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Obsolete guitar gear: Alesis Quadraverb GT

Alesis Quadraverb GT

The Alesis Quadraverb GT effects processor (see used listings here) is something I owned myself for a long time. I bought it new originally in the mid-1990s (1994 if I remember correctly) and the price tag was $500 for it. At the time, this was one of the best guitar effects units you could buy. It was also priced right because its nearest competition was the Rocktron Chameleon, which cost more than the Quadraverb GT did.

The main difference between the Quadraverb and the Quadraverb GT is that the GT model had basic amp modeling and distortion/overdrive effects whereas the non-GT version did not. In other words, the GT was the "guitar player's version" of the Quad.

The 1990s for the most part was an "anti-pedal" time for guitar players where everyone wanted all their effects in a rack unit with preset switching ability on the floor via a MIDI controller such as the ART X-15. While pedals were still available and always were, guitar stores had mountains of rack unit stuff available for everything you could possibly think of.

The Quad GT does reverb, delay, phaser and flanger very well. It has a crisp, clean sound to it and its digital processing, while primitive today, still holds up quite nicely. The only time the Quad "sounds old" is if you use really washy reverb. But other than that, the GT could still be used in stage or studio to this day.

Where the GT fails is with its overdrive and distortion as it is awful. All you hear is digital nastiness from that - even with cabinet simulation enabled.

The best way to use the GT as far as guitar is concerned is to not use the distortion or overdrive at all. The cabinet simulation is okay, but for dist/od effect you should use a distortion pedal for that directly in the signal. And what I mean by that is guitar to dist pedal to GT and not use the effects loop.

As far as hardware problems go with the GT, there are a few.

The 1/4-inch jacks on the back have plastic nuts holding them in, and they sometimes work their way loose; this inevitably leads to the jacks breaking their connections on the inside where the signal will cut right out. Using plastic instead of steel nuts was a poor decision by Alesis just to cut cost. If you are a GT owner, the first thing you should do is junk those plastic nuts, replace with steel, and use a socket wrench to get a good, snug connection.

The power button has a nasty habit of losing its connection as well after being used for years.

A very common problem is that the backlight on the LCD screen stops working completely, where you have to shine a flashlight on the display just to read it afterward. It's still functional, but with the backlight not working, the unit gets very annoying to use very quickly. Thankfully, replacement screens are available and easy to install.

The GT does not age well as far as its internal electronics are concerned. Being some units are now close to 20 years old, restoration may be needed.

The power supply for the Quad GT is exactly the same as the Alesis DataDisk. It's a 4-pin proprietary (yuck) adapter, and it is absolutely required that if you buy one you must get the AC adapter with it, because there is no universal adapter available that will power the unit.

Worth owning?

No, unless you want that 1990s "warp" style reverb, and that takes a bit of explanation.

Certain digital reverbs made by Alesis when modulated a certain way have a sound that can only be described as "warped". The Quad GT can do this, as can the Midiverb and Midiverb II. However, those units are only sought out mainly by synth guys and not guitar guys.

Anything BOSS makes for multi-effects (yes, anything) will sound much, MUCH better than the old Quadraverb.

Published 2013 Oct 6

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