Can You Combine Multi Effects with Single Pedals?

Find out how to get the most out of your brilliantly weird and wonderful guitar pedals in both single and multi FX forms.

Chris Toft

Chris Toft

The debate over which is better, single pedals or multi-effects units, has graced online forums and comments sections since the dawn of digital effects. There are certainly pros and cons to both, but have you ever considered using them together to take your pedalboard to a new level? We have discussed the pros and cons of single pedals and multi-effects units in a previous blog, but here we’ll look at why you might be missing out by not using them both together!

Multi-Effects – Your Complete Pedalboard

Multi-effects units have come a long way since their inception, and they continue to get better as computer technology improves. Nowadays, digital multi-effects units sound almost, if not as good, as their analogue single pedal counterparts. So it seems counterintuitive then, not to integrate these versatile units into your pedalboard – and yet it’s not something you commonly see.

There have been some serious advancements in multi-effects units in recent years which has helped them shake the “ideal for beginners” or “home practice only” stigma. Units such as the Line 6 Helix Floor Amp, Headrush Pedalboard Multi-FX Processor, Neural DSP Quad Cortex Digital Amp and Effects Modeller and TC Electronic Plethora X5 have made multi-effects cool again, thanks to their incredible tone quality and customisation options. With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at one of the more affordable options; the TC Electronic Plethora X5, and how it can be seamlessly integrated into your current pedalboard.

TC Electronic Plethora X5

The TC Electronic Plethora X5 is a multi-effects unit that is built around TC’s revolutionary “TonePrint” software. TonePrint gives you access to a huge database of guitar effects via a mobile app and allows you to seamlessly send them to your TonePrint enabled pedals. The Plethora X5 takes this concept one step further by putting all of those effects in one place allowing you to create and customise up to 127 custom boards with any combination of TonePrint pedals. The addition of a global speaker cab-sim allows for direct play with an audio interface or PA system, giving it the edge over traditional stompboxes.

So why would you still need to use individual pedals I hear you ask? Well, we’ve all got that one pedal we can’t live without or that boutique overdrive from the ‘70s that just “sounds better” than modern pedals, right? Fortunately, the Plethora X5 has a built in FX Loop which allows you to place your favourite stompbox in line with the built-in effects. So if you want to use your vintage Klon pedal with some light chorus and delay, the Plethora X5 makes this incredibly easy and most importantly, it sounds fantastic!

Take Control!

Like most multi-effect units, the Plethora X5 comes with a huge catalogue of preset tones, with many more empty slots in which you can save your own. It’s no secret that multi-effects presets have the tendency to be somewhat underwhelming, and often require a lot of tweaking to get them to a usable level. This is where combining your single pedals with a multi-effects unit really comes into play! Let’s just say you want to create a good lead tone, with plenty of sustain and some reverb and delay for good measure. By inserting your favourite distortion pedal into the loop of the Plethora, you can start building a preset based around your trusted stompbox. Add to that, the time-based effects already in the Plethora and all of a sudden, you’ve created a great sounding preset that you can recall at the touch of a button.

The Plethora X5 also gives you the option to choose where you place your stompbox in the signal chain, giving you complete control of your tone. So if you’re the type of person who prefers their modulation effects before your gain based effects, it’s easy to configure your signal chain to suit your needs with the Plethora X5.

Who Needs the Hassle?

One of the most common complaints about multi-effects units is that they can be difficult to navigate, with small screens and endless menus! TC Electronic have completely removed this obstacle by using multiple bright screens and an incredibly simple user interface. This means you can spend less time scrolling through confusing sub menus and more time dialling in your favourite tones!  With access to every TonePrint pedal in TC’s range, the Plethora X5 has a seemingly unlimited number of tonal possibilities. This is something that just isn’t possible with individual pedals which is why multi-effects deserve your consideration when building a pedalboard.

Traveling Light

With touring becoming increasingly more expensive, musicians are finding themselves having to pack lightly when travelling abroad. This is where multi-effects units like the Plethora X5 really come into their own. It’s now incredibly easy to have a great sounding, complete pedalboard that is small and light enough for you to throw in your carry-on luggage. Most multi-effects units have a line-out feature which allows you to plug directly into a PA system when playing live. Not only does this negate the need for a guitar amplifier altogether, but the sound guy will also thank you for it!

Get Creative!

When it comes to guitar tone, we are only really limited by our own creativity so don’t be afraid to mix things up and experiment! The key thing to remember is that there is no right or wrong when it comes to tone…If it works for you then that’s all that counts!

Check out the whole range of guitar effects pedals available at Andertons here!

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Chris Toft
Chris Toft
Chris is a Senior Digital Product Marketer at Andertons and a self confessed guitar nerd. With a love of all things 80s Rock and Hair Metal, Chris favours humbucker equipped guitars, high gain amps and plenty of chorus and reverb! Clean tones and spandex leggings are optional!

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