Coax (S/PDIF), 1 x 1/8" TRS (Headphone), 4 x 1/4" (switching/expression pedals), MIDI
- Output: 2 x 1/4" (main), 2 x 1/4" (monitor), 2 x XLR (main), 2 x 1/4" (send 1/2), 1 x Coax (S/PDIF), MIDI
- Extra Features: Amp Profiling, 30 seconds (full speed), 60 seconds (half speed), Tuner
- USB: USB (For Update, Audio Interface and Power)
- Dimensions: 18.5" x 10.24" " x 3.35"
- Weight: 10.1 lbs.
The most praised feature of the Kemper Profiler Stage is the sound. Many mention that the profiled sound is near-indistinguishable from the real thing. In addition to the sound, the feel is also carried over particularly well; something that a lot of modellers end up short on. The onboard Kemper Stomp effects tend to be overshadowed by the amp models but they are also praiseworthy.
Profiling can be tedious and your sound will only be as good as how well you have your gear set up. Luckily, user profiles are available for download. No built-in expression pedal. Screen is small for such a large, tweakable pedal.
If you're a fan or owner of tube amps and don't want to lug your precious head along to gigs or if you want to make consistently great tones for live and for recording, the Kemper Profiler Stage gets you eerily close to the real thing; closer than most other modellers could wish to do.
Here is a pedal worth looking into if you're particularly looking for a unit that can go both to an amp and direct to FOH without being over-complicated.
Tech 21 Fly Rig 5 v2
Tech21 has been around since the 80s. They were one of the early, if not the first company, to offer a solution for tones straight into a mixer for live and recording. Their aptly named "SansAmp" (meaning "no amp") series was used by the biggest names of the 80s and 90s.
Fast forward to the 2010s, Tech21 has designed a compact multi-effects unit that contains their critically acclaimed SansAmp circuitry, as well as Overdrive (Plexi and Cali sounds), Boost (switchable between pre and post), Delay (with modulation), Reverb, an effects loop, tap tempo and a cab simulated XLR out, all in a small pedal that fits in a gig bag.
In contrast to the buffet of effects other multi-effects units offers, the Fly Rig 5 v2 keeps it down to the essentials: The only things you may need for a fly-in gig.
- Effects: 5 (Drive, Boost, SansAmp, Delay, Reverb) with additional options for modulation and tone.
- Amp Modeling: 3 (Fender, Plexi, Cali)
- Presets: none
- Footswitches: 5
- Input: 1 x 1/4" (instrument)
- Output: 1 x 1/4" (main outm switchable cab sim), 1 x XLR (balanced out, cab sim always on)
- Extra Features: Drift mode for adding modulation to delays, Tap Tempo, Pre/Post boost switch, Effects Loop, clip indicator.
- USB: none
- Dimensions: 12.5" x 2.5" x 1.25"
- Weight: 1.29 lbs.
Many of the users that reviewed it were looking for something to go direct into the board to keep stage volumes low (Church, small venue use). They found that most highly-rated multi-effects either felt too complicated or large for what they needed, or they couldn't get the sound the wanted because of all the options. They praise the Fly Rig 5's "essentials" approach to multi-effects pedals with just the effects that you need done exceedingly well. The ability to turn off cab simulation for the 1/4" output while retaining the simulation for the XLR output was deemed a "Godsend" by a reviewer who owes his consistently praised live tone to the unit.
Some users disliked the minimalist approach and wished for more features left and right. Adding more to the unit however, would defeat it's purpose of providing a compact, plug and play multi-effects unit.
Full disclosure: I own a unit myself and after going through different multi-effects from a "vintage" Zoom 505 to being loaned a top-tier Kemper for a while, it's nice to be able to just plug in and play without spending more time tweaking than you do playing. For those of us that just want something that sounds the way we imagine a roaring Plexi or a vibing Boogie to sound, the Tech 21 Fly Rig 5 might be the multi-effect pedal for you.
Things to Consider When Buying a Multi-Effect Pedal
As the multi-effects label implies, more is generally a good thing, as long as you don't spend too much time obsessing over each one to the point that it hinders your productivity and practice.
It is also important to consider the maximum number of effects that can run simultaneously, which are usually based on effect group types or "blocks". This means that you usually can only have one modulation, one reverb, one drive etc in a preset. Advanced processors allow for more freedom which include combining same type pedals, series/parallel routing, pre-post amplifier routing and many more. While they allow for more ways to craft your tones, these processors also require more tweaking time and are usually more expensive.
Since digital effects use DSP, manufacturers have made the most of the processing power by adding amp modeling features. To the point that amp modeling has become a standard feature, and has even overtaken effects in popularity. If you already have a good amplifier, then amp modeling is not important, but it's still a good addition for the extra versatility amp modeling provides.
Footswitches and Control Interface
Footswitches allow for handsfree control of your multi-effects pedal, so having more of them is good, as long as you're OK with the added bulk and weight that they require. Some processors have a stompbox mode feature that lets you utilize footswitches much like a traditional pedalboard, but most of the time the switches serve as preset selectors, along with other secondary uses.
As mentioned above, the versatility of multi-effects requires complexity, and complexity requires longer learning curves. Thankfully, manufacturers have been continually improving the control interface and workflow of their units, so its never been easier to setup multi-effects units. Bigger display screens and good control positioning are important, but they also add to the overall size and bulk, so don't expect them on smaller units. Some even go as far as adding small LED scribble scripts to the footswitches, which removes the need to memorize or list down your presets.
Adding to their already good value, most multi-effects come with built-in features that are essential to gigging and practicing, first of which is a built-in tuner. Looping is also a good feature to look for, thankfully it now comes standard on many units. Having the ability to record straight to a computer is another handy features that should be considered, as well as the ability to edit the settings via your computer or mobile device. Built-in metronome/rhythm is also a nice plus, especially for those who want to take their skill to the next level.
For most applications, all you really need is a guitar input, and an output that you can plug to an amplifier or PA system. Still, it doesn't hurt to have extra input/output options, like a mic XLR input (for vocalists who play guitar), an aux input (for practicing with your favorite tracks), headphones out (for quiet practice and tweaking), stereo output, and more.
Portability (Weight and Size)
More features require more components, and improved durability requires a stronger chassis, all of which add to the bulk and weight of a guitar processor. In the end it will be up to you to balance your budget and needs to your preferred portability. In line with this, we've provided the weight and dimensions, for easier reference and comparison.
Case / Carry Bag
We highly recommend buying a good carrying case or at least preparing a fitting bag for your unit, since they can protect them from handling and environmental damage. They also add to the overall convenience, especially if they are custom fit for your unit and if they have enough pockets for the cables and tools that you carry.
Best Guitar Multi Effects Pedal Selection Methodology
We limited the scope of this guide to floor-based multi-effects units, and we also only included only those with different effect types/blocks excluding those which have only variations of the same base effect such as multiple modulation effects. For this July 2020 update, we ended up with a total of 31 multi-effects pedals on our short-list which you can see in our database. All of the most recent relevant reviews, ratings, forum discussions, and expert opinions were fed into the Gearank algorithm, which gave us the scores that we used to narrow down the list to just the top picks - over 9,500 sources were analyzed during this process. We then selected the highest rated options in two categories: compact multi-effects pedals (since many are looking for them), and medium to large size ones to recommend above. For more information about our methods see How Gearank Works.