The newest member of Tech 21’s line of effects pedals is the Fly Rig 5 ($249 street), a compact (11.5” x 2.5” x 1.25”), lightweight, (18.6 oz), and solidly constructed all-analog floor unit. The Fly Rig combines a SansAmp tube amplifier emulator with 3-band active EQ, Level, Drive, and Reverb controls; a Plexi section, based on Tech 21’s Hot-Rod Plexi effect pedal with Level, Tone, and Drive knobs; and DLA—a tape-voiced delay with controls for Level, Time, Repeats, and Drift (adjustable randomization of the delay modulation), as well as a Tap Tempo switch. There’s also a “Hot” footswitch that engages a variable boost of up to 21dB. This can be used to boost the Fly Rig 5 functions, or to push the front end of an amp into overdrive. The device comes with an auto-switching 12-volt DC power supply that self-adjusts for wall voltages anywhere in the world.
A unit of Fly Rig 5’s size might not exist at all but for the recent development of the tiny knobs/lights appearing on many pedals these days. Fly Rig 5 fits 14 of these miniscule but solid feeling controls onboard. The knobs light up in different colors to help delineate the different sections of the pedal: red for Plexi/Hot; yellow for SansAmp, and blue for DLA. They also act as on/off indicators, letting you know whether each section is engaged or not.
Into a Little Walter 50 Watt head or direct into a DAW, playing through the Fly Rig 5 gave me eight sound options: Fly Rig 5 bypassed, SansAmp alone, Plexi alone, Plexi into Sans- Amp, and each of the aforementioned with the Hot boost engaged. SansAmp alone delivered warm American amp tones that sounded beautiful clean, while also providing the classic big bottom breakup of the classic amps it is designed to model. By itself, Plexi took the Fly Rig 5 into Marshall-land, while combining it with the SansAmp produced a cool, hybrid trans-Atlantic tone. As Plexi is an effect and not a modeler, using it through the DAW required combining it with the SansAmp section to access the latter’s speaker emulation. Amazingly, the speaker emulation was able to fatten the sound through my DAW without muddying the tone when I ran it through my Little Walter head.
The Fly Rig 5 sounds good enough to be the main amp and delay components of your rig, whether you run it straight into an amp, through the PA, a powered speaker, or into the power amp input of that crappy backline rental combo they stuck you with. With its excellent amplifier and delay sounds, the Fly Rig 5 is also a must-have item to keep in your case or gig bag in case your main rig fails. All said, this innovative device is a shoe-in for an Editors’ Pick Award.
KUDOS Warm, dynamic, and realistic amp and delay tones. Ultra compact.