API’S 2520 amplifier has added its trademark warmth to broadcast consoles and recording studios for over four decades. The company’s first guitar pedal, the TranZformer GT ($492 street) features a similar discrete circuit design preamp with +30dB of gain. An onboard API 525 feedback-type compressor offers six levels of threshold—from 2:1 to 20:1—with fixed average attack and release times of 5ms and 100ms respectively. Also included is a 3-band equalizer. The compressor and EQ are switchable on and off when the hardwired bypass switch is on. The TranZformer GT has a ¼" input along with ¼" and XLR outputs. Three buttons control phase reverse and ground lift, which are useful when plugging the pedal simultaneously into an amp and P.A.
Tested with a Fernandes T-style into a Supro Comet, and an Art & Lutherie Roadhouse acoustic through a Focusrite interface into a DAW, the API pedal upped the game of both guitars in every way. Even at unity gain, I could hear the added warmth of the TranZformer’s preamp. The compressor was studio-transparent regardless of threshold level—perfect for both acoustic strums and Lowell George-style electric slide tones—and the three EQ bands were each voiced in a guitar-friendly range. Oddly, the bypass light goes on when the effect is off, but the device improves the tone so much you are unlikely to want it off. At 8" x 5.5" x 4" and weighing four pounds, the TranZformer GT is not exactly pedalboard friendly, but for studio-quality sound in a live setting, it could be essential.
KUDOS Enhances guitar tone via classic API console-type analog preamp and compression.