My Boss ME-70
IntroductionIíve been using Boss effects all of my life. I think the first one I ever tried was a Chorus Ensemble that a guitarist friend of mine had. I was instantly hooked. (This was in the Margaret Becker era, so a Stratocaster through a Chorus was en vogue.)
My first multi-effects pedal was a Boss ME-50. Great pedal.
So when it came time to replace the ME-50 (because I wanted to upgrade, not because it had stopped working) I bought the ME-70 without having even played it before. Such is my experience with Boss and Roland: I trust them almost without thought. Thatís not to say they canít make bad products, or that they never have made bad products.
FeaturesOut of the box, this baby lacked only one thing I wanted: an acoustic guitar simulator (like the ME-50 had). But everything else was there in spades.
The COMP/FX section has compressor, a necessity for me when playing Hillsong stuff. But it also has a new feature, Lead, which I really like. The difference between my crunch and lead tone is literally the difference between which, compressor or lead, I have selected.
Note that of all the pedals Iíve ever played, this one has the best and most realistic effect on sound as you turn your guitarís volume and/or tone knobs down. (I havenít played the ME-80 yet.) I can stay in crunch sound and back off my guitarís volume and have very nice cleans, yet another great feature to have for church music, as often the difference in crunch volumes and crunch/lead in the same song requires flexibility.
The OD/Distortion section dispensed with the ME-70ís almost-patent-infringing naming of the OD/Distortion models, and to my chagrin. On the ME-50, Iíd stay mostly in Tube Screamer, I mean, Screamer mode. But thatís ok. Now I stay mostly in Blues mode, though I have strayed into OD-3/Natural modes before. But mostly, I feel like the Natural mode doesnít have enough ďbiteĒ, so I tend to use Blues mode more.
What was very impressive were the Lead Amp models (Iíll get to that in a second) and the Lead OD/DIST modes. I was in heaven playing around in these modes. Go figure: Iím a huge fan of the guitar solos heard on Journey, Porcupine Tree, Pink Floyd, Switchfoot, and other art-guitar leads. I am also a fan of the Mesa ďdozens-of-stages-of-overdriveĒ sound.
The other modes work well enough. Metal modes sound like metal. I donít own any guitars that would qualify as ďpure metalĒ guitars except maybe my Showmaster with the Full Shred bridge (Witiw/Rob Zombie maybe?). My ESP has a JB bridge, and so yes, I can summon some Deftones and Metallica / Megadeth tones. But I confess that metal isnít often a place I stray. As well, plain distortion works well for conjuring some Green Day-ish sounds.
I confess that I havenít used the EZ Tone feature very often. It works as advertised, donít get me wrong, but usually I donít need to dial-a-distortion to figure out what sounds best, as church music tends not to stray too far from crunch tone.
The delays are glorious. I can use the modulation section to run an analog delay (set all knobs to 50% for a good basic delay) and then run the delay section in a short delay, plus reverb if I want, and I go wild with all the Indie / Hillsong-Mighty-To-Save-uber-delay cleans I want. Which is very useful, as the ďbazillion delaysĒ sound is pretty popular in church music. Tap also works as advertised, as well as reverse (Iíve used both in church, believe it or not).
The Modulation section has plenty for whenever I need to modulate, which isnít often. The chorus on this pedal works, but itís not as lush or extreme as I would like. But thatís OK because I can usually dial in enough to keep me happy. I donít often use chorus in church, though, sadly. Tremolo works great (Iíve used tremolo in church before to get that surf-y sound, and it is great). Iíve rarely had to use flanger, phaser, rotary, and octave / harmonist in church, but when needed, they work as advertised.
The factory presets in this pedal are also usually dependable. For a while, I simply mapped the presets to 1, 2, 3, and 4 and that was what my user preset bank 1 consisted of. Recently, Iíve started to branch out more and make my own settings, thogh I have to fight my tendency to put all the knobs at 50% for certain pedals. Switching back and forth is easy.
As for the amp section, I play live with a Fender Pro Junior, so in some ways I rarely ever even used the amp section, sometimes tasking it with to EQ with a mid-range spike for use as a solo/booster. But recently Iíve been using the Clean setting to increase how ďamp-yĒ my sound is. I am thankful there is a Combo and Tweed section, also, so that if I want to dial in someoneís specific sound from a recording, I can easily do that. Tweed especially sounds nice to me. Combo almost sounds too heavily simulated, but I am used to my Ď72 Twin Reverb, so my perception might be off. I didnít like a more muddy combo amp that one of my previous churches had, so it might be my ears.
As for the assignable pedal, the settings here are great. I can put it in -1 octave and move back and forth between a bass sound if I choose (when the bassist isnít at church). As well, I can modulate the amount of delay with it, so that helps on some Hillsong stuff where I want to switch between cleans and crunch. I tend to turn off most, if not all, of my delays when in crunch because of how easily it gets out of hand and takes over the sonic landscape in church. For some, that might be a bonus, so Iím not here to say this is a bad thing.
Overall, I love this thing.
Keep in mind that this thing also has a ⅛Ē input. This is great for jamming along with my cell phone or other sound devices plugged in. In addition, for a while I was running my Akai Mini Play into this to simplify sound production at church, though now I run my Roland System-1 through its own direct box. But this does simplify things in that for my own gigging purposes, I can run everything through one amp.
QualityHere, as usual, the Boss quality is great. However, there is one minor flaw. Iíve noticed that foot pedal #2 tends to start to act up maybe once every two years. This requires disassembling the unit and cleaning it out. And this is a dangerous proposition because those lights in the pedals are on very long light stalks. One accidental bump with it disassembled and you might rip the LED off the board, requiring a re-soldering (if youíre lucky) or even a replacement LED. I have not yet damaged my unit, but itís worth knowing ahead of time.
Would this product be worth owning and having to check it in for electronic repair every 6 years or so? Sure, but I just want people to know that if you take it apart, be very, very careful.
ValueThis thing easily replaces a dozen individual pedals, so itís already cheaper, and thus better in value. It also runs on 6 AA batteries, meaning I donít have to deal with patch cable troubleshooting and multiple 9v replacement / multi-power-supply issues. It fits in my backpack, making it much more portable than a large pedal board.
Manufacturer SupportI havenít needed Bossís manufacturing support.
ConclusionI love this thing, and overall I am still a huge supporter of Boss and Roland products. Iím very satisfied.
6 September 2019
I sold this multieffects unit to upgrade to
the ME-80. I miss it, as I didn't realize the ME-80 was