The Boss GP-10 is a strange and exciting beast… one part guitar multi-effect and one part guitar modeler. It takes these elements both (of which are available in individual forms throughout the Boss and Roland assortment) and combines them into a small, floor unit that processes both a standard guitar signal and a 13-pin signal created by the (optional or included) GK-3 or other GK-style pickup.
Sharing the same COSM amp and effects modelling featured in Boss’ high-end multi-effect units like the GT-100, the GP-10 effects engine covers almost every type of guitar effect imaginable, including four compression/EQ effects, seven modulation effects, three pitch shifting effects, 21 famous overdrive and distortion pedals, and 10 delay effects. These effects can be applied to either the direct guitar pickup signal or the GK-style pickup signal and are ready to go head-to-head with the most revered dedicated effects units… Boss-style quality shines throughout the assortment.
The modeling section of the GP-10 requires a GK-style pickup be mounted to any guitar and offers a world of sonic possibilities impossible to achieve with a standard pickup. Although the expected synth-type sounds are there in spades (more on that later), one of the most surprising and useful benefits of using a GK-style pickup with the GP-10 is guitar modeling. By taking the neutral tone from the piezo-style pickups and processing it through the GP-10, any given patch can be set to change the guitar being played into one of twelve different electric guitars (including classics like the Les Paul, Telecaster and Rickenbacker), nine different acoustic guitars (including a resonator, banjo, and sitar), three types of bass, or even eight different synths. Because each string is being captured and modeled separately, alternate tunings are available without every touching a guitar tuning peg. Switching from a Drop D-tuned Les Paul to a 12-string acoustic guitar is a single stomp away, even when the guitar is a Telecaster.
The models aren’t simple two-dimensional copies of the instruments they are modeled after; electric guitar and bass models have the appropriate pickup selection options and tone controls, acoustic instruments can be adjusted for buzz, body, attack and pickup style, and synth-type instruments offer extensive control over waveform, envelope, filtering, and oscillators.
While using similar technology found in the Roland VG-Series, the GP-10 is focused on recreating the fundamental instrument more-so than creating innovative effects not possible with standard guitar pickups. Rather than dozens of spacy, disconnected patches of sounds, the GP-10 turns the guitar into a versatile processor, and adjusting the tunings, filters, and modulation feels much more like an actual instrument than it does tweaking a few knobs on an effect pedal. Dedicated models like the GR-300, Oscillator Synth, and Wave Synth each feature multiple instrument types with dozens of parameters to explore.
The GP-10 has 99 preset slots that store instrument type, effects signal chains, open tunings, and even pickup whether one or both of the pickups are processed. Patches can be entirely managed and programed using the in-unit interface. In order to achieve its clean aesthetic and small size, much of the tweaking happens within the menu screen on the unit; players who prefer a more visual and expanded editing experience will find connecting the GP-10 to their computer and using the free Boss Tone Studio software makes programming and tweaking patches easy and intuitive, an effective way to learn the ins and outs of the menu system, and will enjoy sharing and downloading patches and effects from the Boss user community.
Speaking of the ins and outs of the unit, the GP-10 features inputs for a standard ¼” instrument cable and GK-compatible cable (the GK-3 and cable are included in the upgraded edition), stereo ¼” outputs plus a 1/4” Guitar Out that passes through the original, unaffected signal from the guitar’s native pickups, as well as a headphone out for silent playing. The GP-10 even allows players to choose from eight different output modes depending on size and format of the amp the processor is feeding.
In short, the GP-10 does so many things well because it is more than a collection of effects; it is a tone tool for players looking to expand the sonic horizons of their fundamental instrument as much as it is a way to color those sounds down the signal chain. The GP-10 has an amazing collection of guitar tones right out of the box and is easy to enjoy without ever digging in too deep, but the possibilities and flexibility that a few hours of experimentation will yield is where serious players will find their inspiration.
*BOSS Tone Studio editing software and specially designed patches are available for free download at BossToneCentral.com.
Chris Loeffler is a multi-instrumentalist and the Content Strategist of Harmony Central. In addition to his ten years experience as an online guitar merchandiser, marketing strategist, and community director he has worked as an international exporter, website consultant and brand manager. When he’s not working he can be found playing music, geeking out on guitar pedals and amps, and brewing tasty beer.