The BOSS eBand JS-8 is perfect for the practice nuts out there; but it also has enough features to keep pretty much anyone endlessly entertained and engaged (for probably longer than they’d hope).
The device is like a small practice amp-cum-home stereo that features hundreds of effects and amps using Roland’s proprietary sound-modeling technology, COSM. In this sense, the eBand can be used similarly to a floorboard effects unit like the BOSS GT-10 or an amp modeling software like Guitar Rig or AmpliTude. It’s pretty fun just to surf around the preset amp/effects, with categories (“West Coast,” “Soul Funk”) plus additional patch settings like “Groove Lead” or “Gently Weeps” (from the “Liverpool” category). Next up you can dial in using the Song List button to play along to your choice of 300 audio loops (stored on the included 1GB SD card), both full band and rhythm-only backing tracks. Select “Rock: Pink Echo (Key: Gm)” and eBand dials up it’s “Fuzz Echo” guitar setting from the Patch list and twenty minutes later you may (or may not) emerge from your Gilmourian pentatonic trip. You can also flip through a few different patch settings if “Fuzz Echo” doesn’t float your boat; and the Play mode let’s you loop the track (ahem, aforementioned twenty minutes) or play once and stop, shuffle with other tunes and more. You can also write your own patch configurations—and I wish BOSS had made this a bit simpler to get at—though I shouldn’t complain, considering the near-limitless canned options.
After you exhaust your appetite for the presets (though I admit I never got to this stage), there are a whole slew of additional applications for the eBand. You can load a song (.mp3 or .WAV) into the device from an SD card or USB memory stick (an especially handy trick). The song pops up in your song list and you can play right along with the track or use the “Phrase Trainer” to isolate parts for practice. You can also plug the eBand into your computer via USB and the device becomes an interface for your DAW, allowing you to record both the audio-player sound plus your original parts. I’m not sure why anyone would want to record an mp3 of their re-imagining of the “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” solo—drowning Clapton out with the Phrase Trainer—and then e-mail that to their friends; but I guess some people are into that. As an interface, the eBand could be useful for developing song ideas, especially, and using the device’s speakers for playback is sort of a cool tie-in as well. You can also record your performances on the device itself, leaving very little that the eBand doesn’t do.
The bottom line is with so many options, BOSS could have made the eBand a bit hairy to use. However, I found there’s enough excitement straight out of the box that the extra bells and whistles unfold themselves as pleasant surprises rather than headaches.