G5 review by Zoom

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  • Sound: 9
  • Overall Impression: 9
  • Reliability & Durability: 8
  • Ease of Use: 8
  • Reviewer's score: 8.5 Superb
  • Users' score: 8.8 (51 votes)
Zoom: G5
6

Price paid: £ 229.99

Purchased from: DV247.com

Sound — 9
I was genuinely surprised by the sound of the G5. The first multi-fx I ever bought was a Zoom GFX-5. I didn't think much of how that thing sounded. As a result, I wasn't expecting any miracles from the G5 and bought it on the back of some reviews of the Zoom G3 and some videos I'd seen. When I plugged it in (to the effects return of my Vox VT100), I was instantly impressed. I was expecting the cleans to be a little flat and they weren't. I was expecting the dirtier sounds to be a little hissy and they weren't. From there, what you're left with is 22 amp models which are all very usable and Very adjustable. I find that the controls of the amp models have a very wide range, wider than I have generally experienced of any amp. As a result of this, you really can find Your sound in just about any one of the amp models. My particular favorite amp models are the FD Combo, modeling a Fender Twin; the VX Combo, modeling a Vox AC30; and the MS Crunch, modeling a 1959 Marshall stack. All of these sounds go from clean to crunch (and beyond) without a hint of hissyness and with all the dynamics you could hope for from a multi-fx. Speaking of dynamics, rolling off the volume on the guitar does exactly what you'd hope it would do and the G5 responds well to dynamic playing. All this and I haven't even got to the effects. I'm taking up some serious space with this review, so I'll be a little more concise. With the exception of the more wacky effects (like the monosynth and the organ effect etc.) they are all great. Simple as that. You can edit practically everything, to the point where you end up spending too long trying to get it right as you like it! If you're thinking of using the G5 purely for its effects, you won't be disappointed. Especially not for the price.

Overall Impression — 9
I'm a blues/rock guitarist and I wasn't expecting the G5 to really suit my playing. All I can say is that I've been proven wrong. The sound of it running through my VT100 and through a PA is second to no multi-fx I've tried. Although admittedly, I haven't tried the Line 6 HD500 or the Boss GT100. On the other hand, those multi-fx units cost nearly twice as much as the G5, so if you're considering the G5, you might not want to spend the extra. One multi-fx unit in the same price range that I do have experience with is the Vox Tonelab EX. Against this, the G5 definitely has the better effects and will produce a better distorted tone. The cleans are nip-and-tuck between the TLEX and the G5 but, if you like bright and jangly then you want the G5. If you like your cleans full and a bit darker then the TLEX would be better. The TLEX is also much simpler to use, but this does come at the expense of versatility, with some effects lacking the adjustment parameters you would expect. Personally, if I were given the choice between the two right now, I would take the G5. The only real drawback to the G5 is the time it takes to switch between patches. Some might also be annoyed that there is no effects loop and no "four-cable" method of running in front of and into the effects loop of an amp. I definitely don't need either of those things though. As an all-round multi-fx unit, the Zoom G5 is formidably well featured and sounds brilliant. And for all I've said, I haven't even mentioned the looper or the built-in drum machine! To sum up: for 230GBP, I don't think you can do any better.

Reliability & Durability — 8
Seeing as it's only just been released in the UK, you can imagine I haven't had it long, so I'll refrain from being too optimistic. All I can say at this point is that it is heavier than it looks which, in my experience, is a good sign with regards to durability. The Z-pedal (which I can only really see myself using one dimensionally!) perhaps is the only part of the G5 which I may have reservations about. And the only other thing is that you do end up pressing the same buttons and twisting the same knobs a lot of the time. I don't know if they'll be susceptible to wear, but they might be. Then again, this may be a non-issue. Overall, you do get the impression that the G5 is very well made and, as yet, I have nothing to convince me otherwise.

Ease of Use — 8
I bought the Zoom G5 to try something new. The design and editing process is like nothing I'd seen before in a multi-fx. Owing to having an entire screen and three control knobs dedicated to each effect, editing effects is nearly as simple as it is on any ordinary stomp box. Things get marginally more complicated when you have to press a few buttons to change the effect parameters you are changing or to scroll along your virtual rig. Having said that, it is still really simple. The only thing I have noticed the G5, on the ease of use front, is that it takes a little longer than I would like to switch between patches. You have a press and hold one footswitch to enter patch mode, then press two footswitches together to change the patch bank, press a footswitch to select the patch and then press and hold a footswitch to re-enter "home"/stompbox mode. This can take about 20 seconds, which isn't much, but I hope you understand me when I say that 20 seconds seems like an eternity between songs at a gig. However, if you plan on staying in one patch for most or all of a gig, this wouldn't be a problem. All I can say is that I hope I get a little faster at this in time!

43 comments sorted by best / new / date

    NHECOS
    Good review. And it seems you made a nice purchase. Looks like it is a lot of bang for the buck.
    paul_basel
    I have the New Zoom G5 and I have to say the functionality is great such a range a looper a drum machine download of patches and it certainly looks durable. But my concern is the playability. To scroll up or down through the banks you have to press two foot switches at once and even with my size 8 wide feet this is hard to do. It is easy not to press evenly and you end up switching to a different patch in the same bank. When you change banks the patch changes immediately so playing patch 1 bank 3 if you scroll up to bank 4 you immediately are playing patch 1 bank four. On other effects pedals they keep the patch you are playing when you change a bank until you actively pick a new patch. If you are playing and scroll the banks and hold while the banks scroll down you get a millisecond burst of your playing through each patch at the unit scrolls. I have to say this is as complete bit of kit as you could want and at the price great value for money but it could have been a bit better if it held the patch as you change banks and scrolling (up and down and left to right) was by a single foot switch.
    fdrstrat
    Thanks! The more I mess with the G5, the better it gets. The sheer value for money is really great. If you (or anyone else reading this review) have any questions, fire away and I'll try to get back to you when I can.
    paul_basel
    Well here's an update. With a bit of practice you can change up and down the banks but still sometimes I manage to get the next door pad rather than change bank. But the fact that the moment you change bank you get the same pad in the new bank is awful. If you are playing pad 1 bank 4 and change up to bank 5 you are instantly playing pad 1 there too even if you really wanted pad 3 and then you have the wrong sound and have to hit pad 3 to get it.They should have held the pad while you scrolled the bank and only changed when you press the foot switch. When you scroll up through more than 1 bank by holding the switches you get a millisecond burst of each pad as you scroll which is pretty poor. As stated above the best compromise is to only use 3 pads per song if you are playing live which s sort of OK unless you are some sort of whizzo prog rock band. What I can not understand for the life of me is when they built their prototype it must have been obvious as the nose on your face that this was a problem with play ability it's not like I'm trying to do something that very few people would do. How did they get it so wrong. From a kit point of view this is an amazingly versatile tool I love the sounds I get and the the tube boost too but from a playability standpoint its a bit of a dud.
    fdrstrat
    Ha... Managed to accidentally press the post button there. Clever... The G5 sounds great at high volume and keeps all the character it showed to me while I was practicing with it. To answer your question about the expression pedal, I do have my reservations about it but, in all honesty, it hasn't showed any real signs of breaking. Time tells with these sort of things anyway. I'd be fairly confident in saying it would probably be the first thing to go on the G5! Sorry about the delay in my response. I've been busy being unbusy on holiday and completely forgot to check back here when I got back.
    fdrstrat
    @nemesis_911 Thanks very much! I'm glad my review is hitting the right notes with people. I've actually just started gigging recently with the G5 after a long break for my band. It certainly lived up to my expectations.
    erklaerbaer
    Hi there I just ordered a G5 for use with my band. For the patch switching problem, there seem to be a nice mod from another G3/G5 user, maybe this can help you: http://ashbass.com/AshBassGuitar/Zoom/in... I' m pretty sure you loose the warranty, if you open the case and modify the G5, but I will do that, as soon as I get my G5 next week.
    redorc
    @paul_basel this definitely sounds like a real downside. My Zoom 9.2tt does not have this problem. I guess the only way to avoid running into this problem is if you only need 3 types of sounds for each song you want to play, so you don't have to switch banks in the middle of a song.
    fdrstrat
    @paul_basel My thoughts exactly. It really is the only serious downside to the G5, in my opinion. Glad it's not just me thinking that!
    fdrstrat
    I'm not too sure about that. You don't have banks in the G3, do you? You select patches by scrolling up and down. In the G5, you scroll through the banks and each bank has three patches. The extra step in there might be where the delay comes in. I'm talking about switching patches with the footswitches, incidentally. If you just use the buttons, it's much faster, but a little inconvenient for gigging.
    fdrstrat
    @kutless999 Thanks very much! I had a play on the Carr model today. I'm not too familiar with Carr amps, so I popped onto their website and listened to a demo of the Mercury. In comparison, I would say the Zoom G5 sounds very similar in the mids, but lacks some of the crisp highs and muddy lows I heard on the demo. The G5 does seem to capture a bit of the woody quality (if there is such a thing) of the Mercury too. Hope this helps!
    paul_basel
    Im with fdrstrat although I have some misgivings this is a really good value piece of kit that is as versatile as you could want it really is. Just with a little more thought it would have been a killer. @talljoe yes you are right if you plan it out it would work for sure but the press two switches is still a bit tricky tho gets better with practise you will have fun with your G5 for sure
    fdrstrat
    The vital word there was 'had'. I had a friend! Used to jam with him a lot but then he found a pretty lady and magically ceased to have time for music any more. That was unexpected... Not. I can't say I have any experience of using the tubes in the 9.2tt, so I can't really comment there. All I can tell you is that the tube booster on the G5 is very useful, if you can stomach the extra stomps. It doesn't really change the colour or feel of the G5's sound, as far as I can tell. What it does do is give you a post-amp clean volume boost which I find is generally an undervalued tool for guitarists. This boost is more than enough to bring your solos to the fore. I have the level knob on my tube booster set to about ten o'clock. The tone control of the G5's tube booster simply allows you to roll off the highs in order to prevent your solo from sounding like nails on a chalkboard. Trebley sounds can get painful at high volumes. From what I gather, you sound like someone who would be in patch mode a lot of the time. It might be worth me mentioning that you can consolidate your footswitching into a single stomp if you simply raise the total output volume of your lead patch. That way, when you switch to your lead sound, the volume will increase at the same time. The only thing you lose by this is the tonal effect of the tube booster... but I'd struggle to notice this. If the tube booster does colour the sound, it does so very subtly. Hope this helps you make your mind up. Like most things relating to a musicians gear, the best advice anyone can give you is to try it out for yourself. Your opinion is the one that matters.
    redorc
    @fdrstrat (and paul_basel for my last point), My experience with the Zoom G9.2tt is that while the tubes do not colour my rhythm sound too much, the tubes do help my lead sound a lot. Also, you're right in that I do use the patch mode almost exclusively. But the difference between my rhythm patches and lead patches is not just in the volume, but in reverb, delay, EQ, pre-amp (distortion/gain, ...), and one or two effects amongst auto-wah, wah, ensemble, chorus, (harmonic) pitch-shifter,... which is why (1) it is quite important for me to be able to modify multiple parameters with a pedal using only one axis (so with one patch I can add multiple effects with one pedal only, and blend in some effects while others are blended out), and (2) having to add the Tube Booster independently from my patch selection is really complicating things. Actually, if you just take the simple case where the difference between rhythm and solo is the wah pedal, then with the G5, I would have to first hit the Tube Booster first, then hit the Z-pedal to start the wah... which can only screw up the timing between rhythm and solo (either I am too loud for a moment during rhythm or I have no wah for the beginning of my solo). To conclude, it seems to me that the G5 might be more interesting to play or record at home on your own, so there is no time pressure when you need to switch settings, but not when playing in a band either live or at rehearsal, especially if you like having different sounds and effects in the songs you play. My interest in the G5 was to get an upgrade in terms of sounds and processor from my G9.2tt, but I'd lose too much in terms of functionality. It might be worth it just so I can keep the G5 at home and leave the G9.2tt in the rehearsal room, but no way I could just replace the G9.2tt by the G5.
    vince.mondi
    Hi there. I've seen almost every Zoom G5 demos on Youtube.com. Yes, even the ones speaking in languages or accents I can't understand. Would anybody else be kind enough to do demos? I'd really appreciate it. Thanks!
    talljoe
    To Paul_Basel When changing patches will a little organization help. Can't you move the next patch you want to the adjacent bank position so when you change bank it is playing the right pad ? Only got mine today so I may be wrong,and I haven't tried it, but looks possible to me.
    nemesis_911
    fdrstrat wrote: Thanks! The more I mess with the G5, the better it gets. The sheer value for money is really great. If you (or anyone else reading this review) have any questions, fire away and I'll try to get back to you when I can.
    Great review man! How's the pedal holding? I've been checking the pedal out, and am really considering it, but I'm worried about the expression pedal. The one on my friend's G9 broke in like an year. Do you think the pedal on this is durable enough to withstand stage abuse?
    vince.mondi
    @fdrstrat I apologize for mistyping your screen name in my previous reply. Hehe. My bad. Anyway, I suppose if our PCs were Apple products, or at least have good soundcards, latency would be near zero, would it not? But yeah, you're right about using a pair of headphones. But wouldn't you just hear the guitar without the backing track you're recording with?
    vince.mondi
    Does anyone else here wonder about the pedal switch underneath the Z-pedal? I know it switches the z-pedal function on or off when the it's pressed (just like the foot switch underneath most of the wah pedals). But my pedal can't reach the switch even when it's fully pushed down. Help please.
    fdrstrat
    @vince.mondi That's not good! You do need to push quite hard on the pedal to reach the switch, though it's no where near as tough as the Digitech Expression Factory I used to own (seriously, you could park a car of the toe of that thing and it still wouldn't turn on!). One thing you can do with the G5 is loosen the torque of the pedal if it's a bit stiff. You can find the instructions for how to do this in the instruction manual. Loosen the pedal a little if you need to and put as much of your weight on the toe of it as you can. If it still won't reach the switch after that, I would get in touch with your retailer and ask for a replacement, if that option is available to you. Hope that helps!
    vince.mondi
    @fdstrat Thanks for your response! No need for the adjustments. I suppose I should've just tried pushing it a little bit harder before I asked. When I said "fully pushed down", I meant that the pedal was pushed until I felt resistance. Haha! I tried pushing a bit harder just now and yep, it works just fine. I was afraid a hard push would break it or something. Haha! I see its base moving as well when I press it down it to hit the pedal switch. Hope it holds for five years or so. Anyway, another question, do you have any issues with latency when your set up is like this: Guitar>G5>PC via USB>Earphones? I love the sound I hear when it's connected like this. I've never heard my guitar sound like this through my amp! But latency kills my timing and it's actually frustrating.
    fdrstrat
    @vince.mondi I regret to say I haven't taken advantage of the USB functionality of the G5 yet. However, if it's anything like other MFX pedals I've used in the past, there's not much you can do to avoid the latency. This is why I've never been big on things like Guitar Rig. I've only ever used USB connectivity to record and, when I do that, I monitor my guitar through the headphone out on the MFX pedal to eliminate the latency issues. One of my friends used to swear by Guitar Rig and he seemed perfectly content with the latency. I played his guitar through Guitar Rig at an open mic once and was completely thrown off by the lag. It may be only 0.1 of a second or whatever, and it may be that the audience can't notice it, but I sure as hell can!
    fdrstrat
    @redorc As far as I am aware, you are correct. I'm on holiday right now, so I can't confirm 100%, but I'm reasonably sure that when I tried to assign a parameter to the Z-pedal, it would only take one parameter per direction. If I were you, I'd still try the G5 out. I had a friend who used a 9.2tt and, whilst I thought it sounded very good in it's own right, I never recall it having quite the dynamic response of the G5. Try it out and you may well disagree with me. In fact, I'd be interested to hear your thoughts!
    fdrstrat
    Nope. The G5 acts as a USB audio interface with stereo input and output. You hear what you're playing as you're playing it, as if you're just practicing with the headphones in, but you also hear whatever would usually be coming out of your computer speakers. This is assuming it's been set up properly, which isn't that tricky. The latency still happens, but you can easily compensate for it afterwards on your recording software. As for different PCs reducing latency, you can only achieve so much with your computer hardware. The USB cable will always limit the transfer rate and this will be a problem whether you're using a $500 or $5000 computer. That's the way I understand it anyway! As for having Apple products, I'm going to stay quiet on that. I'm not a fan of that company, to put it lightly. Don't worry about getting my screen name wrong. I'm not exactly going to call the cops, am I?
    vince.mondi
    LOL. I'm just gonna get a good amp. I've tried out the headphones out setup and latency still kills my timing. Before I bought the G5, the USB interface was actually one of the big factors for me because aside from the price and the good simulations, you can here it without getting the signal perverted by my amp. But the latency was a buzzkill for me. I mean, it sounds ok through my amp (Laney LX65r) but it sounds much better via usb! I suppose with a better amp, it would sound way better minus latency, of course.
    redorc
    @fdrstrat, I might end up trying the G5 out. But the other thing that bothers me is the tube booster. I like having the two tubes on the G9.2tt so that both rhythm and lead sounds were warmer than just solid-state. Sure the downside is that you cannot tweak the settings of the two tubes for each patch (the price of analog settings!), but on the G5 you basically have to either use the same patch for both rhythm and lead (and switch on the tube booster on when playing lead), or use two different patches but then you first click on the lead patch and then turn on the tube booster... :O You and your friend should do a comprehensive comparison and post it
    SoupIsNice
    Well, Im certainly preferring it to the HD, but its early days to say much more. I find the in combo front setting, and inserting into my Peavey Bandit, the cabs add a lot of EQ (obviously). Therefore I turn them off. For headphones, with the direct setting, I find it better with the cab on. This sort of makes sense to me. And this is how the two situations sound most similar I think. But it would have been nice for this to be a global setting, rather than a patch by patch setting. The problem really is that the manual doesnt really advise as to what the output settings do. The points go to line 6 in that case, because the manual tried to explain. I havent tried combo power setting yet.
    redorc
    Compared to the Zoom G9.2tt (which I've owned for 4 years), the Z-pedal of G5 seems to have one big limitation: as far as I can tell, you can only modify one parameter of one effect in each direction (out of 3 directions), while with the Z-pedal of the G9.2tt you can modify 4 parameters in each direction (out of two directions, but there is also a second pedal with one direction). I was about to buy the G5 to try it out, but this is to me a huge drawback because I really like modifying several parameters at once in one simple movement. Can anyone confirm I understood the manual correctly?
    SoupIsNice
    Yep, I agree. Im definitely playing more and fiddling less than with the HD, which was a worry. Sounds great to me, and so easy to make a nice patch. And I like the drums to play along too.
    fdrstrat
    You might be right about high gain sounds. Personally, I think they come off with too much top-end if you turn the cab modelling off, but YMMV. For me, how you get your sound isn't so important, so long as you can get it. In this respect, the G5 is a success in my eyes.
    SoupIsNice
    I played some more today; thought Id test the Carr amp and the cab situation going through the fx loop return. I think the Carr amp has a similar character to those sound samples on the website. Certainly makes a nice sound with a bit of gain, and with HB or SC. I still find leaving the cab on really colours the sound after plugging into the return loop; and using the combo power global setting. Since I like quite high gain sounds, perhaps thats where the discrepancy is? I wonder what people do with the g3...
    fdrstrat
    Interesting... I know my Tonelab EX used to sound very EQ'ed with its output settings and I ended up switching that to direct mode. It sounded great in that setting. If you run the G5 in front of your Peavey and feel that the sound is coming out a little off-colour, perhaps it's worth using the EQ on the front of the amp to correct it. That way, at least you don't have to keep fiddling with the settings of your patches. It might not work so well but, if you never try, you never know! You are definitely right about the manual. It doesn't really go into too much detail about the global output settings. From there, I guess we just need to experiment to find the best sound from the G5!
    fdrstrat
    @SoupIsNice Nice to hear from another early-adopter of the G5! I hope your expectations were exceeded every bit as much as mine were. Definitely agree on the first point. I haven't used any of the HD series but, just by looking at them, you know they can't be as simple as the G5. It really is a great design to have a screen for every effect. As for your question, I had a bit of an experiment with the settings. To my ears, I feel that the sound you get without the cab modelling seems to lack some of the natural edge that you get with it on. I can definitely find my bluesy-rock sound easier with the cab modelling on. Though, I do change the global output setting from 'combo power amp' to direct when I run the G5 through the PA or headphones instead of the effects return of my VT100. What's your opinion? What do you find is better about the sound without the cab modelling? I'm very curious! Perhaps the G5 works better with some amps than it does with others? My VT100 generally doesn't take too well to effects being run in front of it, which is why I use the effects return for the G5.
    SoupIsNice
    I also have a g5. I previously had a l6 HD300. By comparison, the g5 is MUCH easier to use. Its certainly more my type of device. I got rid of the HD because getting a good tone was very time consuming; one screen and deep menus is not ideal. The g5 offers much more. Ill review it when I have played with it more. I have a question: cab on or off when going into a combo amp? I find it needs to be off, but then on for headphones. Thats unfortunate because you also have to change the global output setting.
    fdrstrat
    It's one of my favourite sounds. All the Fender models are great for my sort of music. The only thing I'll say is that the gain needs to be pretty low before you start getting seriously clean sounds. This doesn't bother me because, the way I see it, if 0 gain is completely clean (ie, no break-up whatsoever), then logically that's about right! You can get a great variety of tones. I actually use it for my bands cover of Johnny B. Goode. The bassist told me yesterday that the sound was was pretty much spot-on.
    kutless999
    Thanks a lot! What about the deluxe reverb model? How are the cleans from that?
    fdrstrat wrote: @kutless999 Thanks very much! I had a play on the Carr model today. I'm not too familiar with Carr amps, so I popped onto their website and listened to a demo of the Mercury. In comparison, I would say the Zoom G5 sounds very similar in the mids, but lacks some of the crisp highs and muddy lows I heard on the demo. The G5 does seem to capture a bit of the woody quality (if there is such a thing) of the Mercury too. Hope this helps!
    fdrstrat
    @vintagevibe The patch changes themselves are, like you say, lightning fast. What I've found is quite slow is the process of leaving home mode, changing bank, changing patch and then re-entering home mode. I think in this sense, the G5 suffers slightly for its lack of dedicated bank select footswitches. Every other MFX I've used has had them.
    rockheadasher
    can you help me out.. i got a zoom g9.2tt.,i really love the sound of it.. but im thinking of buying another one the zoom g5..can i connect the zoom g9.2tt to zoom g5 im thinking of creating a effect chain using this two floor board processor.. tnx