In a word, overkill. Let me elaborate…
Like most guitarists, I LOVE everything about gear – researching, salivating, pondering how much of a better player I would be with a new guitar, amp, pedal, app, DAW, tuner, pick, strings, strap, etc. You name it, I’ve coveted it. I read an article late last year that was a challenge of sorts to spend the upcoming year really diving into and using the gear I already have which made a lot of sense. I possess no less than 10 things that have multiple effects setups and options. Around the same time I read that article, I also coincidentally had sat through Tom Morello’s Masterclass where he talked a great deal about getting new sounds out of existing gear. It all made a ton of sense to me.
Dating back to about the year 2000 when I bought my very first multi-effects unit, the highly flexible DigiTech RP100 (which doesn’t even appear on DigiTech’s own website as a discontinued product at this point!) I’ve collected a veritable closet full of “guitar stuff”. As most of you reading this are probably aware, almost everything comes with a significant learning curve. The more something does, the more you need to read. I am STILL learning new things to do with my powerhouse DigiTech GNX4 that I bought used in 2010. (Side note: I’ve been in search of a modern replacement for at least 6 years and nobody has yet to make anything that comes close to the features and functionality of the GNX4 – even going into the BOSS GX-100 I knew it lacked a lot of the features from the GNX4). At any rate, I have a huge inventory of devices that do generally the same things with tonal options to squeeze more juice out of my playing.
By the way, NONE of these devices really make you a better player! I sound nothing like the YouTube stars demoing these things after they arrive, so I’ve recently put a lot of focus on going back to start and learning how to be a better player with simple clean and distorted tones.
Very late last year I bought my third electric guitar, a beautiful PRS SE Custom 24-08, and launched into the new year firmly resolved to use everything I already had while I learned to be a better player….
And then came the BOSS GX-100 in early 2022. I did well just reading about it and reminding myself of my resolution for the year. And then a big discount opportunity came along in June. I muttered something about it to my wife, and being the supremely supportive wife she is, she said, “if you want it, just get it!”. That was the straw that broke the camel’s back and I ordered it with some, but very little, shame to breaking my self-imposed rule of 2022. After a FedEx fiasco, it was finally in my hands-on a Monday afternoon.
The unit is beautifully made and is much smaller/lighter than comparable units without sacrificing a thing. I won’t delve into all the “pros” of the GX-100 because countless others already have done a great job. I’m only here to inform you of the “cons” to your purchasing decision:
- Freezing up – The GX-100 is a newly made software-based unit that needs broad use to uncover all its bugs and I fully accept that. I found that it regularly stopped producing any sound at all, usually when moving quickly through banks (by holding down one of the Bank buttons). I also downloaded the GX-100 Starter Collection from Tone Central – because everything out of the box just wasn’t enough to play with! – and ran into the same issues when demoing some of them. The only way around this loss of output is to turn the unit off and back on. Not a fun experience in the least bit.
- Too many options – This “problem” may be unique to players like me, and contrary to why one would buy the GX-100 so this isn’t a bash on the GX-100 at all – I just found there to be WAAAY too many tonal configurations available to warrant a unit of this caliber. Meaning, I’m not the kind of player that needs so many different patches to get through my daily needs. I play mostly as a hobbyist but have been in bands that play at bars and I do record and practice regularly. Aside from using new sounds to spark creativity (that I can get from the closet of other devices I have) I personally only really use about six or so patches which I’ve honed and built using my BOSS Katana-100 MkII, so having hundreds/thousands at my disposal is just a lot more than I need and distracts from the art. The Katana lets me have up to 8 patches under my feet at any given time, plus the ability to manage settings for 5 effects for each patch in real-time, and even that is probably more than necessary. What I use:
- Vintage Clean (Tube-ish)
- Auto-wah (for my Grateful Dead envelope filter needs)
- Clean (Straight Clean)
- Ambient (for that spacey, reverby type of feel)
(Two or three of these are on a rotating menu at any given time)
- I think the GX-100 is an amazing unit that does a LOT and may be right for a small set of musicians that perform broadly across genres and styles (I’m thinking studio players and niche creators here).
- I think the freezing up will be fixed at some point (but I keep envisioning myself on stage where I have to bend down and power-cycle the thing in the middle of a song)
- There aren’t really any new input/output features to warrant the move if you already have something (the optional Bluetooth adapter for another $60 could afford you some playalong convenience, and definitely makes using Tone Studio more convenient for non-desktop users)
- The cost and time investment aren’t worth it for the vast majority of players that need a handful of sound options
- You can do the cost comparison, and you need to factor in convenience, but I don’t think this is a cost-effective replacement for those with mature and functioning pedalboards
- It’s a fabulous playground for those who want to explore virtually any sound that can be made with a guitar, especially where cost is not a concern
I hope this helps, just wanted to provide some balance for others that may be researching and on the fence. I just think the spectrum of sounds is far too broad-ranging for anyone to really get maximum bang for their buck and time.
Enjoy the pictures below of some of the toys I mentioned above!