Boss ME-5 multi efx pedal

Some like 'em and some don't, but I bet everyone has at least a couple — Analog Delay, Digital Delay, Reverb, Chorus, Flanger, Phaser, Tube Overdrive, Transistor Overdrive, Fuzz, Octave Fuzz, Tremolo, Vibrato, Compressor and the list goes on!

Boss ME-5 multi efx pedal

Postby Roy Boltz on Fri Jan 14, 2011 1:09 am

Multi effects pedals are not too popular with the vintage crowd for the most part but I just have to give this pedal a plug.
The majority of the functions this pedal provides is rather cool.
I'm not too fond of the delay, or the overdrives, the gain drives in this pedal seem more suited for running into a clean amp as opposed to a driven amp & I'm still working with the compressor as I rarely use it but if I want to comp some cleans, it's useable but not very inspiring.

The real cool thing with this unit is that you can program,,,

1) the master volume which will provide a good 15db of boost.


2) the efx loop so you can incorerate your own overdrive or whatever one chooses.


3) the EQ is quite remarkable on this thing & can be very very useful & the output of the EQ can be varied in conjunction with the master volume out to provide even more boost if one would want.


4) the noise suppressor is freakin awesome on this unit & I would use it just for this reason alone, programable per patch so the more signal you wish to push out of this thing, one can program more suppression to eliminate noise, & this suppressor works better for me than the stand alone Boss NS pedal.


Last but not least, the buffer on this unit doesn't present the same crappy artifacts that annoy me, like the Boss pedals do & they are out there to be had "cheap".



I took it out of retirement just recently & I'm blown away by this unit ,again.


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Re: Boss ME-5 multi efx pedal

Postby PeterS on Fri Jan 14, 2011 1:35 pm

That's been my gigging pedal for the last 6 months or so. I use it in the 'manual' mode where each switch turns one effect on or off. I quite like the overdrive on it. When I got it a couple of the switches were bad so I opened it and replaced all of them (there's about a dozen), which sounds like a major undertaking but actually didn't take all that long. They're all the same and cost about a dollar each.
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Re: Boss ME-5 multi efx pedal

Postby Roy Boltz on Fri Jan 14, 2011 9:40 pm

Yeah, the switches can get a bit worn over time.
I find the drives a bit harsh into a driven amp, at least with my amps that I use, I havn't tried it with my '69 plexi yet though.
I find the Tube Screamer is my preferance for adding any drive to an overdriven amp, it seems so much smoother, I have the drive function all the way down which still will add it's own flavor of gain the the mix.

Do you use singlecoils into your ME-5? I find the noise supressor on this unit to be even better than the decimator pedal, & it works way better than the Boss NS-2.

It has just one control that is numbered 1-7 & I leave mine at 2-3 with cleaner sounds, & I bump up to 5 with drive sounds & it doesn't get choppy at all & it sounds real good, doesn't seem to change the tone at all.

The EQ on this thing is awesome, & sounds truely remarkable into my AC10.

I also like how I can control master volume with an expression pedal.


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Re: Boss ME-5 multi efx pedal

Postby PeterS on Sat Jan 15, 2011 4:54 pm

It's funny, it seems like we're both using the same pedal but in completely different ways.

I use a tele and an SG but noise isn't really an issue, gain is fairly low, and I usually have the tele in the middle position, in which I think it's humbucking.

What I like about the overdrive on the ME-5 is that it doesn't cut the bass like a tube screamer does.

I find the drives a bit harsh into a driven amp


I'm using it into a clean amp (Tremolux in a combo cab).

I should have a try at using the ME5 in program mode to take more advantage of its versatility --- using it in manual mode I end up adding another distortion pedal, just to get 2 different levels of dirt. But what puts me off that idea is I need (well, want) more patches than would fit in 1 bank. My band often changes the songlist on the fly and I have this fear of the drummer calling out a different song than what's on the list and I'm dorking around trying to find the right patch. :oops:

Incidentally I also have a Boss BE5, which is from the same era but has actual knobs. But the overdrive in it is the Boss OS2, and despite modding it a bit, I never got it to the point where I liked it that much.
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Re: Boss ME-5 multi efx pedal

Postby Roy Boltz on Sat Jan 15, 2011 8:03 pm

Yes we do have different ways of using this device, the manual mode definately has some advantage, but programming patches on this unit realy deserves a second glance indeed.

The ME-5 seems so much easier to program than all those new digital units out today, but it still takes some patience.

I agree, the drives on the ME5 are great in a clean amp like a Tremolux.
Those old cleaner tube Fender circuits are warm & sound great with a pedal designed to be used in a clean amp.

The low level overdrive on the ME5 is "supposedly" the same as an early OD3 if I'm not mistaken, which in my experience is a pedal that can be used in an overdriven Marshall to good result but I still prefer the TS into a driven amp.
The loop function is a godsend if one likes to be able to press just one button to acomplish a desired sound effect. :wink:

I find it to be very cool how the boost on the master volume, & the boost provided by the EQ will provide alot of versatility when choosing different ammounts of signal boost beween the two to utilize different sounds.
It offers a fine tuning that substantial when driving a tube circuit into overdrive.

The thing I find lacking when running into a clean amp that isn't driven to some extent is that I find my sound doesn't clean up as well when I use the guitar volume to clean things up a bit.

I also find by boosting an amp, when turning down my volume on the guitar I get more sparkle.
I guess some get around this by modifying there guitar circuit to counter this, but I have found this to work best for me, as I never realy get into the ultra clean sounds that many players, like the chicken pickin crowd does.
I simply cannot play that type of stuff, it's just too complicated for me. :wink:
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Re: Boss ME-5 multi efx pedal

Postby PeterS on Sun Jan 16, 2011 5:41 pm

I never realy get into the ultra clean sounds that many players, like the chicken pickin crowd does.


It's pretty hard to play with a totally clean sound. For a 'clean' lead sound I still need the compressor...
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Re: Boss ME-5 multi efx pedal

Postby PeterS on Mon Jan 17, 2011 1:26 am

Any thoughts on organizing patches? My band plays about 60 songs. If I set up one bank with 4 patches like clean rhythm, clean lead, overdrive rhythm, overdrive lead, that would cover say 75% of the songs. But then there's all the rest which all seem to need different combinations of this and that, various odd combinations of delay, flanger, compressor, overdrive and distortion. Somehow I don't want to end up having to remember what's what in 16 different banks...
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Re: Boss ME-5 multi efx pedal

Postby Roy Boltz on Mon Jan 17, 2011 5:59 pm

PeterS wrote:Any thoughts on organizing patches? My band plays about 60 songs. If I set up one bank with 4 patches like clean rhythm, clean lead, overdrive rhythm, overdrive lead, that would cover say 75% of the songs. But then there's all the rest which all seem to need different combinations of this and that, various odd combinations of delay, flanger, compressor, overdrive and distortion. Somehow I don't want to end up having to remember what's what in 16 different banks...


Well, if your set lists are random it could pose some challenges trying to remember where you have your specific time based effects for a perticular part of a particular song.
I can see why you would stick with manual mode, it is just so much easier for recall.
I don't use too many patches, I never found a reason to use more than 2 banks for any reason.

I would communicate to the others in the band to try to stick to an organized set list until the end of the night & leave the song requests for the end. :wink:
I would just bank my patches into order of the setlists. Then I would "group" them into each set.

This is all I can think of right now as far as getting things organized with a unit like this.

If I was in a situation where it was a Show running on a midi clock, once one has this unit programmed it would be so cool to just play & let the clock do all the patch changes for me LOL!
But that isn't in the real world, not for this carrot. :lol:
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Re: Boss ME-5 multi efx pedal

Postby PeterS on Mon Jan 17, 2011 6:30 pm

I like going off-piste from the songlist, you get some people up dancing and the next song is some dirge, change the plan and play something dancable.

It occurs to me part of the difficulty is that my use of effects is developed around stompboxes, and transferring that to patches doesn't work, because just 4 stompboxes generates dozens of possible combinations. SO maybe I have to rethink the whole thing, just generate say 8 or 12 patches and use them, instead of trying to generate a set of patches that duplicates what I was doing with 'manual' mode...
if it vacuums I can always go back to 'manual' (which considering it uses feet not hands should surely be called 'pedal').
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Re: Boss ME-5 multi efx pedal

Postby PeterS on Tue Jan 18, 2011 12:56 pm

I think I've figured out the right scheme, which is to use the manual mode but add a footswitch to get out of manual and change patches and go back to manual. 4 patches combined with the manual-mode ability to turn the individual effects on-off ought to cover all the bases...
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Re: Boss ME-5 multi efx pedal

Postby Roy Boltz on Tue Jan 18, 2011 10:54 pm

You got me thinking now,
What about the parameters for a specific drive function for instance, if you edit your overdrive to a specific sound for a patch, then switch to manual mode, does that overdrive still have that same setting?
What if you have a group of patches each with different drive setting on each, which setting are you going to have when switched to manual mode?

You know what I mean? Does the overdrive have a cirtain setting saved for just manual mode?
I'll have to go for a test dive & see as this is something I haven't tried yet.
I think it would make sense to have the specific setting for manual mode & it would stay that setting every time one would choose to return to manual mode after selecting programable patch, or play mode.
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Re: Boss ME-5 multi efx pedal

Postby PeterS on Tue Jan 18, 2011 11:54 pm

Manual mode has the parameters of whichever patch was active when you switched to manual. Since the box always boots up set to patch 1-1-1, I programmed that patch to have the parameters I want, and all the effects turned off. If you go to another patch then go to manual you get the parameters of that patch.

Something curious is that a factory preset patch that doesn't use some effect will still have parameters set for that effect (of course, they have to be set to something). Dunno if they are random or what.
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Re: Boss ME-5 multi efx pedal

Postby sonicblue57 on Tue Jul 12, 2011 11:29 am

I enjoyed reading this relaxed friendly conversation between you blokes - I almost felt like I was eaves-dropping...

I have had an ME-5 pretty much since they came out, since 1989 - and just want to add something to the conversation, even though mine's been in the cupboard for 15 years!...

Compared to Boss's so-called 'flagship' multi-fx pedalboard, the GT-10 (which I have just sold - not because of the sounds - they're great - but because I only used it when I need a more compact pedal when flying to gigs, and the f****r is so heavy!), the ME-5 is so much easier to program - if you've had any other mfx pedal, you'll pick this one up in no time, no instructions needed.

The limited range of parameters is almost its strength.. to just have 7 levels of this or that to choose from etc, gives it that 'take it or leave it' quality... and of course it is what it is.. sure, the delay could use more than 500ms, the EQ could use more than 3 bands, etc... but here's the thing:

..the Manual mode allows for different sounds on every patch; what sounds and presets are available depends entirely on what patch you're on when you select manual mode...

So, you need to select and program *all* effects in every patch and save the patch; their settings will remain saved, whether or not each effect was actually on or off in the patch when saved - though whatever state the effects are in (on or off) when the patch is saved, they will remain that way when you switch into Manual mode.

Whilst this initially threw me - because I couldn't figure out how come effect settings and levels etc seemed to be changing when I switched to Manual mode - I realised the beauty and versatility of this feature is that for every patch, you can effectively have different settings on each effect..

..so for Patch 1-1, you might have Chorus, a Gated verb, a low overdrive for rhythm, on Patch 1-2 you might have Flanger, Delay and a screaming overdrive selected... in effect, potentially 28 different settings across each bank of four patches, all switchable in or out in Manual mode.

Not all effects have to be different of course: you might have the same modest compression, and EQ with slight high-boost and slight mid-scoop programmed, so you don't have to think, "what patch am I on again?" when selecting one or both of those effects.

And the kicker: with a footswitch connected, it's almost instantaneous to switch out of Manual mode, hit a new patch, then switch back into Manual mode, for a whole new set of effects settings.

Like everyone, I would love there to be more overdrives available - and I would love the Noise Suppressor to be *after* the fx loop - but to overcome this I have a boutique Dubtronics 'Tube-screamin' pedal (an aussie tech built this for me over ten years ago - it's basically a Fulltone FullDrive - two levels of cascading drive, with interchangable TS-9/TS-808 JRC4559 chips) running as a pre-amp in front, with a TC Electronic noise-suppressor between it and the ME-5, and a Wah and a TC-Electronics polychromatic tuner in front of those, so I don't have to access the in-built tuner in the ME-5 (another 'new' feature of the time).

This pedal will not replace my stompboard of fancy gadgets (except when flying to gigs), but I hope my contribution is of some assistance, and I'm sure you can pick up my enthusiasm for the humble ME-5, which I put out to pasture when I bought a rack-mounted (didn't we all?) Boss GX-700 fx unit in 1996, which itself is now in the back of the cupboard, and which had more parameters, but no more quality, than the ME-5.

cheers.
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Re: Boss ME-5 multi efx pedal

Postby Roy Boltz on Wed Jul 13, 2011 4:59 pm

Hey sonicblue57

Thanks for joining in on this!
The ME-5 is a great Multi EFX & I agree that less is more when it comes to the parameters. :wink:
Yeah, I would've liked the NS after the loop too.
My only critisism is that & personally, I didn't like the OD/distortion sounds for how I use overdrive, but I love the EQ!
The sounds & flexibility are quite awesome on this unit.
It is a mainstay on my "small" board. :cheers:
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Re: Boss ME-5 multi efx pedal

Postby PeterS on Mon Jul 25, 2011 12:22 pm

personally, I didn't like the OD/distortion sounds for how I use overdrive, but I love the EQ!


By contrast I do like the overdrive, but don't use the EQ...! And I've found that with other multieffects the overdrive is the part I haven't been happy with.

I set up the arrangement discussed above (program several patches but use them in manual mode), but haven't used that arrangement gigging --- somehow the need for 4 button-pushes between songs is too many:
'manual' to get out of manual mode
select patch
'manual' to get back in manual mode
turn on whichever effects are needed (most often just overdrive).

Still not a bad scheme for the odd song that really needs something different. But I actually like the idea of using a limited palette. Unfortunately lately I'm into phaser which ME5 doesn't have...
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