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Yamaha GW10

Guitar Effects Pedal System By Paul White
Published April 1994

For around the same cost of the equivalent individual pedals, you could buy this integrated, programmable effects pedal system, which includes an amp simulator for direct recording. Paul White checks it out.

Yamaha's GW10 isn't a unique product — programmable effects pedal systems have been around for quite a few years now — but it offers a simplicity that many of its rivals fail to match. For little more than the cost of a reasonable DDL pedal, the GW10 can provide up to three different, simultaneous effects, real‑time pedal control of various parameters, including volume or wah wah, and 20 programmable effects presets. It also has an effective noise gate and a guitar tuner – and no MIDI!

The Package

Physically, the GW10 is both compact and robust, powered from an external (supplied) mains adaptor. The effects offered by the unit are divided into three blocks, with two of these being further sub‑divided into different effects. Each effect has three variable parameters, each parameter controlled by a separate knob, and a matrix of printed parameter names and status LEDs beneath these knobs make it easy to get around. A preset comprises a choice of three effect types, their parameters, and the pedal assignment.

  • Block 1, DIST: offers overdrive or compression
  • Block 2, CHO: can be set to deliver Chorus, Pitch Shift, Wah Wah, EQ or Amp Simulation.
  • Block 3: offers Digital Delay only.

Many of the effects are in stereo, so best results are achieved with stereo amplification, though a mono output is available via the left output jack. Because guitar output levels can vary wildly, there's an input trim pot and peak indicator LED.

When the pedal is used as a volume control, it can be assigned to different positions in the effects chain, with the minimum volume position set to give anything between off and fully on. In parameter control mode, the pedal may be assigned to: Wah Wah; Distortion Drive; Compressor Sense; Chorus Depth; Pitch Shift Balance; Wah Range; Equaliser High gain; Amp Simulator Mix Balance; Delay Mix.

A chunky footswitch is used for effects selection, the effects being grouped into four banks of five programs. Pushing and holding the footswitch switches from one bank to the next; pushing briefly on the switch steps through the effects in the bank. The footswitch also has a hidden switching function which can be used to turn a selected effects block (or, in some cases, blocks) on or off.

The Verdict

The beauty of this unit is that the parameters you have to deal with are the same as you get on separate pedals, so setting up effects is very easy. For example, chorus has only speed, feedback and depth parameters to adjust, while pitch shift simply has left channel shift, right channel shift and mix. When all the tweaking has been done, the patch can easily be saved.

The quality of the effects is typical of good quality pedals; overdrive is better for heavy than mild distortion, but in combination with the amp simulator, you can produce a passable blues sound. The amp simulator produces varying results, depending on the position of the control, and effectively removes buzziness while adding thickness. There's sufficient range on the chorus controls to produce mild flanging or rotary speaker sounds, and the pitch shifter is surprisingly usable for such a low‑cost unit. The delay too offers plenty of range for creating either echo or slapback effects, and my only real criticism is that the amp simulator can't be used at the same time as chorus, pitch shift, wah or EQ. This doesn't matter at all for clean sounds, but may be limiting when you come to set up that turbo nutter overdrive patch!

In all, this is a great unit for those who don't need the complexity of a MIDI effects processor, and though its main application is in live performance, it also works well for recording. It isn't limited to guitar use either — the effects work just as well on keyboards, where the amp simulator is quite effective in fattening up thin digital sounds.


  • Easy to use.
  • Generally good effects.


  • Amp Simulator not always available, depending on other effects selected.
  • External PSU is a nuisance live.


A simple‑to‑use, non‑MIDI effects unit that's welcome in the studio as well as on stage.