BOSS GT-100 experiences
My brother and I have a large collection of stomp boxes and we often exchange them. No problem because we both don’t gig that much and when I practice at home I use my small Fender Vibro Champ XD with built in pre-amps and effects.
But by coincidence, we had to gig at the same date and since we have for ‘must-have’ pedals only one, I decided to buy an effect floor-board: the BOSS GT-100.
The reviews of the GT-100 were raving, price OK (400 euros including bag) and it also has an harmonist function. I needed one for doing some harmonics and since a BOSS harmonist pedal alone costs about 180 euros, the decision to purchase the GT-100 was easily made.
Sadly it was delayed on delivery so I couldn’t use it when practicing with the band and I only had one week to master this complex device for using it at a real gig. And during this week I found out it sounded shit. Although I used it during the gig (the gig was the drummer’s birthday party) I was about to return it to the shop. The effects were awful, as if someone put a pillow on the speaker.
Anyway some googling showed the solution: when you use the BOSS GT-100 (or any effects processor) in combination with a guitar amp, don’t use the amp simulators.
The reason is that a guitar amp doesn’t really have ‘hifi’ specs. All guitar amps have a frequency response that is rather flat between 1 KHz and 5 KHz (low E open string is about 82 Hz, high E string at 22nd fret is about 1.2 KHz). But hifi-like devices as a PA system, headphones or a studio mixing board have a flat frequency spectrum running from about 50 Hz to 20 KHz. If you use a pre-amp simulator in combination with a real guitar amp, you will have twice the typical guitar amp characteristics resulting in a muffled sound.
So what to do if you use your GT-100 in combination with a guitar amp? What I did is to use what I call the ‘Satriani method’. It is known that Joe Satriani (at least in the old days – when I liked his sound best) only used the clean channel of his Marshall amp and got all overdrive/distortion from his pedals. Of course also the clean channel of a Marshall will add some flavour to the overall sound but the ‘crunch’ was coming from pedals. My main amp, a Hughes & Kettner ATTAX 100, has three channels (clean, crunch and lead) and I use only the clean channel. It is possible to use the different channels in combination with the GT-100 (so the GT-100 can switch channels of your amp) but for now I will keep this out-of-scope. There are many websites that describe how to do this.
Fo best results I use the ‘4 cable method’ which means that a part of your effects will be put before the pre-amp of your guitar amp and another part of your effects are put after the pre-amp and before the power amp of your guitar amp. In a simple picture:
You must connect the 4 cables as follows:
1. Connect your guitar to the input of the GT-100
2. Connect the GT-100 Send Socket to the input of your guitar amplifier. The guitar signal will be sent straight to the Pre Amp on your amplifier.
3. Connect the Effect Send Socket on the amplifier to the Return Socket on your GT-100. The ‘pre-amped” signal will enter the effect chain on your GT-100.
4. Connect the GT-100 L/MONO Output Socket to Return Socket on your amplifier. The ‘Effected” signal from the GT-100 will enter the Power Amp section on your amplifier.
Now defining your sound. For the best results there is a recommended order of putting your effects. It is a good starting point but best is to experiment a lot.
Before the Send/Return of the BOSS-GT100
- Amplitude altering effects
- Like (auto-)WAH, Flanger, Pitch shifter, Harmonizer
- Noise gate/Compressor
- Post Distortion EQ
The last two can be tricky. Some people recommend to put the noise gate/compressor as earlier in the signal chain but myself I prefer this order. I use the post distortion EQ to beef up some frequencies that have been lost in the noise gate/compressor part.
After the Send-Return on your BOSS-GT100
- Time delays effects such as Chorus and Phasers
- Reverb and echo, tape delays, etc.
For creating a new sound it is important to keep in mind under what circumstances you will use the sound. For me, my starting point is doing a gig in a club. I use the 100 Watt Attax amp and the 4 cable method. I know that in a club my master volume will be somewhere between 5 and 6 (clean channel, all tone settings at neutral, no reverb) and that is loud. Luckily I have a cellar in which I can make quite some noise but you can also do this in the practicing room of your band. I put my BOSS GT-100 on a table and sit behand the table with the guitar on my lap at about 2 metres from the amp. Why do I have the BOSS board on a table? You will ruin your back by continuously having to bend over to the floor to adjust parameter settings. And more important, when you bend over and make adjustments, the hearing experience also changes.
When I am close to the desired sound, I walk a little bit around to see how the sound behaves. Does it still sound good to my ears when I’m 4 meters away from the amp, how is the feedback etc.
Once again, this is just my preference. The set-up might not do it for you but you can use it as a starting point.
In the future I will post some BOSS GT-100 patches especially for this set-up.