C Tech Pocket Rock-it V2 / Boss RC-2 / T. Jauernig Gristle King

Recently, as I was preparing for an overseas trip that included performing at the Thanks Jimi Festival in Wroclaw, Poland, I decided it would be nice to be able to bone up on my Hendrix licks before the show, as well as work on my own music. Coincidentally, GP had received the C Tech Pocket Rock-it V2 headphone amp ($139 retail/$99 street) for review, so I plugged it in, and was pleasantly surprised by what I heard: a choice of three very good clean tones. The V2 also offers three decent distorted tones, simple EQ, delay, reverb, a tuner, and a metronome, but it was the clean tones that distinguished it from similar devices I’d heard. However, it’s a stretch to say that the six tones approximate the classic Fender, Roland, Marshall, Vox, and Soldano amps they claim to emulate.

Next, I needed to find a way to listen to and accompany those Hendrix tunes, and, ideally, do some recording of my own. A diminutive digital recorder would have done the trick, but I didn’t have one, and shelling out hundreds more dollars in addition to my already significant travel expenses wasn’t in the cards. Then, it dawned on me that I could use my Boss RC-2 Loop Station ($284 retail/$179 street), as it lets you record and store up to 16 total minutes of audio across 11 presets. It also features onboard drum patterns for practicing along with, and, best of all, it includes a phrase trainer for slowing down tricky solos. (A review of the Boss RC-2 appears in the July ’07 issue of GP.) I recorded the solo sections of four Hendrix album tracks into presets via the RC-2’s 1/8" auxiliary input, and then played just the rhythm guitar parts of those songs into four other presets using the standard guitar input.

Now, I had two options for practicing my Hendrix licks. The least complicated was to connect the RC-2’s mono 1/4" output to the V2’s stereo 1/8" line input, using the supplied cables and adapters. (The V2 comes with mono female-to-female 1/4" and stereo 1/8"-to-1/4" adapters, a 6' stereo 1/8" cable, a dual 1/8" headphone splitter, and lightweight but good-sounding headphones.) This allowed me to hear the backing tracks coming from the RC-2, while using the various amp sounds and onboard effects in the V2. The only problem was that the backing tracks played on just one side of the stereo headphones. I could have bought yet another adapter to spread the mono signal across both sides of the stereo field ($3 at Radio Shack), but there was another option.

I had already planned to bring the T. Jauernig Gristle King clean boost/overdrive pedal (also reviewed in the July ’07 issue of GP) to use on the festival gig. By plugging the guitar into the Gristle King, the Gristle King into the RC-2, and the RC-2 into the V2 set to a clean amp sound, I was not only able to get a good balance of guitar and backing tracks across both sides of the stereo headphones using only standard guitar cables, I also had considerably more control over the overdrive sounds than was offered by the V2’s three nonadjustable presets. Of course, the down side of this arrangement was that if I wanted to use the V2’s onboard effects, they would be applied to the backing tracks, as well as the guitar. But this wasn’t a problem, as I didn’t need the three delay effects (doubler, chorus, and flanger), and Reverb-3 (a hall) sounded fine on the entire mix.

Power could have been an issue, as the V2 runs on a 9-volt battery, and has no provision for an AC adapter, but, fortunately, the review unit was accompanied by the PR-9050 9-Volt NiMH Battery Charger package ($69 retail/$49 street), which includes two rechargeable batteries. The PR-9018 Gig Bag ($19 retail/$12 street)—which holds the V2 and all of the accessories—was also a welcome addition. One feature of the V2 that I definitely could have done without, however, are the “audible voice prompts” that announce every parameter change (“Clean 1,” “Reverb 2,” etc.). You can disable the voice temporarily, but it resets on power up, like an undying and unwelcome travel companion better left behind.

All three devices worked perfectly, and once the Hendrix gig was over, I erased the practice tracks and used the RC-2’s freed-up memory to record my own demos—including overdubs—throughout the final nine days of the trip. Sweet.

Boss, (323) 890-3700; bossus.com
C Tech; pocketrockit.com
T. Jauering; tcjeffects.com