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This is a common problem with digital recording. Simply put, it takes some time to convert analog (audio) to digital and then more time to convert it back. So, your playback track goes through conversion and introduces some delay. You don't hear this because you have no zero reference. Your recorded sound goes through the A/D converter and also incurs some delay. When you play them back together, you hear the difference in time from one track to another. Most pro recording programs have some method to minimize or cancel the delay like slipping the tracks so they all start together. Pro Tools just introduced a version that automatically does this. They have always had what it called "low latency" monitoring which attempts to keep the "shortest" digital/analog path so overdubs are close enough that we don't hear any issues.
So, since you talk about the mixer but not the recording program, I can't tell you specifics but I'd look into the recording program for time alignment settings and options. If you have a manual for the recording program, try to look up latency.
1. First problem: "like nothing is recorded". IS something recorded or has it been left in Pause Mode so long (instead of Recording) that it just got impatient and time out?
2. Get yourself a couple of CD-RW Digital Audio discs to play with until you're past this learning curve/problem scenario. That way you can always erase them and start over without having to discard the disc.
3. Dropouts on playback. Are they repeatable - always at the same place, even on different CD players? If so, the data is bad on the disc. If not, the data is probably marginal.
4. If you have a DVD player, try to play the failed recordings in it. Some DVD players can play back unfinalized CDR's. You may be able to recover the data by copying it back to the CD Recorder from the DVD player. Just be advised that an unfinalized CD-RW may not have 'silence' following the last recorded track due to old data remaining from a previous session, so be ready to pause or stop the recorder when the last track finishes.
5. "Scratches near the outside of the CD". Were these NOT present prior to entering the CD Recorder? Do they seem to coincide with about where the recording may have failed?
6. 20 vs 19 tracks: Is this a constant problem or only when there is a failure during CD creation? If the latter, it would make sense as the last track in isn't technically completed.
You seem to be aware already that the multi-effect acts like a traditional 'insert effect' on a mixer and as such can only be applied to one track/channel at a time (multiple effects / single channel). The problem you're asking about seems to be that the effect is not 'printing' during the recording of your track. Obviously the effect can't 'go away' after recording so it would appear that your guitar effect isn't being recorded (only monitored) when the track is being laid down.
My initial guess here would be that while recording you've been assigning the multi-effect to a channel vs an input. That would explain the effect being audible while monitoring, but the input still being recorded dry even though the effect is heard through the monitors.
So to get this working the way you expect you'd want to insure that you are indeed assigning the multi-effect to input from which your guitar is coming, rather than the track on which it is getting recorded.
Having said that, actually recording dry (like you are doing) and then applying the multi-effect to a new track via a 'bounce' is the way a lot of people (myself included) choose to accomplish this anyway. That way you preserve a dry track and can go back and 'redo' the effect (or choose a different effect instead) later on. It does however introduce another step and use up another virtual track (but the 2488 has 250 of them available which si a big reason the 2488 is so competitive).