Amp-modeling software is everywhere these days, and most options sound brilliant. But, sometimes, a home-studio guitarist simply wants to stomp on something, rather than manage parameter menus with mouse clicks. Enter the Zoom G3–a dual-purpose (live and studio) guitar effect and amp simulator pedal armed with a USB audio interface that plugs right into your DAW of choice. Could this be any easier?
You can get all the specs you want on Zoom’s website, but the basics are that the G3 ($199 street) offers 13 amplifier and 94 stompbox models, and you can run up to three sounds simultaneously. The G3 includes a drum machine, a tuner, and a 40-second looper. There’s an XLR output for stage use, an expression pedal input, and if you don’t yet have a lave DAW, Steinberg’s Sequel LE recording software is bundled for free (Zoom’s Edit&Share editor/librarian software is also available as a free download).
I used the G3 for recording sessions in Pro Tools 10, Apple GarageBand ’11, and Apple Logic Pro 9, and the box interfaced briskly with each system. No anomalies or latency issues were noted during recording.
The fun here, of course, was being able to reach down to the G3’s three control knobs, dial in some cool amp and stomp-box sounds, and kick ’em in on the fly while recording. I seldom use more than two effects at a time, so the limit of three simultaneous sounds was not an impediment. I’d just choose an amp and one or two pedals, and fire away. While some of the presets are a bit bright for my taste, the parameter controls are powerful enough to neuter any high-end fizziness, as well as craft pretty much any sound I was looking for.
For the most part, the amp and stompbox models are studly and organic, and it was a gas to do nutty signal chains such as a ProCo Rat into a Diezel Herbert into an Orange. I always go into full experimental mode with these devices, as so many crazy Options are available, and the G3’s interface is so fast and intuitive that I can blow through ten reasonable sonic options in less than 15 minutes. This is great for me, because I like to assess guitar tones and textures against a mix rapidly, so that my creative/ player brain stays engaged. I don’t like it when the act of tone sculpting takes too much time, and my engineer/detail-oriented mind takes over. Happily, there’s no fear of that happening with the G3 at my feet. This handy, portable, and powerful tone machine makes studio sessions as rowdy and inspired as digging into a live performance.
KUDOS Butt simple to use. Good, ballsy guitar sounds. Works for studio and stage.
CONCERNS Tuner a bit skittish. Mute not instant when accessing tuner.
CONTACT Zoom, zoom.co.jp