TC Electronic Plethora X3 review

TC's TonePrint pedals flexibly arranged in one compact unit for maximum effect

TC Electronic Plethora X3
(Image: © Future / Olly Curtis)

Guitar World Verdict

It’s a great way to expand a ’board with a whole range of decent-sounding effects and could quite literally be all the modulation pedals you'll need in one place. Just add a drive pedal to the X3 and you’ll have an utterly practical minimalist rig that you can take anywhere.

Pros

  • +

    Compact all-in-one unit.

  • +

    Ease of setup and use.

  • +

    Variety of effects.

  • +

    MASH performance features.

  • +

    TonePrint facility.

  • +

    Stereo and mono operation.

Cons

  • -

    A send and return loop would have added flexibility.

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The TC Electronic Plethora X5 is a flexible multi-effects unit that can store 127 presets, known as ‘pedalboards’, each with five individually footswitchable effects taken from TC’s TonePrint pedal range. The unit offers a great opportunity to add a range of effects to your rig, but may be on the large side for incorporation into smaller pedalboards. 

Now, though, there’s this compact version that, at 176.5mm (7") in width, will be a more practical proposition for many players. The X3 has all the effects of the X5, but you can only use three of them at a time rather than five. The other main differences are that it loses the send and return loop and has no provision for plugging in an expression pedal.

The X3 has 16 effects pedals available to assign to each of the three footswitches in any of the 127 onboard pedalboards. You can assign any pedal to each, so you could have multiple instances, such as three delay pedals, if desired.

Each pedal can be loaded with a TonePrint (basically an edited set of parameters) from those stored onboard – there are 75 slots per pedal housing TonePrints and you can load those slots with your own TonePrints created with the software editor, as well as the Artist or TC factory options. Beyond a loaded TonePrint, there are instant front-panel editing options available.

The lack of an expression pedal input may be seen as a drawback, but there are plenty of performance options via the pressure-sensitive MASH footswitches. Each footswitch can be held down to change a parameter for its assigned effect, such as maybe turning up the feedback of a delay. You can also set a footswitch up for tap tempo instead of a MASH effect.

Verdict

While the X3 loses some of the X5’s flexibility, the advantage gained is that it is a much smaller pedal that can sit nicely on your pedalboard. 

As such, it’s a great way to expand a ’board with a whole range of decent-sounding effects – a single unit with one power input, and effects in any order having the advantage over buying numerous single pedals. 

This could be all your modulation pedals in one place, all your delays/reverbs or whatever combinations work for you. Alternatively, just add a drive pedal to the X3 and you’ll have an utterly practical minimalist rig that you can take anywhere.  

Specs

TC Electronic Plethora X3

(Image credit: Future / Olly Curtis)
  • PRICE: $369 / £299
  • ORIGIN: China
  • TYPE: Multi-effects pedal
  • FEATURES: True Bypass, 127 onboard ‘pedalboards’, chromatic tuner, optional cab sim at the end of the chain, MASH performance options, looper
  • EFFECTS: Helix Phaser, Viscous Vibe, Tape Deck Looper, Hall of Fame 2 Reverb, Flashback 2 Delay, Sub’n’Up Octaver, Brainwaves Pitch Shifter, Corona Chorus, Hypergravity Compressor, Mimiq Doubler, Vortex Flanger, Pipeline Tap Tremolo, Quintessence Harmony, Sentry NoiseGate, Shaker Vibrato, Alter Ego Vintage Echo
  • CONTROLS: Effect, TonePrint, 3x Parameter, Play/Edit switch, Board switch, 3x Bypass footswitch
  • CONNECTIONS: Standard inputs (Mono & Stereo), standard outputs (Mono & Stereo), MIDI In, MIDI Thru, USB
  • POWER: Supplied 9V DC adaptor 600mA
  • DIMENSIONS: 172 (w) x 118 (d) x 54mm (h) 
  • CONTACT: TC Electronic (opens in new tab)

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Trevor Curwen

Trevor Curwen has played guitar for several decades – he's also mimed it on the UK's Top of the Pops. Much of his working life, though, has been spent behind the mixing desk, during which time he has built up a solid collection of the guitars, amps and pedals needed to cover just about any studio session. He writes pedal reviews for Guitarist and has contributed to Total Guitar, MusicRadar and Future Music among others.