ONE HOT GUITAR-TECHNOLOGY TREND IS the incorporation of Bluetooth wireless connectivity,
while another (encouraged by airline weight restrictions)
is cramming the highest number of effects onto
the smallest possible pedalboard. The Zoom MS-100BT
($149 street) addresses both by offering a ton of effects
in a compact pedal that can be updated easily and wirelessly
via iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch.
Sporting the same powerful ZFX-IV DSP processor
as Zoom’s MS-50G stompbox and G5 floorboard, the
MS-100BT delivers the realistic modeling covered in GP
reviews of those products. It offers nearly twice the number
of sounds of the MS-50G, over two thirds that of the G5,
and up to six of these sounds (amps and effects) can be
combined in any order.
I was happy to see so many of the offbeat effects in the G5 retained in the MS-100BT. Sequenced filtering,
slicer, and envelope triggered pitch bending
are among the effects that would take up mucho
pedalboard space as individual units and probably
only be used once or twice a set. Sonic explorers
will welcome having them all in one compact
pedal, and traditionalists of any genre should be
happy with the quality and number of classic amp
and effect models that the MS-100BT presents.
I tested the MS-100BT with a Fernandes Strat-type
guitar and a Fender Blacktop Jazzmaster into
a Fender Blues Junior, an Orange Tiny Terror, and
directly into a DAW. A convenience here is that one
of the amp model parameters lets you tailor the
sound for line, amplifier front end, or power amp in.
Fortunately, choosing presets and parameters
is fairly intuitive, as the manual could be much
clearer. Once you have chosen or created presets,
you can scroll through up to 26 of them with the
footswitch. Note that there are a total of 50 presets:
30 are pre-programmed, 20 are empty, and
all are user writeable.
Of course, one of the main features separating
the MS-100BT from its predecessors is its Bluetooth
functionality. I downloaded Zoom’s free app
from the Apple App Store and easily synched the
pedal with my iPhone. This allowed me to load
new sounds from Zoom’s StompShare effects and
amp shop. I could audition the effects and amps
for 15 minutes (a clock shows the remaining time)
then, if I liked what I heard, purchase effects for
$.99 or amps for $1.99. The app also facilitated
firmware updates and showed me when battery
power (two AAs) was low.
The MS-100BT comes loaded with so many
great sounds, you may not find yourself needing
more—though the CentaGold model of the Klon
Centaur is certainly worth another $.99. What
would truly bring this pedal into the future is an iOS
editor/controller. Though there are plenty of navigation
tools on the pedal (three push switch/control
knobs and four scroll tools around the footswitch),
the MS-100BT is so deep that being able to edit it
on a laptop, iPad, or even iPhone would help. And,
how great would it be to be able to control parameters
from an iPhone attached to your guitar?
That said, the MS-100BT packs plenty of sonic
goodness into a pedalboard-friendly package, and
as such, it has much to offer any guitarist seeking
maximum bang for the buck in a compact
Kudos Amazing number of high quality amp
and effects models. Small footprint. Bluetooth
Concerns Manual could be improved.
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