First things first. Despite the visual similarity, the MS-3 is not just a smaller version of the popular ES-5 and ES-8 effects switching systems. It’s all in the name – it’s a Multi-Effects unit and pedal Switcher, with 3 loops to integrate your must-have stompboxes.
Let’s break that down a little further.
The MS-3 contains a whopping 112 built-in effects including delays, reverbs, modulation/pitch effects, overdrives, distortions, and more. It’s basically the fully-fledged effects section from a GT-100, crammed into a super-compact enclosure. You can run six of these effects concurrently.
It’s also a pedal switcher. This is where it gets interesting. You have three separate loops for your desert island pedals that make you sound like you. If you’ve got an esoteric fuzz or a rare analog delay that you can’t live without, place these in one of the three loops and you’ll be able to turn them on and off independently, as well as position the onboard effects around them any way you want.
To top it all off, the MS-3 can also act as the command centre of your rig, switching amp channels via control outputs or MIDI.
What does this actually mean for you and your rig?
Well, let’s take a look at these 5 practical uses for the MS-3, and see which one works best for you.
COMPACT PEDALS + MS-3 INTERNAL EFFECTS
MS-3 ON ITS OWN INTO AN AMP
4-CABLE METHOD WITH AN AMP
What if you want to use the MS-3 with a high gain amp using the 4-cable method, so that you can run your delays and other time-based effects in the loop?
No problem. The MS-3 doesn’t have a dedicated effects loop, but don’t forget that it has three switchable loops for your pedals – all you need to do is commandeer one of those for the 4CM routing.
The down side of course is that only leaves you with two loops to integrate pedals into – but once again, the MS-3’s internal effects suite can step in to back you up.
Since the MS-3’s three loops function as a block (i.e you can’t change the order of them like the ES-series switchers), make sure to position any time-based outboard pedals (delays, chorus etc) after the loop that you’re using for the amp’s preamp.
DIRECT INTO THE MIXING DESK
WITH YOUR BASS RIG
Did you know that the MS-3 comes loaded with 10 effects specifically for bass? (And of course, you can still use all the other effects as well!)
We’re talking bass compressor, bass overdrive, bass octave – the list goes on.
Bass-ically, any of the applications that we’ll discuss in this article are also 100% applicable for bass as well.
Whether you’re a full time bass player who wants lots of effects in a compact package, or you’re a guitar player who sometimes moonlights on bass and doesn’t want to have to create two separate pedalboards, the MS-3 is ready to bring the low end.
Add on a bass preamp or overdrive with DI out and you can even go straight to the mixing board without need for an amp!