Zoom G3 guitar multi effects pedal review, replacing my old pedal collection

MarkGDR November 24, 2011 2
Zoom G3 guitar multi effects pedal review, replacing my old pedal collection

So let’s get this clear from the start – I’m not reviewing the whole of the functions of this Zoom G3 multi-effects unit, that would take about 107 reviews for the depth I’d like to cover things! So it’s just really my findings from one week of owning this unit. I had a lot of old and so-so pedals that I never used anymore; one was faulty / broken (my overdrive), the others I couldn’t be bothered plugging in for a 10 minute strum (a Marshall Compressor an EHX Q-tron & the Behringer X-V Amp)! Besides, my amp I mainly use now at home, a Vox AD30 has quite a few good playable sounds/models built in, I switch that on and there are about 12 presets, my 2 favourite home made programs/combination of settings and a manual mode. I was missing was an overdrive pedal, that worked, and some switchable modulation effects, also I wanted an Octaver of some sort, for funky guitar lines… So I decided to get rid of this whole raggle taggle group of pedals and plumped (after reading lots and lots of articles, watching YouTube videos) to replace them with the Zoom G3 multi effects pedal.

Zoom G3, the box

Zoom G3, the box

I’ve owned the Zoom G3 for about a week now and I think it’s easy to plug and play the guitar with effects aplenty at my disposal. I’m still finding out what way I think it’s best to use this effects unit. Right now, after this first week, I’m thinking I like the 2 channels I’ve set up on my Vox amplifier; one is a Fender Blackface clean amp sound and the other a Marshall 80s overdrive sound. I really like these two sounds just as they are, but I usually used compression with the Fender sound and a very slow phase, not too deep, with the Marshall sound. The Zoom G3 has built in amp models and I think they sound good but I think since I’m very happy with the Vox models I won’t really be using them to play with in my patches. That leaves me 3 switches dedicated to effects on the G3 and not worrying about amp models and positioning in the chain etc. For me this unit is acting right now as 3 stomp boxes in a chain, the way you think it would work when you first set eyes on it. Also it’s really quick to change the order of effects, which makes a big difference to sound, there’s several articles about that worth reading here and there. To switch effect order just press “TOTAL” button and the 3 effects are shown in the middle display, under the 3 effects are 3 knobs, turning these the intuitive/obvious way moves the order of the effects around, simple, logical and quick. So every effect has at least three parameters that can be very quickly tweaked but also some of the more complex effects have parameter pages in their menus. You can twiddle the parameter knobs for the first set of 3 parameters and hit the page button to get to the next page of adjustments. The most I’ve seen for one effect is 3 parameter pages.

Zoom G3, unboxed with contents and my 5 year guarantee

Zoom G3, unboxed with contents and my 5 year Gear4Music guarantee

This might be a good time to list the Zoom G3 specification of this little box of wonders… You can see the whole spec on that link and it also shows you call the graphic displays; one for each effect. If you’re thinking about this little effects unit it’s a great resource to look through. The highlights are as follows;

  • 107 effects to assign to the foot switches.
  • 13 of these effects are Amp Models, so if you’re not going to use those you have 94 stomp effects to play with
  • 3 effects at once (3 pedals in one) if using the amp models and some effects only 2 can be used simultaneously, however this is rare and only has occurred to me when using an Amp model and the HD reverb effect – that combination uses all the Zoom G3 CPU power it seems.
  • 7 twin effects including some good combinations like Compressor and AutoWah & Chorus and Reverb. Using these can give you 4 effects at once, usually, if required
  • Active/Passive switchable guitar in
  • Mono, stereo, XLR, USB outs
  • ASIO very low latency USB audio interface works with Windows XP/Vista/7 and MacOSX 10.4/5/6 right now
  • Runs off batteries (4 x AA), USB power or mains (adapter supplied, a good one, small & runs cool)
  • Seems nice and sturdy, metal base and switches, rubber feet, sockets all firm, weight is about 1Kg
  • Built in “Drum machine” with 40 patterns
  • Uses Zoom’s latest DSP ZFX-IV – low noise, realistic modelling, 1 millisecond patch change speed
  • Looper with 40 seconds recording and overdubbing
  • Free Steinberg Sequel LE
Zoom G3, the multi-effects unit powered up, doing it's thing

Zoom G3, the multi-effects unit powered up, doing it's thing

For my summary of this weeks use I am very happy with this Zoom G3 unit replacing the dedicated pedals I had in my collection. Lots less wires, batteries, connections, messing around. The Q-Tron style filter effects are admirably replaced by the Zoom G3’s M-Filter and Resonance pedals. Both of these are more pleasing to my ears than the EHX Q-Tron I owned previously, a good plus point. My broken overdrive pedal is also well covered I think. The Zoom G3 has 21 drive effects, so far the favourite for me for saturated overdrive is the “HotBox” pedal. Very smooth and creamy and organic sounding. The compressor I had, I don’t miss now, the compressor built into the Vox amp is fine for me and now I have the Zoom G3 I can also choose and configure 3 other kinds of compressor.  They cover the areas I used to use the Marshall ED1 compressor, no problem.

I’ve covered my pedal replacement rationale for buying this Zoom G3 but the original spark that got me to actually think about selling all my pedals and rationalising my collection was this; I wanted an Octaver pedal. My research showed that the latest Boss one (Boss OC3) was the best at a reasonable price. It is one of the few Octavers that lets you play polyphonically, quite an attractive feature looking at the YouTube demos etc. Also I’ve always liked the Tremolo effect on old 1960s amps since I had the effect on my old Carlsboro Scorpion 30. Guess what, the Zoom G3 has both Tremolo, Vibrato and Univibe effects built in, with quite a lot of controls, alongside the usual rate and depth there are other controls such as the wave shape; saw, sine, square etc. The Octaver effect in the Zoom G3 is of the more normal monophonic variety that gets a bit confused when you play more than one note at once or let the old note ring too loud when you play the next note and also if you play a (pinch or trailing finger) harmonic. I am not bowled over by the effect but it works well enough and sounds pretty much like other single note Octavers I have tried in the past. A great bonus is the other similar effects available that I hadn’t thought about. Such as the mono pitch shifter and the synth effect, both sound great in different ways.

My initial pluses and minuses are;

POSITIVE

  1. So many effects to choose, 3 or 4 at a time, works just like pedals with at least 3 knobs/adjustments per effect, quick to change effect order.
  2. I love the HotBox overdrive, the Univibe is nice, the Filter Delay is also a favourite. The M-Filter is an improvement over my old EHX Q-Tron.
  3. There are many other pedals and things still to explore and tweak!
  4. I’m sure the Lopper and Drum Machine will be used for practicing later on.
  5. The tuner is great to have available all the time, now all my guitars are in tune with each other!
  6. ASIO USB function – saves buying a USB audio interface for my guitar.
  7. Price is great for all the functions, selling my tired old stomp boxes paid for this nice bit of kit.

NEGATIVE

  1. I prefer Boss style pedal switches to these metal stud types. Most of the time I play guitar I am just wearing my socks!
  2. A built in expression pedal would be amazing, right now it’s optional to connect an external model
  3. I think the Auto Wah should have a tone control, likewise the “Cry” Talk Box pedal but the Resonance pedal is more configurable. With the Auto Wah it seems to work in extremes suiting either neck or bridge pickup
  4. I’d like a global noise gate that didn’t use an effect slot, but my Vox amp has a global noise gate anyway…
  5. The “Bomber” effect! Anyone got a good demo of this being used practically?!?

I’ve not touched on using the Looper, or many other effects/functions but here is a video of me plucking away on my Bits-o-caster with some of the sounds & effect combinations I like right now.

Thanks for reading and if you want to read some more about the Zoom G3 the best resource I found on the internet is here at The Gear Page (currently 31 pages of discussion…) Also there are some, but not that many yet, downloadable patches for the Zoom G3 available at Haax.se You can buy this Zoom G3 at Amazon – Zoom G3 Guitar Multi Effects Pedal and USB Interface, in my searches everywhere on the net has the same price anyway!

2 Comments »

  1. MarkGDR January 10, 2012 at 4:15 pm -

    You can now update your Zoom G3 to v1.12 firmware – http://www.zoom.co.jp/downloads/g3/software/
    It fixes the following;
    “1. Sometimes initialized parameter of expression pedal that set at powerd on.
    2. Added the LCD contrast menu.”

    • Cissa March 3, 2012 at 6:37 am -

      Distortion pedals get their sound by turning your guitar signal up as loud as it can go, then pushing the waveform even louder! Then it sounds distorted. If you do that process twice (IE. with both of your distortion pedals turned on) then your noise floor will be raised very high. All the tiny little buzzing sound you can barely hear when your guitar is clean get really loud and cause feedback! Either turn the gain/distortion/whatever down very low on both of your pedals, or only use them one at a time. That’s my advice. Hope this helped!

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