CARRYING MORE THAN A FEW EFFECTS on your pedalboard inevitably requires some compromises. You’re stuck with the order in which you connect them, and accessing several at once can be a tricky tap dance. A handful of companies have sought to offer solutions to these problems to players who can’t afford the big systems that Pete Cornish and Bob Bradshaw build for the pros. Among the latest is TheGigRig, a UK-based company that is now distributing its component-based switching systems through outlets in the USA. TheGigRig sent us a fully loaded system for review, one packed with a selection of new and vintage pedals to boot, so let’s dig in and probe its veracity in terms of efficiency and ease of use.
The Pro-14 is a floor-based switching system with 10 independent true-bypass loops and 14 programmable presets. What this means is that the unit can handle ten individual pedals, and that these pedals can be routed in 14 different combinations, with as few or as many in each preset as you like. This “routing” might sound like a complicated task, but the Pro-14 makes it easy, thanks to the array of dipswitches at each slot that lets you select which pedals are “on” or “off ” at each preset switching position. In addition to switching functions, the Pro-14 also includes a programmable class-A preamp to correct volume levels between vintage and modern pedals or to provide an instant solo boost; a selectable pre-effect buffer for each loop; a switchable tuner output, and routing and switching to two amps without phase or ground loop problems.
Other optional, mix’n’match components that help the Pro-14 do its thing are the Generator power supply and Distributor six-lead power splitters ($189 retail as a set, with two Distributors), Virtual Battery (an isolating battery replacement for vintage effects, ($39 retail), Adapters (to convert standard 9V DC to other required voltages, $69), and Wet Box (a wet/dry signal mixer, $219 retail).
In use, I found the entire rig extremely efficient and effective, and for me its dipswitch preset system proved much more intuitive to program than many other MIDI or digital preset systems. Programming and reprogramming effects groupings was a breeze, as was accessing them, making it easy to get the most out of the 11 pedals (plus Wet Box) loaded into the board. What’s more, the lack of noise from the Pro-14 was impressive, especially with so many different voltage requirements running around the system. The Pro-14 does alter your tone from the straightto- amp tone ever so slightly, even in bypass, but not so much as to be overly detrimental (or even noticeable to many ears), and any switching system will similarly weight your signal (as will running straight through just four or five “off ” pedals). All in all, the Pro-14 is a great alternative for guitarists who want to toe-tap with the pros, without the full investment of a custom-made switching system. And if the Pro-14 system is too expensive for your budget, consider the new Pro-8, which offers six true-bypass loops and eight presets for $749.
MODEL Pro-14 switching system and Generator/Distributor power supply (with related components)
PRICE $1,149 retail/street price N/A; $1,665 retail as reviewed with optional addons
FX LOOPS Ten
EXTRAS Built-in preamp, selectable buffer, tuner out, dual amp outs with phase and groundloop switching.
KUDOS Easy to program. Functions just as it should. Extremely versatile.