Boss ME-70 Review
- Pros: Intuitive, analogue-style layout, with all major types of effects, plenty of footswitches and an on-board looper.
- Cons: Tiny “Bank” buttons make selecting patches a nightmare without an additional footswitch, and other pedals have many more amp models and effects.
- Overall: A great option for those looking for a multi-effects unit with a stompbox style layout, but there are more powerful and high-tech alternatives on the market for a similar price.
Although the GT series has basically taken Boss multi-effects, jacked them up on steroids and bundled enough effects under the hood for a lifetime of sonic exploration, the Boss ME-70 still has its benefits. As the larger sibling of the ME-25, it’s loaded with much of the same features, except that its increased size allows for greater hands-free control. It’s also different to the smaller model and the GT series because it essentially works as a collection of analogue pedals rather than a software-heavy digital system. This makes it very user-friendly, particularly for guitarists used to traditional multi-effects systems, and it’s relatively low price tag makes it an attractive option for gigging musicians.
Familiar Features, Bigger Box
The first thing you notice about the Boss ME-70 is the layout. It looks like four stompboxes mounted next to an expression pedal. There is a pretty dazzling array of dials, but the fact that they’re split into sections for the different classes of effects and the pre-amp makes it a lot simpler than it first appears. You can dial in any one of six COSM amp models, incorporate all major types of effect and even use the pedal as a basic looper. Plus, you get 36 user preset locations to store your creations and 36 come pre-designed from the factory.
The body of the Boss ME-70 is taken up by the aforementioned dials and footswitches, but there’s also a display screen and several buttons to control features like bank selection and storing your alterations. It measures just over 15 inches wide and over 9 front to back, but it’s still quite compact in comparison to the larger GT units.
You get a total of six amp models with the Boss ME-70, and these are controlled using the preamp section in the top left of the unit. The first dial allows you to choose between the models, with options for clean and high-gain sounds, as well as modeled versions of the 1970s Marshall sound, a Vox combo amp, the Mesa/Boogie Dual Rectifier and the crunch of the Fender Bassman. You can also opt to turn off the amp modeling altogether or use the controls as a 4-band EQ. They’re adjusted in more detail using the “Gain,” “Bass,” “Middle,” “Treble” and “Level” dials to the right.
Aside from the pre-amps, the effects included on the unit are split into six different groups, Compression/FX, Overdrive/Distortion, Modulation, Reverb, Delay and Pedal FX. The compression group also includes things like the violin-esque Boss “Slow Gear” effect, a wah based on picking intensity and options to get a humbucker tone from a single coil and vice-versa. You also get ten effects for distortion, modulation and delay, two reverbs and six options to use with the pedal. All of these have adjustable parameters, which you control with the various dials in their respective sections. The EZ-Tone function is there if you’re happy to work with the suggested parameters. In short, there are a wide range of sonic possibilities at your feet with the Boss ME-70.
The biggest bonus extra is the looper function, which is good for 38 seconds of mono recording. This is accessed using the “Phrase Loop” option in the Delay section, and when it’s activated the section’s pedal becomes the record, play and overdub control. Simply hit the pedal to start recording your phrase, hit it again when you want to start playback and give it another tap to overdub another layer of guitar. There are no extra functions, but it’s a solid looper non-the-less.
The layout of the pedal means it’s completely intuitive for players used to traditional analogue pedals. You use it in one of two basic modes, either Manual or Memory mode. In Manual mode, you can just imagine that the four main pedals and their associated dials are stompboxes, and use them as you ordinarily would. Memory mode is primarily used for calling up your saved patches, using the two “Bank” buttons found below the display screen and the four footswitches to select a specific patch. The patches contain all of the parameters, amp settings and active effects you saved previously, even if the dials aren’t in the right place.
The pedal is most at home in Manual mode. You activate a specific type of effect using the dedicated footswitch, and can select a specific type using the dial if you like. Adjusting settings on the fly isn’t that easy, but it’s user-friendly nature more than makes up for that. But when it comes to switching between presets, things get a lot more awkward. You either have to use tiny buttons to change the bank, or double-press the first two footswitches to turn them into bank selection pedals. In practice this either means stooping over or performing an old-fashioned pedal-dance to complete your navigation.
You can get used to the pedal-combos your feet have to perform (that’s how it always used to be, after all), but modern multi-effects units usually make things a little easier. It’s no surprise that the GT series includes dedicated bank selection pedals. On the Boss ME-70, you have to buy an external controller for that vital functionality. This means that there are limitations to how well the pedal can be used live. It is good enough, but only if you have time between songs to make any required changes. It’s surprising how easily you’ll mess up a series of button-presses with the intensity of the spotlights bearing down on you.
Despite these potential issues with live use, and the fact that modern multi-effects units have considerably more sounds on board and additional user memory slots, the Boss ME-70 is still good at what it does. Realistically, choosing this over a similarly affordable but more modern option isn’t a good idea for most players. The real benefit comes to those who prefer the stompbox style setup. If you’ve been tied to your old-school pedalboard for years and don’t want to lose the navigation style, then this is perfect. There isn’t really too much to complain about with the Boss ME-70, but the sheer processing power and wide range of effects on modern pedals makes it a less favorable option.
Boss ME-70 Demo