Are you tired of lugging around a bunch of individual guitar pedals, or simply want to avoid buying multiple effects? Look no further! Multi-effects units are an excellent way to save space and money on buying standalone pedals for your rig.
In this article, we’ll be diving into the world of guitar multi-effects pedals under $500 – these powerful devices offer a plethora of effects, amp models, and other features to elevate your guitar playing to new heights.
1. Zoom G1X FOUR
If you’re looking for a budget-friendly multi-effects processor, the Zoom G1 Four is an excellent bang for your buck!
These typically run for around $120, and this affordable effects unit has much to offer!
The G1X is also super portable, can be run on batteries, and only weighs a couple of pounds at most; however, being made from such lightweight materials, it might not be as durable as other options.
Nonetheless, the Zoom G1X FOUR is still well-made, and the sound quality from the effects and amp models is shockingly good for the price. This is an excellent multi-effects unit for beginners who want something to practice with that sounds good without breaking the bank too much.
- 71 built-in guitar effects and 13 amp models
- Free download of Zoom guitar lab Mac/Windows software
- 30-Second looper
- 68 built-in rhythm patterns
- Standard Guitar input, aux input for external audio players and amp/headphone output
2. Boss GT-1
If you’ve been looking into guitar effects at all, the odds are that you’ve come across Boss ones.
Boss is a brand that has been around forever and has been creating some of the most popular effects pedals on the market, and their GT-1 is easily one of their most accessible all-in-one solutions to guitar effects.
With more than 100 effects and tons of patches and presets, you’ll get access to tones based on all of their classic pedal models, like their OD-1 Overdrive, MT-2 Metal Zone, and DD-8 digital delay, and can save your own creations with them. You also have the option to download preset patches by pros via USB from their Tone Central.
It’s also worth noting that the GT-1 multi-effects pedal is also lightweight but durable enough to carry around with you to gigs. Overall, this is an amazing-sounding unit that is still quite affordable compared to alternatives.
- Modern design with no hard edges enables safe transport in a guitar bag
- Easy select and easy edit functions for quickly choosing and tweaking Patches
- Four AA batteries provide up to seven hours of playing time for busking and mobile gigs
- Onboard control switch and expression pedal; footswitch/expression pedal jack and USB
3. Boss ME-90
Getting into the more expensive stuff, the Boss ME-90 is a big upgrade over the GT-1. It’s definitely more expensive than it, but the ME-90 is significantly cheaper than the GT-1000, which is their flagship model that can run you over $1000.
Being so new, the ME-90 takes a lot of the good things about the GT-1000 at a more affordable price. There are a lot of high-quality sounds that are taken from the Boss GT-1000 in this effects board, including their best overdrives and great features that are simple to use.
One aspect of the ME-90 that you might prefer over the other options is that this is controlled entirely by knobs. I like displays, such as the one on the MX5, but this type of manual control is convenient.
Overall, the Boss ME-90 is a highly durable unit, and at a fraction of the cost of Boss’s highest-end multi-effects pedal, the GT-1000, this one is a steal for what you can do with this unit which is virtually anything.
- The BOSS ME series has been a favorite of performing guitarists for over three decades, combining multi-effects power with intuitive hands-on control for crafting tones in seconds.
- The ME-90 is the most advanced ME model to date, offering exceptional audio quality with 24-bit AD/DA and 32-bit floating point processing, eleven flagship-grade AIRD amp models, IR loading, an effects loop, and more.8 Multi-function Footswitches
- Compact, battery-powered, and filled with premium BOSS tones, this versatile all-in-one processor makes it easy to build customized sound setups for every playing situation.
- Easy stompbox-style sound creation with an intuitive knob-based interface
- 60 different effects derived from the flagship GT-1000
4. HeadRush MX5
Next up, we have the HeadRush MX5, which is easily one of the best multi-effects pedalboards that you can pick up for under $500.
First things first, I want to say that I absolutely love the display on this effects unit. It’s nice and colorful, and it’s easy to visualize the effects chain that you currently have going on.
You have so much room for customization with the HeadRush MX5, and for some people, this could lead to “option paralysis,” but if you’re looking for something more than just presets, I’m sure you’ll be satisfied with all of its capabilities.
Like the Boss ME-90, the Headrush MX5 is an excellent versatile effects unit that you can record with and take on the road with you since it’s durable yet portable at the same time. It’s hard to go wrong with this one!
- Powerful Multi-Core Processor and High Resolution 4-Inch Touch display with guitarist-centric interface – Simply touch, swipe, and drag-and-drop to instantly create and edit your perfect tone
- Versatile library of realistic & responsive amplifier, cabinet, mic and FX models that will be expanded with regular firmware updates based on user feedback plus USB Audio Interface
- All the Connections – Features a ¼-inch electric and bass guitar in, switchable (2) ¼-inch TRS outs, a 1/8-inch headphone out, 5-Pin MIDI in/out via (2) 1/8″-to-MIDI adapters, plus an onboard ¼-inch stereo FX loop
- Over 300 precision-captured impulse responses, meticulously crafted in IoSR Studios, or load your own third-party IRs with virtually unlimited storage for IRs with 1024 and 2048 sample lengths
- Fully-Assignable Expression Pedal for Maximum Control – Two powerful modes: Classic Mode and Advanced Mode, alongside a toe switch to switch between two banks
5. Line 6 POD Go
Line 6 and their PODs have certainly evolved over the years. They were one of the innovators of amp modeling with their original red “lima bean” POD back in the mid-90s, and here they are, still continuing to put out great stuff.
The POD Go is their most recent addition to the POD line, and it continues to push boundaries with what a multi-effects pedal is capable of.
The Line 6 POD Go has quite a bit of similarity to the MX5, but there are things you might like more about one or the other when comparing the POD Go vs. Headrush MX5.
For one, while the interface is nice on the POD Go, and the tones are a bit better, in my opinion, especially the presets, I do like the MX5’s display more; however, you get more sounds and footswitches with the POD. It really depends on your personal needs – this one is more expensive, but you may want to take advantage of all of the extra stuff it offers.
- Simple interface with large color display
- Compact, ultra-portable, lightweight design
- 270+ HX and legacy amp and effects models
- Third-party IR loading
- Stereo effects loop and expression pedal/ footswitch input
Whether you’re a beginner on a budget or a seasoned guitarist looking for convenience and versatility, there are ways to get great effects and amp models that fit your budget!
The ones here can accommodate a variety of needs for many different people, whether it’s something to practice casually with, bring on stage with them, or even record great music!
No matter which group you fall in, there’s a multi-effects board here for you, and I hope one of these finds its way into your rig! These will open the doors to endless possibilities for you to experiment with and tap into your creative side to achieve great ideas.