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In 1989 Zoom debuted their first compact multi-effects processor, the 9002. Since then the company has built a reputation for budget-friendly gear that often finds its way into the hands of guitar and bass enthusiasts rather than more advanced players. Over the past few years, however, Zoom has won accolades for their portable recorders, their artist signature pedals, and their popular MultiStomp series. Now they’ve introduced a MultiStomp pedal for bassists: the MS-60B.
It Has How Much of What?
The MS-60B is housed in a standard stompbox enclosure, but the controls are more reminiscent of a personal gaming device, with an LCD screen, three plastic knobs, and four cursor keys, plus a heavy-duty footswitch. Operation may seem a little daunting at first, but once you learn the basics, the pedal provides myriad tonal possibilities.
The MS-60B comes loaded with 58 amp, pedal, preamp, and studio effects, most modeled on products by industry-standard names such as Ampeg, Mu-tron, and Avalon Design. You can edit effects to taste and store them individually, or in patches of up to four simultaneous effects. The pedal has 58 total patches, 30 of which have been preloaded as editable presets. You can cycle through four of your patches via footswitch. There’s also a tuner (with optional muting mode), tap-tempo for some delay effects, and a USB port for loading additional patches and updates.
Oh—did I mention that this pedal streets for $99?
Zoom and Boom
I auditioned the MS-60B with a vintage Fender P and a Warwick CCL amp. (I ran it in mono, though stereo is available.) The amount of modeled gear available is impressive, almost overwhelming. Some of the amp simulations are very strong, particular the Aguilar and Acoustic models.
But the soul of this pedal lies in its effects. Zoom did a great job of with the factory presets. Some standouts: The reggae patch is simply low-end heaven. With a little tweaking, the obligatory Jaco setting becomes accurate. And speaking of presets inspired by non-endorsers, the Red Hot setting delivers a fine big-pole pickup sound with lots of midrange. I loved Ba Pitch—a great-sounding pitch shifter specifically voiced for bass. The Ba Synth and Ba Chorus settings are full and robust. DI5 is a convincing Avalon U5 simulation. (I use a U5 a lot, and this is the most accurate replica I've heard.)
Tones that fell a bit short for me included BassDrive (a SansAmp simulation), Defret (a fretless bass simulation), and the SVT amp model. But after running through all 58 options, I’d definitely say that good sounds far outnumber the not-so-good ones. The fun part: You get to mix and match a virtual guitar store's worth of gear.
Just go and check out this pedal. I mean, really, it’s $99! If you use just one effect and the tuner, or just the preamp and EQ, you’ll already be ahead of the game. Chances are you’ll use a number of these effects, and the MS-60B just might become a fixture in your rig.