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MusicRadar basics: an introduction to guitar multi-effects

If you're a beginner or a pro, putting together and then carrying around your ideal effects can be a daunting task. This is where guitar multi effects pedals come in.

Even the smallest multi effects units will give you access to all of the most important types of guitar effects in one box. The bigger ones cram in a whole recording studio's worth of gear, from overdrive pedals to models of vintage amp. Regardless of whether you're recording in your bedroom or touring football stadiums, the right multi effects could be all you ever need.

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There are many advantages to this. Firstly, bang for your buck. Compared to that shopping list of pedals you've been putting together, even the higher end multi effects will come in at a fraction of the price.

The fact that it's all in one box means that your multi effects is not only compact and lightweight, but you're not going to have to worry about powering and cabling a dozen different pedals.

The final thing to separate multi effects from the pack is presets. Suppose you have a killer solo sound that uses a fuzz, phaser and delay, and a pretty clean sound that relies on chorus and reverb. With individual effects, getting from one to another is a five pedal tap dance, but a multi effects unit will allow you to store each combination in one place so you can pull them up with just a single switch.

Once you've got your head around what your multi effects can do from the floor, some models will then enable you to connect to your computer directly via USB. This gives you an interface for recording, editing your presents and sharing those sounds with friends.