Boss GT-10 Review
- Pros: Plenty of pedals for hands-free operation, intuitive controls, ample connectivity options and a dedicated looper.
- Cons: The expression pedal doesn’t move as much as you might like, and the effects don’t always play well with your amp settings.
- Overall: The Boss GT-10 is still a strong contender despite the updated GT-100. Great for live use or in the home studio, but perhaps still a little expensive for the hobbyist bedroom rocker.
The Boss GT-10 was once Boss’ flagship multi-effects unit. It has since been surpassed by the GT-100, but the original still has a veritable army of fans and you could easily pick one up second-hand at a reduced price. If the advanced bells and whistles of the GT-100 seem too much for you, the Boss GT-10 is a pretty legendary unit and still a respectable part of any guitarist’s set-up. With models based on classic amps throughout history and versions of all the major classes of effects, some players won’t need anything other than the GT-10.
When you compare the specs, the Boss GT-10 and the GT-100 actually look pretty similar. This is great for the older pedal, because it means it hasn’t really gone out of date. The updates on the newer model are undoubtedly improvements, but the core functionality and features are directly lifted from the GT-10. With the classic pedal, you get 200 factory-designed and 200 user-assignable patches, a phrase looper, the EZ Tone creator, plenty of amp models, numerous effects and amp models, as well as the ability to create two parallel effects chains.
The size of the unit is nothing short of daunting, measuring around 21 and a half inches from side to side and almost eleven from back to front and weighing over ten pounds. It isn’t ideal for transporting around if you’re going to be carrying it a lot, but in comparison to a home-made pedalboard stuffed with wires and single-function stompboxes it really isn’t an issue. You get a large expression pedal on the right of the unit, six footswitches along the bottom row and two towards the top for hands-free control. The upper left of the GT-10 features two display screens and an array of knobs and dials for fine tuning.
Boss completely re-worked their COSM modeling technology for the GT-100, but that doesn’t mean that the pre-amp options on the Boss GT-10 are obsolete. You get numerous amp models to play with, including versions of classic Fender, Matchless, Vox, Marshall, Mesa Boogie, Peavey and plenty of Roland and Boss creations. You can also run the pre-amps through two channels in a variety of ways, so you could, for example, have stereo amps each playing one channel or switch channels dynamically – according to the volume of the input signal. You can even delay one of the channels to create a subtle echo effect.
The Boss GT-10 includes all of the major classes of effects, including distortion/overdrive, delays, choruses, reverbs, phasers, tremolos, pitch-shifters and wahs. These are all incorporated into your patches through dedicated buttons found above the footswitches, and their parameters can be edited using the four dials directly underneath the display. The settings you choose are saved as part of the patch memory, so once you get them right you don’t have to keep fiddling with them. As an example, there are 30 different distortion models, with some based on classic effects like the Marshall Guv’nor and the Proco Rat.
You also get 38 seconds of mono recording time with the onboard looper. If you switch to stereo you cut that time in half, but it still provides enough time to use as a practice companion or to create a simple song. The function is activated by pressing the “Bank Up” and “Down” pedals simultaneously. Then, the “Bank Down” pedal becomes a recording, playing and overdubbing tool, so you tap it to start recording and tap when you’re done to start the loop playing back. The process for overdubbing is exactly the same, so it’s really simple to use, but there are no extra features like “Undo/Redo” that you’ll find on Boss’ dedicated loopers.
There are ample connectivity options on the back panel of the Boss GT-10, with stereo 1/4 inch output jacks, MIDI in and out ports, slots for a mono effects loop, a digital out, headphone jack and options for external channel controller or an additional footswitch. There’s also a USB port so you can connect up to your computer to adjust your settings and or record your signal directly.
The EZ Tone feature makes achieving your sound a lot simpler than on many multi-effects units. Instead of requiring careful adjustment of different parameters, the LCD displays an x-y grid labeled with tonal qualities. So you set the general type of tone you’re looking for (such as Fuzz Rock), choose a specific type of effect and then you’re greeted with the grid. You move the cursor along the axis using two of the parameter dials, so you can move a drive effect towards “Hard” or “Soft” and “Solo” or “Backing” to create the sound you’re looking for.
Is it Still Worth the Investment?
It might not be easy to ignore the marketing hype surrounding the GT-100, but if you’re looking for a cheaper option and you like the Boss GT style, the GT-10 is still a formidable multi-effects unit. Operationally, it’s a breeze. Editing the parameters using the dials is intuitive, because the relevant qualities are displayed directly above them with a marker to show you the current level. The dedicated “Bank Up” and “Down” footswitches in combination with the first four on the lower level make selecting a specific patch really easy hands-free, and the light-up effects buttons mean you can tell what type of sound you’ll get before you even play a note.
You can’t edit parameters on-the-fly without crouching down and fiddling, of course, but there is the assignable expression pedal. The only issue with this is that its range of movement is somewhat limited, and with options like the Zoom G5’s expression pedal (which allows left-right movement to control a maximum of three parameters) on the market, it definitely falls short. Another issue is that you may be effectively limited to using the included amp models for you basic tone, because it doesn’t always combine well with settings from your physical amp.
Regardless of these minor issues, the Boss GT-10 didn’t get its reputation for nothing. The reason it’s the choice of so many musicians is because it has a hell of a lot to offer guitarists. Well-modeled amplifiers combined with a diverse range of effects, a basic looper and plenty of storage space. If you’re worried about purchasing a now out-dated unit because you assume you’ll be missing out, you can rest assured. The GT-10 is the forefather of the GT-100, and Boss kept so many of its features because they work. No matter how many new models come out in the future, the Boss GT-10 will always hold a firm place in the multi-effects hall of fame.
Boss GT-10 Demo