Best multi-effects pedals 2024: top do-it-all guitar effects units

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Best multi-effects

(Image credit: Future)

1. The list in brief
2. Best over-all
3. Best for usability
4. Best for value
5. Best for beginners
6. Best for features
7. Best for amp models
8. More options...
9. Buying advice

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We personally research and test the latest electric guitars to provide unbiased recommendations. We rate each guitar out of 5 and use the review data to inform rankings. Read more about how we test at Guitar World.

Multi-effects pedals have come a long way since companies like Boss, Zoom, and DigiTech began the innovation of packing multiple guitar pedals into one unit. Nowadays the best multi-effects pedals allow you to condense your entire rig, amplifier and cabinet included, into one handy module.

Multi-effects pedals were initially invented to supplant your pedalboard, giving you all the drives, reverbs, and delays you needed in one place. Thanks to some serious technological advancements, particularly the development of the cabinet impulse response, the quality of amp simulation that’s available now means multi-effects pedals are completely replacing the modern guitar player’s set-up.

Want a backline that consists of a high-gain tube head, a solid-state clean amp, and a boutique tube combo? Now you don’t have to lug three different amps around with you, just take your multi-effects pedal out of the bag and get to work. It’s an exciting time to be a guitarist, and with the best multi-effects pedals you get more choice than ever before.

We've included some expert buying advice at the end of this guide, so if you'd like to read more about the best multi-effects pedals and what you need to know before buying one, then click the link. If you'd like to get straight to the products, then keep scrolling.

Alex Lynham author photo
Alex Lynham

Alex Lynham is a gear obsessive who's been collecting and building modern and vintage equipment since he got his first Saturday job. Besides reviewing countless pedals for Total Guitar, he's written guides on how to build your first pedal, how to build a tube amp from a kit, and briefly went viral when he released a glitch delay pedal, the Atom Smasher.

Recent updates

10/11/23: As well as auditing the products to make sure the list is up to date with the very best multi-effects pedals around, we've also given this page a fresh new look, improving the navigation to make it easier than ever to find the right floor unit for you. Want to get to the good stuff without reading walls of text? Use the "quick list" section to get to know our top choices without any fuss. There are also links to read a more detailed review of each model if you'd like to learn more. 

Best multi-effects pedals: Quick list

Below, you’ll find a round-up of our top choices. You can jump to a more detailed review of every pick, along with our price comparison tool to help you find the best deals.

Best multi-effects over-all

Best multi-effects pedals: Neural DSP Quad Cortex

(Image credit: Future)
The best multi-effects if you need every sound ever made

Specifications

Number of effects: 70
Number of assignable footswitches: 10

Reasons to buy

+
Freakishly capable
+
Intuitive
+
Incredible reverbs

Reasons to avoid

-
You’re going to need to read the manual…

Part of the attraction to multi-effects units is the sheer potential for experimentation. All those glorious sounds, just waiting to be tweaked and changed. But how much tweakability would be considered too much? Have we reached peak tweak? Not if you ask Neural DSP, whose Quad Cortex is, it claims, the most powerful floor modeler on the planet. A big claim, sure, but it’s easy to see why. 

What you’ve got, essentially, is a floor-based supercomputer where every calculation, every process, every action and every interaction is designed purely to achieve the most advanced levels of tonal control and sonic fidelity there has ever been. You can stack amps, effects and anything else as far as your imagination will let you. 

We’d find it nigh-on impossible to run through the full feature-set here, so be sure to check out our full review which is coming soon, but if you’re serious about guitar, and have the cash to support your aims, then the Neural DSP Quad Cortex should be front and centre of your shortlist.

Read the full Neural DSP Quad Cortex review

Best for usability

Best multi-effects pedals: Line 6 Helix LT

(Image credit: Future)

2. Line 6 Helix LT

One of the best multi-effects pedals coupled with the best interface in town

Specifications

Number of effects: 104
Number of effects: 104
Number of assignable footswitches: 10

Reasons to buy

+
Excellent user interface
+
Huge number of patches

Reasons to avoid

-
Cost

If the HX Effects doesn't quite cover your needs - say, if you need amp modeling, or if you own a Line 6 Variax guitar - then the Helix LT offers all of the processing oomph of the full-fat Helix, but in a slimmed-down package without scribble strips or all of the inputs and outputs of the flagship.

Whether it's on-stage or for studio use, the LT is simply a beast, with great quality amps, effects, cabs, mic sims... you name it.

It's got eight assignable patches on the front panel, as well as bank change, tuner and tap switches and the best user interface of any multi-effect on the market, including Fractal Audio’s Axe-FX III, which is three times the price. What's not to like?

Best value option

Best multi-effects pedals: Boss GX-100

(Image credit: Future)
Boss brings the heat with a budget-friendly touchscreen option

Specifications

Number of effects: 154
Amp models: 23

Reasons to buy

+
Touchscreen UI is intuitive
+
Huge amount of effects
+
Compact

Reasons to avoid

-
Not many amp models

If you're into your pedals, then Boss will be a household name to you. Their compact stompboxes are infinitely popular – but their multi-effects units haven't quite been met with the same reception. As a result, the new GX-100 comes out the gate looking like it has a point to prove – and it sure does prove it. 

The GX-100 is Boss' first pedal to include a touchscreen, and hopefully it won't be the last. Setting up patches and presets on the GX-100 is a significantly easier, more streamlined and more beginner-friendly process than on some of the other Boss pedals, and when it comes to editing parameters, it's equally as simple and intuitive. While we still referred to the manual on occasion, getting to grips with the GX-100 is a gratifying and simple process. 

There's a few amp models in the GX-100 to cover most tonal bases, but where it shines for us is the vast amount of effects onboard. All 154 of them sound great before any tweaking, and they only get better as you tweak them and stack them up.  When you consider the possibilities with the GX-100, either as a standalone modeling amp, a multi-effects unit going into a tube amp, or as a MIDI-switching blend of the two, this unit is exceptionally priced – and it's easy to use too.

Read the full Boss GX-100 review

Best for beginners

Best multi-effects pedals: TC Electronic Plethora X5

(Image credit: Future)
Straight from the TC hall of fame

Specifications

Number of effects: Up to 127 boards of five
Number of assignable footswitches: Five

Reasons to buy

+
Easy to set up and use
+
Great quality effects

Reasons to avoid

-
DSP can hit be limited in extreme chains

We’re big fans of the versatile TC Electronic TonePrint pedals, which have always offered a nice selection of user-changeable effects at a highly reasonable price. With the TC Electronic Plethora X5, the team there has brought each of the pedals from the TonePrint line together, in doing so creating a sort of TC Greatest Hits tour. 

With the Plethora X5, you can chain up to five TonePrint pedals together from a list including the Flashback, Hall of Fame, Corona, Vortex and many more. These can be placed in whichever order you prefer, although you can run into limitations with the DSP if you attempt to stack five reverbs or delays, for example. These configurations are then stored as ‘scenes’, ready to be recalled whenever required. TC has added further pedals via firmware since its launch, making this a superb, compact solution with enormous creative potential.

Read the full TC Electronic Plethora X5 review

Best for features

Best multi-effects pedals: HeadRush MX5

(Image credit: HeadRush)
A compact floor modeler with a touch screen and a vast array of features

Specifications

Number of effects: 65 effects, 50 amps, 15 cabinets, looper
Number of assignable footswitches: 3 plus expression pedal

Reasons to buy

+
Intuitive 4-inch touchscreen
+
Compact size
+
Excellent recording capabilities  

Reasons to avoid

-
Could be too much choice 

Following on from its much-lauded PedalBoard, HeadRush's MX5 aims to take all that mighty processing power and place it in a unit you can stick in the front of your gig bag. With some beautifully detailed amp models, an array of FX, and an expression pedal, don’t let the small size of this brilliant multi-effects pedal fool you.

The emulated amp sounds are really detailed and realistic. They’ve got a great interaction with your playing dynamics that makes them feel as satisfying as the real thing. It really shines in the effects department too, particularly with reverbs and delays. There’s a real three-dimensional sound from this unit that’s super engaging.

Overall the unit is a breeze to use too, with that intuitive touch screen providing loads of great options to tweak your tone on the fly. Run multiple chains of pedals with ease, switch presets quickly, or edit specific parameters and save them. Whatever it is you need to do, thanks to the display you won’t often feel the need to dive into the manual.

Read the full HeadRush MX5 review

Best for amp models

Best multi-effects pedals: Kemper Profiler Stage

(Image credit: Future)
A multi-effects unit and amp modeler in one robust package

Specifications

Effects: Infinite clean/drive voice capability and 125 banks of 5 patches
Number of assignable footswitches: 14

Reasons to buy

+
 Endless guitar tone possibilities 
+
 A lot of technology packed into a small unit 

Reasons to avoid

-
 Small screen can be hard to see 
-
 A lot of set up required on first use 

If the thought of lugging around an amp head and full pedalboard is filling you with dread, then maybe the Kemper Profiler Stage is the right choice for you. 

This robust and compact preamp combines the ever-popular Profiler Head and Remote foot controller into one neat package, giving you all the functionality of Kemper’s previous products, but with the added benefit of freeing up some much needed space in the car! 

We know this is a list of the “best multi-effects pedals” but the Kemper Profiler Stage is way more than that. At its heart, it’s an incredibly powerful amp modelers used by many guitar players to reproduce the sound of almost any amplifier imaginable. 

The Profiler Stage organizes amps, effects and speaker cabinet simulations into Rigs, which are stored in 125 banks of five, resulting in endless tonal possibilities.

Read our full Kemper Profiler Stage review 

More options...

So those are our top picks, but there are may more great options to choose from that offer something a little different in terms of features and performance. We've selected some more of our favorites below.

Best multi-effects pedals: Boss GT-1000

(Image credit: Future)
Want all the 500 series pedals in one? Here you go...

Specifications

Number of effects: 145
Number of assignable footswitches: 3-8

Reasons to buy

+
Huge range of effects
+
Impressive sound quality

Reasons to avoid

-
Editing patches isn't super intuitive
-
Pricey if you're not using the amp models

Boss has been the market leader in compact effects pedals since the early ‘80s, and chances are, if you're reading this, you own at least a couple yourself. 

With its recent 500 series of studio-grade pedals - the DD-500 delay, RV-500 reverb and MD-500 modulation - the company brought its expertise to a new form-factor and a higher-ticket area of the market. If you looked at the release of those pedals and thought "if I had a board of just those three, I'd be set," you'd be far from alone, and that's exactly what the GT-1000 delivers.

Obviously it's not just those three units in the box; yes a lot of algorithms were ported over, but there's also a state-of-the-art amp and cab simulator, as well as an impulse response loader. 

Read our Boss GT-1000 review

Best multi-effects pedals: Line 6 Helix HX Effects

(Image credit: Future)

8. Line 6 HX Effects

This small and mighty multi-effect puts incredible power at your feet

Specifications

Number of effects: 104
Number of assignable footswitches: 6

Reasons to buy

+
Feels great to use
+
Great range of effects

Reasons to avoid

-
Not what you're looking for if you want amp modeling

With no screen, the HX Effects relies on scribble strips and colored lights above the footswitches in order to indicate what's going on to the user and to edit patches.

It sounds like that shouldn't be enough to compete with the larger units, but this stripped-back interface is elegant, and packs all of the effects of its larger brothers. This means that it has all the firepower to make it the best multi-effects pedal you can buy, particularly if you play live.

Moreover, besides the standard delays, mods and reverbs there's also some gems like the particle verb, which is a clear nod to boutique effects.

There are only six patches available on the front panel, but if that's an issue then you could always integrate it into a traditional pedalboard setup. It's not drastically more expensive than a single Strymon big-box pedal, and size-wise it's about twice the size of a Whammy.

Read our Line 6 HX Effects review

Best multi-effects pedals: Zoom G5N

(Image credit: Zoom)

9. Zoom G5N

A budget replacement for your entire rig

Specifications

Number of effects: 100 effects, 5 amps, 5 cabinets, looper
Number of assignable footswitches: 4

Reasons to buy

+
Unbelievable value for money
+
Regularly updated via firmware
+
Tonnes of memory 

Reasons to avoid

-
Only four assignable footswitches 

The fact that you can get an entire rig at this price is a marvel in itself, but the most astounding thing is just how good the Zoom G5N sounds. Packed with 100 effects and a host of amp and cabinet simulations, this multi-effect pedal is the best way to replace your rig without breaking the bank.

Zoom has been making multi-effects pedals for a long time now, so it’s no surprise to find an array of quality sounds here. The tremolo is particularly impressive, but there are also some great reverbs, delays, and more overdrives than you’ll know what to do with. The emulated amps cover all of the favorites with Fender, Marshall, and Vox accurately recreated.

It’s super versatile too. Use it at home for practice, connect via USB to record in the home studio, or run it live with an amp or straight into the PA. Whichever you need to use the Zoom G5N for, you can bet it will deliver.

Best multi-effects pedals: Mooer GE-300

(Image credit: Mooer)

10. Mooer GE300

A powerful and compact multi-effect with a decent user interface

Specifications

Number of effects: 164
Number of assignable footswitches: 4-8

Reasons to buy

+
Great range of effects
+
Synth effect is fantastic

Reasons to avoid

-
Other options at this price
-
Weird footswitch layout

After a decade slugging it out at the lower end of the market with their distinctive micro-effects, Mooer has changed tack, and recently started releasing ambitious digital pedals. 

The GE300 is its flagship unit and, fully loaded with excellent effects and a fantastic monosynth patch, it certainly delivers the goods. Our only issue with the unit itself is that by default the footswitches have the assigns on the second row, which seems a bit backward compared to competitors.

The other problem with the GE300 is that Mooer's success is built on them being highly price-competitive. As with the Ocean Machine, its Devin Townsend signature pedal, the company's gone upmarket with the GE300 and there’s a price tag to match. The GE300 is a serious piece of kit, but it's hard to recommend it over the Helix LT when they're both around the same price.

Best multi-effects pedals for guitarists: Zoom MS-70 CDR.jpg

(Image credit: Zoom)

11. Zoom MS-70 CDR

The best multi-effects pedal for creating unusual sounds

Specifications

Number of effects: 86
Number of assignable footswitches: 1

Reasons to buy

+
Cheap
+
Massively customizable

Reasons to avoid

-
A bit fiddly to use

A sleeper hit in some corners of the online pedal community, the Zoom is deceptively deep. Powerful enough to keep up with any single-pedal sized digital effect, yet versatile enough to take the place of a multi-effect in a pedal chain, the MS-70 models a variety of vintage and modern boutique effects within a tiny, stereo enclosure.

Its real power is being able to use six of its effects simultaneously in a chain, allowing for very expressive and unusual sounds to be created. Best of all, since it's so small, even if you only use those sounds in one song on the setlist, the MS-70 doesn't take up much space! This really is one of the best budget multi-effects pedals around.

Best multi-effects pedals for guitarists: Tech21 SansAmp Fly-rig 5

(Image credit: Tech21)

12. Tech21 Fly Rig 5

If you want a simple solution and don't want digital effects

Specifications

Number of effects: 5
Number of assignable footswitches: 0

Reasons to buy

+
If you like (mostly) analog effects
+
Compact form-factor

Reasons to avoid

-
Not very flexible

The Tech21 isn't quite an analog option, but for multi-effects it's about as close as you can get. Although it's possible to make analog delays using old-school 'bucket brigade' chips, reverb effects require digital processing, and as a result the Fly Rig 5 is a hybrid unit.

Still, Tech21 knows how to make a fantastic drive, and the Fly Rig 5 boasts a Plexi SansAmp and a boost, meaning it can be used in front of an amp or straight into a powered PA for maximum flexibility. 

The delay and reverb are solid, if nothing to write home about - the real selling point here is how tiny this little beast is. If you don't require more than a simple delay and reverb besides drive options, then this is one of the best multi-effects pedals out there, especially as a back-up or - as the name suggests - fly rig.

Best multi-effects pedals for guitarists: NUX MG-300

(Image credit: NUX)

13. NUX MG-300

Killer amp-modeling tones, drums and looping in a compact, budget package

Specifications

Number of effects: 32+
Number of assignable footswitches: 2

Reasons to buy

+
Easy user-friendly interface
+
Outstanding next-gen sounds
+
Editing patches is super intuitive 

Reasons to avoid

-
Construction isn’t super rugged 

The out-of-the-box sounds of the MG-300 are seriously impressive. Its simple user-friendly design with expression pedal, tactile controls, push-buttons and a color screen is easy to navigate - you’ll barely need to crack open the manual. The MG-300 doesn’t overwhelm you with too many features either. It packs only the necessary garden variety of desirable amp models and classic effects – all of which are fantastic in tone and feel – along with 25 built-in cabinet IRs that combine four classic microphones with three positions, while you can also load third-party IR files via NUX QuickTone edit software for added versatility. 

This pedal’s audio modeling secret weapon is the TSAC-HD (True Simulation of Analog Circuit) algorithm, which delivers studio-quality guitar tones that actually sound authentic and dynamic compared to other modelers. Add in 56 built-in drum beats and a 60 second loop function, and the NUX MG-300 punches impressively above its weight for price, portability and sound.

Best multi-effects pedals: Buying advice

TC Electronic Plethora X5

(Image credit: Future / Olly Curtis)

When choosing the best multi-effects pedal you’ll need to take in a selection of factors to ensure you make an informed purchase. Multi-effects pedals can do everything from replacing a few pedals on your board to substituting your entire rig, from pedals to amp to your cabinet. 

What is a multi-effects pedal?

Typically, a multi-effects pedal would be something that replaces your pedalboard, whereas something that replaces your entire rig is often referred to as a floor modeler. Confusingly you’ll find both of these terms are interchangeable too, so it’s definitely a wise move to research the feature sets of these multi-effects pedals and find out if they meet your needs.

Some of the units here are designed to replace your traditional pedalboard, featuring a variety of effects pedal recreations like overdrive, distortion, delay, modulation, and reverb. This allows you to quickly and easily set up at practice or on stage, whilst simultaneously narrowing down the chance of a mid-set failure from one of your patch cables or power supplies.

What should I look for in a multi-effects pedal?

For beginner guitar players, having one of these types of multi-effects pedals is also a great way to begin getting into the world of effects. They allow you to have your choice of the vast majority of sounds and experiment to find what you like. Every great guitar player has ‘their sound’ and with a multi-effects pedal, it gets you one step closer to discovering yours. For more advanced players, a multi-effects pedal might be a way to cram more effects onto a busy pedalboard, mixing it with some regular stomp boxes to create a hybrid pedalboard.

Now that technology has advanced, multi-effects pedals are able to emulate not just your pedalboard, but your amp and cabinet too. Some of the simulations available are uncanny and it gives you the option to slim down your entire rig to just your guitar and a backpack. For travel-weary guitar players who have been lugging around tube amplifiers for decades, this is a welcome development. Although it sounds like a complete floor modeler is a no-brainer, there are a couple of things to be wary of.

Should I buy a floor modeler?

With a modern floor modeler, you’re going to have a lot of choices. For someone who isn’t sure what they want from their sound, this can be a real positive. For others the abundance of choice means you end up spending too much time tweaking and not enough time actually playing. If you’ve got a good knowledge of effects and guitar amps then you’re probably going to find it a lot easier to get stuck into a complex floor modeler, but we definitely wouldn’t recommend them for a beginner guitar player.

With a floor modeler, you’re also going to need some way to monitor your sound, whether at home, at practice, or on stage. Even with a loud tube amplifier on stage, it can sometimes be difficult to battle your way through a muddy monitor mix, and playing without being able to hear yourself is a guitarist's worst nightmare. Thankfully there are some great full-range, flat response monitors (known as FRFR) purpose-built for exactly this kind of thing. The best FRFR speakers give you a completely neutral monitor mix that ensures you can always hear your painstakingly created guitar tone whether on stage or in rehearsal.

What connectivity do I need on my multi-effects pedal?

Lastly, you’ll need to look at connectivity. Many multi-effects pedals have a huge array of connection options, but it’s always wise to make certain to check that you have the connections you need to integrate into your existing rig. If you’re a regular home recorder, then USB Outs or Direct Outs are a must. If you’re practicing at home make sure there’s a headphone out. If you’ve got a complex stereo amp set-up or want to take advantage of an FX Loop be sure to find a picture of the back of the unit or the manual to ensure you can use your multi-effects pedal to its full potential.

How we test a multi-effects pedal

Testing a multi-effects pedal is a lot like testing a regular stompbox, just with a couple of extra steps. Just like a normal pedal, we'll first start with the enclosure, checking to see how well made the unit is and how robust it feels. These are units that you stand on, so they need to be sturdy and able to take a beating. 

Next, we'll then turn our attention to the footswitches and expression pedal. We are not only checking to make sure that these switches are reliable and smooth but also that they are easily accessible and well laid out. At the end of the day, multi-effects pedals are designed to make your life easier, so this is a crucial test.  

Now, when it comes to testing these pedals sonically, we will, of course, start with the onboard presets, paying close attention to the sound they are trying to achieve and score them on how authentic they are. Next, we'll have a go at making our own sounds to see how well laid out the user interface is. 

If the pedal includes any other features, such as an accompanying app, MIDI in/out, or FX loop, we'll go through them as well, ensuring we've tested every last feature onboard.

Read more about how how we test products and services and how we make our recommendations.

You can trust Guitar World Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing guitar products so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.

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