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Zoom BFX-708 Bass Guitar Multi-Effects Unit
Description & Review
Zoom BFX-708 Bass Guitar Multi-Effects Unit Description & Review

Zoom BFX-708

Find a Zoom BFX-708 on Ebay






   

There was a time when people were regularly sharing Zoom user patches in forums. They seem to be near impossible to find now ... which is rather sad.

If you have created any interesting patches for the Zoom BFX-708 that you'd like to share, send them to


Some background ...

The Zoom Corporation of Japan (founded in 1983) has a long and illustrious history of providing musicians with high-tech guitar/bass multi-effects units (and more recently recording gear). All at very reasonable prices.

Zoom products feature robust construction and a level of electronic sophistication that has seen even their older products retain substantial resale value. In some cases more than a decade after their initial release.

Broadly speaking, Zoom products are up there with the best of them and are often better value for money.


Buying a Used Zoom BFX-708

Aside from some expected cosmetic wear and tear (these are starting to get rather old), there is not a lot that will go wrong with this device. For the most part, it is either working or it's not.

One thing I have noticed though, is that the Input and Output jacks do get 'crackly' as these units age. At first I though this was probably just oxidation of the 6mm (1/4") sockets.

However, after purchasing several GFX and BFX series pedals online, I have found that this is an all too common fault. A simple resoldering of all the socket connections to the circuit board will solve the problem.


Price:

If you're not paying more than around AUD $70 to $80, then a BFX-708 is good value.

I would consider a 'Grab it!' price to be around AUD $50 to $70 (if it includes a power supply and/or shipping), depending on the device's condition of course.

Don't fall victim to the 'Vintage Pedal' hype, these pedals are not that old (yet) and they are not that special. They can however be very good value.


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The Zoom BFX-708 is a bass guitar multi-effects unit initially released around 2000. Though the BFX-708 shares the same external design appearance, general features and electronics as the GFX-707, it is important to note that the BFX-708 is not simply a rebadged version of the GFX-707 (Guitar Multi-Effects Processor). The BFX series does however share the compact, versatile and sturdy nature of this range of pedals from Zoom, and of course, inherits some of the same minor problems.

Some quick background: Having used my Zoom GFX-707 on several occasions for recording bass, I concluded it would be nice to have a purpose built bass multi effects pedal. So when an opportunity came to purchase a Zoom BFX-708 at a good price (see right side panel), I grabbed it. All I can add here is that I'm now wishing I had done that a long time ago ;-)

Since this is a recent acquisition (April 2016), there will no doubt be updates to this article as I discover the quirks of the device. In fairness, since I'm very familiar with the Zoom GFX-707, I'm not really expecting any nasty surprises.



So ... Once again this pedal is a hybrid (Analogue/Digital) multi-effects unit. Essentially an Analogue front end followed by Digital Signal Processing (DSP) for Modulation and Delay effects.

First-time users will be pleased to know that the majority of reviews for the Zoom BFX-708 are positive and highly recommend this device.  Unlike the guitar version, this pedal rocks from the moment you plug it in. There is no need for an extended programming learning curve or messing with every other patch because the levels are all over the place. This is real-world plug and play.

Unless of course you want to create your own patches, in which case (as per the GFX-707), you should be patient when using this device. Once you understand the patch structure, these devices are not that hard to set up and use (... and it won't hurt to read the manual ... really!)

Fortunately, the BFX-708 actually comes loaded with a comprehensive collection of ready to use patches. Rather unusual in itself. Making this bass guitar effects pedal particularly good value and easy to use.

(See also Zoom GFX-707 also Zoom GFX-707 II).


An Overview of the Zoom BFX-708

Being a Bass Guitar Multi-Effects unit, the BFX-708 is yet again nothing short of an effects rack in a box. There are two main effects sections divided into Analogue and Digital.


 BFX-708 Modules 
 Click to View Larger Image

The Analogue (and first) section includes Compression, Limiting, Noise Gate, Gain, Distortion, Sustain, Fuzz and EQ functions. The optional Amp (actually Cabinet) Simulation is also analogue.

These 'front end' effects allow you to create your basic bass guitar sound for a patch. While bass guitars don't offer quite the tonal range of 6 string guitars, you may be surprised at the tonal variety that you can get out of this pedal. The diversity of possible sounds really is quite impressive. And in a similar fashion to the guitar specific 707 series, with a little effort you can copy most popular bass guitarists' sounds or create totally original sounds in minutes. [source http://musicstudio.bigredroo.com.au/Guitar_Effects_Zoom_BFX-708_Pt0.html]

The Digital section features the full range of DSP (Digital Signal Processing) functions including: Chorus, Flange, Phase, Tremolo, Wah, Pitch Shift, Ring Modulation, several Delay / Echo options, various Reverb settings and more.

The Pitch Shift option includes a range of steps from -2 to +2 octaves, making for some interesting harmony effects. I find these are somewhat limited due to the tonal characteristics of a bass, compared to the guitar (GFX-707) implementation, That's not a fault of the pedal..

For control over the ambient sound, the Delay / Reverb sections include a simple Tone control to increase/reduce the brightness of reflected sounds.

All DSP options can be set up individually and may be used in combination (e.g. Chorus + Delay + Reverb).

As with the 707, the pedal can be assigned to perform various effect parameter control functions (e.g. modulation depth, delay length, pitch frequency, etc.), as well as the expected Volume and Wah. The Volume Pedal function can also be assigned as Pre or Post delay effects.

The BFX-708 also has the same built-in Rhythm functions as the GFX-707 (a rather simple drum machine) that provides a selection of useful beats and patterns in various styles for practice or jamming. These are factory presets with only Tempo and Volume controls.


PROS (Listed in order from Best Feature down):



CONS (Listed in order from Worst Feature down):


Using the Zoom BFX-708


Unlike the GFX-707, the BFX-708 comes loaded with ready-to-go patches. It's quite possible that you may never do any meaningful patch editing. However, should you wish to, you can edit any existing patch and save it as a new User Patch. The User Manual includes relatively easy to follow instructions for creating and saving patches. As with all things, it gets easier once you have done it a few times.

So the BFX-708 is relatively simple to use, particularly if you have arranged your patches wisely. The difficulty with most multi-effects units is that you can't apply/remove individual effects 'on the fly' as you can with a Pedal Board that contains discrete effects units (unless you have something like the Zoom G9.2tt or similar). This means that you really need to organise your patches carefully for live performing.


Creating a Start-Up User Patch


When the Zoom BFX-708 first boots up it switches to patch A0 (the first User Patch). On the Guitar version (GFX-707), I strongly recommend making this what I call a 'Clean' patch. However with the BFX-708 the default startup patch seems to work just fine, that is the output level is quite sane.

To create your own clean startup patch ... turn off all compression, distortion and DSP effects for patch A0. Essentially this is like creating the BFX-708 equivalent of a 'bypass' (which in truth of course, it doesn't have).


Organising Your Zoom BFX-708 User Patches



There are two recommended approaches to organising your User Patches for best results.

The most important aspect of setting up your User Patches is to come up with a system you can firstly work with, and secondly remember. Getting organised and documenting your patches will greatly improve your ability to get the most from the BFX-708.

Of course, if you really need to store more patches, you could just get a second BFX-708. Given the average price, this is a realistic option (if you can find one at a reasonable price).



Naming Your Zoom BFX-708 User Patches


It is strongly recommended that you take advantage of the extensive User Patch naming capability of the BFX-708. Creating 'User Friendly' patch names can make using the BFX-708 a whole lot easier.


IMPORTANT:
Due to some very fundamental differences between the available analogue effects options on the BFX-708 and the BFX-708 II, it is (very unfortunately) not possible to simply copy settings from the 708 to the 708 II. The DSP sections of the two devices are however very similar, allowing digital effects settings to be more readily (but still manually) copied from the 708 to the 708 II.

Zoom BFX-708 Overall Performance:

The following assessment of the Zoom BFX-708 takes into account the age of this device and is not an attempt to compare it to Bass Guitar Multi-Effects devices currently on the market.


Overall Average Score 9/10.




Your comments and contributions are greatly appreciated!




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