This month I attended a couple of guitar shows for Boss and Roland, one in Dallas and one in Chicago. These event’s usually happen once a year. The promoter secures a location, in Dallas this year the show was held in a couple buildings next to the Cotton Bowl, and in Chicago it was the same location as last year, in a hall about 45 minutes from O’Hare airport in an area called St. Charles. The shows are usually on a Saturday and Sunday.
Guitar stores, guitar collectors, manufacturers, guitar builders, accessories and parts dealers, anybody trying to sell anything to guitarists, will rent table space and set up a booth. (That’s me at the Roland/Boss booth in Chicago above). For an admission fee the public can walk around and look at all the cool stuff and wheel and deal if they want to buy something. At the Chicago show I saw a ’97 Gibson Flying V that I want to buy. At Dallas I saw a white strat (below) that was made the year I was born, if you look close, the price tag was $49,000.
Boss and Roland figure having a booth and a couple of gear experts at these shows is a great way to market their newest pedals, multi-effects, guitar-synths, amps, etc.. So we set it up and folks can try out the gear with headphones, or they can watch me do real-time demos and answer questions.
One product, I was demoing I have to tell you about is a new Boss multiple effects unit for $299, the Boss ME-80. My friend Steve Lynch just bought one. With his band Autograph, he’ll fly to a gig with his guitar and a multi effects unit containing his preset tones. The promoter provides amps, drums and everything else for the band.
This ME-80 (pic below) is a floor unit with eight pedals built-in. It also sports an expression pedal for wah and whammy etc. It can be run in one of two modes. In “manual mode” each pedal can be assigned to a different effect and then operated like a pedal board. In “memory mode” you can save your presets then scroll up and down banks to access your preset tones.
This ME-80 also operates with free Boss Tone Studio software USB’d to your computer. With the software you can access all the ME’s effects and knobs from a computer’s screen. I tried it, the software is pretty cool. Since I’ve been involved with Boss for a while I’m familiar with the ME-80s predecessors. For quality of tone, ease of use, and price this one takes the cake!
One reason the ME-80 is better than the ME-70, the previous model, is that the ’80 has eight pedals compared to the ‘70’s four pedals. If you look at the picture (above) each pedal is actually two pedals. I noticed no difficulty in pressing the top or bottom pedals separately.
The ME-80 runs on batteries and comes with no power cable, but a standard Boss PSA adapter that powers regular Boss pedals is all you need. Boss also created a website BossToneCentral.com where you can download custom “patches”. For some reason Boss and Roland still call a preset, a “patch”. Left over from synth days when you actually had to use patch cables to set up a sound on a synth. If you’ve ever thought about a multi fx unit this might be a good one to look at. Check it out.