If you’ve ever wanted the option between a good practice amp for low volumes at home or in the apartment, and an amp with enough juice for practicing with the band or gigging in clubs, then the Vox VT-15 Valvetronix is worth checking out. I was in this position recently after moving. I needed an amp that could do a few things for me – be small and light, be loud enough to hear through a full band, and of course have good tone. After a bit of searching on craigslist I found a used Vox VT-15 for sale. I checked it out online (much like you might be doing now), and with a 12ax7 in there for real tube power and 15 watts, this seemed just right, plus, Vox is a pretty reputable brand.

I’ve been very impressed with mine so far. The tone is great, and depending on which of the 22 amp types (through a great amp modelling system I might add) you can really dial in your own tone. They have everything from Vox AC30 and AC50′s to Marshall stack, tweed amps, and Mesa-Boogie type models. For me, I use my effects to colour my sound, so the most important thing for me was getting a nice clean sound that I liked, and it wasn’t hard at all! You’ve also got your frequency controls, as well as independent reverb, and built in effects. As I mentioned, the effects don’t matter as much to me since I purely use my pedals, but for those who want them, there 12 independent effects built right in, as well as room for 66 preset sounds for limitless amp modelling and sound creation.

With the presets, you can choose your amp model and tone, as well as your effects, making it easy (especially with a footswitch) to change sound from song to song. If you purchase an additional footswitch, you can also turn on or off effects, cycle through you own or the built in presets, and turn on/off reverb. Another aspect about this amp that’s great is that you can dial in the amount of power it uses with the volume attenuator, switching through 5 watts to 15 watts, allowing you to get more crunch and response if you want to drive the master volume. It also has a 1/8th inch headphone jack great for practicing or recording.

I highly recommend this amp for beginners or pro’s alike. It offers a variety of amp models and effects, and comes in sizes for everyone. My model was the smallest, the 15 watt version with a single 8″ speaker, but still has some serious power and tone. It’s also available up to a full 100 watt amp with 2×12″ speakers. I chose the smallest model for portability and ease of use, but for those looking to use it for gigging and need the power, there are options for that too which is great. Overall, the Vox VT-15 and Vox Vt or Valvetronix series has some serious bang for it’s buck.

Today I’ll give a brief look at the flagship multieffects unit from Boss in the Boss GT-10 Review.  Now, we’ve already looked at two of Boss’s other multieffects pedals, the Boss ME-20 and the ME-50 in my Boss ME-50 review, so some of what this pedal does will sound similar to these, but a crucial distinction with the GT-10 is that it also has a custom made processor and its own COSM (composite object sound modeling).  This gives it the tonal ability to sound even more like a Marshall Stack, or a Fender Blackface, or whatever other rig models you want.

Note: I’ve since added a Boss ME-70 review, which is worth checking out for a comparison between the GT-10.

The Boss GT-10 is one of the most comprehensive multieffects and floorboard processors on the market.  With enough bells and whistles to keep any pro player happy, it also has nice ease of use features for first time users and newer guitarists.  The EZ Tone wizard is one of these features.  It allows for players to find their sound design quickly based on graphical icons instead of trying to dial in a whole bunch of settings on the LCD.  Other than that, the Boss GT-10 has enough pedals (8 + wah/expression pedal), to have excellent control over your sound, with the ability to switch patches quickly, or to put it into stompbox mode and control each effect one at a time. Another way to make life easier is the autoriff and harmonizer effects. The autoriff function basically allows you to play one note as the GT-10 takes over and plays a riff based on that note and loops it over and over until you change notes. It’s entertaining to play with, but absolutely pointless in any performance setting where it would be obvious you’re faking it!

The Boss GT-10 has more effects and amp models than I possible list, so for now it’s safe to assume that if you can imagine it, you can have it with this pedal.  Flanger, chorus, distortion, etc – They’re all there.  Fender, Marshall, Gibson, Vox – you’ll be able to dial in those sounds.  Aside from simply modeling or adding effects, this unit’s expression pedal can also increase/decrease the level of your distortion.  This is a feature I loved when I gave it a try.  With its state of the art COSM, the pedal already reacts to your picking sensitivity, but with the expressions pedal you can add that crunch until it’s just right, perfect for that extra sustain in a solo, or for just rocking a bit harder.

Here’s a video demonstrating a few of the killer tones you can get from the Boss GT-10:

Sound on sound looping is also possible with the Boss GT-10.  This is great for creating loops on stage, or for using it as a tool when composing.  With a USB port you can also stream real time audio and midi data between computers, digital recorders or any other compatible devices. Between the extra features of sound on sound loops, data transfer, a highly customizable expression pedal, more effects than you can shake a stick at, and some of the BEST amp modeling and most realistic effects in a digital multieffects format, the Boss GT-10 truly is the boss of all multieffects units. Thanks for checking out my Boss GT-10 Review and don’t forget to check out my other guitar reviews!

If you’ve ever sat there trying to write a song, wishing you had someone who could just play the rhythm part over and over for you, then you probably needed the Digitech Jamman looping pedal.  The Digitech Jamman is your assistant when you’re writing riffs and leads, it’s your backup section on stage, and it’s a great practicing tool to help you get your chops up.  After a few months with one, I’ve found it indispensible.

The Digitech Jamman is a powerful pedal for what it does.  Equipped with dual footswitches, you have the ability to record a section, saving up to 99 independent loops at one time, and then record your solos right over your rhythm track.  Since I started using this pedal to write solos for my own songs, I noticed a consider improvement in how they sounded (although that’s just my opinion!).  What’s more is that you can use this one stage to loop your rhythm guitar and play a solo live at the same time, no more need for a second guitarist.

Here’s a video demonstration of the Jamman that explores all the features built in:

Saving your ideas and loops with the Digitech Jamman is also easy, all you have to do is connect the Jamman to your computer through a USB cable and you can store all your loops forever.  Don’t want to hook the Jamman up to your computer?  There’s also a compact flash slot so you can put a memory card in and save up to 6.5 hours of recorded material.  This all makes the Jamman a great pedal for guitarists like myself, who have a moment of brilliance, but if it’s not recorded just can’t quite get it right when they try again the next day.  It can basically keep a record for you.

Other than the multiple layers of loops you can pile on, and the ability to store your loops to your computer or compact flash card, the Digitech Jamman can also slow down and speed up your loops/songs, all without changing pitch.  This is a great tool for learning other people’s songs or your favourite tunes.  This isn’t necessarily a feature I use if I’m learning other people’s songs since I have a computer, but for slowing down my own music while composing, this can be helpful.

I will throw it out there that for some good competition, check out the Boss RC-20. It’s a very similar pedal, with two foot pedals and massive looping capabilities. Coming in around the $300 range, the Digitech Jamman looping pedal might seem a bit pricey, but once you start to play around with it, it makes its usefulness known.  Whether your composing, performing, or practicing, the Digitech Jamman has you covered.

After looking at two different multi-effects pedals, I’m going to change gears here and talk about the Fender Noiseless Pickups.  Now pickups are one of the MOST crucial parts of your guitar, let alone your whole set up!  If you have a great amp and killer pedals, none of it really matters a whole lot if you’re not using right pickups, or if you’re using poor quality ones.  While there are a lot of pickups to talk about, today we’ll focus on the Fender Noiseless Pickups, just for those strat and tele players out there.

Before I switched my tele over to Vintage Fender Noiseless Pickups, I was struggling with noisy pickups.  Every time I stopped playing, a relatively loud hum kept going, especially if I had any overdrive or distortion on.  Fluorescent light made the problem even worse.  Once I went noiseless, all my problems were resolved.  I was worried they wouldn’t sound as good as my custom shop ’62 reissue pickups, but once I popped them in there, I was more than happy with the sound.

Here’s a brief youtube video demonstrating a Stratocaster with noiseless pickups:

Fender offers a variety of noiseless pickups for those looking to improve their sound and clarity without being limited to one or two types of pickups.  One of the most popular sets is the Vintage Fender Noiseless Pickups for Stratocasters or Telecasters.  These offer a nice vintage strat sound that so many strat players crave, in a pickup with 5 beveled alnico 5 magnets and enamel coated wire.  If the vintage Fender Noiseless Pickups don’t do it for you, there’s also the Hot Fender Vintage Noiseless Pickups. With more DC resistance, these offer a more screaming sound on the bridge with high gain, suitable for harder rock, but switch to the neck pickup and settle into a smoother bluesier tone.  You can buy these pickups either individually, or in a set of 3 (for strats, 2 for a tele) with pots, resistor and a capacitor.

Now there’s another option as well in the noiseless pickup department, the Fender SCN (Samarium Cobalt Noiseless) Pickups.  Samarium cobalt refers to the fact that these combine traditional magnets with samarium cobalt.  These pickups offer the same great noiseless ability, but have a slightly different tone than the hot or vintage pickups.  There is definitely a bit more of that traditional snappy strat sound with these, and a lot of player who play with higher gain prefer these (or the hot noiseless as well).

In short, if you’re like me and you can’t live without a nice Fender single coil axe in your lineup, and you’ve got this nagging hum, Fender Noiseless Pickups are the way to go.  With Hot, Vintage, or SCN, you can let your tone be your tone, and leave the single coil hum behind.  Fender makes the benchmark single coil guitar, and with the Fender Noiseless Pickups, they’re the cleanest sounding out there.

Moving up the ladder of multi-effects unit we’re going to look at the Boss ME-50 Review today. We’ve seen the ME-20 and know it’s an excellent unit for those on a budget but still want it all. Looking at the Boss ME-50 we’ll see that it’s also on the affordable side of the effects spectrum, along with more tweakability and toys built in. While the ME-20 has the ability to mimic other brands of pedals as well, the Boss ME-50 is pretty much all Boss, and there’s nothing wrong with that!

Getting started in this Boss ME-50 Review, we have 30 presets right out of the box. You can use this pedal as a patch selector, where you have your sound dialed in, and the pedals basically just choose the patch you want, or in stompbox mode where the pedals act as an effects pedal themselves, turning on or off a desired effect. One great thing about this pedal is it has separate knobs for each pedal so you can manually customize your effects quickly, no hassle of trying to navigate a menu. The effects included with this are pretty comprehensive too, including:

  • Tone Modifier (change up the preset EQ)
  • Compressor
  • Overdrive/distortion
  • Chorus
  • Flanger
  • Harmonist
  • Tremolo
  • Pan
  • Vibrato
  • UNI-V
  • Rotary sound
  • Delay
  • Reverb
  • Noise suppression

This is a pretty huge list of effects, so it’s hard to imagine not being able to dial in the sound you want, at least once you get used to the interface. That brings me to another thing I found, which is that there is definitely a learning curve in getting used to this pedal. More options means more learning for you, but if you put the time in playing around with it, it’s not too hard to pick up.

Another excellent feature of the Boss ME-50 is the expression pedal. It’s the wah/volume pedal on the right hand side of it, and it does more than just wah and volume! You can use this almost as a whammy pedal, using it to pitch shift up or down an octave, as a ring modulator, voice, resonance, wah and volume, just by switching it’s function with one simple knob. Did I mention it also has a tuner built in?

Coming in around the $200 range, the Boss ME-50 is a killer unit for its price. With this pedal you can dial in just about any tone, and it offers a lot of flexibility where others don’t. This is another case where you can get a whole line up of Boss pedals in one pedal for a fraction of the price, and for any tone freak I would seriously recommend the Boss ME-50. Thanks for checking out my Boss ME-50 Review and I hope you find some other usefull articles here at My Guitar Time.