ME-5 Guitar Multiple Effects review by Boss

logo Ultimate Guitar
  • Sound: 9
  • Overall Impression: 9
  • Reliability & Durability: 7
  • Ease of Use: 7
  • Reviewer's score: 8 Superb
  • Users' score: 8.7 (14 votes)
Boss: ME-5 Guitar Multiple Effects

Price paid: $ 110

Purchased from: used

Sound — 9
I have used mine with Les Pauls and Strats through tube, solid state, and bass amps. By adjusting the EQ, you can get good sounds with any decent setup. Each effect has its own volume so you can get a good blend then adjust the master at the end. Here is a rundown on the individual effects: Compressor - sounds too unnatural to me, I hardly ever use it. Overdrive - regular and hi-gain, both sound excellent, very warm and natural sounding tone. Distorion - good, goes from fuzz to moderate distortion. Chorus - excellent. Flanger - 5 different modes, some are mediocre, some a good. Noise Gate - simply amazing!!! Eliminates noise without sounding processed. No hum and your tone is intact! Reverb - excellent, room, hall, plate, and gated, all sound great. Delay - excellent. Up to 500 miliseconds, and up to 7 feedbacks (repeats). The weak points are the compressor and some of the Flanger modes, but everything far outbalances those two. For what I paid, it was worth it even for the noise gate alone!

Overall Impression — 9
I have been playing for about 10 years. Modern rock, alternative, blues, pop, classic rock. It works well for what I need. The ME-5 won't get ultra hi-gain, but it will get close! My main electric is a G&L Tribute Legacy HB, I also have a couple overhauled Squier strats and an overhauled Johnson Solara Elite (LP style). My main amps right now are a hotrodded Epiphone Valve Jr. Into a Weber 12 cab and an Ampeg BA-112 bass combo (good for jazzy cleans). If you can't tell, I mod most of my gear. I often keep my eyes open for another one for sale because I like this one so much and would love to have a backup, but they are kind of rare.

Reliability & Durability — 7
Mine is from 1988, I have had it since about 2003 and it is still going strong. The casing is strong. I had to replace the 1/4" input jack, and some of the mini-pushbuttons are getting sticky, but all of the footswitches (what you actually use when gigging) are in fine shape. My one complaint is that the jacks are PCB mounted, which means if you step on a plug while it is in the jack, you could damage the PCB.

Ease of Use — 7
Boss's first multi-effect unit! Mine is from 1988. I think that the effects are all analog (except the delay). 64 patches organized into 4 groups of 4 banks of 4 patches. The signal path is a series of effects organized into categories. You can have one (or no) effects from each category simultaneously: Compressor Overdrive/Distortion EQ Chorus/Flanger Noise Gate Effects Loop Reverb/Delay Master Level Once you figure out how the editing works, setting up patches is straightforward, albeit slow (manual is excellent, but is not necessary, I found one online). This system is fantastic if you are playing a set of pre-defined songs because you can simply organize the patches so that you put all the patches you will use for one song in the same bank, then the next song in the next bank, etc. The system does not work well when you are just jamming and want to fiddle with settings on the fly. My only complaint with the signal path is that I wish the noise gate came after the effects loop, because the noise gate is amazing. The ME-5 also allows you to attach a midi controller, an expression pedal, and an FS-5U footswitch. You can also listen with headphones instead of an amp. Loads and loads of features!

3 comments sorted by best / new / date

    these things are great, my guitar teacher has one, and i spent 2 hours playing with it.
    There was one thing that BOSS very cleverly incorporated into the ME-5 and that was MIDI. With its ability to recieve control Change information via standard System Exclusive (SYSEX), it meant that all the parameters and settings, locations and presets, could all be uploaded and downloaded to the unit 'on-the-fly' and edited via software on a computer or dedicated sequencer! This has also meant that over 20 years on and you can still use this facility reliably either live or in the Studio. You can also very easily and remarkably use it to upgrade your old pre-sets to Modern or Vintage Patches!! got some great sounds from here: