There are some products that are so bad that you force yourself to use them in order to prove that its creators aren’t as endlessly incompetent as you initially assumed. The Mooer GE100 is one of those products.

The GE100 comes to us from a Shenzhen-based producer of guitar pedals and audio gear. Mooer is one of those weird brands that popped up in the past half-decade and the company seems to be doing something noble. They offer audio gear for less, creating a panoply of pedals that are essentially chip and analog versions of popular guitar gear.

For the most part the gear I’ve used from Mooer has been fine and, online, the reviews have been mixed to positive. That said, the GE100 is a product I would recommend avoiding.

What is the Mooer GE100?

The GE100 is a multi-effects pedal with a built-in “drum machine” and “looper,” two features I put in quotes. The effects, which range from distorted metal to wonky reverb, are poorly implemented and sound approximately all the same, at least when they work. The GE100 claims to have 66 presets, available by tapping the two foot switches. In reality, about 20 of them actually work and the rest output either no sound at all or some poor simulacrum of whatever you’re supposed to be hearing.

The pedal also includes a 180-second looper and drum machine along with a “scales trainer” that is, in essence, a digital pamphlet. The looper, for example, allows you to record riffs and play them back. In practice, however, the pedal is too fiddly to time correctly, leaving everything out of sync. The drum machine, for its part, is acceptable if you only want to hear the same few sounds over and over and the metronome sounds like a bass drum, thereby reducing the usability as a calming and centering product for focusing on your music.

The training system, which actually sounded cool, is basically a collection of scales in text form. While it’s nice to know the notes on a Dorian mode it’s far easier to Google the information and actually get a fretboard layout than see C – D – E – F – G – A – B on a poorly-lit, low-resolution screen. Yep, that’s right: the “trainer” is basically a PDF embedded onto the device in some arcane way. Helpfully Mooer suggests that the trainer will teach you how to play better. “Your friends will no longer laugh at you as a newbie who can only play triads and minor pentatonic scales,” they write on their website. You can also learn guitar chords but the chords are sideways, making the whole thing an effort in confusion.

The biggest problem with each of the GE100’s features is that taken as a whole each of their shortcomings adds to the next, forcing you to get frustrated on several levels. If Mooer sold a bad drum pedal for $20 and a bad looper for $20 you could accept things and move on. Instead they stick bad versions of both into a product that already produces bad effects and also has a bad interface and sells it for $110 on Amazon or $77 on Alibaba where I bought it. If they sold it for, say, the price of a Raspberry Pi, you could argue it was a product for beginners and not expected to perform well. Instead, they redefined the market by creating an expensive product that doesn’t work.

Is the GE100 good?

No.

This thing doesn’t work and will frustrate you. Many audio products are difficult to master, this one is just difficult to use. If you want something similar, either buy a Boss looping pedal and maybe a Line 6 amp or, barring that, take a flyer on some of the cheaper chip pedals out there, like products from Mosky. Because these products are either aimed at professionals – the Boss – or rank beginners – the Mosky – you’ll be able to either get good really fast or noodle around until you buy something better.

Unfortunately, the GE100 will probably get you stuck. As a (bad) musician, I’m more than willing to mess around with gear. I just don’t want my gear to mess around with me.

The best setting for the Mooer: off.

By John Biggs

John Biggs is an entrepreneur, consultant, writer, and maker. He spent fifteen years as an editor for Gizmodo, CrunchGear, and TechCrunch and has a deep background in hardware startups, 3D printing, and blockchain. His work has appeared in Men’s Health, Wired, and the New York Times.

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