ART SGX-2000 Express Resources

"Vintage" Edition || Manuals || Block Diagram || Links || Reviews || Experiences & Hints

ART entitles the SGX-2000 as a "Tube Preamp/Guitar Effects System". In my opinion this description is kind of an understatement. Actually I'd say it is a "Fully Programmable Guitar Tube/Solid State Preamp combined with a Fully Programmable Multi Effects Unit". For a detailed product description of this unit please refer to the official product page for the SGX-2000 Express, which is maintained by ART.

The SGX-2000 Express is the successor of the SGX-2000. Owners of an SGX-2000 are able turn their unit into the Express version by replacing the original processor with the upgraded new version.
Both versions of the SGX-2000 are (unfortunately) discontinued products. I'm not the only one who believes that the SGX-2000 was a unit far ahead of it's competitors when it came out. Well, today there may be even more flexible and cheaper products available. But if ART had continued its development of the SGX-2000 series I'm sure they would play an important role in the market today. I never got to know why they stopped this series. If anybody knows please let me know.

The look of the SGX-2000 has changed dramatically after the Express model has been released. In the beginning the unit had a pretty colorful look mainly dominated by pink strokes of a brush. Later they decided to give the unit an elegant black look. A picture of the black Express model can be found at the top of this page.
I bought my SGX-2000 in 1991 and it was the very first model the shop has received ever. In 1998 I read that there's the opportunity to upgrade it to the Express model. No sooner read than done!

Note: Information on how to find out which software version your SGX-2000 has (i.e. if it is an Express already) and how to get the upgrade to the Express version can be found at ART's homepage. When I tried to install the upgrade by myself I ran into deep trouble since the upgrade chip has 4 more pins than the old socket. I tried to replace the socket with one that was capable of hosting the new processor. During that task something broke and so I had to send the unit to ART at the end... It was a very expensive repair so you better check that the socket in your unit can take the required number of pins. The people at ART will tell you how many are required. If your unit doesn't have the proper socket you should consider sending your SGX-2000 to ART right away and let them do the upgrade. It'll be much cheaper and more reliable. ;-)

By the way: I'm using my SGX-2000 in my band MOTYPE. We play Thrash Metal and therefore I've been trying to get the ultra hardest metal sound from my unit right from the beginning. This was kind of a challenge for me, because very soon I had to realize that the SGX-2000 has some limitations in terms of "gain". The upgrade to the Express version might have improved this to some extend, but nevertheless you need some patience in order to get a kickin' metal distortion from your SGX-2000... After all these years I've found a sound that I like very much. On my band's homepage at you can get an impression about my main SGX-2000 sound: there are most of our songs available for download as MP3 files in full length and high quality and as short samples in mono quality.

The "Vintage" Edition

You've never seen one of the very early models of the SGX-2000? So I have some nice pictures for you! ;-)
Let's call this first edition "The Vintage Edition". Well, the mechanical construction as well as the location of any knob, pushbutton, LED etc. has never changed; not even for the latest SGX-2000 Express in its elegant black outfit!
The first outfit was based of a kind of "pop art" graphics. Below you can see a picture of such a unit. There are three detail pictures of the left, middle and right part of the front panel. View them by simply clicking on the corresponding area in the picture below.

Left Area Middle Area Right Area

In case you're interested in the available connectors of the SGX-2000 just have a look at the picture of its rear panel. There are two more connectors on the front panel: another instrument input and a another headphone output.


ART was kind enough to provide PDF files of the English SGX-2000 manuals. Recently they removed one of them but I have the files here for you! ;-)
There's the Manual for the ART SGX-2000 (238 kB) and the Addendum for the ART SGX-2000 Express (23 kB). The addendum - as the name says - contains only additional information for the Express model, i.e. you need both files if you have an SGX-2000 Express.

Because I bought my unit new in 1991, I own a printed copy of the German manual for the SGX-2000. I spent some time to scan it with my flatbed scanner (mode: line art, resolution: 150 dpi). I bundled the 68 (!) pages in a PDF file which is about 3.3 MB in size (lower resolutions thus lower file size resulted in less readable scans). If the file size doesn't scare you away you can download the German Manual for the ART SGX-2000 (3.3 MB) here. I even corrected some errors in the manual, therefore the PDF file is even better than my printed copy... I hope this effort helps some people out there understanding their unit a bit better. If so, why don't you just let me know that that evening in front of the scanner wasn't just a waste of time... ;-)
Note: the German version of the manual covers only the functionality and usage of the SGX-2000, but not of the Express edition! If you own an SGX-2000 Express you need to read the Express addendum as well! The addendum is only available in English (see above).

ART SGX-2000 - Signalfluss-Diagramm

Block Diagram

Since the PDF manuals ART provided on their page are text based only I scanned the most important figure of my manual. It's a block diagram, which shows the complete signal flow through the device. This is very helpful for understanding which slider/knob affects the signal at which stage, what type of signal you can get from which output socket etc.  I hope this helps when twiddling on your SGX's knobs the next time. ;-)
Just click on the small image on the right to see the enlarged version.

Valuable Links

Besides the user reviews (see below) and ART's official product pages I found the following web pages that really contain either useful information, sound patches for download or even software for configuring your SGX-2000 with your MIDI enabled computer!

Let's start with the Musician's Users Group for the ART SGX-2000 Express. This is a site maintained by Vic Dyer and it contains some usage tips and links to patches. I can recommend this page. It offers some facts and thoughts about sound processors in general and about the SGX-2000 in special.

Another great page you must visit is the SGX-2000 Support Page by Glenn Thomas. Glenn has written a really great Windows software that can be described as librarian and editor for the SGX-2000 Express. It comes with a professional graphical user interface, lets you edit sound patches in the application very conveniently, archives your presets, and it's for FREE! Actually Glenn has enhanced the software to be compatible with the older SGX-2000 models as well (the early ones without an upgrade). He also adapted that software for the ART models SGX Nitro and SGX Nightbass.
Since this piece of software enabled people to easily save their sound patches on their PC, many of them have published their favourite patches and sent them to Glenn. Therefore his page contains also a huge list of downloadable sound patches you might want to check out. It's always helpful to see how other users create sounds with the available effects and parameters. ;-)

User Reviews

There are several user reviews available on the web. Reading them gives you a feeling what problems other users do have with the unit or what they like best about it. Sometimes there are even hints on how to deal with a particular drawback of the SGX-2000. The reviews also give you an impression about the reliability of the unit. People say whether or not they'd use it without a backup at live performances, if they ever had any trouble with it and how helpful and responsive ART's support team really is.

The most important user reviews can be found at Harmony Central which is one of the greatest online resources for music gear. They maintain reviews for the SGX-2000 and the SGX-2000 Express on two different pages. Actually the users don't care too much about this artificial distiction. Therefore you can find reviews for each of the two SGX editions mixed on both pages.

Technical Experiences and Hints

In this section I'd like to share some technical experiences I made with my SGX. If I found a workaround or even a solution for a particular problem I described it. So this should rather be a resource for hints and help than just a list of negative aspects of the SGX. If you would like to share some of your experiences and how you dealt with problems please send me an e-mail that I can add it here! ;-)

  1. This is one of the most annoying situations a "sound programmer" has to deal with: you have just completed a new cool sound. Then you switch forth and back between other sound presets and your new one. Suddenly you recognize that the new sound is missing a good portion of volume. You try to turn up the volume setting of each effect and to tweak the EQ settings, but that's not enough. :-(
    But did you know that there's an "effect" named Programmable Volume? Probably you've seen it and maybe you use it in combination with a realtime expression pedal once in a while. You probably thought that Programmable Volume is only intended for lowering the volume of a sound, right? I found out that this is not true! The default volume of a preset (i.e. without using Programmable Volume) is "only" 93%! You can add the effect "Programmable Volume" to a preset and set it to 100% in order to turn up the preset's volume! :-) You won't experience a volume that is double as high, but it's worth trying. Sometimes it helps me to get the last bit I'm looking for! ;-)
  2. One day I noticed special characters in the LC display of my SGX. My first thought was: hey that looks like Chinese. It was extremely annoying because I wasn't able to make a backup of my unit's preset data that time. (Yes, I should have made a backup with Glenn's software but my sound card's MIDI ports didn't work since some time when this happened...) So I didn't have any chance to get my current sound presets restored. The bad thing about this was that I was not even able anymore to read out the effects used in presets and which value each parameter had. I didn't even see any preset's title. You can imagine how I felt... Fortunately the sound of the presets was processed correctly. I was able to practise with my band. After two days the SGX presented readable characters again and the first thing I did is to write down all the parameter settings! Unfortunately the same thing happened a few days later again. And this time it didn't switch back for several days. So I thought about how to solve the problem without sending the unit to ART. My idea was that the processor's memory might be mixed up. A factory reset didn't help so the only way to reset the processor was to open the housing and to disconnect the backup battery for a moment. My hope was that the memory of the processor would be cleared. You should keep in mind that this "solution" can delete all your presets and other configuration settings. I tried it and it worked! I saw readable characters again. When the same thing happened some weeks later I replaced the backup battery. Up to today it didn't happen again. It seems that if the processor doesn't get sufficient power from it, its memory might be corrupted. So if you experience something like that try it with my approach. Maybe it helps! ;-) If you're able to make a backup of your preset data before DO IT. Do it on a regular basis if possible!
  3. Another story I can tell you is about strange feedback I got from most of the presets once. The funny thing about it was that the feedback signal didn't even stop when I unplugged my guitar from the unit. It needed just a trigger signal to start this non-stopping noise! My first idea was that this could be caused by the tube which is stressed on a regularly basis because I have to carry around my SGX very often. Mechanical vibrations and hits are critical for a valve. Since my unit was about 10 years old I thought I could replace the valve. I described my problem to both a competent music shop and to ART. I told them how the problem "sounds" like and what my conclusion was. Both confirmed what I said. So I bought a new valve for $20. I replaced the old one but the problem still existed! :-(
    It seemed there's no way to solve the problem by myself. I had already tried to drill down the problem's cause in various ways and I thought I had to send the SGX to the ART support. Then I tried the same trick I applied when I had the problem with the special characters (see above). It worked again for me! So I guess the reason was that the processors's memory was mixed up again. Disconnecting the battery solved the problem!
  4. Have you noticed that annoying delay when switching presets? I'm sure you have. Due to this "feature" it's nearly impossible to switch between presets within the same song unless you don't have to play continuously. I found out, how to deal with this in a more or less elegant way: I start with a sound I need when the song begins. Based on this first preset I start programming the sound I need next in another preset. When I'm done with this I precisely inspect the differences between the two presets. Usually it's possible to define MIDI realtime controllers for the first preset that fade the first sound into the second. You can repeat this once more because there are two expression pedals on the X-15 foot board. Oh well, this workaround works only if you have an X-15 or something comparable, i.e. you need MIDI realtime expression pedals for fading between the sounds! Since you can change each parameter in a preset with realtime MIDI you can achieve nearly each sound change with this approach. The only problem are non-continuous parameters. Examples for these are the type of distortion or the AES (acoustic environment simulator). You'd need to step through strange settings for such effects... Ok, sometimes I had to find a compromise but I always found a way! Try it out. It works almost perfect! ;-)
  5. The SGX-2000, i.e. the non-Express version, did have a 9 V power outlet for external devices one might want to provide with electrical power for using them in one of the effects loops of the SGX-2000. On a first glance this thing seemed to be perfect for connecting the X-15. For this to happen you usually needed a pretty long cable which might have caused the trouble in my special case... Using it for that purpose didn't break anything but some day the 9V outlet stopped working. Before that I had trouble once in a while that the X-15 didn't start up correctly when supplied with power from the SGX. It seemed that the long cable's restistance limited the voltage too much for it to initialize properly. There's no note in the manual about potential problems with long cables or such. For the SGX-2000 Express ART has removed this connector. Maybe it caused too many problems. I don't know. I only can give you the advise (if you own an SGX-2000): don't use this feature or at least don't rely on it. Take a backup power supply with you to gigs etc.

© 2001 Frank Nitsch <> Updated: 13. Oct. '02