IT’S TOUGH FOR MUSICIANS TO MAKE A LIVING IN THIS economy. One thing that helps is diversification; the more skills you have, the more opportunities to rake in some cash. With electric guitar gigs harder to come by and paying less, if you can play some acoustic and some bass, so much the better. Unfortunately, the same economy makes investing in three amps—electric, acoustic, and bass—difficult. Peavey attempts to solve all this with the very affordable Vypyr VIP 3 Variable Instrument Performance amplifier, which uses 32-bit, floating point SHARC processors and Peavey’s TransTube analog circuitry to model various electric, acoustic and bass amplifiers, as well as a host of instrument and effect models.
Despite all the bells and whistles, the Vypyr proved easy to navigate with minimal manual perusal. The LCD screen uses essentially two windows: Select and Edit. Once I acclimated to the system, it was simple to fill the first slot in the chain with an Instrument model such as acoustic, 12-string, 7-string, baritone, resonator, electric violin, or bass guitar; or a Stompbox like chorus, phaser, flanger, boost, drive, fuzz, ring modulator, slicer, or synth. I could then choose among amps modeled along the lines of Marshall, Vox, Boogie, Fender, and, of course, Peavey, for the second position. The Effects section—placed post amps in the signal chain—included pitch shifting, reverse, flanging, and chorus.
Most of the effects sounded warm and analog. However, as with many programmable devices, it was necessary to tweak the largely over-saturated and effected presets. After spending a little time doing this, I found the amps to be dynamic and tube-like in the low- and medium-gain channel modes. If your style requires lots of sustain, you can find all you need and more in the high-gain channels.
Through the USB port I was able to record directly into Ableton Live. This shuts off the actual speaker and kicks in the non-adjustable speaker and mic modeling. The results were quite realistic and the latency was astonishingly minimal. Even at maximum amp levels, however, the relative volume of the input was a little low.
Having the delay and reverb on separate, quickly accessible knobs shows some real-world thinking going on, and the optional, but essential, Sanpera II foot-controller ($229 street) is also well thought out. It’s dead easy to switch back and forth from preset to manual mode, and the volume pedal is placed before the delay and reverb, making it easy to do ambient swells. Note that the amp’s looper is available only when using the foot-controller, and you can only do one loop—no overdubbing, reverse, or half-speed. I also initially found it hard to engage the expression pedals—it took my full weight to toggle the switch. Fortunately, the manual explains how to adjust the switch to activate at any pressure you desire.
The Vypyr’s full-range speaker brought out the distinctive voices of all the amps modeled, as well as delivering the highs necessary for acoustic sparkle on a Loar LH250 with a Baggs M1 soundhole pickup, and the low-end thump of a Danelectro Longhorn bass. The electric section also responded naturally to my Epiphone Les Paul and Fernandes S-type guitars, providing plenty of clean headroom for country and funk, and plenty of distortion for crunch rhythm and solos. All considered, the Vypyr could be just the thing if you’re looking for one amp that can handle all the instruments you gig with.
PRICE $299 street
CHANNELS Three virtual channels
CONTROLS Preset, Instrument/Stomp, Amp/Tuner/System, Effects, Pre Gain/Parameter1, Low/Parameter2, Mid/Delay Feedback, Hi/Delay Level, Post Gain/Reverb Level, Master Volume, Power Sponge, Tap Tempo.
POWER 100 watts
EXTRAS Bi-directional USB ports, Data, MIDI, Audio recording out to computer. Optional Sanpera II foot-controller accesses Looper.
SPEAKER One 12" custom voiced modeling speaker
WEIGHT 29.4 lbs.
KUDOS Effective Swiss Army knife for tripling on acoustic, electric, and bass. Great-sounding dynamic amps and classic-to-avant effects. Easy to use. Great value.
CONCERNS Recording level is low. Can’t overdub loops.