The Spider Valve MKII

I really like tinkering. I also like computers. I’m no cork-sniffing guitarist that is only happy when playing through 1950s technology full of glorified lightbulbs. Yes I do have an all-tube amp, but I’ve also owned several modelling amps and I regularly using software such as Guitar Rig and PodFarm.

So when looking for a more heavy-rock orientated amp to complement my Bugera V22 I was happy to look in the direction of the new modelling amps such as the Marshall JMD:1, Peavey Tube Vypyr and Line6 Spider Valve MKII. I dropped the Vypyr from the list due to lack of decent recording outputs and no effects loop – a shame as I loved the digital version I used to have.

In the end reviews won me over – and although I was searching for the Marshall sound – I believed the Spider Valve MKII would give me some better Plexi-like tones than Marshall’s own modelling amp. Yesterday I took delivery of a Line6 Spider Valve MKII 112 combo. And what an enormous beast it is. Getting it up the stairs made me realise that the 212 version would have damn near killed me.


Bugera V22 Review

Judging by all the chat online the Bugera V22 has become a very hot talking point. That’s no surprise given what it offers for the price – so you’d think there would be plenty of reviews knocking around. Alas the big names – magazines like Guitarist – don’t seem to cover Bugera gear. One expects this is either due to pressure from manufacturers of rival gear or a misguided belief that Bugera clones gear in a way you’d never see from Marshall, PRS, Blackstar et al. It would be sad if either of things are true.

But what of the Bugera V22 itself? At first glance it certainly looks familiar. The styling is clearly influenced – if not downright copied – from Matchless. The control layout and options owe quite a bit to Peavey’s Classic 30. Yet in terms of tone the Bugera V22 is clearly its own beast. As Behringer’s Australian sales manager Gary Compson explains, “[The Bugera V22] has a clean channel, a distortion channel, a reverb control and not much else to distract you from getting to the business of making music. It’s not a clone either. It has it’s own sound, which is somewhere between a Fender Deluxe and a Vox AC30 – and that’s a pretty good place to be.”


IronGear Pickup Review

For the guitarist keen on replacing pickups on their electric guitar there are a wealth of choices. Well known names such as Seymour Duncan and EMG are hugely popular with musicians looking to improve their instruments.

However many of this pickups can be very expensive and if you’re working on a budget, or trying to improve a cheap stock guitar these pups can seem like overkill. Is it really worth putting £200 of active pickups in a £100 guitar?

What’s needed in cases such as these is a range of pickups that vastly improve on the tone of cheap stock pickups yet at the same time doesn’t break the bank. Such pickups do exist and some of the best are made by IronGear.


Peavey Sanpera II Vypyr Controller Review

In my review of the Peavey Vypyr 75 I pointed out that to get the full functionality of the amplifier you would need one of the two Sanpera pedals. The larger and more feature rich version – the Sanpera II – is the feature of this review.

The pedal board is housed in a sturdy metal chassis that feels like it could cope with some hard gigging. The two expression pedals also feel tough and all the foot switches are solid. It certainly seems a sturdier system than one might imagine at this pricepoint and the build belies the slight silliness of the design.

While the Vypyr allows you to store and recall 12 presets, adding the Sanpera II opens that up to 400 presets. The Sanpera also opens up the functionality of the looper and gies you pedal control over volume, pitch shift and wah.

The looper functionality is somewhat disappointing but Peavey has promised to address this in the next firmware update for the amp. The problem is that the loop always play back too loud, even almost muting it via the volume pedal while recording is not ideal. This isn’t an actual problem with the Sanpera II though, and the pedal controls for recording/play and stop/reset work perfectly well.

So to do the other pedals which allow you to change the delay tap tempo, move memory banks up and down, and choose from one to four presets in each bank. Pushing forward on the volume pedal allows you to enter tuner mode. The other pedal is initially inactive but pressing down on it enables the wah, or pitch shifter if that’s what you’ve selected via the amp effects section.


Peavey Vypyr 75 Review

Modelling amplifiers are becoming an increasingly common option at the less expensive end of the guitar amplification market. Previously if you wanted to emulate more expensive amps you would have to buy some kind of effects unit and footpedal that you would connect to your amplifier.

Now companies such as Line6 with its Spider amps and Peavey with the Vypyr series are offering all in one solutions that aim to provide guitarists on a budget with a selection of tones they could only previously dream of.

The Peavey Vypyr 75 combo modelling guitar amplifier is an interesting beast. Though it does not feature vacuum tubes it is not a wholly digital device, distortion sounds are created in an analog fashion via Peavey’s transtube solid state technology. The practical upshot being that the distortion and overdrive on offer sounds much more warm and natural than many rival digital-only offerings.