For a long time, the backbone of my setup has been guitar -> Engl E530 -> Mesa Boogie 50/50 -> Marshall 1960A. With this gear, the all tube sound is transparent, controllable and loud as you’d want to, with all the gain you could possibly want.
For a long time, I’ve sought 19″ effects gear to combine with this, preferably a unit which could provide me with both Pre- and Post-preamp effects. This would mean connecting the Engl E530 to the FX-unit’s external loop. I’ve done this with the Boss GX-700 and the Roland GP-100, but both units affected the tonal quality too much for practical use (tone-sucking).
I’d read about the GSP 1101 in advertisements and gear reviews, the product’s manual boasting about the unit NOT affecting your tone. Fine, so why not give it a try? When I did, I was blown away by how much this piece of hardware matched my wishes! In the shop, I tried it with a Engl 50W combo, and a ESP with passive humbuckers. The effects box delivered as advertised, combined nicely with the combo, the preamp section of which could be switched in and out through the GSP’s programmable external loop. This way, I was able to choose between the Engl’s all-valve preamp and the GSP preamp section. Worked like charm. No need I whipped out the cash and took the box home.
The big surprise came, however, when my E530 broke down. A relais blew up, and after having replaced it I got stuck with microphonic noises. Because of an upcoming gig I had to look for short-term alternatives, so I decided to eliminate the E530 from my rig and go with the GSP -> Mesa Boogie setup.
After a bit of tweaking I found some sounds which the Engl can’t seem to match! Holy Schmoly, what a sound!! There’s a lot more features to make the GSP worth checking out, go to www.digitech.com to find out more.
Of course this is a couple of weeks AFTER I’d bought the fridge-sized rack, half of which is now pretty much empty.
Also, when comparing a multi-effects unit with a non-programmable preamp, the tweaking of sounds is more of a hassle with the Midi-unit. When I find my clean sound to be a bit too loud compared to the crunchy channel, on the Engl I can just reach to the clean volume knob and adjust as I see fit, switch channels and then fiddle around a bit more. On the GSP there’s menus to scroll through, programs to be stored (and I mean ALL clean programs) before being able to compare them with the crunchy sounds.
Perhaps there’s some adjustable global parameters I may have missed, but I don’t think I have, so that’s a con inherit to the use of programmable preamps / effects units, still.