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GT-10 too complex? ME-20 not enough? The ME-70 might be just what you need. Guitarists Gerry Leonard (David Bowie, Duncan Sheik) and Kevin Breit (Norah Jones, Cassandra Wilson) do their high profile gigs employing a plethora of individually chosen stompbox and/or rack effects, each dedicated to a specific sound. But for fly-dates, where it is essential to travel light, or small club gigs where stage space is at a premium, both have been known to use a multi-effects unit from the Boss ME series. These musicians could afford the more complex, larger pedals from the Boss GT series, but seem to find that the compact, lighter-weight, simpler to use ME line gets the job done—hogging less cargo and stage real estate in the process.

With its 24-bit, 44.1 kHz processing, the ME-70 gives nothing away to the GT-8, or even the GT-10 in tonal quality, and its metal chassis sits firmly in the Boss tradition of indestructibility. As with its predecessor, the ME-50, what you get with the ME-70 is a stripped down offering of some of the essential Boss effects, in an easy to use, wallet-friendly package.

The ME-70 ups the ante on the ME-50 in a number of ways: adding a separate Preamp section, featuring Roland’s terrific sounding COSM amp modeling, four extra presets and one more footswitch—for a total of four. On the other hand, some things have fallen by the wayside; while the Distortion section now has a clean Boost and a setting called Natural, its names are now generic (Metal, Fuzz etc.) as opposed to referencing well-known sounds (Screamer, Muff, etc.)—legal issues, perhaps? Other sections reflect similar changes. Gone are the synth-like Square distortion, and the ring modulator, as well as some pan effects in the delay section, indicating a more conservative approach to effects.

Not that you will lack for tonal modifiers with the ME-70. In addition to the classic Boss compression, the Comp/FX section offers the coveted Slow Gear effect that gives you automatic level swells, freeing your finger from the guitar volume, and your foot from the expression pedal. Also in this section is a touch wah.

A subsection has settings that do a creditable job of making your single coils sound more like humbuckers and vice versa, and also contains an effect labeled Solo that is optimized for driving an amplifier preamp or a distortion pedal. Solo sounds like a bit of compression mixed with some high end EQ for extra bite—subtle but useful. Unfortunately the ME-50’s Acoustic simulator is MIA.

The Overdrive/Distortion section adds the aforementioned Boost and Natural to a range of gritty effects from overdrive to fuzz. The Boost is a clean level boost that is delightfully transparent. In this setting, goosing the Level knob to full on added only a minimal amount of boost, unless I also increased the Drive knob—this does not add distortion, merely more level. In the Natural position, the Drive adds just what it claims: a very realistic, amp-style breakup.

In addition to the usual suspects (phasing, flanging, chorus, tremolo, vibrato, etc.), the Modulation section provides a smart harmonizer, and an octave device. It also offers a delay effect that is independent of the pedalboard’s Delay section. This way you can have two different delay times, that can be engaged one at a time or together, instantly available at the touch of a toe. Each can be tap tempoed to its own time. (The modulation effects can have their rates tapped in as well.) This also conveniently allows you to have a delay effect on your guitar when using the looper.

The Delay section sports settings for various ranges of echo from 1-6000ms, as well as flavors such as analog, modulated delay, reversed delay, and a chorus/delay combo. A Momentary setting engages the delay only as long as the footswitch is held down, acting as a kind of manual ducking delay.