Super slim and built to rock the Vox in analog style.
Impressively full featured for such a small package. Many truly Vox-like sounds
Still sounds more like an analog “amp-in-a-box” approximation than digital emulations (or the real thing)
Tech 21 SansAmp Character Plus Mop Top Liverpool
A “fly rig,” in the broadest definition, is a small, portable, plug-and-play assemblage of pedals and possibly a preamp that you can throw in a backpack or overhead compartment so you can jet away with ease to your next show. Practical, portable backline tools like these have been around for quite some time, and in many forms, and Tech 21’s SansAmp range, including their very own Fly Rig series, deserves a lot of credit for popularizing the concept of an integrated, all-in-one solution.
Back in 1989, long before digital modelers were fixtures on stages, Tech 21 introduced its entirely analog SansAmp devices to help squeeze big tube-amp tone from changing backline rigs. The new Character Plus Series pedals serve the same basic purpose: achieving the most accurate possible image of a tube amp in an all-analog, amp-in-a-box format. And in pairing an “analog amp” with a pedal circuit famously associated with that amp, the Character Plus Series delivers many practical, spirited, and very affordable alternatives to real amp sounds.
The four new offerings include the Screaming Blonde (which pairs Fender-style and Tube Screamer-style circuits), English Muffy (Hiwatt- and Big Muff-style), and Fuzzy Brit (Marshall- and Fuzz Face-style). Our review model, the Mop Top Liverpool, includes a Vox-like amp-in-a-box circuit with a Rangemaster-style booster at the front end. As is the SansAmp way, this unit squeezes a lot into a very compact package. Frankly, I expected something much larger than the 7.75" x 2.75" x 1" pedal that arrived.
Double Top Boost
Though the Mop Top takes after a Vox-style tube combo, it really gives you the flavor of two top-boost-equipped AC-inspired amps of varying gain profiles. Controls include drive, volume, and character for each of two footswitchable channels, which are labeled A and B and dedicated to relatively clean and overdriven tones, respectively. The two channels share an EQ stage with low, mid, and high frequency bands, plus pushbuttons for high shift and mid shift. The Rangemaster-style boost function, which has a dedicated footswitch, includes just a single knob, but it’s a dual-function affair. It’s flat at 12 o’clock, and provides up to 12 dB of treble boost in the clockwise direction or 12 dB of mid boost in the counterclockwise direction. There’s also a buffered bypass footswitch to route your signal past all the circuitry, which is handy if you’re using the Mop Top in front of a traditional amp.
Connectivity includes mono input and output, plus an XLR out for a balanced low-Z signal to a front-of-house mixer or other line input. Power is supplied by a standard 9V DC input (the power supply is provided) and the circuit includes an analog speaker “emulation” tailored to each specific model. In the case of the Mop Top Liverpool, this feature tracks a pair of Celestion alnico Blues—naturally.
To test the Mop Top’s abilities as a true plug-and-play fly rig, I hooked it up to a Tech 21 Power Engine Deuce Deluxe powered 1x12" (which was designed specifically for SansAmp rigs) as well as a Universal Audio Apollo Twin Duo. With each rig, the little Mop Top proved capable and versatile.
The footswitchable A/B channels facilitate easy rhythm/lead switching, although it can be tricky to clean up the signal entirely with Les Paul humbuckers driving the Mop Top. The character controls provide powerful voice-shaping and supplement the traditional EQ controls effectively, enabling thick midrange sounds, enhanced clarity from the crisp, clear highs in the “character A” voice, and midrange-y takes on thick Clapton/Cream-style sounds in “character B” mode.
It can be tricky to clean up the signal entirely with Les Paul humbuckers driving the Mop Top.
The Rangemaster-style boost is handy and flexible. And between the tone-altering capabilities of the boost and the amp section’s flexible EQ, you get the sense of having everything you need to cut it at a real fly-in gig (save for any staple effects). But even if the boost and amp flavors aren’t enough to cover all the drive sounds you need, the Mop Top Liverpool interacts well with other drive pedals in front of it. It integrated seamlessly with a Klon-style Wampler Tumnus Deluxe, a higher-gain JHS Angry Charlie, and a Tsakalis Six overdrive.
If there’s anything missing from the sense of a real tube-driven AC15 or AC30 experience, it’s arguably the lively chime and bloom you hear from a real class-A EL84 amp. Some of that is a “feel” thing. But if you won’t miss the push and pull of tube dynamics in your playing, the voice and personality of the Mop Top Liverpool are very much in the spirit of the real thing.
The Mop Top Liverpool works great when über portability is of the essence, or you just need a recognizable Vox-like tone from a backline, and fast. The Mop Top Liverpool may not replace many players’ beloved vintage or reissue Vox combos. But for an all-analog unit under $300, the new Mop Top Liverpool kicks with the essence of Vox personality. It’s practical, fun, and easy to use, too—pretty impressive for what’s essentially an amp and booster you can practically carry in your hip pocket.
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Sporting custom artwork etched onto the covers, the Railhammer Billy Corgan Z-One Humcutters are designed to offer a fat midrange and a smooth top end.
Billy Corgan was looking for something for heavier Smashing Pumpkins songs, so Joe Naylor designed the Railhammer Billy Corgan Z-One pickup. Sporting custom artwork etched onto the covers, the Railhammer Billy Corgan Z-One Humcutters have a fat midrange and a smooth top end. This pickup combines the drive and sustain of a humbucker with the percussive attack and string clarity of a P90. Get beefy P90 tone plus amp-pummeling output with the Railhammer Billy Corgan Z-One.
Patented Railhammer Pickups take passive guitar pickups to a new level with rails under the wound strings lead to tighter lows, and poles under the plain strings offer fatter heights. With increased clarity, the passive pickup’s tone is never sterile.
Railhammer Billy Corgan Signature Z-One Pickup Demo
For more information, please visit railhammer.com.
Designed for utmost comfort and performance, the Vertigo Ultra Bass is Mono’s answer to those who seek the ultimate gigging experience.
Complete with a range of game-changing design features, such as the patent-pending attachable FREERIDE Wheel System, premium water-resistant and reflective materials, shockproof shell structure and improved ergonomic features, the Vertigo Ultra Bass takes gear protection to the next level.
The Vertigo Ultra Bass features:
- Patent-pending FREERIDE Wheel System that allows for wheels to be attached on the case in no time, giving you the option to travel with it seamlessly
- Upgraded materials, including a water-resistant 1680D Ballistic Nylon outer shell, plush inner lining and new reflective trim for maximum backstage and night visibility
- Enhanced protection with a shockproof shell structure and heavy-duty water-resistant YKK zippers for protection from the elements
- Improved ergonomics and functionality including added back support and load-lifting detachable shoulder straps with side release buckles
- Flexible storage options with added space for touring essentials
The Generation Collection of acoustic guitars features the exclusive Gibson Player Port designed to offer a unique and immersive sonic experience.
The G-Bird, the newest addition to the Generation Collection--represents the glorious legacy of the Gibson Hummingbird colliding with modern sonic enhancement through the Gibson Player Port to add a new dimension to the G-Bird sound. The Gibson Player Port allows players to hear more of themselves as the audience hears it. With a tone that is crisp and resonant, all of the Gibson Generation Collection acoustics are designed to be comfortable to hold and play for long periods of time. All Generation Collection guitars feature the Gibson Player Port, slim, lightweight bodies, a flatter fingerboard radius, Walnut back and sides, Sitka spruce tops, and a stunning Natural finish. Additionally, the new G-Bird, and the G-200 and G-Writer are equipped with LR Baggs™ Element Bronze pickup systems which amplify deep bass and crystal-clear highs.
The G-Bird represents the glorious legacy of the Gibson Hummingbird with modern sonic enhancement through the Gibson Player Port adding a new dimension to the G-Bird’s sound. The G-Bird features a stunning solid Sitka spruce top and solid walnut back and sides for the ultimate in crisp, resonant tone. This square-shoulder dreadnought delivers all the rich low end and well-balanced mids and highs the original Hummingbird is famous for. The TUSQ nut and saddle, along with chrome Grover Mini Rotomatic tuners, deliver solid tuning stability so you can spend more time playing instead of tuning. The utile neck, with its easy-playing Advanced Response neck profile, is so comfortable you won’t want to put it down. The G-Bird also comes equipped with an LR Baggs Element Bronze pickup system, so it will always sound as good to your audience as it does to you. The G-Bird also comes equipped with an LR Baggs™ Element Bronze pickup system, so it will always sound as good to your audience as it does to you. The G-Bird is available in Natural finish. A gig bag is included.
Modeled after Gibson’s pioneering small-body parlor acoustic guitars from the 1930’s, the G-00 is a top choice for blues and fingerstyle guitar performances. Despite its more compact size, the G-00 achieves a full, balanced sound. The G-00 fills any room with rich tones-which players can hear like never before, with the exclusive Gibson Player Port. Like all models in the Gibson Generation Collection, the G-00 is handcrafted in Bozeman, Montana, by the same highly--skilled craftspeople who make all Gibson acoustic guitars. The G-00 features a beautiful solid Sitka spruce top and solid Walnut back and sides for tone that sounds crisp and resonant. The slightly thinner G-00 parlor-sized body is exceptionally comfortable to hold and play. The TUSQ nut and saddle along with the Grover Mini Rotomatic tuners, deliver solid tuning stability so you can spend more time playing instead of tuning, and the utile neck with its easy-playing neck profile is so comfortable you won’t want to put it down. The G-00 is available in Natural finish. A gig bag is included.
The G-45, a round-shouldered jumbo, adds the Gibson Player Port to its famous “Workhorse” J-45 style body, which is Gibson’s best-selling acoustic guitar of all time. On the G-45, players can now hear more clearly than ever how this beloved guitar responds to every style and technique of playing. Powerful one moment and soft the next, the G-45 delivers all sounds with incredible dynamic range in an elegant, medium body size. The G-45 is part of the Gibson Generation Collection and like all models in this collection, it is handcrafted in Bozeman, MT, by the same highly skilled craftspeople who make all Gibson acoustics. It features a solid Sitka spruce top and solid Walnut back and sides for tone that sounds crisp and resonant. The G-45 features a slightly thinner round shoulder body is exceptionally comfortable to hold and play. The TUSQ nut and saddle, along with the Grover Mini Rotomatic tuners deliver solid tuning stability, so you can spend more time playing instead of tuning, and the utile neck with its easy-playing neck profile is so comfortable you won’t want to put it down. The G-45 is available in Natural finish. A gig bag is included.
Gibson’s impressive range of square-shouldered guitars have become an expressive standard for rock, pop, folk, and country artists. The G-Writer is known for its wide range of sounds, from gutsy and loud, to soft and sweet; they are superb for all styles and shine, whether strumming chords or fingering intricate solos. The G-Writer comes ready for the stage or studio with an LR Baggs Element Bronze pickup system and the ear-opening Gibson Player Port. The G-Writer is part of the Gibson Generation Collection and like all models in this collection, it is handcrafted in Bozeman, MT, by the same highly skilled craftspeople who make all Gibson acoustics. It features a solid Sitka spruce top and solid Walnut back and sides for tone that sounds crisp and resonant. The G-Writer features a slightly thinner cutaway body, is more comfortable to play and provides effortless access to the upper frets. The TUSQ nut and saddle, along with the Grover Mini Rotomatic tuners deliver solid tuning stability, so you can spend more time playing instead of tuning, and the utile neck with its easy-playing neck profile is so comfortable you won’t want to put it down. The G-Writer is available in Natural finish. A gig bag is also included.
Gibson built its first “Super Jumbo” SJ-200 as a custom order for country and western singer and film star Ray Whitley, who desired a big, loud, and deep flat-top over which to croon. The SJ-200 quickly became a staple of cowboy singers and horseback troubadours, and then country music, 60’s folk stars, and onto every acoustic guitar genre that has followed. Ray would be proud to hear the booming sound from the Gibson Player Port on the new G-200, which comes ready for the stage or studio with a LR Baggs Element Bronze pickup system. Like all models in the Gibson Generation Collection, the G-200 is handcrafted in Bozeman, MT, by the same highly--skilled craftspeople who make all Gibson acoustics. The G-200 features a beautiful solid Sitka spruce top and solid Walnut back and sides for tone that sounds crisp and resonant. The slightly thinner G-200 cutaway jumbo body is exceptionally comfortable to hold and provides excellent access to the upper frets. The TUSQ nut and saddle, along with the Grover Mini Rotomatic tuners, deliver solid tuning stability so you can spend more time playing instead of tuning, and the utile neck with its easy-playing neck profile is so comfortable you won’t want to put it down. The G-200 is available in Natural finish. A gig bag is also included.
G-Bird | Generation Collection
For more information, please visit gibson.com.