Boss GT-10

Sunday, November 30, 2008| by Will Chen

Editor's Note - The original review misposted the Phase Loop times as stereo (38 sec) or mono (19 sec). The values were transposed and should have read stereo (19 sec) or mono (38 sec). Thanks Still!

I’ve always been a fan of Boss compact pedals and my first effects processor was an ancestor to the Boss GT line. Lately, I’ve been feeling slightly nostalgic for that Boss sound. Scan the floorboards of the pros and you’ll see more than a handful of Boss pedals, with good reason. Boss has been a leader in the stompbox arena since releasing what many consider to be the Holy Grail of chorus pedals, the CE-1, back in the 70’s. Boss recently released a new flagship processor, the GT-10. With marketing boasting a simplified user interface and the “latest custom-made DSP and proprietary sound-modeling COSM® engine” I was anxious to hear their latest addition to their legacy.

The GT-10 is solid built at approximately 10 pounds with a steel exterior; the unit has an ultimately durable feel. All the foot switches and expression pedal also feel very sturdy and will likely stand up to stomping abuse without issue. There are plentiful inputs and output along the back of the unit including an effects loop, USB jack, SPDIF jack, and stereo ¼” outputs. Unfortunately, Boss neglected to include XLR jacks.

Continuing the trend of the Boss GT-10’s flexibility, the two controller pedals can be assigned to any parameter or multiple parameters and offer operational modes including tap tempo, momentary, or toggle. The rocker pedal can also be assigned to any pedal as well as function as in either a Wah or Whammy–like pedal bend mode when you click the tow switch. If this isn’t enough for you type A personality control freaks out there, there are jacks for 2 additional pedal switches and an additional volume pedal as well as a manual mode which turns the 4 patch pedals into assignable controllers. The options are mind blowing.

...those willing to spelunk the depths of the GT-10’s submenus are rewarded with excellent tones and some incredible tonal shaping options.

The GT-10 offers 3 levels of programmability input using a large dial style rotary encoder, fours directional buttons (up, down, left, and right), four knob style rotary encoders, and a slew of buttons. For those who don’t like to spend hours upon hours tweaking and need a tone on the fly, the new EZ Tone Wizard offers rich graphical tool prompting users to variations of a tonal genre and adjusting parameters using a 4 quadrant matrix. It sounds a little complex describing it, but in practice it is extremely intuitive. One layer deeper is the standard editing mode offering adjustment of a majority of the available parameters to fine tune your tones. Click on the display mode while in standard editing mode and you’re switched to deep editing mode. No fancy graphics here, just a simple name value pair style entry with every parameter available for ultra deep editing.

I’m not exaggerating when I say this can be an extremely complex unit to program. I’ve used fx processors for years and I’ve literally studied this manual as well as spent more than a few hours of trial and error to learn the unit. Additionally, Boss does not bundle a graphical editor (though a free third party app is available). The GT-10 isn’t a grab and go device by any stretch of the imagination and will likely be extremely frustrating and overwhelming to those who prefer the instant gratification running direct into an amp. However, like much in life good things come to those who wait…

In terms of flexibility in designing your virtual signal chain, the GT-10 is a power house with a fully configurable FX chain allowing you to place any effect anywhere you want. Additionally, the chain forks into two parallel paths which can be configured for A/B switching, dual mono, or dual stereo operation. As if that wasn’t enough, Boss has also included an external loop which like the rest of the effect can be placed anywhere in your virtual FX chain.

...I haven’t heard an emulation of the JC-120 as close as the GT-10 and the Fender Twin model nails that just about to break up slightly compressed sweet spot...

I’ve typically been impressed with Boss’ COSM® modeling and the GT-10 offers a variety of amp modeling options covering the tonal rainbow. I was particularly impressed with the clean and just about to break up tones. For example, I haven’t heard an emulation of the JC-120 as close as the GT-10 and the Fender Twin model nails that just about to break up slightly compressed sweet spot perfect for twangy pickin’ and funky stabs. At the other end of the tonal spectrum, the heavy tones are capable of the most brutal tones you can think of with that focused tight low end thump you can feel in your chest and slicing high end. Things really get interesting running the unit in dual mono mode running a darker sounding preamp with another more cutting preamp. The Boss Metal and Rectifier models were particularly complementary. The one general weak spot is perhaps among the British sounding amps. While the GT-10 decently emulates VOX style chime, I wasn’t able to get a particularly convincing vintage Marshall krang. The unit can get pretty darn close mixing preamps or using a stomp model into one of the cleaner amp models, but ultimately it left me wanting more. Also, a few of the models have a peak in the upper midrange which sounds unnatural with anything other than the darkest guitars.

Multiple flavors of boost, overdrive, distortion, and fuzz are included and faithfully replicate many classic Boss pedals as well as standard classics such as the Ibanez TS9, ProCo Rat, and Electro Harmonix Big Muff. Standardized controls are shared across all the pedals so while these emulations might not exactly replicate all the tones of the original pedals, they effective capture the vibe and offer some additional fine tuning beyond what the original offered.

The FX section contains all the standards included phaser, tremolo, flanger, and chorus. However, the real fun begins with some of the more avant-garde selections. The intelligent harmonizer sounds completely surreal with superb tracking, the excellent Slicer effect offers tempo synched pulsations like running dual square wave tremolos in series, and the arpegiator plays back looped pre-programmed or user defined melodic sequences triggered by the notes you’re playing. Awesome. For those really adventurous, Boss has generously included wave synth and guitar synth effects. The wave synth translates your guitars input to a pure square or saw waveform and is capable of everything from old school Nintendo Video game sounds to a Metheny-esque synth trumpet tone. Just superb. The guitar synth doesn’t track very well and was far less fun. While some may consider these inclusions gimmicks, in the right setting these effects allow a level of tonal exploration I haven’t experienced in another fx processor.

Another excellently implemented effect is delay. The GT-10 serves up multiple modes covering pretty much any usage I could possibly dream of. Dialing up the dual-series mode with the Vox Clean preamp and you’ll be channeling the Edge’s syncopated delays in no time. Set the analog mode to a short slapback and you’ll nail the tone of the much coveted Boss DM-2. Every mode offers a high cut to “warm up” the repeats and the tape setting offer some incredible tone mangling potential. Boss has also included a very nice Phrase Loop effect with stereo (19 sec) or mono (38 sec) modes.

Overall, the GT-10 is a multi-fx powerhouse offering up ultimate flexibility in a unit built like a tank. While the unit excels across the board at both vintage and modern tones, I was pleasantly surprised at how unguitaristic it can sound when you want it to. Some will be turned off by the level of programming depth offered. However, those willing to spelunk the depths of the GT-10’s submenus are rewarded with excellent tones and some incredible tonal shaping options.


Price: ~$500 USD
Pros: Incredible flexibility and excellent tones
Cons: Complex to program, no XLR output

Filed Under: Reviews, Boss