Review: Zoom MS-50G

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The Zoom Corporation’s super-compact 9000-series digital multieffects caused quite a stir in the early 1990s. The company’s recent Zoom MultiStomp MS-50G (current rrp in Finland: 99 €) carries on this heritage by managing to squeeze most of the large Zoom G5’s processing power (reviewed in August 2012) into one regular-size single pedal.

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It may sound unbelievable, but it really is true – this small box holds in store a whopping 50 memory slots for your own effect patches. Each effect patch can consist of a signal chain of up to six different effects. The MS-50G offers you 55 different effect types to choose from – featuring everything from compressors and modulation effects all the way to distortions, amp modelling and whacky special effects. Naturally, the MultiStomp also comes equipped with a digital tuner.

The Zoom MS-50G’s metal casing and its single foot switch feel reasonably chunky. The three parameter control knobs have been mounted at an angle underneath the LCD-display, out of the way of your foot’s path.

The pedal can be used in mono or in stereo. There is no headphones output on the MultiStomp, because it is meant to be used either as a standard guitar effect in front of your amp (or plugged into the effects loop) or for recording, connected straight to the front end of your soundcard or mixing console.

This compact Zoom is powered by two AA-sized batteries, giving you about seven hours of continuous use. Powering the pedal using a PSU (optional) is the more environmentally friendly way of doing things, and Zoom have made it easy for us by sticking to the Boss-standard (9 V, centre plus), making it easy to integrate the MS-50G into your existing pedal board.

The USB-port on the front of the MultiStomp makes it possible to update the unit’s firmware.

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There are two main ways of using the Zoom MS-50G’s effect patches:

The first way would be to manually select one patch, and the use the left/right cursor keys to choose the one effect in this patch (like chorus, distortion or delay) that you want to be able to turn on and off using the foot switch while performing. The unit automatically stores which effect you have selected in each given effect patch, so the next time you call up this patch you will already have your chosen effect connected to the foot switch.

The second way of using the Zoom is by utilising the MS-50G’s A/B-mode. A/B-mode allows you to select all the effect patches you will want to use, and put them in a running order by assigning a letter to each of the chosen effects (e. g.: ”SynthStar: A”, ”AsiaPalace: B”, ”PitchDist: C” etc). Once you’ve got your list in order, you can use the foot switch to hop through your list (starting from letter ”A” going up the alphabet). At the end of your list pressing the foot switch will get you back to the first patch in your list.

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Very compact multieffects usually require a slightly steeper initial learning curve than larger boards, because the limited number of controls and push buttons always means you first have to get to grips with the unit’s user interface. Luckily, thanks to its logical structure and well-designed graphics the MultiStomp is an easy piece of gear to master.

I especially like the Effect Chain view, which makes changes to the order of effects inside a patch very easy. You simply lift the chosen module using the virtual magnet, and drop it where you want it to go.

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Regardless of its compact size, the Zoom MS-50G MultiStomp is a fully-fledged member of the company’s G-series of guitar multieffects. While the MultiStomp won’t offer you all of the great features and effect types of its larger brethren – the G3 and G5 – the sheer amount of processing power and tasty effects on offer here is truly amazing. For the price of a decent single effect the MS-50G offers you a huge palette of different effects, while only taking up very little space on your pedal board.

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I used a Tokai SG-75 plugged into the Zoom MS-50G to record all the guitar tracks on the YouTube video:

Zoom MS-50G

All of the other soundbites have been lifted from Kitarablogi’s reviews of the Zoom G3 and the larger G5:

Fender Stratocaster – detune – delay

Fender Stratocaster – dirty Tweed – tremolo

Tokai LC-85 – fixed wah – Marshall-type

Tokai LC-85 – phaser – Blackface-style

MS Crunch – Stratocaster

Volume Pad – LP-type guitar

Oct-Lead – Stratocaster

DZ Drive – Stratocaster

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Zoom MS-50G MultiStomp

Current RRP in Finland 99 €

Finnish distributor: Studiotec

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Pros:

+ value-for-money

+ sound

+ compact size

+ easy to use

+ versatile

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