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Boss GX-100 review

The first touchscreen-equipped Boss amp modeller and multi-effects processor offers hands-on control of your signal path and some of the best guitar tones money can buy

  • £499
  • €594
  • $599
Boss GX-100
(Image: © Future)

MusicRadar Verdict

A top-shelf multi-effects unit that combines superb effects and super-realistic amp models with a more user-friendly format.

Pros

  • +

    Superlative sound performance and response from amp models.

  • +

    Huge array of sounds with excellent control over signal path.

  • +

    Drives behave like real-life drives.

  • +

    Touchscreen makes life easier.

Cons

  • -

    Some players will still need the manual.

  • -

    GT-1000 Core might be better if you really value a compact unit.

Boss GX-100: What is it?

Sadly there is no hard data available on the proportion of global pedalboard real estate accommodated by any one brand’s stompboxes, but as a market leader in guitar effects pedals we might imagine that Boss has the lion’s share.

But that doesn’t mean to say Boss has had it its own way. Innovation breeds innovation, and in recent years, the gauntlet has been thrown down, particularly when it comes to multi-effects pedals for guitar

Digital signal processing has transformed these all-in-one effects and amp modelling solutions. So, too, consumer technology; it is now not enough simply to present these tones are the guitar player’s feet, they’ve got to be easily accessible. 

In the 21st century, user experience is key to successful design, and this is where the state-of-the-art GX-100 looks to give Boss an advantage. For a start, it takes a leaf out of our smartphone’s book and comes equipped with a touchscreen. 

Boss GX-100

(Image credit: Future)

The 23 amp models here are joined by over 150 effects types, and you can work with up to 15 assignable blocks to create your own sounds, saving them down to any of the 200 preset slots available. There is also a looper offering 38 seconds in mono, 19 in stereo. 

Around the back of the unit you have more options to run the unit in mono or stereo, hook up an external expression pedal or two external footswitches, integrate a pedalboard via a pair of send/return jacks, connect headphones, for remote channel switching on a guitar amp, MIDI, and Bluetooth integration.

You will need an adaptor for the latter but it will allow you to edit sounds and stream audio. Last but not least, there is a USB connection for home recording to your computer or editing via the Boss Tone Studio app.

Boss GX-100

(Image credit: Future)

Boss GX-100: Performance and verdict

The GX-100 is one good-looking floor unit, all sleek lines with a pop of colour. You will of course want to take good care of it. But it is built tough. Its metal enclosure looks like it can handle a fair bit of punishment. It is portable, too, weighing just under 8lbs. 

Like the fiscal calculation of adding up all the amps and effects and comparing the street price of its hardware equivalent, it’s also fun to think about how much stuff you’d have to carry around with you to have the same amount of sounds available. There’d be no stage big enough.

Also consider...

Boss GT-1000CORE

(Image credit: Future / Olly Curtis)

Boss GT-1000 Core (opens in new tab)
All the tone-shaping magic of the GT-1000 but smaller and for two-thirds of the price, this super-flexible amp modelling unit is a very convincing option for an all-in-one digital rig, or for dramatically expanding your existing setup.

HeadRush Gigboard (opens in new tab)
One of the most intuitive multi-effects pedals yet, with a superb array of amp models. 

Mooer GE150 amp modeller and multi-FX (opens in new tab)
We don't hesitate to recommend the GE150 if you're searching for a first or new multi-effects, particularly if versatility and credible tones are more of a priority than soundscaping.

So there’s a practical case for multi-effects units such as this on grounds of money and logistics. But guitar players are not fundamentalists when it comes to pragmatism; there has to be something that stirs the soul, and on the GX-100 that is the sounds. 

It comes loaded with 100 factory presets, and those allergic to manual consultation will find these a superb entry point to GX-100’s range of sounds, with the presets also offering an excellent base camp for exploring new tones.

The AIRD technology is exceptional at rendering amp emulations with a sense of life and three-dimensionality. The response is bang on. There is no shortage of dynamics. There is also no need to replace a tube, or re-bias a tube amp after a week on the road. To some ears, they might be a little too pristine, but others will value that consistency.

Boss has made its name on effects and so it’s no surprise to find that the GX-100’s sound incredible. It’ll take a little discipline on behalf of the player to only use what is needed. Stacking those modulation and delays together can sound incredibly lush, and it’s easy to overdo it. Overcoming option paralysis is also another rite of passage with units such as this. One way is just to keep saving those sounds down as you create them, collecting variations on a theme. Soon you’ll have a set or some reference tones that might pair a little better with different guitars. 

Boss GX-100

(Image credit: Boss GX-100)

The touchscreen functionality adds a level of control that we haven’t seen from Boss. Sure, might find the competition a little easier to use, but A/B the GX-100 with a similarly priced rival and it will hold up. These are industry standard sounds.

The digital processing muscle makes that overdrive and distortion sound so natural, so convincing, and when presenting in a signal chain they perform as expected, with boosts and drives stacking nicely, giving the amp a good old kick up the backside when needed. In doing so, Boss has once more stamped its authority on the market for amp modellers and multi-effects with super-powered processing power and unimpeachable tones.

MusicRadar verdict: A top-shelf multi-effects unit that combines superb effects and super-realistic amp models with a more user-friendly format.

Boss GX-100: The web says

“While it might take a bit of learning, it’s easy to reconfigure the GX-100 to match your preferences. The chain building is still a bit behind some of the competition, but the sounds are next-level. Even if you don’t need all the amp modelling features, its extra DSP horsepower shows when using the overdrive and distortion models.

“Elsewhere, the delay, reverb and modulation effects are as outstanding as you’d expect from the most prolific guitar effects maker in the world. All in all, it’s BOSS’s best multi-effects and amp processor yet.”
Total Guitar (opens in new tab)

“Everything from high-gain metal heads to crunchy Brit combos is represented, and the touchscreen makes it easy to carry out tonal adjustments or, say, flip from a booming 4×12 cab to a tight 1×10. Setting up two channels with totally different amp types is effortless, meaning that C1 footswitch becomes a shortcut to the kind of channel-switching that a single real amp could never manage.”
Guitar (opens in new tab)

Boss GX-100: Hands-on demos

MusicRadar

Leon Todd

Jay Leonard

Andertons

Sweetwater

Boss GX-100: Specifications

  • Effects: 154
  • Amp models: 23
  • Processing/Sampling rate: 24-bit AD/DA, 32-bit floating-point processing, 48 kHz 
  • Connections: INPUT jack, OUTPUT (L/MONO, R) jacks, SEND jack, RETURN jack: 1/4-inch phone type, PHONES jack: Stereo 1/4-inch phone type, CTL3, 4/EXP2 jack, AMP CTL1, 2 jack: 1/4-inch TRS phone type, MIDI (IN, OUT) connectors
  • USB COMPUTER port: USB B type
  • Bluetooth Adaptor port: BT-DUAL ADAPTOR
  • Power: AC Adaptor (supplied)
  • Contact: BOSS (opens in new tab)

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