Guitar effects vs modeling amps for beginners

Hi everyone
I’m new to guitar and I’ve got myself a Marshall MG15 and been practicing for some time.
The amp tone is not bad but it’s missing some features like reverb so I’ve been thinking of maybe getting a multi-effect processor of some sorts or a more feature rich amp.
I was wondering what would be the better option for a beginner?


Welcome to the community.

A multifx unit will plug into your existing Marshall MG15, and will extend it’s capabilities, but you are going to be limited by the capabilities of the amp. The MG15 is quite a small amp and that will affect the sound you get from it.

But if you are happy with the general sound you are getting, a multifx unit could be a relatively cheap and easy way to get additional flexibility (depending on the unit you get).

Getting an amp will give you the option to get a larger (physically) amp which will give a better sound due to the larger speaker and cabinet, as well as the option to get more tonal options. But a larger amp will, physically, take up more space which may be an issue for you.

A larger amp will also give you some more flexibility, if you think you may need that. For instance, some larger amps can be used, in future, for band rehearsals or even performing.

They needn’t cost the earth either.



1 Like

And a larger amp is also a lot louder which may not be ideal for home use. A Marshall 15 is great for learning. I still use mine most days at home. My AVOYP’s to date are done on my 25 year old Marshall 15. Have a listen to the tone …

I went down the multi-effect route with my Roland Micro Cube, which is a lot less powerful than your Marshall. It sounds perfectly fine to me, and still goes loud enough to hurt my ears if desired. If practice is your main aim right now then it is potentially the more budget-friendly route, depending on what multi-effect hardware you get. I went with a Zoom G1X Four which includes a built-in expression pedal, but there are other options out there too.

1 Like

Almost every modelling amp has a low power setting for home use.

As I said, it depends on potential use.

It also depends on budget. There are some great low-cost multifx units out there, but a little further up the scale and you are starting to approach the price of a Boss Katana, Fender Mustang or similar.



A multi fx is the least expensive route if you buy wisely. Thomann sell the Mooer GE100 which for the price is very good. It has a lot of features usually associated with more expensive ones.
Here’s a review on it:

1 Like

Welcome to the forum, @SSeanin !

Welcome to the forum!

Multi-fx pedals are the rage and consensus here. It is what it is. As one who swims against the tide I get enough multi-fx action from my Fender practice amp and my DAW (Garageband). As a result a multi would be redundant for me. The main thing is to start dialing in your tone as soon as possible, how you get there is up to the individual – note that this too cuts across the grain. Just know that digging your tone and exploring new and interesting tone will keep you playing and practicing.

Let’s be real, buying and playing with pedals is great fun. There doesn’t need to be another reason to recommend them. Most of the guitar world uses stand alone pedals, it’s pure, righteous and very useful for tube amps. You don’t have to break the bank these days on pedals, there are great knockoffs out there to be had.

Depends what you mean by “here”. From my own experience amps seem to be the more popular option among beginners, like the Mustang or Katana, and I can see why. I’d love one myself, but the difference between a few hundred pounds and a few tens is what made the difference. Not everyone has lots of money to throw around.

Also, while I would certainly agree that pedals are a lot of fun, I think a multi-effect amp or pedal is the better option for a new player. It is a very budget friendly way to experiment with the kind of effects that are available, decide what you like and what you don’t, so you can then make informed decisions when building a pedal collection.


In your previous post you did not mention getting a “modelling” amp you said just a larger amp with a larger speaker. A 12" speaker moves more air than an 8" speaker; that’s just counting, so is louder. Why should the OP go to the additional expense of another larger amp and then use it at low power setting - that won’t sound any different to what he’s already got.

Same goes for me with my Marshall VS15R. It has a line out jack that goes into the computer and I stick headphones in that socket and that kills the speaker. I can hear it through the monitor speakers. If anyone is interested in the tone from this setup, I can stick a vid up.

I thought it was kind of redundant given the topic is “Guitar effects Vs modelling amp for beginners”. It seems some people need it spelled out. :roll_eyes:

Because it gives the option for more effects with fewer cables and bits of kit (important for some) than his current set up, plus it gives the option to play louder if the OP wants to.

It depends what the OP wants, which is what I said. They were asking about the options and I was answering the question by giving the pros and cons of the options the OP was asking about, because there is no single, definitive answer that fits everyone.

Yes, a multifx unit can be cheaper (again, as I pointed out) but the OP may not have major budgetary constraints and may have aspirations which make a modelling amp a better investment for them (I made sure to include the word “modelling” in that sentence just for you :wink:).

I will point out I started with a multfx unit into a cheap, small amp and it’s a decent setup. Especially as I mostly used it with headphones in those early days. Since then I have had various multifx units and modelling amps. They each have their benefits and uses.

I’m currently mostly using a multifx unit into a low power amp because that works for me in my apartment where I can’t play too loud.

In my home in the UK where I didn’t need to worry about neighbours too much a modelling amp (Katana 100) was better for me because I could turn it up loud if I wanted to, and also was something I could take to jam sessions.



Thanks Keith for clarifying. I must be too old school cos I don’t think of an “amp” and a “modelling amp” as the same thing. I guess a modelling amp has its merits but it’s not something I’ve ever considered. But I don’t use many effects and can get the tone I want out of my existing kit.

1 Like

I went down to multifx path but soon sold due to limitations. Lots of effects but nothing that wowed me. A good quality reverb pedal with some delay Built in can go a long way. I went with Boss RV6…amazing and did not break bank…includes the shimmer effect!

I think you just need to go into it knowing that whatever solution you pick, there’s upsides and downsides and sooner or later you’ll end up spending more money!!!

I have a Katana 50 amp which has lots of effects (I should have bought the 100 but that’s another story) but I prefer to use a Valeton GP200 multi fx unit going into the Katana as it’s easier to adjust (for my brain anyway) and includes an expression pedal, tuner and looper. Generally it’s a pretty good set up for my needs as a beginner but I know from watching YouTube videos that there’s specific sounds that it can’t do and will only be achieved via purchasing additional pedals. I suppose the solution to this would be to stay off YouTube!

You could go down the pedal route from the beginning but the choice is bewildering, you have things like power supplies to consider and probably a board too (unless you’re a DIY whizz) if you don’t want a mass of cables to deal with.

I have a couple of pedal boards that are made by Boss. As I said before, I don’t use many effects. One board has space for 3 pedals. They are daisy chained together and share one power supply. So that’s only one cable plus a guitar lead in and out. First in line is a tuner and then a Blues Driver. The third slot is currently redundant. My amps have FX loops but I’ve never had a thought to use them. My other board has space for more pedals but all come with a lid that can be folded up and the whole lot carried away.

And that’s a consideration too. The Katana has been designed to be simple, and it has some simple controls for FX. You can do a lot with those simple controls, and this is enough for a lot of people, but there’s also a lot you can only do with the PC based Boss Tone Studio.

Separate multifx units will, normally expose a lot more controls on the unit themselves. There are some amps which will do this too, but they tend to be complex to use in my experience as they try to do everything with a reduced set of controls. Multifx units have more knobs and switches and larger displays (often touchscreen) and so can be more accessible for people who do want to dive into the detail of FX.

In general, the main use for FX loops tends to be for time and modulation based effects, which some people prefer in the fx loop because it tends to sound better if you put these effects after any overdrive or distortion (including the preamp distortion).

That’s especially the case for time based effects if you are switching channels on the amp, as delay and reverb trails will sound better across channel switches.

But it’s not a hard and fast rule, and a lot of people who use separate effects just plumb them in before the amp. There again, a lot of people in this situation don’t use channel switching on the amp and use separate overdrive/distortion pedals before the amp.

It’s a bit different for modelling amps like the Katana. In this case, the main issue here is using a looper pedal. When you use a looper pedal, you normally want to record the effected signal, so that you can change effect settings and the recorded loop doesn’t change. You can only do that by putting the looper after the effects. On a Katana, the only way to do that is with an effects loop.

(The same applies to most modelling amps with built in effects).

On a traditional amp where you are using pedals in front of the amp, you can put the looper at the end of the chain before the amp, so the effect loop isn’t nearly as essential.

Of course you can do the same with the Katana (and other modelling amps) but then you have to use external effects pedals and can’t really use the onboard effects for looping.




You’re right, the Katana is simple and if you can find the sounds you want just via its control panel then it’s a great solution. I find the Valeton is a good next step and offers a few things that I can’t get from the Tone Studio. It’s reasonably priced but this means that you don’t get a touch screen on the unit. You can do everything via buttons on the unit which can be a bit fiddly but it also has PC software which allows you to adjust via mouse & keyboard or touchscreen. I tend to make big changes on the PC and smaller adjustments on the unit itself. The thing that Valeton have done well is there’s a lot of consistency between the controls on the unit and the PC software; unlike Boss Tone Studio it doesn’t feel like using 2 completely different products.

1 Like

i bought a used zoom G1xon forlike $30 and it seems to be capable of a variety of options,haven’t really dug into it as yet as im new and want to learn how to play clean first before i start messing with all sorts of effects. plugging it into a laney cub 10 amp

1 Like

I don’t feel that way, but I realize this is a personal thing.

On BTS the controls on the screen reflect the controls on the amp. If, for instance, you change the reverb level or switch the reverb setting on the amp, the BTS interface changes to match.

If you change the FX type in one of the slots in BTS, you can then select that on the top panel and control its level.

I think the main thing is that there are reduced controls on the top panel, which limits what you can do compared to the BTS app, which lets you select more and tweak additional settings.

I think if there was a phone/tablet app, it would feel more intuitive and easier to access (although with an Airstep Kat edition, you can use the Tone Studio app for the Katana Air with the standard Katana).

Most standalone multifx units let you control everything on the unit just as well as on the app.

I’m hoping that a future Katana version has Bluetooth and a phone app.

Personally, I have used PC apps for multifx units from Digitech, Yamaha, Line 6, Positive Grid, Zoom and Boss, and I find the Boss the easiest to use.

But that could be it’s the one I am most familiar with.



Hi Saeed, welcome to the community.

I consider myself a beginner too, trying to find my tone amd learning songs.

I understand what you’re saying but, frankly, I’d question the perceived need for effects at this stage of your journey.

I rarely even use the built-in reverb of my amp. But I want to try different overdriven/distoreted sounds (plus my amp’s channels are not footswitchable) so I got some cheap (DIY) pedals. The only other thing that would help me, woukd be a looper.

What I’ve come to understand about amps with effects is that they are either always on or off. Most of the time they are not footswitchable. For some amps maybe you can store presets for each channel and maybe even multiple presets. This maybe a good solution for your needs but I don’t know how much an amp like that would cost.

These are just some things to consider based on my limited experience and knowledge.
Ultimately you do what inspires you to play/practise. Don’t get too distracted from that.