I researched this process extensively before carrying it out. I’ve only looked into how to add extra effects onto a G1on and G1Xon both running version 1.21 firmware. There seemed to be a number of people suggesting it is safe, however a few said there’s a risk of bricking your unit. Make sure you understand what you’re doing and also understand it is done at your own risk and that I probably won’t be able to help if you have any problems.
I’ve previously reviewed the G1on and G1Xon effects units, you can find further information about these units in this post.
The Zoom G1on and G1Xon units use an effects format called ZDL. There are a number of Zoom effects units that use the ZDL format and this means that any effects from the following list of devices can be loaded onto any other effects unit on the list:
- ZOOM G1on
- ZOOM G1Xon
- ZOOM B1on
- ZOOM B1Xon
- ZOOM MS-50G
- ZOOM MS-60B
- ZOOM MS-70CDR
The B1on and B1Xon are the bass guitar versions.
The MS series are similar to the G1on / G1Xon but are in a pedal format with more effects and up to 6 effects in a chain compared to 5 for the G1on / G1Xon. The MS-50G is the all-rounder, it has distortion and amp sims as well as modulation, delays, reverbs etc. The MS-60B is the bass version. The MS-70CDR has stereo output but doesn’t have distortion / amp sims.
The 50G and 70CDR principally have the same effects as the G1on and G1Xon but include a number of additional chorus, phaser, flanger, delay and reverb effects.
This really caught my attention because it opens up the possibility of adding some very cool additional effects onto a G1on and G1Xon.
It can be a cheaper way to get a lot more effects, you can pick these units up for around £20 – 50 which is cheaper than an MS50G (around £60 – 80) or a MS70CDR (around £70 – 90).
Some Practical Issues
There are some issues to be aware of:
- There are storage limits that determine how many extra effects can be loaded onto a G1on and G1Xon. You can load about 30 and keep all the original effects but it is possible to delete some that you don’t use to make more space. I also find the unit works better if you leave some free space rather than fill it completely.
- There are DSP limits when using MS70CDR or MS50G effects on a G1on or G1Xon. The table below shows a list of effects and their block size. You can see the MS50G / MS70CDR effects tend to have a much higher block size. I’ve not found any documentation but from experience the DSP limit of a G1on / G1Xon is about 24 blocks.
- You have to use the firmware for the specific effects unit that you are modding and add / delete effects as required, you can’t interchange firmware between different effects units because of copy protection.
- When you add effects they appear in the relevant section of the effects list. When you delete effects they still appear in the list as ‘missing effect’, there doesn’t appear to be a way to edit the master list of effects to remove them. Also note that presets won’t be able to load any effects that you delete but they will still work, albeit with empty slots for any deleted effects.
- On the G1Xon, you can’t use the expression pedal to control parameters of added effects as far as I am aware which I didn’t realise until I had updated the firmware.
- If you use tonelib (third party preset manager) I understand that it still works but it won’t recognise the added effects. There is a possibility that it may not work at all with modded firmware though.
This is a list of some effects from a G1on / G1Xon. The block size is typically between 3 – 5.
Compare this to a list of some effects from the MS70CDR.
Some of the more interesting reverbs have block sizes ranging from 7 – 11 so you can see how quickly you can hit the DSP limit of 24 blocks on a G1on / G1Xon.
The Update Process
Researching on the Internet reveals a number of ways to do this using a number of different methods and software. This way seems to be the easiest and most straightforward.
I used Zoom firmware editor by Barsik Barbosik available on Github. You should read the list of current issues and you will also need Java 8 and the original Zoom firmware versions.
The basic process is as follows:
Download the original zoom firmware you want to copy effects from.
- MS50G / MS50B and MS70CDR firmware can be downloaded here
- G1on firmware can be downloaded here
- G1Xon firmware can be downloaded here
Open the Firmware Editor and then load the firmware(s) that you want to extract effects from. You can highlight and extract individual effects.(note some of the MS-50G effects can’t be extracted from the firmware but fortunately someone has made all of the effects available to download in this Github repository).
Once you’ve extracted the effects you load the firmware of your effects unit that you want to modify and inject the saved effects. The injection process is very similar to extraction, it opens a dialog box where you select your saved effects.
You can also remove effects or even the drum samples if you don’t use them to make more space for additional effects. Although it is tempting to cram as many effects in as possible, I found the units work better there is some spare space.
When finished, save the modified firmware file with an appropriate name. This creates an executable file.
The process to update the firmware on the G1on / G1Xon is to press the up and down cursor keys on your G1on / G1Xon as you power on the unit using a USB cable connected to your computer. The unit should say ‘ready for firmware update’. Then double click on the modified firmware and click execute to run the update.