All-In-One: The 5 Best Guitar Multi-Effects Units

Sometimes, owning a bunch of different guitar effects pedals isn’t for everyone – that’s why guitar multi-effects were created. Not only that, effects units don’t always need to come in pedal-form either. Instead, there are rack-mounted and software options for those who prefer to use those in particular situations, and in this article, I will point out the best multi-effects units for guitar in five different categories, helping you find the ideal one for your needs.

What Is The Best Multi-Effects Processor?

In this section, I will sort out some different units based on specific criteria. On their own, these are all fantastic devices, but some guitarists may find one more optimal than another based on a particular need, such as for playing gigs. After this quick preview, we will then go over each of them to showcase what they bring to the table.

  • The Best On A Budget – Digitech RP55
  • The Best For Live Performances – Boss ME-80
  • The Best For Home Recording – Line 6 Pod HD Pro X
  • The Best Multi-Effects Software – Native Instruments Guitar Rig 6
  • The Best For Versatility – Boss GT-1

These are the best guitar multi-effects processors that I’ve come across, and as you can see, we’ve got pedals, rackmounts, and software to go over. They all have the same basic functions, which is to be an all-in-one effects unit, but you may be partial to a certain kind of design. Let’s check out the best multi-effects for guitar so you can decide which you like the most


The Best On A Budget – Digitech RP55

Getting a bunch of effects and other cool features while saving money at the same time sounds like a win in my book. The Digitech does just that and is the best guitar multi-effects under 100 dollars. This device offers:

  • 20 Effects
  • A Drum Machine
  • A Built-In Tuner

For being so tiny in size and price, this multi-effects pedal has all of the essential effects and has a lot of presets and storage for creating your own sounds. You can run up to 8 things simultaneously, which I think is more than enough for most situations.

Sure, it doesn’t have all of the switches and knobs like more expensive devices, but it’s still well-made, and I think it’s perfect for beginners or those who just want a cool toy without breaking the bank. Overall, it’s easy to use and has a good sound for an even better value.



Best For Live Performances – Boss ME-80

When picking out a guitar multi-effects unit for live use, three very important things should be considered:

  • Durability
  • Sound Quality
  • Convenience

In these three areas, the Boss ME-80 succeeds the most. This guitar multi-effects pedal is built like a tank! I’m not sure what it’s made from, but it’s very sturdy metal. Even though it’s durable and weighs about 7 pounds, you’ll probably want to keep it safe. This bundle on Amazon comes with a Boss travel bag along with some other cool stuff.

As for sound, it’s an amazing sounding device that has a lot to offer. There are 9 amp models to choose from and just under 60 guitar effects that are based on a lot of the individual guitar pedals you can find from Boss, including a looper. With the ME-80:

  • You can loop up to 38 seconds
  • The amp models are derived from COSM (Composite Object Sound Modeling) technology found in the GT-100
  • You have 8 footswitches and 1 expression pedal

It might look overwhelming with all of its controls, but this pedal is very easy to use; if you’re performing and need to make a quick adjustment, the footswitches and knobs to help you do that on the fly. The knobs can also help you dial in your perfect tone with precision.

You can also edit and download new tones through your computer by utilizing its USB connection, as well as record with it too. So it’s definitely a capable device for recording, and you’ll get the job done with it, but I think there’s something even better for that purpose, which we’ll get to next.



Best For Home Recording – Line 6 Pod HD Pro X

If you’ve been playing for over ten years or so, you may be familiar with one of Line 6’s original Pod design – the red kidney bean one. That little multi-effects unit was trendy for recording because it sounded good at the time, and it also didn’t take much space on your desk.

Over the years, Line 6 has continued with the Pod lineage, stepping it up each time. They’ve truly come a very long way since the old days, and the HD Pro X model is some of the best stuff I’ve heard. There are so many great, high-definition amps and effects on this piece of hardware, and honestly, you’ll probably never use every single one of them, but they’re there if you need them. There are:

  • Over 20 Amp Models
  • More than 100 Effects
  • Several Speaker and Mic Options

So why is this one the best multi-effects for recording guitars? There are two reasons why I think this particular unit trumps all of the ones out there on the market.

The first reason is that I think a rack-mounted device is a better choice than a pedalboard for recording. Its design is more intuitive than a pedalboard for sitting on your desk, and it can also be stacked with your other stuff in a rackmount case next to your computer. You won’t have to bend over to change anything; it will be right in front of you where it should be.



The next reason concerns software. External devices like the HD Pro X won’t drain your computer’s resources, like the CPU and RAM.

Now, there are a lot of excellent software options that have great sounds, work just fine, and have their own perks, but this is a better option for those who want to feel freed up when recording, allowing room for other plugins, and not ever have to worry about a laggy system.

Even if you own a super-fast computer with a lot of resources to spare, I think having a dedicated unit outside of it is helpful and will give you some peace of mind. The HD Pro X connects directly to your DAW through its USB port, so it’s about as easy as booting up some software.

You could definitely use this one for live performances, too – rack-mounted effects are quite common, but I think that a multi-effects pedalboard is just easier to work within those situations. Also, if you use a rackmount, it will most likely need to be set up towards the back or sides of the stage, whereas pedals will be positioned near your feet, which I believe is more convenient overall.

To those who prefer pedalboards, there is the Pod HD500X which is a really solid piece of equipment, but I still think that Boss’ ME-80 has the edge on it, especially in a live setting. The ME-80 has bigger footswitches, which can be easier to see, and there are just more controls overall. I’m pretty sure it also weighs less; I know that the ME-80 is about 5 pounds lighter than the rack-mounted HD Pro X.



Best Multi-Effects Software – Native Instruments Guitar Rig 6 Pro

While I stand by an external device like Line 6’s HD Pro X as optimal for recording guitars at home, I still think that software is still a fantastic option for many individuals. Here’s why:

  • It tends to be cheaper
  • It doesn’t take up physical space
  • It can be super-portable (can be used anywhere if you’re running it on a laptop)

The most realistic and best guitar software that I’ve used is easily Native Instrument’s Guitar Rig 5 Pro. As you’d expect, Guitar Rig is loaded with many great-sounding amp models and effects. Without a doubt, you’d find exactly what you like on this fine piece of guitar software.

I also really like the interface, which is basically your own virtual rackmount without actually having them take up space in your room.

However, as I mentioned before, guitar software can have its own demands, and Guitar Rig 6 can consume a lot of resources, so you’ll want to make sure you have a suitable system for recording music. For specs, I recommend:

  • A bare minimum of 4GB RAM, but 8 is considered standard. I personally use 16GB RAM, and if you can afford it and you have enough space on your MOBO, I’d say go for 16 to be safe.
  • An Intel i5 processor or AMD equivalent, minimum. On the other hand, I think, if anything, you should invest in a better processor than RAM if you can only afford one or the other. Changing a processor is more tedious (and more expensive) than switching out RAM sticks. If you can, go for an i7 first.
  • Make sure you have enough storage on your drive. WAV files can get pretty large. I suggest getting one that has at least 500GB on it. A solid-state drive (SSD) is always the superior option because it performs better than an ordinary HDD, and it’s more reliable overall.

With that out of the way, if you have an adequate computer that can handle powerful software, I think Guitar Rig 6 Pro will be right up your alley. If you’re looking to record, this is a professional-sounding option that doesn’t cost as much as the HD Pro that we just went over. Just make sure your computer is up to snuff!


Best For Versatility – Boss GT-1

So, what’s the all-around best multi-effects processor? I think the Boss GT-1 has a lot in common with each of the items that we’ve previously talked about in this guide, which makes it excellent if you don’t have a specific purpose. It’s a good device for just about everything but doesn’t really shine at one.

Its price is quite average – it’s definitely not the cheapest, but it’s also not the most expensive option out there. Nonetheless, you still get a lot of great effects and models based on individual Boss pedals, just like the ME-80 offers. The GT-1 offers:

  • 108 Effects
  • 99 User Patches and 99 Presets
  • Loops Up to 32 Seconds

While it isn’t as tanky as the ME-80, the GT-1 can still be an excellent multi-effects unit for gigs because it’s lightweight and portable while still being quite durable. In reality, if you compare the two, the GT-1 actually has more total effects.  It also may not have as many controls and footswitches, but it has enough where you will still put on a real show compared to if you didn’t have one at all.

Because of its USB port, The Boss GT-1 is also practical and effective for recording. It’s smaller than the Line 6 HD Pro X, so it won’t take up much very much space in your room, but importantly, it won’t drain your computer’s resources. You can also edit tones and download patches with easy-to-use software that is included.

Overall, while it’s natural that the GT-1 would be compared to the ME-80 (they’re both Bosses after all), the GT-1 has plenty in common with other pieces of gear from different brands. It is quite competitive, and if you’re looking for a “jack of all trades, master of none” type of equipment, I think this device will be suitable for just about every situation.



Summary & Conclusion

While there are benefits to owning several different guitar effects pedals, it’s understandable that many guitarists do not want to deal with the potential hassle of having to buy many different devices. This is a big reason why millions of players find all-in-one multi-effects processors to be more appealing.

If you’re buying individual stompbox effects, you know that you’re getting the real deal and not a simulation of one. This is because they have dedicated circuitry, whereas multi-effects are typically modeled but still allow you to tweak them.

Everyone knows that effects pedals can add up, so a multi-effects one can save you a lot of money. They even allow you to experiment with a ton of different tones so that you can figure out if you want to spend the cash on a dedicated stompbox with a more authentic tone in the future.


best guitar multi-effects
The Line 6 Pod: one of the breakthrough multi-effects devices!


However, the tones from the best guitar multi-effects are still extremely convincing and can pass for the real deal. I’ve used multi-effects and single effects pedals, and I happen to really enjoy both kinds. I’ve selected the units that I’ve felt sounded great in general but may succeed over one another in different situations. In this article, I’ve laid them out for you, and to recap, they are:

A multi-effects processor can be a pedalboard, rack-mounted, or even installed as software on your computer. Sometimes designs can have an impact and make them more ideal than others depending on the circumstances.

For example, I think pedalboards are the best multi-effects for live performances because you can stay in one spot, and The ME-80 allows you to do just that while offering tonal flexibility with all of its controls.

I enjoy rack-mounted multi-effects for home recording because of some of the conveniences they offer that I’ve mentioned earlier, but software like Guitar Rig is a suitable alternative. Just remember that it will use up more computer resources than an external multi-effects, like a rack-mounted one.

Nonetheless, the best guitar multi-effects processor is out there for you in any form you’d like. These are just my suggestions, and I think these can all serve you well. Regardless of which one you’ll go with, you’ll always have access to several different effects, which is the real essence of any type of multi-effects unit.