When it launched way back in 2012, guitarists underestimated the original Zoom MultiStomp. While the MS-50G had an astonishing array of effects in a compact chassis, the retro LCD screen and interface didn’t exactly scream ‘pedalboard appeal’.
Fast-forward 11 years, and the pedal and its offshoots – most notably the MS-70CDR Chorus Delay Reverb – have become cult classics among experimental guitarists, who prize Zoom’s comprehensive array of conventional and oddball effects and the ways in which they can be combined.
To this day, the pedals have a thriving Reddit community, with threads dedicating to replicating boutique effects and generating ambient tones.
All of which makes Zoom’s announcement of the MS-50G+ – a next-generation successor to the MS-50G, dubbed “the pedal your ’board has been waiting for” – very exciting indeed, particularly in the wake of Line 6’s similarly targeted HX One announcement last week.
There are over 100 built-in effects and 100 memory patches. Each patch can contain up to six effects, while the pedal also boasts onboard preamp models and Zoom’s proprietary multi-layer IRs.
These are essentially three individual Impulse Responses, captured at different volumes and stacked together to emulate “exact tonal characteristics and feel of playing through classic amps and cabinets at different volumes.”
There’s no full effects list yet, but based on Zoom’s previous form, you can expect the classics… and the unexpected.
Sample effects include the Velvet Drive, which balances the dynamic output between wound and plain strings; SwellVibe, which adds modulation only to your sustained sound; and Geminos, an effect that overdubs the dry signal three times and introduces a random organic texture.
The company’s demo video – which features Chaka Khan and Wyclef guitarist Kappa Tanabe – showcases everything from auto-wah to modulated delay, spring reverb, tri-chorus and a sitar simulation that’s… not hugely convincing. Still, we’ll reserve judgement ’til we’ve played with the thing.
From a practical perspective, Zoom has kept the appearance of the MS-50G+ decidedly retro, but there are some tweaks that should make its myriad effects types easier to navigate.
There’s an additional push-button knob, with clear Add/Delete/Library/Menu labeling, while the pedal’s patch memory and effects chain can be scrolled using the square plastic switches surrounding the central bypass switch.
It remains to be seen whether these buttons will be workable in the heat of a live show, but it goes some way to addressing one of the chief criticisms of the original pedal, which could only navigate patches in one direction using its sole footswitch.
While it’s a little disappointing to see a similar-looking LCD screen on the new pedal, it does change color depending on the effect type selected, which is a neat touch. The onboard tuner utilizes screen color to tell you when you’re in tune, too.
Elsewhere, the MS-50G+ can run from a 9V power supply, two AA batteries or USB power, while it offers a single input and two outputs.
A mobile app, in this case Handy Guitar Lab for MS-50G+, will be available in the near-future to allow for signal chain customization on Apple devices, too.
While we’d be lying if we said it doesn’t look a little dated, Zoom has produced a compelling package here, assuming the sounds are up to snuff. Hardcore MultiStompers will be a tad upset there are no MIDI or external footswitch options, but we can only assume Zoom has excluded these features to keep the price of entry down.
Speaking of which, the Zoom MS-50G+ is just $129. That’s under half the price of Line 6’s slightly chonkier equivalent, the HX One, which launched last week, and can handle any one of the company’s HX effects at one time – but notably not its amp models or impulse responses.
The HX One is based on a tried-and-trusted sonic performance, but for the more adventurous – or cash-strapped – player, the Zoom could be a compelling alternative.
The Zoom MS-50G+ MultiStomp is available to preorder now – head to Zoom for more info.