Boss GT-8

Like many guitarists with a decade or two of live shows under their belts, I’ve dealt with sound design via a coterie of stompboxes duct taped to the stage, racks of gear under MIDI control, and both professionally constructed and cobbled together pedalboards. While all of that stuff sounded great, the easy portability and blazingly quick setup of a signal-processing workstation/ integrated pedalboard such as Roland’s GT-8 ($549 retail/$445 street) is absolute bliss when you’re fated to lug your own gear to depressing bar gigs, pretty damn fabulous club shows, and every venue in-between. The GT-8 fits into a medium-size gig bag, which means I need to make just two trips from car to stage—one with gig bag, guitar, and speaker cabinet, and one with my amp head and spare guitar—and I can be ready to soundcheck long before the drummer has his drums uncased.
Publish date:
Updated on

For my gig in the Eva Jay Fortune Band, I don’t need the GT-8’s Preamp/Speaker module—as I use a Mesa/Boogie Stiletto for clean and dirty amp sounds—and I wanted to employ the pedalboard solely for turning selected effects on and off. The manual made it a bit difficult to suss this out until I found the Manual Mode feature explained on page 78. From then on, it was a breeze tailoring the GT-8 to my needs. I programmed a fuzz-delay-tremolo patch on Bank 1/Pedal 1, and then configured the CTL Pedal to activate Manual Mode, which allowed me to choose sounds as follows: Pedal 2 for a Big Muff model, Pedal 3 for an analog delay, Pedal 4 for a chromatic tuner, Pedal FX-1 for a tremolo, and Pedal FX-2 for an acoustic-guitar simulator. The expression pedal was set to Volume/Wah (a CryBaby model). In addition, I programmed some solo tones for normal mode. All I need to do is depress CTL to get out of Manual Mode, and then hit Pedal 2 for a “melodic solo tone” (a ProCo RAT model and analog delay), Pedal 3 for a “heavy solo” (a Boss Metal Zone model and analog delay), and Pedal 4 for a reverse delay.

This setup gives me everything I need to embellish Fortune’s songs, and all with a minimum of foot fuss. More importantly, if you dig Boss effects, you aren’t compromising tone for ease of use. The overdrive and distortion models are appropriately fat and searing, the delays are sexy (and easy to adjust via a tap-tempo function), and the tremolo is vibey and gutsy. Pretty much every “usable” effect sounds marvelous (good luck with that Sitar Simulator and Humanizer)—although, to be totally anal retentive, I would have liked slightly more aggressive sonic postures to the CryBaby and Vox wah models.

I love gigging with this baby, and the added bit ‘o’ hipness is that I can simply activate the GT-8’s amp models to record some quick demos with a reasonably accurate simulation of my stage sound. Who would have thought that the gigging life could be this grand?