After over 15 years of teaching hundreds of students how to play guitar and also playing guitar as a hobby, I’ve learned a lot about what makes a guitar pedal great. Multi-effect pedals are my go-to tool for playing around with sound, and Boss has always made great ones.
You don’t want to spend hundreds of dollars on individual effect pedals. Some may sound the sound is better that way, but you’ll end up with a lot of hardware and a lot of debt. That’s why choosing a multi-effect pedal is great for beginners. You get a ton of options and don’t have to buy 30 individual pedals to find out what you like.
Boss’s ME-80 and GT-100 are two of the most popular multi-effect guitar pedals on the market, but what makes them different? Why should you choose one over the other? While it’s mostly up to personal preference, I’ll go into detail about what sets them apart, as well as the host of features they offer.
Here’s everything you need to know about how the Boss ME-80 and the Boss GT-100 stack up.
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The Boss ME-80 and Boss GT-100 share a lot of the same features and functions. Since they are both made by Boss, quality isn’t a valid point of this comparison. Instead, we’ll be looking at the major differences between these models.
|1 M ohm (guitar); 27 k ohms (Aux In)
|1 M ohm (guitar); 47 k ohms (Aux In)
|2-digit LED segment screen
|2 backlit LCD screens
|Batteries (AA) or adaptor (not included)
|72 (36 presets, 36 user)
|400 (200 presets, 200 user)
|# of Knobs
|# of Pedals
|Direct or Four-Cable Method
|Order of Effects
|¼” Phone Jack
This is a measure of how much resistance challenges the signal from your guitar. That sounds like a bad thing, but it isn’t. Higher input impedance is preferred, as it reduces the demand on the guitar signal. This can mean higher volume and better sound quality.
Both the ME-80 and the GT-100 have the same high input impedance for guitar, but the GT-100 doubles the input from AUX-In. This means that the sound will be better from the auxiliary port on the GT-100 than from the ME-80.
While each pedal has a display, the GT-100’s backlit LCDs are versatile and high-quality. The ME-80’s segmented 2-digit LED screen is a bit outdated, and can only display limited information. It’s much less useful. When you’re adding effects to your guitar, being able to see what you’re doing is invaluable.
Here, the backlit LCDs of the GT-100 win out. The segmented LED screen of the ME-80 works, but it doesn’t offer the same versatility as the GT-100’s screens.
How does the pedal receive power? Both units can be powered with an adaptor, but only the ME-80 can be run on batteries. This is one of the details that makes it ideal for playing performances and away from home, as it makes the pedal extremely portable. However, the ME-80 also doesn’t come with the power adaptor. You’ll have to order the cord separately if you want to plug it in.
The ‘current draw’ is a measure of how much power the pedal needs to work. Since the ME-80 can run on battery power and doesn’t boast the number of effects that the GT-100 does, it uses less power while it’s running. This is important when considering where you can set the pedal up, as well as what type of power cord to use with the unit.
One of the biggest draws to multi-effect pedals like the ME-80 and the GT-100 is the ability to program lots of different sound settings and switch between them at will. The ME-80 has 36 preset memory configurations as well as 36 slots for your settings. Similarly, the GT-100 has 200 presets and an additional 200 slots for your settings.
Here, your personal preference can decide the winner. More memory slots are always better, but not if you aren’t going to use them.
Knobs can get confusing. It can be difficult to change settings on the fly if there are too many knobs to choose from, but it also usually means that there are more options. The ME-80 pedal has 80 different knobs for different settings and features, but they are arranged in a way that can be confusing if you’re just starting.
On the other hand, the GT-100 has 8 simple knobs that control a myriad of available features. Again, which setup you prefer is subjective.
How many footswitches does the pedal have? Again, more is not always better – it can be difficult to hit the correct switch if there are too many of them arranged on the unit. The switches may also be smaller the more of them there are, which can lead to some difficulty hitting the right one at the right time.
The ME-80’s five pedals are arranged and easy to hit with your feet, whereas the GT-100’s nine separate pedals may become a bit more difficult to juggle.
This refers to how many effects can be added to your sound at once. With the ME-80, only 8 effects can be added/played simultaneously. The GT-100 increases this to 15 effects at once, so you can see how more effects interact.
How the pedal connects to your amp can affect a lot of things, including the tone and the impact of the different effects. The ME-80 connects directly to the amp, which is not ideal for the best tone.
On the other hand, the GT-100 offers the four-cable method, which is more complicated. However, the tonal differences of the four-cable method more than make up for it.
Signal paths can also greatly affect your sound. A single signal path (like the one used in the ME-80) means that there is one way to connect the pedal to your amp, and any additional effects pedals need to be chained in a very specific way.
The GT-100’s dual signal paths make use of two different amp settings, meaning you can chain effects pedals in two different ways. This can change how they sound drastically.
The number of amp models refers to the number of different amps that the pedal can simulate. Simulating amps through an effects pedal gives you a ton of options for different sound and configurations. The ME-80 has 9 amp models to choose from, while the GT-100 has 25 different amp models.
Order of Effects
The order of effects for your pedal influences your sound, as well as the way you patch and sample sound. With the ME-80, the order of effects is fixed. You can’t change it, so when you select an effect it has a specific place in the order.
On the other hand, the GT-100 allows you to change and move effects to create different sound combinations. They aren’t fixed into a specific order.
Looking to record with your effects pedal? The ME-80 uses a stereo mini-jack for your microphone, whereas the GT-100 uses a ¼” phone jack. Which you prefer depends on the equipment you have available.
If you record music digitally (or like to edit patches and sample on your computer), MIDI connectors are necessary parts of your guitar pedal setup. This communication system and digital tool is invaluable. Unfortunately, the ME-80 doesn’t have a MIDI Connector. The GT-100 has connectors for MIDI functions.
The Ext Loop feature goes hand-in-hand with a flexible effects order. This feature allows you to put effects right where the sound will be amplified best. Place your pre-amp effects anywhere in the order to gain different effects. The ME-80 lacks this feature, while the GT-100 allows you the freedom to change the location of your pre-amp.
How much each pedal costs may also be one of the ways you prefer to compare them. Both pedals have dropped in price since they were released, but the GT-100 seems to always end up at least $200 more expensive than the ME-80.
The main difference between the ME-80 and the GT-100, outside of any of these specifications, is what they are meant to be used for. The ME-80 is meant for stage performances while the GT-100 is meant for recording and studio use.
Outside of that, their differences are the features they offer.
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The Boss ME-80 uses Boss’s COSM technology to give you a variety of ‘preamp’ settings. These include different settings for different types of music, allowing you to achieve a genre sound or unique combination while using these settings.
And speaking of settings, the ME-80 has them in spades. There are a lot of knobs on this pedal, but they are grouped by effect type so you can mix them up, play around with how they combine, and more without having to navigate menus. You can save the settings on each knob using one 36 user memory slots when you find something that you love.
With the ME-80, you can choose how you want the pedal to perform. One of the greatest features that this pedal offers is the ability to manually change the effects or recall settings you’ve memorized. There is a dedicated footswitch to change between these modes, so you can switch on the fly, even when you’re playing.
Each footswitch space has two separate switches that can be used to change settings. On top of that, this compact unit can be run from battery power or a power adaptor (which is not included when purchasing the pedal itself). This means that it’s portable, and can come with you to all of your performances and shows. When you’re at home, plug it in and riff away.
With the ME-80, Boss aimed to create a pedal that can engineer your sound whenever you need to. Whether that’s creating a melody at home or switching to a new sound during the chorus of a song, you can do it all with the Boss ME-80.
The traditional sound, settings, and ultimate versatility of the Boss ME-80 is one of it’s biggest advantages. Take it everywhere, treat it like a stompbox, or use it to carefully engineer sounds at home. The portability makes this best used in stage performances, though.
Who Is It For?
Traditional players will love the Boss ME-80. When used correctly, it’s like having a selection of Boss pedals ready to go, but without worrying about chaining them together. It’s the perfect pedal for stage performances as well, mainly because it can run on battery and it’s compact, making it easy to squeeze it onto the stage with you.
For more information (and sound demos), check out this video review of the Boss ME-80.
There are three ways you can purchase the Boss ME-80 directly from Boss. You can purchase the unit alone, but it does not come with a power adaptor. To purchase the unit with a power adaptor, choose the power bundle here.
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While the ME-80 simply uses COSM technology, the GT-100 was the platform that launched COSM. This is the first model in Boss’s line to use this amp setup. As a result, the technology can be used to best effect here. Constructing new patches, creating a unique sound, and more can be achieved very easily with the powerful GT-100.
Two backlit LCDs allow you to see your configuration, customize your sound, and activate features quickly. The eight knobs below the screens adjust your levels and sounds, and you don’t have to navigate through menus to mess around with these settings. The way that the GT-100 is set up makes it look sleek, professional, and modern.
Despite the modern look, the GT-100 is perfect for recreating vintage sounds as well as mixing modern effects, so you can get the best of both worlds here. The unit is also USB-capable, which means that you can plug it into your computer for even more options. One of the biggest benefits of this feature is the ability to record your guitar riffs as MIDI audio files directly, as long as your guitar is plugged into the GT-100 while you’re recording on your computer.
To achieve this and a lot of the other great mixing and patching features of the GT-100, you can download the free BOSS TONE STUDIO software. This allows you to create your patches or download patches that other users have created.
The GT-100 also added a host of new effects, amp models, and simulations (such as the acoustic guitar simulator) to Boss’s arsenal. You can play with these settings and record them to startling effect. There are 400 program memories available with the GT-100: 200 of these memories are preset, while an additional 200 slots are yours to program.
The GT-100 also boasts a channel divider, so you can have two different amps, settings, and effects modules. You can switch between these channels with one of the footswitches, so changing settings in the middle of a song is easier than ever.
The Boss GT-100 sounds great and performs perfectly over long sessions, so you can riff to your heart’s content.
Who Is It For?
Boss’s GT-100 multi-effect guitar pedal can take your studio music and recording sessions to the next level. This pedal isn’t made for live performances, as it isn’t as portable as the ME-80. Additionally, traditional guitarists might not appreciate the new and innovative approach to effects that this model takes, as there are a lot of options, vintage recreation, and entirely modern sound combinations.
The Boss GT-100 is perfect for guitar players who want something different, something new. Since you can record MIDI directly, it’s great for online music creators – you’ll immediately have the sound file you need. If you want to be able to make your sound unique in thousands of different ways, this is the studio guitar pedal for you.
For live performances and more traditional use, the ME-80 is the solid way to go.
For a more detailed review of the GT-100, including demonstrations of its performance and sound, check out this detailed video review.
Boss sells three different packages for the GT-100. You can purchase the unit by itself. Unlike the ME-80, this pedal comes with a power adaptor. There is also a medium-sized bundle that includes a polishing cloth, an instrument cable, patch cable, power supply, and three guitar picks.
The large bundle for the GT-100 can be found here and includes the power supply, tuner, two instrument cables, two MIDI cables, and a polishing cloth.
The Boss ME-80 and Boss GT-100 are both powerful machines that can take the sound of your guitar to another level. Since both are made by Boss, they share an outstanding build quality and many of the same features. However, they can be applied in very different ways. When it comes down to it, how you’ll use the pedal should be the most important information used when making this decision.
The ME-80 is better for stage performances, as it is highly mobile and can run on AA batteries. This is better suited for traditional guitar players.
On the other hand, the GT-100 is best for studio work and recording sessions, since it is stationary with a power adaptor. The GT-100 is also better for pioneers in the audio field, with hundreds of different settings to play around with.