• Amazon: Digitech RP500 Multi-Effects Pedal
• Pros: Huge array of amps, cabs and effects. Rugged build and sleek design.
• Cons: The lack of a drum machine is a slight drawback.
• Overall: While not a complete replacement for a high-end guitar rig, the RP500 is an excellent choice for guitarists looking for tonal flexibility on a budget.
Over the last few years the DigiTech Company has garnered a reputation for delivering great, value-for-money multi-effects units that cater to what guitarists need; and their second largest pedal in the RP series, the RP500 is no exception. The design philosophy of the RP500 according to DigiTech is to offer players the versatility of a fully-fledged switching system in a multi-effects unit that can easily be used along with an array of other pedals. Today we take an in-depth look at the pros and cons of the DigiTech RP500.
DigiTech is known for building pedals that are road-worthy, and the RP500 does not fall short in this regard. The pedal’s outer casing is completely metal and feels like it can take some fairly harsh treatment on the road; which is an absolute necessity for guitarist that tour and gig consistently. The pedal’s nine footswitches are also metal and are able to take some heavy duty stomping.
The only drawback in this regard is that the six control knobs underneath the LED display are made of plastic and look like they could break off if bumped too hard. However, DigiTech’s designers have recessed the LED display and six control knobs so that they are fairly well protected.
In terms of size, the RP500 is not a small pedal by any means. But at just 19.5 inches long and 8.6 inches wide, it’s not a monolith either. And to be honest, for a guitarist that doesn’t have the budget to hire a guitar tech and crew to lug a massive pedal board around, it’s actually quite handy.
The RP500’s design and interface is sleek and stylish. But more importantly it is simple to use. Even if the RP500 is your first multi-effects unit, the chances are that you’ll be able to plug this pedal in and start playing within a couple of minutes.
The pedal’s interface includes a fairly bright red LED display and a “matrix” display which allows players to easily navigate the various preset editing options. To start off, players can simply use the first two control knobs from the left to browse and select a pre-programmed tone or effect and can then use the remaining four control knobs to adjust various parameters.
Another great feature of the RP500 is that it can be used as a line of stompboxes when in “pedalboard mode”. Switching to “pedalboard mode” is as easy as pressing a tiny button and players can then assign five different effects to the pedal’s five footswitches. This allows players to easily integrate the RP500 to their existing pedalboards and is also great for players that use only a few different effects per song. In “preset mode” players have the option of assigning five different presets to the five footswitches and toggling between various preset banks using the up and down footswitches.
Like its big brother the RP1000, the RP500 offers players a total of 200 (100 factory built and 100 user-assigned) presets. The various factory built presets are categorized by sound and style and are a great starting point for most beginner guitarists. However, to really get the most out of this pedal, it’s advisable that you spend at least a few weeks experimenting and tweaking your own presets to achieve your own unique sound.
When creating custom presets players have the option of selecting from two dozen classic amp modulations, including those from manufacturers like Marshall, Fender, Mesa-Boogie, Laney and Orange. DigiTech has also thrown in a couple of dozen custom built amp modulations like the Fender Blackface front-end matched with a Tweed back-end. The RP500 also offers players 22 different cabinet models to choose from.
Like the RP1000 the RP500 uses AudioDNA2 processing, so the tonal quality of these amp and cab modulations is quite excellent. However, they’re not 100% accurate tonal representations of these amps and sometimes lack the dynamics and versatility of the originals. So if you do own a solid amp/cab combo, you might be able to create a much better tone by bypassing the pedal’s amp and cab modulations entirely.
DigiTech has also included a whopping 77 effects for players to choose from, including 18 different kinds of distortion, three kinds of wah and a comprehensive array of delays, reverbs, compressors, tremolos and choruses.
As far as connectivity goes, the RP500 comes with an array of options like ¼ inch stereo outputs, two XLR outputs, an auxiliary input, a headphone jack and a USB port which allows for easy direct-to-computer recording and tone editing via DigiTech’s X-Edit software. The pedal also comes with a very handy 20 second looper which can be switched on by holding down the up footswitch. A slight drawback here though is the fact that the RP500 comes sans the drum machine that is included in most of DigiTech’s lower end pedals.
While the RP500 is in no way a complete substitute for a high-end guitar rig, it is a pedal that offers a great deal of versatility and value for money for guitarists on a budget.