I've never been a real big fan of multi effects. At least not in the past. It seems that, as time goes by, they're just getting better and better. And, when I talk about multi effects, I'm not talking about the pedals that have a couple of actual pedals in one housing like the ElectroHarmonix Turnip Greens or TrueTone Route 66. Those are a different breed of multi effect and don't really count. I'm talking about the boxes made by Zoom and Digitech and even Boss and Fender that have LOTS of effects in them.
My opinion is probably a little jaded because the old ones are small, in plastic cases that, face it, weren't really made to withstand much abuse, and generally sounded (to my ear) pretty crappy. Back in the day, I'd look at the Zoom offerings from time to time at the local guitar shops. I really wanted to like them. But in my not so humble opinion, they seemed like they would break too easily and weren't very intuitive.
Don't get me wrong, I've always like tech. I work in and around tech, and have done so for nearly 20 years. I just think there's a lot to be said about making tech easily understandable and easy to use for everyone...even the lay person. When I install something on my computer (especially these days), I want it to be plug and play and not have to install a bunch of obscure drivers for it to work correctly, and I want to be able to look at its interface and get a good idea of what I need to do to get it to do what I want it to do. At least on some of those earlier multi effects that I always looked at, this totally didn't describe them. You had to dig for most of the settings, and it was an all or nothing thing. On your preset you either got everything you originally programmed to it or you had to re-program it. If you had some OD and reverb on it, and you wanted to drop the reverb for a bit, well, you couldn't. The preset had OD and reverb so you either got both or neither.
I eventually broke down and bought a Digitech RP50. I really, really tried to like it. Kept it for a couple of years playing with it and trying to get it to a point that I thought it was usable. To do that, I created a bunch of presets and then grouped them. The first would be a completely clean sound against an amp sound. Then I'd add some drive to it on the next slot. Then the next slot would add chorus to that. Then the next would add reverb. Then the next would be the reverb added but without the chorus. And so on.
The sounds coming from it weren't really good. They weren't really bad. They were just sort of ok. I eventually tossed it in the closet where it sat for several years. I found it, pulled it out, and a buddy offered me $20 for it. I just gave it to him. Not like I was using it.
Then along came the GNX3 and GNX4 and some of the other units that did what I had wanted them to do before. You could setup a preset, but turn parts of it on or off. I knew a guy that had one of those (a GNX3 I think). He never actually let me play around with ("you're gonna ruin my presets, dude!"), but it seemed like they tech was finally getting to where I wanted to try it again.
Fast forward a few years after that even, and I eventually picked up a Fender Mustang Floor. I had a couple of buddies that were using the Fender Mustangs, and their amp models seemed really good. That tech had finally come far enough that, even though it still wasn't tube amp good, it's believable enough that most folks aren't going to know the difference. Especially when run though a PA in an environment where there are LOTS of other instruments playing at the same time.
I also like that it's pretty intuitive. You can change the settings pretty easily through the on-board interface or you can use the Fender Fuse software. The on-board interface is easy to understand and use. You do have to go several levels deep on some of the settings to change them, but the basic settings are right there. I prefer the Fuse option though because the settings are all right there.
I actually picked it up for when I'm doing the worship band gig. Nobody but the other guitarist cares if I'm using a tube amp or what my pedals are. The Mustang Floor not only does a good enough job with the amp models and effects that it doesn't sound bad, and it has enough outputs that I can give the sound person whatever kind of line out they want. In a situation like that, it's always been my experience that you either don't get an amp or you don't get an amp on stage with you, so you can't hear it anyways. So the Mustang Floor gives me a sound that I can live with, and makes the sound tech happy too.
The Mustang Floor was discontinued like 3 years ago, and Fender hasn't done anything to replace it. Because of that, I'm waiting on the day that the Fuse software doesn't work anymore. At the moment, it doesn't seem like it's supported at all, so, when it breaks, I guess it'll be done.
However, as multi effects and modeling tech get older, they're still getting better. Nowadays you have the Kemper amps and rack units like the Eleven Rack. I don't know if you can truly consider those multi effects or if they're more profilers, but their amp models and effects are good enough they have been known to fool even some of the diehard cork sniffers.
Looking back on multi effects, if they continue to move at the same pace they have the last 15 years, there'll be no reason to ever lug an amp and board anymore within just a few years.
And, yes, I stole the pics below from Sweetwater because I am too lazy to try to take pics of mine, and couldn't find any stock pics from Fender.
I like guitars. For the first 15 or so years of my guitar playing life, I only had 2 guitars. Well, 3, but really only played 2 of them. They were both acoustics. A steel string and a classical. I also had a travel guitar for part of that time, but that was kind of a novelty, and it didn't get played very often at all.
Then I bought my first electric. I had it for a couple of years. Bought it off eBay from a guy across town. Never really bonded with it, but usually kept it sitting out on the stand instead of the others just because I thought it looked cool. Shortly after I bought it, I took myself to the local GC, and I bought myself an amp. Knew even less about amps than I did electric guitars, and I ended up with an amp that has since been relegated to the workbench in the garage so that I have something that I can test a guitar on when I'm working on it just to be sure that all the electronics are working.
I thought the electric guitar and amp sitting next to each other in the living room looked really cool. You know how it is. Bachelor chic. Single guy decor. When I joined the ranks of the matrimonially inclined, I was pretty quickly told that they were no longer welcome sitting out in the living room.
I was content with the guitars I had. They covered everything I needed them to do. And, in fact, when I played out, I only ever used one specific guitar...the Martin...because it had a pickup in it, and I could plug it in or mic it, and it just was (and still is) a workhorse of a guitar. That was also back when finances were beyond tight. There was seldom anything extra, and when there was, it generally went to stuff that I actually needed and not guitars or gear. I had also not really discovered the world of gear at that point.
Somewhere in the middle of all that, I had spotted the electric guitar at a little guitar shop in East Texas that I wanted instead of the one that I had. I wasn't yet seeing the girl that I ended up marrying, but I had driven over to East Texas a couple of times to visit her with some friends. So I decided one weekend when I was visiting her to take my electric to that little shop and see what kind of deal I could swing for the one that I had seen hanging on their wall. Because the shop didn't do their due diligence, they thought the guitar I was trading was a much nicer guitar than it was (it was the very bottom end, import Parker that they thought was the bottom end MIA version...a difference on the used market of about $600 at the time). So when the guy came out and made a production of telling me that they were going to give me a super deal and trade me straight up for the guitar on the wall (which, at what they should've been paying me was going to be about 50% off the price of the one I wanted), I figured I was going to take the money and run.
I figured that, when I walked in with the guitar, I had told him the model number, and it was right there on the headstock too, so it was his own fault if he didn't know what it was. Then again, date of manufacture on the one I wanted was about 18 months before, so maybe it had been hanging on their wall for too long, and they just figured they'd get rid of it and try their luck with something else. Maybe they thought they were the ones getting the steal of a deal.
I still think the store guy thought he had the nicer Parker, though, because they had a used one sitting over as soon as you walked in the door like a trophy. It had the usual Parker price tag on it, and he kept talking about how it was going to be nice to have 2 Parkers in the store at once. Problem was, the one I was trading would only sell for about 30% of the price they had on the other one. Like I said, take the money, or rather the guitar that I wanted, and run. Depending on your perspective, I didn't pay anything for the guitar I left with. It was a straight up trade.
It was what has come to be known on the market as a Fender Splattercaster. A MIM Standard Strat with a splatter paint job.
Fast forward a few years. I had a better paying job. I was married. She also had a job. Finances were a little more free. I had not only realized that different electrics sounded different (there was a time that I thought they all sounded the same - I was an extreme acoustic snob), but I had discovered all the periphery gear that gets sold around guitars. So I slowly started acquiring pedals and amps and even more (and nicer) guitars.
Every guitar that I bought, I bought for a purpose. I had always really liked the look of a 335, so for our first Christmas together, my new wife found a 335-clone on a bargain closeout price, and bought it for me. Then I got a really good bonus at work so I picked up a Les Paul because, since my primary electric was a Strat, it seemed to be the opposite electric. That's when things started to free up a bit and GAS started to kick into high gear.
Since then I've managed to get representation of all the major body types of electrics (at least the ones that I like - except an SG, and someday I still need to find the perfect one of those). I've also got more amps than some studios I've seen, a closet full of pedals, and lots of other associated gear. In truth, when we moved into our current house, one of the major considerations was the music room and the fact that it really, really needed a walk-in closet so all the guitars would fit.
Out of all the gear I've got, I've gotten it all to play. Basically anyways. I've got one guitar that I bought recently for the sole reason that I like the look of it. One of these days, I'm going to hang it on the wall as an art piece. But that doesn't meant that it will never be played.
I've got some nice gear that someday may actually be worth more than I paid for it. It may not be. I'm thinking specifically of a couple of anniversary edition guitars that I've got. They'll never finance my retirement (they're not babied - I play them), but someday I might at least be able to get my money back on them. There are a couple of pedals I have because they're unique that I bought with the thought in the back of my mind that maybe someday I'd get a return on them because of the fact that they're unique and they (at least as of now) haven't really been mass marketed. One of them, I could already do that to. Watching Reverb, mine's in good condition, and it looks like I could get about 50% more from it than I paid. But I like the pedal, don't really want to part with it at the moment, and it gets played. So, when I do decide to get rid of it, it's going to look used. So it may end up being worthless. But, when the rubber meets the road, I buy gear to play it. Gear is never an investment.
I feel like I should repeat that. Gear is NEVER an investment.
That said, I occasionally pull out the guitar and amp blue books and hit reverb (or where ever) so that I can see how much it would cost to replace my gear if anything happened to it. It's an insurance thing. Oddly enough, tonight in doing that audit, it appears that most of my gear has either held steady at used prices I paid or depreciated as expected when bought new. Except for one guitar. The one that I didn't pay anything for. The one that I could never get rid of because I bought it to try and impress a girl that I wasn't yet dating. The one that, since all of my guitars are named, happens to be named after that girl...who a few weeks later bought a stuffed animal and named it after me because I had told her the new guitar's name. BTW, she eventually married me.
Looking at what they seem to sell for when they hit the market, since I wasn't out of pocket for the guitar, if I factor in what the guitar I traded would have fairly sold for, that Splattercaster has doubled in value since I bought it. Of course I'd have to go dig the original pickguard and back plate out of the box in the closet and put them back on, but it just kind of made me laugh. As far as collectibility, it's just a MIM Standard Strat with an odd paint job. If you listen to the cork-sniffers, it's a run of the mill MIM so it can only be worthless, good for nothing, and will never amount to anything. I wonder if they could tell me what guitar they have that has doubled in value. I bet they can't.
Funny how that works out sometimes.
The Strat that has been my main go-to for nearly 10 years is my Hwy 1 Strat in 3-color burst. You know how you always seem to grab the same guitar or two in the end? This is one of those for me.
I got it back in 2010. Prior to that time, I had played primarily acoustic, and didn't play it all that well (I only had 1 electric at that time). I was really good at cowboy chords, and could play some bluegrass-y, sort of country-ish leads, but that was it. I had decided a couple of years before that I wanted to learn to play the blues. I had picked up a couple of book/cd combos, and worked my way through them, but was having trouble finding my way outside of their canned solos for some reason.
The end of 2009, I found myself laid off from work. While I was sitting at the house looking for work one day, I came across an internet teacher that seemed pretty good. So I bought his course (more on this in another post later). He was actually making sense to me, and I was progressing through his coursework. I had decided that, once I finished the course, I was going to reward myself for sticking with it and buy myself a nice Stratocaster. It was several months later, and I was about half way through the course (and actually back to work by this time), and had already showed Mrs Snarf the guitar I had picked out. She walked in from work one day, nice little bonus in hand, and announced to me that I needed to go ahead and order the guitar that I had picked out. So I did.
Since then, no matter what other guitars I may pick up for a while, they always end up back in the closet, and the Hwy 1 stays out on the stand. I've talked off and on about upgrading her a bit, swapping the pups for a good set of Zexcoils or putting some locking tuners on her. Somehow, though, she always makes me happy just like she is, and has remained bone stock. And, yes, she's a her, and her name is Cali because she's the first MIA Strat I got.
When I got her, she was the entry level MIA Strat Fender made. Rumor has it that she's half MIM, but, I actually asked someone at Fender once, and they assured me that she was made in the factory in Corona. Not that it matters...I'm of the opinion that if it plays easily and sounds good, it can be made where ever it came from and I'll be happy with it. Regardless, just like any guitar, after I got her, I gave her a good setup, and she played as well as any guitar I have picked up.
As a Hwy One, it has the Greasebucket tone control. I can't say that I'm unhappy with it. According what Fender used to advertise, it rolls off the highs without adding any lows. Ummmm...a tone control pot can't add any lows. It reduces the highs which accentuates the lows. But it doesn't add them. To my ear, it just cuts some of the lows with the highs. That's not necessarily a bad thing. It sounds good to me. I have heard of people that got Hwy Ones and immediately changed that circuit. I'm not sure why.
The pups are a bit hotter than any other Strat that I've got. Again, not a bad thing. It just gives it a different voice. And a nice one at that. In one of my other Strats, I've got a set of CS 69s dropped in that I really like. I never really understood "that glassy Strat sound" until I heard those. The pups in the Hwy One aren't super glassy. Don't get me wrong; they still sound like a Strat, but they've actually got more growl and drive a lot quicker than the 69s. Iv'e also been told that I'm a but odd because I seldom use the neck pickup which some of my buddies tell me is the only way that God intended a Strat to be played. I prefer a bit more of that Robert Cray-ish treble, and almost always have it in position 2 for that bridge/middle sound. That's the one that makes me happy. I've also got it set with 5 springs to keep the bridge flush on the body.
It's nothing short of a great guitar, and a total player. Mine has more bumps and bruises on it than my other electrics, but that's because it's the one that I play more than any single other electric. When I got this one it was because I wanted a MIA Strat, and this was the cheapest on the block by about $350. In retrospect, imho, these guitars were total sleepers. Or maybe I just got an outstanding example of one.
Snarf is a wannabe musician who currently resides in the great state of Texas. His wife is his favorite. If Coca Cola was alcohol, he'd be a raging alcoholic. He dislikes going to the grocery store. And he still misses his dog who was taken by cancer 2 years ago. Check out his Reverb shop and see if he has any gear he's trying to get rid of.