• Pros: Extremely user-friendly layout and compact design. A great selection of effects and amp modulations. High value for money.
• Cons: Lack of dedicated footswitches to scroll through banks makes it hard to use in a live setting.
• Overall: A good option for rehearsal or home-studio settings.
As far as guitar multi-effects units go, Zoom has never really been seen as one of the premium manufacturers like Line 6 or BOSS. However, they do have a history of producing pedals that are practical and affordable; and the G3X is one such pedal which seems to pack in quite a bit of value for money in small package. I recently had the chance to test run this pedal and discover its many pros and few cons myself.
One thing I really liked about the G3X is its size. Sure, I like a pedal that gives me just a little more than all the tonal options than I need. But what I don’t like is a pedal that takes up way too much of my onstage real estate. And at just 12.7 X 6.9 inches (and 9.2 X 6.7” for the G3), this pedal only takes up as much space as three or four stompboxes would.
As far as the G3X’s build quality goes, its outer casing and footswitches are made of metal and the pedal feels like it can take some wear and tear both onstage and on the road. The only weakpoints, if any, on the pedal are its control knobs, but those too are recessed into the pedal’s body so that they’re protected from any unwitting kicks.
The G3X also weighs in at just two and a half pounds, so it’s easier to carry around and transport than a laptop, which definitely earns this pedal some points in terms of practicality and portability. And speaking of portability, Zoom’s designers have been smart enough to make the G3X so that it can be powered by either its power adaptor, USB connection or four AA batteries.
If you’ve never used a multi-effects unit before, and if you feel intimidated by how complicated they might seem, the Zoom G3X might be just the starting point for you. The great thing about this pedal’s layout is that it’s incredibly simple and intuitive.
To start off, holding down on the first footswitch takes you to the pedal’s home screen where you can scroll through your patches and banks. One drawback that I need to mention here is that to scroll through your banks on the G3 and G3X you need to press down on two footswitches simultaneously. This might not seem like such a hassle when jamming at home or in the studio, but can be frustrating in a live environment.
Once a specific patch is selected, you can press down on the first footswitch again. When you do this, the three LCD panels each display a graphic illustration of each specific effect in the patch. You can then scroll through this display using the “Scroll” button on the top of the pedal and the displays on the LCD panels will switch automatically. You can have up to six effects running simultaneously in one patch, but you can obviously only control three effects using the LCD screens at a time.
To change a specific effect in one of the blocks, all you go to do is scroll through the various effects using the “Type” buttons on top of each LCD screen. This can be a bit frustrating at times though because you sometimes have to scroll through dozens of effects to get to the one you want. Once you settle on an effect, you can either press the “Page” button to the top right of each screen, or turn one of the control knobs underneath to bring up a graphical illustration of the adjustable parameters of each effect or amp modulation.
In this sense, using the G3X really is no different than using six stompboxes as part of a pedalboard, but if you are a guitarist who needs to switch between a large number of sounds quickly, the G3X might be a little more hassle than it worth on stage.
The G3X also comes complete with an expression pedal which can be assigned to various expression based effects like Wah and voice. However, both pedals have an option to connect an external footswitch or control pedal, so you can easily hook up your own expression pedal to a G3.
As far as connectivity options go the back panel of the G3X houses ¼” input jack with an active/passive switch, ¼” stereo outputs, balanced XLR output and USB jack. The G3X has an onboard soundcard so you can record directly onto your PC or Mac with Zoom’s Sequel LE recording software. Zoom also offers players free software to edit and share patches easily through their computers.
The G3X might be a relatively small pedal, but it still houses a healthy 100 patches divided into ten banks, which is more than enough to cater to the tonal requirements of most guitarists. The only drawback, like I mentioned before, is the fact that the pedal doesn’t have dedicated footswitches to scroll through various banks. So if you’re a guitarist who needs a broad range of sounds, you might need to learn some fancy footwork to handle this pedal. However, Zoom does claim to have the fastest switching rate of 1ms, so switching through different effects is super fast, which is a notable upside.
The pedal includes twenty two amp modulations and Zoom has taken steps to improve the realism of these with their latest ZFX-IV DSP. The amp models include some big name amps like Marshall, Fender, Mesa/Boogie, Vox, Orange and Hiwatt and come complete with cabinets that complement them. However, I did notice that the amp modulations tend to suck up quite a bit of DSP power so if you own a high quality amp and cabinet, you might be better off bypassing this altogether.
As far as effects go, the G3X has a whopping 94 effects to choose from. These include all the essential distortion, EQ, reverb, delay and compressions along with a handful of more eccentric effects. The only weak links that I noticed are the pitch based effects like the harmonizer.
Both the G3 and the G3X include a tuner and a 40 beat drum machine. But the pedal’s standout feature is its looper which offers a healthy 40 seconds of recording. The only drawback is that using the Undo/Redo options seems to cut the recording time by half.
Although I do admire Zoom’s efforts in creating an affordable pedal with an intuitive layout and compact design, I have to say that this isn’t really a pedal that is suited for extensive live use. However, if you mostly plan on using this pedal for jamming, rehearsing and recording purposes, there aren’t many that offer as many functionalities for a low price as the G3 and G3X.