Price paid: £ 45
Purchased from: eBay
Sound — 9
As mentioned above, I have an ampless rig. I use amp modellers, such as this, for optimum flexibility without added coloration from an amp. I have tried it out with my PRS with EMG 81 bridge pickup, and my Gibson Les Paul Lite with 500T and 496R pickups. This pedal is clearly equipped with a noise gate, although I would expect there to be noise if used with an amp, due to the amount of distortion this generates. This creates song-specific studio sounds. In reality, the first four presets are different sounds Scott archived with a Marshall JCM 800 head with a TC Electronic booster in front. For setting 5 ("Room For One More" from the "Sound Of White Noise" album) Scott combined a Marshall, a Bogner and a Matchless, and by the "Music Of Mass Destruction" (Setting 6) album Scott was using a Randall Vmax head. I have used these sounds, playing along with the original recordings and they are remarkably accurate. Having said that, with my Les Paul, this was less so; although the gain produced by the Les Paul is high, there was less distortion. Scott's rigs are far from unique, and these sounds are flexible - Sounds 1-4 are varied maxed-out Marshall tones that can be applied to most Metal, 5 a nice heavy Grunge sound, and 6 a convincing Randall tone, for those looking for a 'Dimebag pedal'. 7 is a fun effect which combines delay and octaves and can be dialled to be a usable octave+delay effect. Although the presets are fixed, the sounds and the amount of distortion can be manipulated by the input, so an EQ pedal and/or a volume pedal in front would make this a versatile pedal.
Overall Impression — 9
I play pop, rock, and metal. This can't do clean tones, for sure. For metal, there's something for everyone. I have been playing, as a bedroom hobbyist for twenty years; briefly with the odd band. As I play anything from Blur to Pantera, I wanted a rig that was versatile so opted for an amp modeller and FRFR speaker. Unless you are a tube fanatic, I strongly recommend trying this out. I connected this between a PRS Torero guitar and an Alto TS115a speaker. I usually use a Boss ME-70 floorboard for modelling. I have no regrets adding this to my rig as it is custom-built for thrash metal and does precisely what it claims. I would be on the hunt for another if it went missing. My favourite thing about this pedal is thrashing along with "I Am The Law" as this pedal nails the sound and I love that song. As I said, it's pretty unique - an amp-modeller set up for thrash metal in a compact pedal. I can't think of anything to compare this with. I wanted the Scott Ian sound for my rig and my Boss ME-70 jumps from Marshall lead to Mesa Boogie Dual Rectifier with no in-between. Scott Ian is the self-proclaimed "Malcolm Young Of Metal", so any more features would be extraneous.
Reliability & Durability — 9
This is 'Boss-solid'. As I said above, this could, with the addition of an EQ pedal and a volume pedal in front, create a wide range of tones. Taking that into account, you could gig (providing the band/venue has a decent P.A.!) without an amp with this pedal, and it is certainly sturdy enough to take on the road. This has been discontinued by DigiTech, so a backup would require sourcing used. This is an amp modeller in a compact effects pedal (rather than I distortion pedal, such as the Boss Metal Zone), I think you would struggle to replace it like-for-like.
Ease of Use — 10
This is the easiest pedal I've ever seen. Connect it up, adjust the bass and treble to ensure your guitar's tone doesn't sound too muddy or too tinny, then switch between the (non-adjustable) presets. You can connect it up to a guitar amp and/or a mixer/P.A.. I have an ampless setup, so I connected directly to an FRFR speaker. The 'Mixer' output is relatively low and I need the level set to 100% to match my other modellers. Mine didn't come with a manual, but I didn't need one. If you can't operate this, you're in trouble.