Boss GT-1 multieffects board/pedal: first impressions

Recently, Roland held an event in which dozens of products were released simultaneously, in different cities across the world. It certainly got a lot of attention, but there didn’t seem to be a ton for guitarists, except for a new line of affordable amps, the Boss Katana series, and the new GT-1: a multieffects board meant to be very compact, yet still powerful.

I’ve never been much of a fan of Boss’s “COSM” modeling. I had always felt, based on older revisions of the technology, that it didn’t have what it takes to stack up against stuff coming out of Line 6, let alone the higher end stuff from Fractal, Atomic, etc.

While it likely won’t have people ditching their Axe FX units anytime soon, Boss’s latest COSM revision, built into the new GT-1, has come a long, long way.

The GT-1 is small; as the ad copy says, something you can likely toss into the front pocket of your gig bag. I likened it to being Boss’s take on the SansAmp FlyRig idea. Because it’s so small, it has just three foot buttons, that can be configured to control a number of different functions. There’s also a port on the back to add additional foot switches or expression pedals, if the three buttons+expression pedal aren’t enough for you. Of course, that just adds to what you’ll need to carry, but some may find that worthwhile.

Firing up the unit, you’ll need to immediately decide what you’re plugging into. It defaults to being plugged into an amp, so if you’re using it with a full range monitor, you’ll want to change that, pronto. I was surprised how awful it sounded, until I realized it was expecting to be plugged into something with a guitar speaker.

Second, do yourself a favor a just bypass all the positively terrible stock presets. I don’t know what Boss/Roland were thinking when they did these presets, but they’re pretty much unusable. They’re not alone, of course. Most companies have awful stock presets, in my opinion.

Build a preset from scratch, however, and you can get some really great sounds out of it. The usual suspects are here, in terms of amp models. Rectifier, 5150, Soldano, Fender, Vox, and multiple Marshalls. Some are better than others, of course, but most are quite serviceable. Kudos to Boss for including both the Vintage and Modern settings from the Rectifier, one of my favorite amps.

The effects are, well, Boss effects. Solid performers, nothing “boutique”, but good sounding, nevertheless. Some are borderline questionable, in terms of usefulness. I can’t see myself ever using the acoustic simulator, for example. It’s just…..not good. But the effects that count, like reverb, delay, chorus, etc. are all quite good.

While editing onscreen isn’t too terribly bad (I figured it out without cracking the manual) Boss does offer a computer-based editor, which is likely faster and easier, especially working with multiple patches at a time. The USB output connects the GT-1 to your Mac or PC, and a bonus is that it also works as a USB interface.

There are some things missing from it’s bigger brothers, the GT-100 and GT-001; it can’t run two amps at once, nor does it have the ability let you fine-tune the microphone placement on the virtual speakers.

But for $199, in my opinion the GT-1 can’t be beat. I would have absolutely loved to have something of this quality when I was first starting out!

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