Boss GT-001 Effects and Nord Lead 2

Boss GT-001 with Nord Lead
Boss GT-001 with Nord Lead

Just today I found a used Boss GT-001 effect processor and thought the size and form factor was perfect for the Nord Lead 2. I was interested in the Tera Echo effect that can be found in the GT-001 as well. I was going to buy a dedicated Tera Echo but for a little more that a used one I could get the GT-001 and have a whole slew of effects for the Nord Synth and other stuff. So far, the GT-001 which is similar to the Boss GT-100 has been a wonderful addition. Below are some initial thoughts as I worked with it today.

First, there is no dedicated BYPASS switch on the Boss GT-001. To start fresh or basically have a patch initialized, I turned all the effect data off and saved a dummy patch called “BYPASS”. I then assigned it to Favorite A button which allows me to call up the Bypass patch at anytime. The GT-001 probably colors the synth sound a little but I didn’t really notice any major sound difference. There is also a bypass switch located in the Tuner function, but found just creating a dedicated patch to work fine. I’m not even sure if the Tuner bypass function will work as desired anyway.

The second favorite B patch I created was a simple EQ and Reverb Combo Patch for the Nord Lead 2. This allows me to boost the bass, add mids, or sprinkle some reverb onto the basic sound. I then created a Favorite C patch that added some Tera Echo and that was a blast to work with. I love that Tera Echo on the Nord. Finally, my initial Favorite D patch is a dotted 8th note delay which is fun to play along with the Boss RC-202. You can dial in the BPM, so although there is no external midi sync, one can effectively play with the same BPM which works just fine in my book.

Like I mentioned above there are no Midi Din jacks on the back. Yes, that’s a shame, but the GT-001 does allow you to dial in the BPM to match your synth, sequencer, or in my case the Boss RC-202. I actually have the Nord Lead 2 midi’d up to the Boss RC-202 so that the RC-202 controls the Nord’s arp tempo. The Boss GT-001 I just punch in the BPM and I’m set. So far I’ve had zero timing issues. For live playing, I think this setup works just fine, but for studio recording, one might wish for the dedicated midi connections.

The individual effects and effect chain are very easy to control with the GT-001 itself. You actually do NOT need the Tone Studio software to work with the GT-001. I did however spend some time with the GT Tone Studio doing some basic tweaks on all of the patches to make them more “synthesizer” friendly. I now have a 200 patch bank of synth patches without all of the guitar and vocal oriented effects added. Reverbs, EQ, OD, Delay, Chorus, Comp, and a few other effects were changed to sound better with a synthesizer. A cool thing about the GT-001 is you can create your own user category for the 200 patches. So, I was able to create a “SYNTH Category” and keep my synth patches separate from the guitar ones. Very nice.

My hardware setup is basically the Nord Lead 2 connected to the Boss GT-001 which then goes into the Boss RC-202. The RC-202 then goes into my mixer and out my PA system. While the effects are excellent in the Boss RC-202, I enjoy creating specific synth patches on the Boss GT-001 that might consist of several effects at once. Basically,like a stomp box, the Boss RC-202 is easy to quickly turn on and off effects. While the Boss GT-001 does have four favorite buttons, it is not as easy to disengage individual effects on the fly. However, it is VERY easy to sculpt your own sound and then save that patch for a one click solution.

I have not tried using the foot controller option for the Boss GT-001 just yet. I plan to plug in an expression pedal most likely. I also haven’t used the XLR jack yet which provides a mic option. I actually use both a Boss VE-20 and TC-Helicon Voice Live 2 for vocals, so it’s likely I won’t use that feature anytime soon. It’s nice to have it though. The build is not that bad with the Boss GT-001 and I like very “light” objects on my synthesizers to avoid devices falling or banging the expensive synth gear. So while guitar players might cringe at the light plastic feel of the GT-001, us synth players might actually prefer it. The Boss RC-202 has a better build by the way than the GT-001, but not by much. Note that the Boss GT-001 and Boss RC-202 are not battery powered in case someone asks.

While the Boss GT-001 is not setup for synths straight out of the box, it can handle them very well once you go in and tweak the patches. The preset patches are awful for the Nord Lead which is why I spent and hour or so tweaking all of the 200 patches in the Tone Studio Software on the Mac to my liking. I then could tolerate and tweak further with the synth plugged in. The effects are shaping up really nice now and it’s so nice to have such a small, yet powerful effects unit on the Nord Lead. The effects do sound great and definitely help the Nord Lead 1, 2, and 3 catch up to the Nord A1 in terms of that vintage effect sound. The GT-001 fattens up the Nord very nicely.

I’ll update this post further with additional thoughts as I progress with the Boss GT-001 effect processor.

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Boss RC-202 Looper and Nord Lead 2

Boss RC-202 with Nord Lead
Boss RC-202 with Nord Lead

I recently picked up a used Boss RC-202 and after some initial struggles, found the looper to be an excellent companion with most of my synths. While this article may not necessarily be a review, I thought I would post some initial thoughts about my experience with the Boss RC-202 and the Nord Lead 2.

Connections are pretty straight forward if you have ever experienced the Boss RC-505. They are very similar. The two connections that I found troublesome though were the “aux in” and “phone” jacks found on the front end of the RC-202 device. In the photo with the Nord Lead you’ll see that if I were to use those jacks, the cords would hang over the keys. Not good! Fortunately I don’t require either when using a mixer so all is ok, but for those wishing to use headphones and/or the aux in jack it could be a major problem. They should have put the jacks on the rear of the device or on the right side.

Button pushing is similar but a bit different on the RC-202 than that of the RC-505. I found some confusion at first since functions were found in different places on the Boss RC-202. I also found that you had to push the value button to toggle between sub menus. That wasn’t so intuitive coming from the RC-505. I must admit, the Boss RC-202 requires a quick read through the quick start manual to get a grip on the functionality. I also found the several quick video tutorials from Boss on Youtube to be helpful too. Maybe I was tired the other night, but things were not easy to understand in the beginning.

What’s FANTASTIC about the RC-202 is that it’s sits almost perfectly on the Nord Lead 2 and perhaps will on other synths too. I love the slight change in how tracks are created and organized. Basically I can get 8 individual sections in a bank with two tracks per section. Using the memory button or foot controller you can switch between the sections. The two play buttons represent the two tracks. So I could easily create an intro, verse 1, chorus 1, verse 2, etc… on the fly without stopping the RC-202. With the RC-505 I can basically only get up to 5 sections but only one track each. Or 5 tracks layered in one section or a mix thereof. Perhaps I could switch memory locations for additional sections, but it’s clunky on the RC-505 compared to the RC-202.

I find the RC-202 works better for song creation and breaking the loop sound. My goal when I loop is to not sound like I’m looping but rather creating a song or progression. The RC-202 with the two tracks is a good compromise to get yourself quickly up and running with overdubs, but at the same time allowing you get on with creating the song. While I like the RC-505 with 5 tracks, it can be difficult to manage all of those tracks live. For some reason I was able to focus on song creation rather than just working on a loop. That’s pretty cool I think.

The effects are brilliant and very easy to use ONCE you wrap your head around the process. Again, it not that intuitive as you would think. You hit the effects button and “WOW!” you see all these lights come on. You need to consult the manual and learn what’s going on so that you can not let the effects detract from the song creation. Maybe it’s just me, but with the RC-505 and other Boss Loopers it wasn’t so crazy. Once you get the feel of the effects though, it’s simply amazing what you can do and how AGAIN it lends to song creation rather than just looping on and on and on and on and on…..laugh!

The Boss RC-202 is probably the first looper that doesn’t sound boring after I lay down some loops. With the effects and the superb ability to change memories quickly, I can change the feel and the direction of the song instantly. Sure all of this seems the same on the RC-505, but the workflow is just plain different. You will know what I mean when you find yourself working with both. I’m pretty sure you’ll be scratching your head wondering how two similar machines make you approach them differently. This was the best surprise of the Boss RC-202 and why I think it will likely become my favorite looper.

Note that I used a Boss FS6 foot controller and could effectively record loops using my feet. I had no problem keeping my hands on the Nord Lead 2 while creating loops. It’s also super easy to change the CTL assignment of the pedal without stopping the RC-202 as well. After you create your loops you can change from recording to automatic memory switch perhaps so that you can toggle between the sections of your song. Of course you will need to have your loops set or recorded, but even then you could go back to your old CTL settings if you like. In short, it seem you can adjust any setting WITHOUT stopping the looper. How you make those transitions is left entirely up to your creativity rather than any lack of functionality on the RC-202.

All in all, I can’t recommend enough the Boss RC-202 for synth or guitar players. The fact that you can sync via midi and transfer loops to and from the unit is just icing on the cake. At the moment I just can’t find anything wrong with it other than the “aux in” and “phone” jacks on the front end. Oh, and the Boss RC-202 definitely feels more sturdy and better constructed than the RC-505. Boss did a good job with this except for the initial price. In Japan, the street price is $400 and almost the same as the RC-505. Way too expensive and I suspect sales are sluggish in Japan. I had to wait for a used one to pop up for $250. I think in the States it’s selling for $299, probably less. The list price is a bit high I feel so shop around if you can.

I’ll update in the comments section with more thoughts as I work with the RC-202 more. Stay tuned!