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Review: DigiTech Trio+ - EMusician

Review: DigiTech Trio+

A must-have guitar pedal for composing and practicing
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Because it automatically creates convincing bass and drum parts that match the key and tempo of any song you play into it, the DigiTech Trio has become very popular with guitarists for both songwriting and woodshedding.

Last year, DigiTech took the concept further with the Trio +, adding a looper, new musical Genres, and more song parts, among other features.

The Trio+ provides options for altering the rhythm accompaniment's bass part, dynamics, and feel within each Genre and Style.

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The “band creator” process is simple: Select a Genre; hit the Band button; play a chord progression; press Band, again. Immediately, the bass and drums enter with parts based on the chord progression and tempo you played. The analysis works best when you play simplified chords.

Next, you can use the built-in looper to layer guitar parts over the rhythm section. The looped material is saved when playback is stopped.

Along with its 12 Styles (4/4 or 3/4, straight or swung rhythm, etc.), the Trio+ adds five new Genres (including metal and hip-hop) for a total of 12. If you change Style or Genre while the rhythm section plays, the bass and drums will change to the appropriate feel—very handy for arranging. (Note that audio loops do not change feel when you select a new Style or Genre.) The Tempo control’s time stretching sounds smooth, even as you approach the extreme settings.

Each Genre includes rhythm and lead effects that you can add to your guitar input, and any loops you create will include the effect. For example, the Metal style’s lead effect is a high-gain sound, which I used when stacking harmonies with the looper.

In the scenario above, I created what DigiTech calls a Part. You can record five Parts and sequence them in any order to create a Song, using the buttons at the top of the pedal. Twelve Songs (and their audio loops) can be stored on the included microSD card. (Cards up to 32GB are supported.) Using DigiTech’s free Trio Manager Software, you can transfer Songs and loops to a computer from the pedal’s USB port.

Various button combinations are used for storing and loading Songs, programming a Song sequence, and so forth. Behind each button is a multicolored light that indicates its status. To hear a more aggressive rhythm section as your Part plays, press the associated button so that it turns red. Tap the button again for it to glow green and return to the original feel. Furthermore, the Alt Time button changes how the rhythm section interprets the tempo—double or half time, depending on the Genre/Style—while Simple Bass determines how busy the bass part is (with three levels to choose from). You can also add a metronome, a 1-bar count-off, and set individual levels for the bass, drums and loop.

The Trio+ has a stereo headphone jack (with volume control), an effects loop, and individual outs for an amp and mixer. I recommend adding the (optional) FS3X footswitch, which provides three modes of hands-free control over the Trio+.

I admit I was skeptical about its usefulness when I first got the Trio+, but I became a convert the more I used it. It inspired new song ideas (thanks, in large part, to the integrated looper), and I found it especially helpful when practicing riffs and scales (using the Tempo control to help work parts up to speed). And as a person who travels with a guitar, I found that the headphone output and diminutive size of this product makes it perfect for airport and hotel-room use. The Trio+ is a handy device for any guitarist—from beginner to pro.

STRENGTHS
Looper. Built-in effects. Effects send. Headphone output with level control. Easy to use.

LIMITATIONS
One level of loop undo. Cannot separate built-in effects from genre selection.

$299 street
digitech.com

Gino Robair is EM’s technical editor, as well as the editor-in-chief of Keyboard magazine.