Multi-Effects Pedals vs Individual Pedals

In case you are a guitarist looking for a set of new sounds, you basically have two options: to buy a multi-effect pedal or to build your pedalboard of individual FX pedals. In today’s article we will explore both options, analyze their advantages and drawbacks and make the choice easier for you by giving useful advice.

Multi FX

First of all, it is necessary to describe both of the methods of getting new sounds. A multi FX pedal is a station that has a number of effects built-in, offering you a wide range of tuning options and, in most cases, a number of presets. There are lots of models available, they vary by price, number of effects provided and other options. In general, buying a multi FX pedal is a cheaper way to get a range of sounds as a single individual pedal may have the price equal to the price of the whole multi FX pedal.

Multi-Effects Pedals vs Individual Pedals

Individual Pedals

Individual pedals are the separate units that give a unique sound with less tuning options. With most pedals, it is one sound per pedal, but there is an option to create a pedalboard of several separate devices. It is harder to build a pedalboard than to simply buy a multi effect pedal, but it will be easier to utilize for beginners as you will be learning to navigate through it by adding new pedals.

Pros and Cons of Multi FX Pedals

The first major advantage of multi FX pedals is the price as we have mentioned above, but there are more pros left to discover. Firstly, it is easier to buy such a pedal as it won’t be necessary to find every single pedal and bother yourself with finding a store to buy them. Secondly, multi FX pedals provide a number of customization options for your sound, which covers the needs of most of the musicians. Another important advantage is that these pedals are easier to plug in as you don’t need to connect each individual pedals every time. Last but not least, multi FX pedals usually have sound presets, which is very convenient for those who don’t intend to learn the sound configuration and wish to concentrate on playing. To sum up, the pros of multi FX pedals are:

  • low price compared to individual pedals;
  • a range of tuning options available immediately;
  • easier plugging in;
  • a number of presets available.

However, such pedals are not perfect and have their own pitfalls, the most important of them being their difficulty. In case you want to learn how to configure and understand your sound, multi-effect pedals may be confusing as most of them have a lot of tuning options that are hard to understand for a beginner. Even for the experienced artists, multi FX pedals are not always a preferable choice: despite such pedals offering lots of tuning options, sometimes it is easier to create a unique sound by building your own pedalboard. Another problem with multi-effect pedals is that they are hard to navigate through while playing. Most of them have small digital screens that you won’t be able to read from a glance. Summing up, the drawbacks of multi FX pedals are:

  • harder navigation;
  • too many tuning and tweaking options for a beginner to understand;
  • small screens that are hard to read while playing;

Pros and Cons of Individual Pedals

Individual pedals have several key advantages over multi-effect pedals as well, first of them being a better sound. Individual pedals are usually of a higher quality than multi FX units and provide a cleaner and more reliable sound. However, the key advantage of building your own pedalboard is, of course, the flexibility behind it. While the multi FX pedal is fixed, you may rebuild your pedalboard by adding new pedals or removing the previous ones. You can even switch their places on the board to make it more comfortable to play. Another point in favor of pedals is the absence of a million tweaking options, making it easier to switch between sounds. Last but not least, building your own pedalboard is a great way to learn and understand the sound configuration: you will have to manually configure each part of your board and learn it step by step. To summarize, the pros of individual pedals are:

  • higher quality of the sound;
  • flexibility of changing the pedalboard;
  • easier to switch between sounds;
  • a good option to learn sound configuration;
  • better navigation.

Individual pedals are not the perfect choice for everyone as they have some drawbacks too. We have already mentioned the price and comfort: to try a new effect you will have to visit a store and spend a sufficient amount of money for a new pedal. Another point to bear in mind is that with each new pedal in your set, your pedalboard gets heavier and it becomes harder to plug it in and transport it. The drawbacks of building your pedalboard are:

  • higher price compared to multi FX;
  • not comfortable to experiment;
  • harder plugging in and transporting.

Which One Should I Choose?

By analyzing the pros and cons of both of the methods it is obvious that there is no universal solution for everyone. Our advice is to take into account the drawbacks before making your final choice to make it more informed. For the beginners that intend to understand their sound better, we would suggest buying individual pedal. For those, who already know how to tweak the effects and want to experiment with their sound, the multi FX pedals are a better choice money-wise and in terms of transporting.

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Best first multi effects pedal

Before all we need to identify the range of factors, which are most likely to match the best first multi effects pedal. All FXpedals have one significant drawback – they are difficult to set up and achieve the desired sound in a few clicks on the button. Therefore, the functional part of the multi effects pedal is expected to be relatively simple. Many of the effects for proper work require the use of expression pedal. Ideally, the expression pedal should be built into a multi effects pedal. The third factor is the quality of the sound. Many FX pedals pay little attention to the sound quality in the pursuit of the number of effects and settings. However, many multi effects pedals are digital devices and the sound quality of such devices is not compatible with analogues. Apart from these parameters, the best choice is the BOSS ME-80. BOSS ME-80 is an effects processor for both experienced musicians and aspiring musicians. It has a powerful sound processing technology. Built -in expression pedal makes the sound more versatile. And labels on the front panel will help understand the functionality on an intuitive level. If the price on the BOSS ME-80 does not match your expectations, then you can consider the Zoom MS-70CDR as an alternative. In terms of functionality, this small processor is inferior to the device from the “BOSS” company. But the quality and quantity of effects will please any guitarist.

Best first guitar pedal

In life of any aspiring guitarist, there comes a time when the sound of an electric guitar is not enough to continue. At this point, you should consider buying your first pedalboard. But which pedals should you fill it with first? The “chorus”, “delay” and “reverberation” pedals can be found on any musician’s pedalboard. They add depth to the sound. In addition, with “reverberation” you can achieve a more natural sounding of your guitar. Among all chorus pedals, the “Chorus CE-5” pedal occupies a special place. This is a pedal from “Boss”. The distinctive feature of the pedals from this manufacturer is the ability to quickly set up. When it comes to delay, the “Boss DD-500” has been the benchmark for many years. If you have a limited budget to buy a delay pedal, you can look at the “Boss DM-2W” – a more compact and cheaper version of the “Boss DD-500”. As far as the “reverberation” pedal is concerned, the “Electro-Harmonix HOLY GRAIL NANO” is the best choice. It is not expensive and has all the necessary functionality. The sound quality is high.

These three pedals can be complemented with an excellent tuner. A well-tuned guitar plays an important role in the practice of every guitarist. Every time you play the guitar, your ears get used to what they hear. If you play a perfectly tuned guitar, your ears will learn to perceive this sound as normal. The tuner can also act as a mute switch for changing guitars between songs. You don’t need to choose an expensive tuner for a start. It will be enough to opt for a high-quality and cheap version with the “true bypass” function. The “Polytune 3 Mini” is a great option for aspiring guitarists. “Overdrive”, “distortion”, “fuzz” and “looper” are more complex and specific guitar effects. They are used at the very end of the sound processing chain and are individually selected.


To sum up, both of the options have their benefits and disadvantages, making each guitar player select the one according to their needs and preferences. We hope that with today’s article we have managed to inform you about the differences between multi FX pedals and individual pedals and to make your choice easier. And which option are you currently using? What would you advise to our readers? Feel free to share your experience in the comment section below.

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