Hands-On Review:Digitech GNX4 GeNetX Guitar Workstation


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Digitech GNX4 GeNetX Guitar Workstation

Dream it: do it.

By Ethan Post


It's finally here. Digitech has produced the world's first fully functioning, world-class guitar workstation, and its name is the GNX4. It's a smart and savvy unit designed to help you accomplish all your guitar goals. Not just another new product for guitar, it's a whole new approach to the instrument, designed to operate in a way that guitarists can relate to easily. Its combination of cool capabilities and extreme ease of use will make it a modern classic as it defines what a guitar workstation is. And it's all at your fingertips-er, toetips-the way it should be.

 

Practice made perfect

Practicing with the GNX4is incredible. I spend quite a bit of time at home working on my chops and the GNX4

has maximized my practice time. Magazines like Guitar One and Guitar World have made it especially easy, since they post lessons, tabs, songs, and even tone presets for download on their Web sites. In a few steps I'm set up for nailing the latest songs, learning new techniques, and having new sounds to play with. The drum machine doubles as an MP3 player, so any song you can get within your digital grasp is fair game. Playing along with a backing track helps a lot, too, and the GNX4 makes it easy to build rhythm tracks. The drum kits are intense, and in a couple minutes I've got a solid rhythm to lay licks over.

 

The drum machine has done wonders for my playing. As my time improved, my feel for the beat skyrocketed giving me the ability to play around the beat to create catchy, killer riffs. Plus, playing along with big punchy drums is way better than a click track. All of this, along with the Learn-A-Lick function, has made practice more productive than ever. And the headphone out ensures I never disturb the neighbors.

 

A new way to muse
A funny thing happened on my way to becoming the next Joe Satriani. I discovered I have an ear for melding chords, riffs, licks, and lyrics into songs. With the GNX4 you can record anything on your computer or the internal 8-track recorder. I make mistakes fairly often (the horror!) while practicing, but some of those mistakes sound pretty good. So I started hitting the record button and getting those mistakes down on record. From there it was super easy to take those little mistakes and turn them into tunes. Before I knew it I was churning out a song a month, which is incredible because before I had the GNX4 I was lucky to get a song done in six months.

 

I knew the GNX4

was making all of this easy, but I really didn't understand how easy it was making it for me until one night when I got interrupted while working on a new riff. Noodling my way through an ear-training exercise, I came up with something that had potential, so I hit record. This riff was begging for lots of compression, gain, and delay, so I tweaked up a tasty mix, but it still needed something more. But before I got it all worked out, my mom called and reminded me it was my sister's birthday. Dang! I forgot. I couldn't miss the b-day dinner, so I made the sound a preset and bolted. When I got back later that night, it was so cool to be able to walk in and pick up right where I left off; I was grinning ear-to-ear. And the riff? A little wah put it over the top.

 

 

 

Power-packed performances
If you're like me, gigging with an abundance of sounds at your disposal is a must. With the GNX4 you've got tons of presets to load up your favorite sounds and go crazy onstage. I gig with two different bands; one is a full-on rock outfit with two guitar players, a bassist, drummer, and a vocalist-and then the bass player and I have a coffeehouse duo. The GNX4 has an XLR and a pair of 1/4" outs that make it a cinch to amplify all the mayhem.

 

At the coffeehouse gig the bass player (all the bass-centric stuff makes him a big fan too) and I just plug our GNX4s straight into a small Soundcraft Spirit mixer, then run the output to a pair of active JBL EONs. The mic input with a dbx-designed pre lets me run my vocals through the GNX4 too, so I can mix my own sound with separate settings and effects for each. The sound is incredible, but last week we somehow managed to leave our practice space without the mixer. Obviously we were nervous and not sure how this snafu was going to work out. It was easier than we thought, though. Using the line outs we ran the bass and drums from his unit to the line ins on mine, and then ran from my GNX4 to the EONs. It worked flawlessly and the sound was great, too, with the GNX4 proving once again what an incredible unit it is.

 

I've even used the GNX4 to catch some hot moments during gigs by using the internal 8-track to record to a CompactFlash card. It also makes it easy to capture song ideas that come up during jams and sound check. With the idea fresh in my head, I can work on it as soon as I get back to my apartment. Even though I use a PC and my bass player is a Mac guy, we can both still record and work on songs together because the GNX4 includes dual-platform recording software.

 

Lasting durability
The GNX4 is a tank. The steel body construction is heavy enough to make you feel secure in its ability to survive multiple scuffs, drops, kicks, and mayhem. The low profile, rugged construction, and stable mounting of the buttons and knobs have never been a problem. The expression pedal (assignable to a ton of parameters!) feels really good, too. It is solid under your foot so you can wah without fear.

 

As you can tell, I'm a big fan of the GNX4 because of all it can do. No matter where I'm at or what I'm doing, the GNX4 helps me do it better and easier. What else could you ask for?

 

Features & Specs:

 

 

  • 15 guitar amp models
  • 10 bass amp models
  • Distortion stompbox modeling
  • HyperModel creation
  • 11 simultaneous effects
  • 8-track digital recorder
  • 6 channels of audio
  • USB computer connection
  • MP3 playback
  • dbx-designed mic preamp
  • 48V phantom power
  • Stereo line inputs
  • MIDI drum machine
  • 8 pre-loaded drum kits
  • 100 rhythm patterns
  • CompactFlash slot
  • XLR and 1/4" stereo outputs
  • 80 user, 80 factory presets
  • 24-bit A/D conversion
  • Pro Tracks Plus with MP3 encoder
  • 32-stereo tracks
  • Lexicon Pantheon Reverb plug-in
  • Cakewalk Pyro Express
  • Bias Deck 3.5 SE
  • X-Edit sound editor/librarian