Read the January issue for FREE!
more... GearEffectsReviewsDistortionMiscOverdriveSeptember 2010Tech 21

Tech 21 SansAmp Character Series Oxford, U.S. Steel, and Leeds Pedal Reviews

Download Example 1
SansAmp engaged
Clip recorded with 2010 Godin Passion RG-3,, 65Amps Tupelo mic’d with SM57 into Chandler LTD1 no EQ into Pro Tools HD3 with Lexicon LexRoom reverb plugin
The Leeds pedal is designed to emulate the cool sonic characteristics of a Hiwatt head. The Mid control is voiced at 400 Hz—the lowest of the three pedals reviewed here—while the Low and High knobs are voiced identically to the Oxford. But tonally, this pedal has little in common with the Oxford, as it dwells smack dab in the middle of Hiwatt-land. The Character control has the widest tonal range of the pedals I tested. It not only cleans up significantly in the lowest registers, but it also goes far beyond what a typical Hiwatt would be able to serve up in gain. As the Character knob spins to the highest settings, it really sounds like a full-tilt stack with the bark and bravado we’re accustomed to hearing.

To explore the Leeds, I plugged in my ’74 Les Paul Custom and brought the Character knob to about noon. This instantly transported me into ’70s Pete Townshend tone. With just a little movement of that knob, I could clean up the sound to get that jangle and percussive attack Townshend is so well known for. Though my ’74 has humbuckers, it was easy to dial back the Low knob a little and bring up the High control to mimic the mini-humbuckers on Townshend’s guitar.

The Final Mojo
I spent a great deal of time with the Speaker Simulation button engaged, and while it did create a little of that direct tone, it was still very usable, if not quite as explosive feeling. Plugging into a Krank Rev Jr. Pro driving a 1x12 cab with an Eminence Governor and disengaging the Speaker Simulation feature, I felt like I was playing through a mini Hiwatt. It was really that good. The Leeds’ preset card states the speaker emulation is based on a Fane cabinet, but since I’ve never actually played through one, I can’t verify the emulation’s accuracy. However, given the flexibility of the 3-band active EQ, we’d be splitting hairs to make a judgment on that. Once again, the pedal offered far more voicing control than an actual Hiwatt head. The effect reminded me of dialing in the tone of a mic’d amp using a good outboard mixer.
Buy if...
you want Pete Townshend-style tone with more gain possibilities.
Skip if...
you prefer carrying a 100-pound amp to get that tone.

Street $169 - Tech 21 -
Comments powered by Disqus