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TC Electronic G-Major 2
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When it comes to rack-based effects for guitar players, TC Electronic is one of the few companies that have stayed true to the course, continually releasing new products for players who have moved beyond the pedalboard. The G-Major 2 is a testament to TC Electronic’s commitment to guitar players. They’ve taken one of the most popular multi-effects processors ever made, listened to feedback from guitarists the world over, and incorporated virtually every feature improvement that has ever been suggested! The G-Major 2 is such a winning product because all this refinement happens without detracting from the supremely easy-to-use interface that even pedal-lovers can figure out.
But TC Electronic didn’t stop at feature improvements — they also added new effects such as intelligent pitch shifting borrowed from the flagship G-System, and all of the familiar effects sound better than ever thanks to use of the latest DSP technology and newer analog-to-digital converters.
If you’ve been on the fence about incorporating some rack-based effects into your guitar rig, you really can’t go wrong with the G-Major II. It sounds fantastic, is simple to use with any MIDI foot controller, and it’s priced the same as just a couple of boutique pedals. It convinced at least one of our skeptical, pedal-loving staffers to ditch the big pedal board and “go rack.” Can it do the same for you?
The TC Electronic G-Major 2 represents the evolution of the still-popular G-Major (see our review of that unit and the more-powerful G-Force here). If you’re familiar with the original, the changes you’ll find include a subtly updated front panel for easier operation and navigation, newly added effects, and the availability of a free software editor for computer-based effect editing.
The current software revision of the G-Major 2 is 1.02 R228. Anyone with an older G-Major 2 (the version number shows up when you first turn the unit On) can download the free update from TC Electronic’s website. The update includes the latest effects, feature updates, new factory presets, and the latest version of the software editor, Vyzor 1.0.
Although it sports a nearly identical user interface, the G-Major 2 offers significant changes under the hood when compared to the original G-Major. Numerous effects have been added, including some effects borrowed from its big brother, the flagship G-System processor. Familiar classic effects all benefit from newer, improved technology throughout the unit.
New effects in the G-Major 2 include:
Effects Blocks include:
Note that some effects require a stereo guitar rig in order for them to sound right. A ping pong delay, for example, will not sound the same in a typical mono guitar rig.
Making use of the MIDI In/Out jacks, you can hook up your favorite MIDI foot controller and interface with a computer for use of the Vyzor software editor (more on this below).
Using standard MIDI Program Change (PC) messages, any foot controller easily enables the selection of presets in the G-Major 2 — your saved combinations of effects in the signal chain, like chorus + pitch + reverb. Continuous Controller (CC) messages sent from your foot controller offer a variety of advanced controls. Stomp box lovers will utilize this functionality to turn effects blocks On/Off within a preset, plus there are a whole range of other features controllable using CC messages: mute the output while activating the Tuner mode, send Tap Tempo values to the G-Major 2, provide a volume boost for soloing, bypass the effects processor entirely, and even modify a range of values in real-time via continuous controllers (volume, delay level, flanger rate, etc.).
Confused by this MIDI functionality stuff? Check out our in-depth tutorial on using MIDI foot controllers here.
You can connect a continuous controller pedal (volume/expression) directly to the G-Major 2 without the need for any MIDI gear, or you can use the continuous controllers built into many MIDI foot controllers (or connected to them externally). Up to four external controllers can be assigned in the G-Major 2.
The onboard tuner provides two modes – Fine Tune and Course tuning modes. The Fine Tune mode provides maximum accuracy where the Course tuning mode allows for less accuracy, but at a quicker speed for live applications. A Tuner Range selection is also provided to match your specific application: guitar, bass or seven-string guitar. However, there are no options for custom scales or compensated tuning systems like Buzz Feiten Tuning System.
The G-Major 2 enables you to control many popular amplifiers by providing channel switching of amps via a single ¼” TRS relay switch jack. Wired appropriately, you can program your presets to switch between up to four channels on a guitar amplifier, but this functionality will only work with amps whose switching systems are wired a specific way.
As with both the classic G-Major and the modern G-System, TC Electronic provides a few preset routing options for the chain of effects: Serial, Semi Parallel, Parallel, and Serial 2. In all cases, the filters and compressors come first. The signal is then routed as illustrated:
While users of the older TC Electronic G-Force will once again lament the absence of completely programmable routing options (as they did with the G-System’s similar scheme), we have no issues with it. The partially fixed signal path ensures seamless patch changes with delay and reverb tail spillovers, which you don’t typically get from gear that allows for the full re-ordering of a signal chain.
The Serial 2 Routing option is similar to the Serial option, but it places the entire modulation effect block in a return loop of the delay block in order to create modulated delays. With this approach, you can add any type of modulation to any of the delay types, which is far more flexible than simply having a Rate and Depth chorus option tacked onto the end of a single delay line.
Output from the G-Major 2 can be either mono or stereo, and there is also S/PDIF digital input/output for studio use, though since this unit is heavily focused on guitar players, its presence is hardly necessary. For musicians with a tight budget on their home studio gear, this extra flexibility is a nice benefit since the G-Major 2 can serve double duty both in the guitar rig and in the studio rack. However, one subtle difference between the G-Major and G-Major 2 is that the new unit lacks a Tap Tempo button on the front panel, which was handy when using the older G-Major in a studio setting.
The G-Major 2 has AU and VST plug-in capabilities, enabling it to be controlled directly from within your favorite DAW, too!
For the majority of players, though, the G-Major 2 will be inserted into the effects loop of an amp for optimal sound. Serial effects loops offer the most flexibility with the G-Major 2, but for those players with a parallel loop, or wet/dry/wet rigs, there is a Kill Dry feature, which passes a 100% wet signal through the outputs. When using this feature, though, level-based effects like tremolo and panner will not function properly (i.e. they won’t sound as intended).
The G-Major 2 adds computer-based editing to make programming and managing sounds a thing of simple beauty, or beautiful simplicity. Despite having one of the most usable hardware interfaces for programming rack gear, a full screen computer editor is even easier, and the free, downloadable Psicraft Design Vyzor software (familiar to users of the G-System) has been customized for use with the simpler G-Major 2.
In addition to the editor, TC Electronic also offers online access to the G-Major Preset Vault from their website. Users can upload/download, share, and comment on their favorite presets with other users directly through the Vyzor software.
One minor inconvenience to the G-Major 2 is that it does not have a USB port for computer connectivity (like the G-System). In order to use the editor software and preset Vault, you will need to connect via a standard MIDI port. We had no trouble connecting the G-Major 2 to our computer through the MIDI interface built into an Avid (Digidesign) MBox 2 Pro, which worked just fine, but not all guitar players may have MIDI interface-equipped computers.
The feel of the new buttons and dial controls are solid, though they still have a plastic feel to them –use over time will determine if they actually withstand the rigors of the road, but they definitely feel like a solid improvement. Of course if you do most of your editing from the software editor, you’ll almost never touch the buttons.
The LED display window on the G-Major 2 provides just about every monitoring category possible to make your life easy in seeing exactly what is going on. Visual identifiers include: Overload LED’s, input meters, Matrix – routing configuration, block levels – In/Out and Mix, Tuner bar, Damp Compression/Noise Gate meter, preset number and effect name, and more.
Navigation of the G-Major 2 doesn’t get any simpler than this. From a layout standpoint, the design stays consistent with the original G-Major with the exception of the actual functionality (addition and subtraction of some buttons). All controls are clearly marked using white lettering on black background. A scroll wheel helped us navigate to the presets we wanted to use (when not directly accessed from a MIDI foot controller), and a double-tap on effect block buttons brought us right into editing the effect parameters. The interface is extremely straightforward whether selecting sounds, programming effects, or assigning modifiers for external/MIDI control. The availability of a new computer-based software editor is, in the case of the G-Major 2, just icing on the cake.
The control buttons are grouped together and labeled in a very user friendly manner – Effects group for quick access to a particular effect within a preset; Set Up group for direct access to Global, MIDI, Modifier and Mute settings; and the Control group consisting of Up / Down arrows for navigation within display menus, a control wheel for value setting and entering, and Recall/Store buttons. We found every control function available at our fingertips, eliminating the need to keep revisiting the manual for explanation or the need to hunt through multiple menus to find what we were looking for – everything was right there in front of us.
The G-Major 2 comes loaded with 100 Factory presets, which are all extremely plug and play. Of course you will want to make minor tweaks and save your own presets, and for that, there’s a User bank containing 100 available locations to save your customized sounds. TC Electronic really did an excellent job in providing a solid foundation of effect presets for the player to tweak and build off of – we didn’t hear one unusable preset in the entire collection!
Connection of the G-Major 2 is simple. We mainly recommend using the unit in your effects loop via the mono or stereo input/output connections on the back of the unit. Using both a mono send/mono return and a mono send/stereo return setup, we ran the G-Major 2 in the serial effects loops of a variety of amps from Mesa/Boogie, Bogner, and Fender.
Setting up MIDI controllers and external pedal controllers couldn’t be any simpler than what is provided in the G-Major 2. Whether you’re new to rack gear and MIDI or a veteran of programming more complex devices starting with a big “L” or “E,” you’ll love the ease with which you can custom program the G-Major 2 to respond to your MIDI foot controllers. There’s nothing simpler on the market, and it was very easy for us to make various assignments that connected footswitches on our Voodoo Lab Ground Control Pro to turn effects blocks On/Off and to assign a continuous controller to settings like Delay level or control over the Wah effect.
Basically, you have four options for configuring different external control methods – Off means that the particular modifier won’t be controlled by any external device. Learn enables you to press a footswitch on your controller that you want to assign to a particular modifier and the G-Major 2 automatically learns the continuous controller (CC) value for instant recall. Pedal allows you to assign an expression pedal connected to the external control jack for controlling the modifier. And CC 0-128 allows you to manually assign the CC value to a particular modifier.
Like the G-System and the original G-Major, the G-Major 2 also provides the ability to control channel switching of many different amps — but not all — through the built in ¼” stereo-wired relay switch. You have the ability to control up to four channels on your amplifier. It was easy to set up channel switching with a two-channel Fender Super-Sonic combo, but we couldn’t use this feature to properly channel switch our Mesa/Boogie Road King II since that amp requires isolated grounds — the G-Major 2’s switching jacks share a common ground. With MIDI-controlled amps (ENGL, Hughes & Kettner, and more) the feature isn’t necessary because the G-Major 2 sends MIDI Program Change (PC) instructions without any special effort on your part.
The online editor, Vyzor, provided an excellent means for tweaking our G-Major 2 settings and on-the-fly programming. We found the editor to be very intuitive and user friendly. Once we programmed a few presets to the User Bank on the G-Major 2 via the hardware interface, it was just a matter of hitting the Sync button in the Vyzor editor to upload our presets into the computer. Once that was completed, we had full control over all functionality, global settings, and parameters including the ability to drag and drop presets to a different memory location making arrangement of presets a breeze.
Other features include the ability to save and store different preset files directly to your PC or Mac, so if you’re going on tour with one artist this month and another the following month, you don’t have to worry about loosing presets or running out of room for the show. Just upload the file for that particular tour and your all set.
At first glance of the online editor, the layout and functionality are very intuitive. We copied some of our favorite factory presets to the User bank and began using the editor to tweak them further. As you can see in the illustration above, the first row displays the preset you are currently using along with a Store and Sync button and Preset Files Open and Save buttons. The Store button allows you to save any setting changes you may have made and the Sync button will ensure that changes made in the editor are also saved on the G-Major 2.
The next row of buttons allows you to view all or individual effects within a preset and make any desired changes. The next row of black buttons allows you to turn On and Off each desired effect within a preset. You also have a few other options including Preset Output Level and Tempo settings for quick adjustments. In the preset block, you can easily click, drag and drop a preset to a new location if needed.
In the bottom row of the editor, you have three buttons: Get Selected button allows you to get a preset that may have been created in your G-Major 2 and not yet uploaded to the editor; Sync Selected allows you to sync a selected preset in the editor with the same preset in the G-Major 2; and Unselect All clears all selections so you don’t accidentally change something in error.
If you would like to look at the overall settings of a particular preset, selecting the All button will view all effects and settings of a particular preset and allow you to make setting changes as well.
Or, you have the ability to just select and view one particular effect at a time. In the illustration above, we chose to view the Delay effect parameters. Changes can be made easily by clicking on the value bar and dragging it to increase or decrease the parameter value.
By entering the Global settings screen, you have the ability to tweak the overall global settings of the unit for the following blocks: MIDI, Setup, Modifiers and Program Map. We liked the File Notes section which allowed us to identify the stored settings by Song, Band and Guitarist.
For the majority of this review, we played the G-Major 2 through our 20th Anniversary Bogner Ecstasy and plugged in a Gibson Les Paul and a Music Man Steve Morse guitar. Needless to say, we wanted to start out with the very best of tone and make sure that the G-Major was an enhancement to our sound rather than a diminishing tone sucker. Pleasantly surprised and happy to report, the G-Major 2 provided great effects without damaging our tonal foundation.
There is no mistaking the classic TC Electronic compression or chorus pedal sounds — they are world-renowned for their excellence and are worthy “benchmark” units against which to judge other products. And in comparing the actual stomp-box pedals to the G-Major 2, you won’t be disappointed or feel like you’re giving up any sound quality at all. The sound of this rack processor is very warm and inviting.
Digital delays and reverbs are other hallmarks of TC Electronic, and they sparkle, shine, reverberate and repeat themselves in numerous ways within the G-Major 2. Dynamic Delay is a cool feature for the shred audience — by setting a threshold based on your touch, the delay automatically “ducks” behind your notes during fast legato passages and comes out during the slower sustained parts. Of course you can also assign an expression pedal to control your delay level, but the dynamic delay feature works very well, leaving your foot free to mess with other things, like a Wah effect.
For fans of vintage style delays, fear not. The mod delays, although not the most obvious to program, sound fantastic! And because there are low- and high-pass filters on all of the delay types, you can limit the frequency range of your repeats to make them sound more like cheap, old, err… we mean classic, vintage pedals.
There are numerous reverb types as well, each with a multitude of configurable options, and the newer DSP chips and A/D/A converters in the G-Major 2 ensure that they sound even better than in the original G-Major.
While the hall reverb can sound cavernous and help to unleash your inner ‘80s metal god, we love TC Electronic’s spring reverb, which has so many options that you can really create your own custom analog-sounding reverb. The plate reverb worked great giving us classic studio-sounding reverb for vintage sounds.
Intelligent pitch shifting was ported from the G-System, and we loved the quality of it in that unit. It shines in the G-Major 2 as well, making us feel guilty about not sharing the spotlight with other guitar players handling dual lines with us. Using the software editor, it’s super easy to select keys and scale types.
Although not specifically an “effect,” the noise gate works extremely well, too. If you want one multi-effects processor that can put your pedal collection out of business, the G-Major 2 easily deserves a place on your short list if you can get behind the concept of using MIDI foot controllers to run your rig.
Though the G-Major 2 provides routing options internally for the signal chain, the entire processor needs to be connected either pre or post of your preamp, leaving some of your sonic options limited. But who’s to say you can’t have two G-Major 2 units in your rack to accommodate both front-of-amp and effects loop processing? There are some effects you just don’t want in the opposite side of the amp processing, even though we found all the effects in the G-Major 2 to be very worthy and usable.
For instance, the wah pedal effect sounds great before the pre-amp section of an amp, but in the effects loop, the effect is less effective and takes on a different characteristic – especially when using the overdrive setting in your pre-amp. Other effects we prefer in front of the amp include compression and filters, and maybe EQ. You’ll need to experiment and see what works for you considering your personal taste. But for the price of a G-System, which can route some effects in front of your amp and others in the effects loop, you can have two G-Major 2s and a nice MIDI foot controller.
Fortunately, though, the TC Electronic website has numerous help documents stored in the online info-base and a user-to-user forum. There is also an area where users can share customized presets with each other electronically.The G-Major 2 documentation doesn’t talk specifically about the Vyzor software editor. Once you install it and fire it up, though, just go to the Help menu, where you’ll find two very useful PDF files that document the editor. Print those out! You can find support for the editor directly at Psicraft’s website in their support area.
Overall Rating - Product Summary
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