Purchased from: Toews
Sound — 9
The sound is what you make it. Some combinations work and some don't. I did notice that there is a huge difference between the different amplifiers and headphone setups that I use. A specific setting that sounds great on the headphones sounds horrible in an amplifier. Be prepared to play around with different settings if you use different amplifiers. I have some saved settings for playing through a Session Man tube amp into a box of 4, 12 inch Roland speakers and different settings for all of the assorted practice amps and headphones. I think it would be possible to get close to the sound you want out of just about any combo of guitar/amp you have. You may have to "settle" for a sound in some cases but if you fiddle around you should get close enough to be happy. I do want to mention here that you are "settling" when you buy a unit like this. It does not sound like a specific amplifier or effects pedal because it isn't. When you purchase something like this you are doing it because you don't want (or in my case can't afford) 12 to 15 different amplifiers and a string of effects pedals. However, I have to say that, to my ears, you can come pretty close. Play with it and don't get frustrated, your sound is in there somewhere. Also, the drum tracks cannot be programed. You can change the tempo but that is it. You are stuck with what is pre-programmed into the Machine. Personally there is only about 3 or 4 of these that I like. Very few of them sound good through the headphones but they do sound better through an amp (no big surprise). These tracks are ok for practicing timing and such but there really isn't much there for an entire song. In reality, considering the price and the focus of this unit, looking for programmable drum tracks may be a little greedy. They are a nice touch, I view them as an extra.
Overall Impression — 9
I actually enjoy this pedal. I like to play just about every style of music depending on my mood. A pedal like this is great for that because you can change styles very quickly without having to pay oodles of money for different equiptment. Don't compare it to the "real" thing because the sounds are models not the real pedals/amps. Once again, if you want a specific sound with a Marshall stack and a Boss distortion, buy those. If you are looking at getting a variety of sounds without spending a fortune this is a great little unit. I'm hoping to upgrade to the 150 or 250. I mainly use mine with the headphones for practice and, to me, this is where it really comes into it's own. Please note that it does take the unit a little time to change settings. By this I mean that if you have an acoustic sound and want to change to an electric sound by using one of the pedals half way through the song, it will take some time. The song better be slow. I think that something like this is designed more for one specific sound for an entire song though. Just be prepared to wait a couple of beats before you can make noise again (in 4/4 I'd say you are pretty much out of it for a half measure if you are changing sounds on this unit). I have a Boss delay pedal and I notice that it will kick in almost immediately but this pedal does take some time to change.
Reliability & Durability — 6
It's plastic. Don't stomp on it. If you jump off an amplifier onto the pedal you will destroy it. I've had mine for about 4 years and it is showing signs of decay. The "edit" button is gone (I think the dog may have eaten it but I'm not sure) so I have to use a pen to push the Switch on the card inside. I'm not sure what would be expected for reliability but considering it has had about 4 years of (almost) daily use and it's still going seems ok to me. Depend on it without a backup? Nope. If someone stands on it, it's done. It would not take too much abuse. If you are looking at switching effects on and off and all over the place then I'd look somewhere else. However, if you are careful and only keeping one sound on it may be ok. My rating in this area is low because I don't think this would work in the Live performance area. I use mine in my basement. I have control over Who is around (if I don't like you I kick you out of my house). Performing Live opens up a whole slew of issues that you can't control. It's great in a basement but on stage I would look elsewhere. If I played on a stage then I would have a backup for everything, including the drummer.
Ease of Use — 8
As with anything in this category there is a learning curve. It's not a toaster, it has more than one button, you have to learn what each one does in relation to your equiptment and your playing style. Once you get to know it, it's pretty easy. Take the time to play with it is my suggestion. There are lots of combinations available. Lots of info on different websites, check them out. The manual isn't great. However, sound is so subjective and versitile that it is difficult to put it into a manual. I had more luck just playing around with it than going through the manual. However, do read the manual. It will give you the basics and allow you to touch up on your foriegn language skills.