Price paid: £ 99
Purchased from: Sound Control
Sound — 10
I use an old 80 watt Marshall Valve Amp which is without a doubt the most incredible amp I've ever played. My guitars include a 60s Japanese Les Paul copy, Epiphone SG, Custom Fender Strat, Westfield Explorer copy replaced with Gibson pickups, ESP H-250 and a self made one with Fender and Gibson pickups. Obviously with such a wide range of guitars, I can get a lot of different sounds and they're not all good. Or at least that's what I thought until I got the ME-20. Until that pedal I just used a Boss DS1 distortion stomp box along with the amp, but now I haven't touched another pedal in 2 years, I haven't had any need to. With the tone of the valve amp, all the EQ and effects are done from the ME-20 and the guitars themselves. The only time I've ever had any bad fuzz or feedback that I didn't programme myself has been with maximum reverb, powerful distortion and holding the guitar up against the amp on full volume at a gig. The noise thresh-hold on the ME-20 is brilliant, as it can totally demolish any unwanted noise WITHOUT loosing ANY sound quality whatsoever. I've gotta say, the distortion is fantastic as you can get literally any sounds from Jeff Beck sort of old style, to modern fuzz or heavy metal rubbish... The delay and reverb are also fantastic, as they can simulate being in anything from a little practice room to making it like your playing at Wembley. The Precision of the delay is incredible, I've used it in a few songs like Paramore's "Decode" to echo a note from just once up to repeating a melody for several bars. Hand on heart, these isn't a single bad effect on it.
Overall Impression — 10
I play plenty of stuff, from classic rock (Gun's N Roses sort of stuff) to modern rock like lostprophets and paramore, and some more chilled out Acoustic style stuff. The only music I don't play is metal as personally I wouldn't call it music... I've only been playing for about 3 years, but I've come a pretty long way and gained a very plentiful set up of 6 electric guitars that I've listed and a Fender Acoustic to boot. The most satisfying part of this set up, is that every single guitar I've got sounds incredible through my ME-20. Obviously having decent guitars and an awesome amp helps, but my set up would be anything but complete without this pedal. I love the fact that it's so simple and easy to use, as well as spitting out incredible sounds no matter what style of music you're playing. I know a few people with the bigger ME-50, and I've gotta say that although the expression pedal has more features, it's so much worse than the ME-20! It takes so long to sort your effects out as its all visual, nothing comes up on the screen to tell you what you've set it to and with all the knobs being exposed, if they move around in your bag then you've lost it all. The ME-20 is fantastic as it's all saved no matter how much you play around with it, and its so easy to set up your sound just how you want it. Hand on heart, I would never replace this pedal with anything but another one, it's made my playing so much more powerful and given me just the right sounds for every set I've done in the last 2 years.
Reliability & Durability — 9
In 2 years I've never considered using backup for this other than possibly having another one standing by. Mine has taken one hell of a beating over the years, being dropped, stamped on in 2 years of heavy gigging, bashed around in bags and cases (but not in my new pedal board fortunately) and other than any cosmetic damage it's still working as great as ever. The only problem I've ever had with this pedal was after about 18 months, the volume/wah pedal decided it'd had enough. Where usually you would have to press fairly hard to turn the Wah pedal on, all that's required now is for the pedal to simply touch the contacts at the top. Obviously when going from muted to full volume this is a bit irritating as you have to quickly recoil and turn the Wah off before playing but it soon becomes normal and in a way makes it easier to use the wah. Everything else has been working 100% perfect ever since it left the shop.
Ease of Use — 10
This pedal has GOT to be the easiest thing in the world to use. There is absolutely nothing that can't be understood as every single function is right there at the tips of your fingers. Admitedly, some slower people may get confused by the multi functional knobs on the sound editor but that doesn't take long to get over. Having up to 30 programmable sound banks is brilliant, as if you have as big a set up as I do, you can change between pre-programmed settings depending on your guitar within seconds at the push of a button. The best thing about it is that the pedal will save ALL of your settings, no matter how much you fiddle with it. Unlike other models such as the ME-50, if you put this in a bag then you won't loose your settings if the knobs get moved! I've always got an amazing sound out of this pedal even when using a bog standard guitar. Honestly, there's no effects kit I'd rather have, I would choose this over a Pod anyday. Whether you're recording, writing, jamming, practising, gigging or just playing around with new effects, it's the best thing on the market. To get anything close to this, you'd need to be paying out at least 500, this is by far the best in it's range and even in the professional price brackets.