While multi effects processors can offer a great advantage over individual pedals in terms of versatility and bang for your buck, many complain this is accomplished by sacrificing tone and often requiring significant programming and planning to get the fullest tones out of one. One the other hand, some of the bypass buffers of individual pedals are real tone thieves and even true bypass pedals can load down a long signal chain significantly. But some of those little pedals sound incredible and being able to mix and match effects from different manufacturers is often the key in finding one’s tonal Nirvana. What’s a pedal junky to do? Pick up a true bypass looper, and the new MOEN Guitar Effect Commander (GEC) 438 may be the ideal solution.
MOEN is an effects manufacturer based in Hong Kong which offers a full line of pedals of which the GEC is the newest addition. The unit offers relay controlled true bypass for each of it’s four loops and a dedicated tuner output. However, as effects board guru Pete Cornish argues in “The Case Against Ture Bypass”, a single buffered bypass often offers an advantage especially in long signal runs. Well, the MOEN GEC438 offers both buffered and unbuffered inputs allowing you the user to make the choice (all the individual loops remain true bypass). Very cool. But we’ve just scratched the surface…
The GEC 438 is also programmable offering any 3 of the 4 loops active at a time which can be stored in 1 of the 8 presets which are organized in 2 banks of 4. The icing on the cake though is allowing the loops to be programmed in any order. So why is that a big deal? Well, if you’re a more experimental player you’re probably already working out all the permutations in your head but here are a couple examples for the less imaginative. So you’ve got a delay pedal sitting in a loop and an overdrive in another. The standard effects chain feeds the delay into the overdrive. At the end of a song, you max out the repeat level to force self oscillation. How about kicking it up a notch and feed the oscillating feedback into an overdrive? Do you have a multi effects processor without an onboard loop and always wanted to try the famous 4 cable method? Now you can by running a loop output into your amp’s input and the amp’s effect loop out to the loop return, setting up a secondary loop with the amp modeling processor of your choice, and run the GEC 438 output back to the amp effects loop return. Now you can toggle between your amp’s preamp and the modeling preamp and still have two additional loops for additional pedals. How about using loops A and B to switch between 2 amps and loading up C and D with effects? Sweetness!
Build quality is nice and solid and the use of relay controlled switching limits the chances of switch failure and the device runs of a standard 9 volt DC power supply. During the review, I found the unit to be slightly picky about power supplies exhibiting a bit of noise with one particular supply, so partnering the unit with a good low noise power supply is a must. Our review model is a prototype, but these will be hitting the streets any day now and anyone looking for a flexible true bypass looper needs to check these out.
Pros: Incredibly flexible, solid construction, compact size
Cons: Sensitive to noisy power supplies.