Purchased from: Guitar Center
Ease of Use — 7
This pedal is a complex beast to beginners, but rather simple to a guy like me. It' pretty easy to get a good sound out of it, but hard to get a DESIRED sound out of it without some reading and experimentation first to get to know how the pedal reacts and it's parameters behave. Changing settings is all easy save for one thing - the sensitivity of the knobs in some cases can be a little too touchy for fast adjustments, luckily I tend to pick one setting per project and keep using that one over and over to keep the problems down.
Sound — 7
I love noises - I love pedals, and I love glitch stuff.....which is what this is to me. Originally I bought it to see if I Could reproduce some older material I wrote live that I did with a BOSS ME-33 pedal that had an intelligent pitch shifter - except something is a tad up with this one for some kooky reason.
I list my style as being very much a mish mash of 80's/90's rock. Think of Johnny Marr peels his face off and then becomes Dave Grohl, whom then peels HIS face off and reveals James Hetfield was strolling us all along. I like to mix genres and do weird stuff....weird is good, at least on my solo stuff. It's the best way I can describe it - either that or The Police being chased down the street by a highly armed Def Leppard and the Big 4... all the way to Toon Town.
I really bought this pedal with no pre-conceived notions, or any real plans other than that I could come up with some weird ideas - and I've waited years now to review it. I'm using it most of the time with a pre-Infinium Bugera 333XL 120 watt head with EL34 power tubes, and a Peavey 412M Cabinet, and it hangs out on a board as of 2016 with a Digitech Whammy, Crybaby Classic, Behringer Phaser, SmallClone, DOD Stereo Flanger, and Boss DD-7... and maybe something else soon... we'll see.
Not very noisy at all, usual for Boss. No real complaints there. The real thing about this pedal is it is very complex for a BOSS Pedal - for less technical players, this thing could be a nightmare if you don't read the manual first at least. For people like me who love tweedling knobs though, this thing has some real merits.
The first and primary feature it has is a basic Pitch Shifter. Not an adaptive one based on your key - but a basic one. It works okay, but not as well as my DigiTech Whammy WH-4. The Algorithm Boss used tends to sound a lot more fake and "synthy" compared to the DigiTech, and it's tracking is a bit... eh... meh by comparison, it's got that "this is powered by a gear missing teeth" sort of effect in certain situations. It also does not take multiple notes as well as the DigiTech does - which when using 5th's in my case (something I use a lot) - is a major downside.
Then there's the intelligent pitch shifter, which is every bit as cheesy as I recall it being on the ME-33. It's either very easy to sound like you're having a duet with a Nintendo, or have the pitches too far back that it's almost not even worth using the pedal at all. One thing I noticed is it does have some tracking/pitch detection issues when in the right key. I've had some times where it is half a step down/up when it should be the opposite.
The Trem arm momentary effects are what I use this for the most though, either for diving or raising the pitch like a wacko, or my #1 favorite - the T.ARM thing - which dives down or up, and then drops back at pitch with a warble. That last one I use a lot to get a seasick uneasy sound with a wacky hook on it.
There's quite a lot to be done with this thing compared to other BOSS pedals, I'll give it a 7, I don't hate it, and think it's quite useful, but a lot of stuff it conventionally offers is limited by a slightly less-than-perfect pitch shifting system, and is more useful for noises or funky accents than full time use like I use the Digitech for (5th's, artificial retunes, and so on).
Reliability & Durability — 9
It's the standard BOSS pedal, so of course it's a durable piece of Cast Magnesium bodied sonic power. It's so ubiquitous I almost feel like it's a waste of words mentioning it more. I depend on it and have used it without a backup for 8 years, about the only falability about it is the battery life is totally horrible (I ran the battery out within a day of using it) - but that matters not to me as I run this on a powered pedalboard. I've depended on it pretty well. About the only thing taking damage is the cosmetics, the paint is chipping off - but when you stomp on a stompbox on a regular basis with size 15 clod-hoppers, that's what you get sometimes.
Overall Impression — 7
Already mentioned what style(s) I play, though I have a bit of experimental bent to them - maybe I forgot that part. This is a good match for a few experimental things I like to do, though sometimes I mix it up with other effects to get far more big and grand sounds. More often than not I use the T.Arm and Whammy settings on it as those work out best for me, though sometimes pitch shift is used when I want more of a "video gamey" sound than an actual effect used as usual. For all my other gear, see my profile, I own too much stuff probably.
If it were lost or stolen, I would not sweat it, probably replace it with something newer and more botique as that's where I'm headed these days. What I love about it are the arm effects are unique in style, and I don't need to rock my bashed up ankle to use it, what I hate about it is that I can't get the trem arm flutter without having to go down first - which is not what I want, they should have put a "Brad Gillis Beatdown" setting on it or something (you know, that thing he does in Night Ranger where he starts punching the bass side of his Strat with his fist to flutter the vibrato bar). But for what it does for me it does great, so I can't complain.
I compare it the most to the DigiTech Whammy as sit's immediately obvious, especially with the Expression pedal output - that this pedal is indeed meant to complete. Personally, I think DigiTech has the algorithm or whatever they use for pitch shifting down better than most of the other manufacturers who are seeking to do a serious pitch shifter. I also compared it to the Boss PS-3 Pitch Shifter which I used way back when I was first starting out in store and wanted that pulsing synthy thing that has - but I can't seem to replicate it with this device.
The things I wish it had...
- Better algorithm for pitch change, one that does not have the broken gear teeth effect, or does not have the Nintendo-Esque upper/lower pitch. I should be able to transpose 1/2 a step and have my guitar still sound like a guitar.
- The effects of the PS-3, which was the first pitch shifter I ever tried out many many years ago when people still recorded to tapes at home. That pulsating synth thing was what made the PS-3 cool, for some reason they took that out, which bugs me from an effects standpoint. If it had that, I'd be using it a metric ton more.
- I wish it had a mode where you could get the trem arm flutter WITHOUT having to go down or up first. Some musical things I want to do call for NOT having that "bwaaaaaaararararararar" when I just want "rarararararararar" instead.
But it serves some purposes on my board so I'll keep using it. Overall, I give it a seven, not bad, but not an everyday use pedal.