Zoom MultiStomp Pedal Review 2022 - Is The Hype Real?
Zoom MultiStomp is an incredibly versatile, digital, multi-effects pedal that was released back in 2012. There are a huge number of effects on-board, giving you the ability to stack and arrange up to six of them at once, in any number of different ways, and then edit and tweak them however you want.
In recent years, the landscape of digital, multi-effects pedals has changed significantly. Never before have we had such a huge variety of high quality, multi-effects units to choose from, as we do right now.
We are truly spoilt for choice, what with pedals such as the Line 6 HX Stomp, Empress Zoia, Poly Effects Digit & Beebo, and the new Boss GT-1000 Core. Not to mention all the many, equally impressive floor boards that seem to completely remove the need for individual pedals altogether. (But that's a discussion for next time!)
However, the two downsides that all of these aforementioned options have in common, are: 1) a hefty price tag, and 2) a fairly large enclosure. This is where the cheap and tiny Zoom MultiStomp enters the chat.
So let's take a closer look at this (and let’s be honest, here) rather weird looking pedal...
What Is It?
In simple terms, it's an incredibly versatile, digital, multi-effects pedal that was released back in 2012.
There are a huge number of effects on-board, giving you the ability to stack and arrange up to six of them at once, in any number of different ways, and then edit and tweak them however you want. Your patches can then be saved to one of the 50 internal memory slots to recall later.
There are four MultiStomps in the range; the MS-50G, MS-60B, MS-70CDR, and the MS-100BT. Each come pre-loaded with a slightly different set of effects and features:
Has the most diverse selection of effects, and also includes a bunch of different drives and amp sims.
Aimed at bassists, so there are a few extra, bass-centric effects included, such as some synths. It also adds a clean blend parameter to each effect, which is very useful for playing Bass.
Focused on modulation, filter, and ambient effects. Doesn't have any of the drives or amp sims of its silver brother. Also features stereo inputs, unlike the 50G and 60B.
A little bit of a gimmick, this one. It’s essentially the same as the 50G, but it also has Bluetooth to allow you to connect to your iOS enabled device and download additional effects to your pedal and edit, wirelessly. It also has stereo inputs like the 70CDR.
There are also two, variant colourways of the 50G (gold) and the 60B (black), which were limited edition designs for the Japanese market and therefore very rare, although they’re exactly the same as the regular pedals under the surface.
What Makes It Special?
In short, the Zoom Multistomp is a great pedal because:
- You can create a lot of expensive sounds on a budget
- It has the ability to stack six effect blocks together
- It has a lot of built in hardware like a tuner, a tap tempo function, a back-lit LCD screen
- It can run on AA batteries
- It is a "Swiss Army Knife" kind of a pedal
Let's get into the details now.
Considering that Zoom released these pedals nearly ten years ago, at a time when the only, truly respected, digital pedals on the market were the large, high-end units from Strymon and Empress, the humble MultiStomp still managed to make a real name for itself as an incredibly reliable way of achieving a lot of the same, far more expensive sounds, on a budget.
The key to a lot of the MultiStomp’s success, lies in its ability to stack up to six effect blocks together, to create a kind of “virtual pedalboard” within the pedal. While these six, available slots are limited by the DSP to a certain extent (you'll struggle to add more than four reverbs together, for instance) for the most part, you won't hit that limit very often, leaving you free to chain effects together in all kinds of bizarre, fun, interesting, and unique ways.
Want to run a reverb into a phaser? Easy.
Fancy throwing some chorus into a bit crusher, synth, tremolo, and reverse delay? Not a problem.
Like the sound of a patch, but want to tweak it more than the parameters will allow? Simple! Just add one of the many compressors, limiters, or parametric and graphic EQ's into the chain to give you even more control over the sonic flavour of your patch.
They really are the most unbelievably versatile pedals, and are still so insanely cheap to buy!
On top of all that, you also get a built-in tuner, a tap tempo function, a back-lit LCD screen, the potential for MIDI control via the micro USB input, as well as being able to run on AA batteries!
Nothing else matches that level of versatility, at this price point.
If you want access to fifty, different pedalboards, all at the same time....you need a MultiStomp.
If you want a reverb that sounds like the ‘Blackhole' algorithm from the Empress Space, but you really don't want to drop $400 to get it....you need a MultiStomp.
If you're looking for a ‘swiss army knife' pedal to handle the occasional, weird effect, then guess what? That's right. You need a MultiStomp.
Whoever you are, wherever you live, and whatever music you play, you need one. So just go and buy one!
What's The Catch?
I mean, there has to be one, right? Well, you'll be relieved to know that there aren't too many. But I do know of a handful of potential issues you might want to consider and be aware of before you go and pull the trigger on that online listing.
Pitch Based Effects aren't the Best
The pitch-based effects aren't the best. Especially the upper octave sounds! However there is a ‘Pitch Delay' effect which sounds a lot better, and you can always dial the ‘Time' down to zero and use it as a slightly better, more pleasant sounding pitch shifter, if you really want to.
Although the User Interface is well designed and fairly simple to use, there's quite a bit of menu-diving involved in using this pedal to its fullest. This might very well put you off, particularly if you're not a fan of navigating through a few sub-menus to fine-tune a sound. Fortunately, the screen is large and clear, making it easier to see what you're doing.
Drive Effects and Amp Sims - Not Good Enough
Many of the drive effects and amp sims aren’t that amazing, with a couple of exceptions. The ‘Dynamic Drive' (Fulltone OCD) for example, is extremely passable! But overall, you probably won't want to give up your dirt pedals after buying your Zoom.
Disturbance In The Signal?
Some people have reported hearing a hum, or whine, in their signal when using the MultiStomp, that disappears completely when the pedal is removed. I myself have owned four MultiStomps and have personally never encountered this issue, and I believe it has to do with the grounding of the internal circuitry, somewhere.
Many who have had this problem, have easily gotten around it by isolating the pedal within a bypass loop pedal, or a loop switcher, to keep the guitar signal away from their MultiStomp when they’re not using it. In fact, there are multiple benefits to doing this anyway, but we'll come back to that later.
Any of these negative details might potentially be enough to completely put you off and remove it from your online basket, but stick with me. There's a lot more to talk about!
How Can You Get The Most Out Of It?
There is quite an impressive amount of online support for the MultiStomp. There are some excellent instructional guides and tutorials on YouTube (I have a few myself, over on my channel: ‘Pedal Experiments’) as well as a huge community on the r/zoommultistomp subreddit which is filled with useful information, resources, tips, mods, and a huge array of user-designed patches and emulations of other pedals (see below for some sound clips of the kind of patches that are available). You can quickly fill your 50 memory slots over there, so be sure to head over to that sub and have a little dig around!
If you want to see how to design and store patches on the Zoom MultiStomp, you can check out this video I put out on YouTube
Zoom themselves also still offer a decent amount of support for this pedal, despite its age. They occasionally release system updates for each of the four MultiStomps in their range, offer personal assistance and answer queries through their website, as well as having utility software for plugging your pedal into your pc or laptop, and live-editing patches on it remotely, to bypass the on-board menus.
As well as being able to set up the pedal to select presets faster and easier in a live context, there are also some really cool, third party products that allow you to utilise your MultiStomp into your live rig more efficiently.
One example you could consider, is the Disaster Area DMC range. These are tiny, fairly inexpensive, MIDI switcher units which, when combined with a USB host device such as their ‘gHOST Converter', will send MIDI commands through the Mini USB-B input on the back of the pedal, allowing you to cycle through your presets quickly and easily, reducing the amount of attention you need to give it during your performance.
This might seem to be too complicated a setup for some users to find appealing. However, it's nice to know that those features are available, should you ever decide to explore that route!
If you'd far rather take a decidedly more analogue approach, there are several, interesting designs for 3D printed harnesses that can attach to the pedal, giving you more access to the smaller buttons on the MultiStomp, letting you navigate more of the pedal’s features using only your feet.
If you are interested in 3D printed harnesses, you should check out Ninjafox.
Extra Tips to Get The Most Out Of The Zoom Multistomp
During my time with this magnificent marvel of multi-effects, and through interacting with other MultiStomp owners on the subreddit, I've figured out, picked up, and learned about several useful tips and tricks, that I'll briefly list here:
Use a bypass loop pedal or switcher
This will isolate the Zoom from your signal chain, eliminating any potential, unwanted noise and maintaining a clean, unbuffered signal. It will also allow you to set the MultiStomp up to cycle through your favourite presets in complete silence, until you’re ready to activate the loop pedal and hear your chosen effect.
Load new effects using third-party softwares
These will let you load effects into your MultiStomp that it didn't originally come with. So, if you have a 70CDR and want to add a couple of drive effects, or if you have a 100BT but want the extra synth effects from the 60B, then you can.
Note: There are a few third-party softwares available on the internet (we won't mention the names) BUT these are unofficial softwares and could potentially damage the pedal.
Make sure it gets enough power
They don't require too much current, only about 140mA at most, but if you accidently plug it into a 100mA output on your power supply, it will probably still turn on, but it will definitely be more prone to weird behaviour. It might even turn off during your playing, which would obviously be disastrous in a live situation!
Get the MS-70CDR
Of the four models in the range, the 70CDR is the best one to get, in my opinion. You get all the best effects to play with (except for maybe the extra synths found in the 60B), but without any of the weaker drives and amp sims clogging up the memory. You also get stereo inputs, which allow you to...
Pass your signal through it, twice
Having two sets of jacks gives you the opportunity to place either the 70CDR or 100BT in two spots in your signal chain at once! For example, if you look at my board (pictured below) I usually have the mono jacks of my two 70CDR’s isolated in bypass loop pedals, while the stereo jacks are fed into the effects loops of my Superego and Rubberneck, respectively. Doing this really maximises the versatility of the MultiStomp, and gives me an almost infinite tonal palette to work with.
As promised, here are a few examples of some of the incredible effects that can be created and emulated, with the Zoom MultiStomp.
EQD Rainbow Machine
Cooper FX Generation Loss
Zvex Instant Lo-Fi Junky
Red Panda Particle
Obviously, there are plenty of far more “normal” sounds to be discovered if that's your preference, but these clips are just a taste of what's possible if you desire something weirder.
You can find the settings of these sounds and more on this reddit megathread.
Thanks for reading, and I hope you found this comprehensive overview of the Zoom MultiStomp, extremely useful.