Hands-On Review:TC Electronic G-Major guitar processor and G-Minor MIDI footswitch.
by Thomas Ross
Most rackmounted guitar processors are designed to provide one-stop shopping for all your guitar needs. They offer not only effects but digital models that conceal your amplifier’s distinguishing tonal characteristics. But many players—especially those who have invested in a good tube amp—don’t want the rack processor to take over. They need a unit that can deliver the finishing touches on an otherwise great tone. The TC Electronic G-Major is designed with this group in mind. It provides a nearly full complement of guitar effects, except distortion and dedicated EQ, which are wisely left to be handled by your tube amplifier.
The single-rackspace G-Major can function equally well as a studio and stage processor. It offers stereo 24-bit balanced analog inputs and outputs, as well as a stereo S/PDIF digital connection that allows it to interface with digital mixers, recorders and preamps. Note that, unlike some processors, the G-Major has no front panel “instrument” input: this device is designed to operate in an effects-loop or send/return configuration.
The unit’s effects are organized into individual blocks. Each block offers one or more variations of a specific type of effect, including Noise Gate, Compressor, Chorus/Flange (Classic Chorus, Advanced Chorus, Classic Flange, Vibrato), Filter/Mod (Resonance Filter, Auto Resonance Filter, Vintage Phaser, Smooth Phaser, Tremolo, Panner); Delay (Ping Pong, Dynamic, Dual Delay), Pitch (Detune, Whammy, Interval Pitch Shifter) and Reverb (Spring, Hall, Room, Plate).
The G-Major takes advantage of this block system by offering three routing schemes. “Serial” puts all the blocks in a series, such as you would see in a conventional stompbox rig. “Semi-parallel” routing runs the Gate, Compressor, Filter/Mod, Pitch and Chorus/Flange in series, then splits the signal in two, feeding delay and reverb separately. In “Parallel” mode, the signal is split in four after the Filter/Mod block and the individual lines are sent to the Pitch, Chorus/Flange, Delay and Reverb blocks. The parallel effects are then summed at the stereo output.
Thankfully, the G-Major is one of the most user-friendly devices on the market. To start with, it comes equipped with 100 presets, most of which are actually useable in a real-world setting. The presets cover all the basic territory—lush reverb effects (including some very convincing spring reverb emulations), delays that range from snappy to fat (maximum delay time is 1800ms), rich tremolos, ethereal choruses, metallic flanges, some very fat pitch-shift effects (including a fast-tracking whammy effect that can be controlled in real time), funky auto-wah patches, and more. The G-Major’s phaser comes as close to a stompbox as any digital processor I’ve heard, and all the other effects are of similar quality. In addition, you’ll find some otherworldly patches that give the guitar an almost synth-like quality, and settings that are optimized for bass.
The G-Major provides plenty of dedicated controls and a user-friendly interface for performance and editing. The large LCD shows the active routing mode, input and output levels and the readings of the G-Major’s internal tuner, which is always active (a great feature). Each effects block has its own front panel button, which lights when the effect is active, and a block can be toggled on and off by clicking its panel button once. To edit a block, simply double click the button to access all the block’s parameters. The unit’s two sets of concentric data entry knobs let you navigate through the edit menus and enter values quickly.
The G-Major offers a high degree of real-time control. Time-sensitive effects like Delay and Tremolo can sync to MIDI clock or a tap tempo, which can be set according to note value. In addition to MIDI In, Out and Thru jacks, the G-Major has a dedicated Control Input for connecting an expression pedal, which can be assigned to just about any parameter. Up to four controllers can be active per patch, and control assignments are stored per patch. This means the expression pedal can change delay time on one preset, pitch-shift on another, function as a wah on a third, and so on. For enhanced control, TC Electronic offers an optional G-Minor MIDI foot controller that can send tap tempo information, mute the G-Major for silent tuning, toggle individual effects blocks on and off, and more. You can also set of the G-Major to output a channel-switch signal for your guitar amp, so that recalling a preset activates the appropriate amp channel. Nice.
The Bottom Line
The G-Major may not be as feature-laden as TC’s pricier G-Force guitar processor, but it packs a knockout punch at a reasonable price. More important, the thing sounds awesome. and would work well on just about any source in your studio.