A Vox in a box that thrills.
Vibrant, thrilling AC30 tones that effectively hybridize any good tube amp. Smart, easy interface.
No footswitch for vibrato.
If you asked the average player to sum up a vintage Vox amplifier in a word, I’m guessing they’d say “chimey.” I never really understood the chimey thing. I mean, yeah, there’s chime in the complex tone composite that makes an AC30 an AC30. But for me, Vox amps of the 1960s, above all, sound exciting, thrilling, and potent. Chimey? That’s for dinner bells.
I know that Universal Audio did a good job of capturing the spirit of an AC30 in the UAFX Ruby ’63 amp emulation, because excitement is the first thing I felt. The Ruby ’63 is lively, explosive, reactive, clear, and, yeah, even pretty chimey. And I was very impressed at how it imparted those qualities to decidedly non-Vox-y black-panel Fender amps, and vintage Fender cabinet emulations in UA’s OX Amp emulator. You know how a lot of pedals claiming to be an amp-in-a-box tend to be vaguely similar in terms of EQ and gain structure, but miss the details? The Ruby ’63 is not that. It’s an exhaustively executed emulation that takes you several miles further down the road to true amp-ness. And it sounds and feels awfully close to the real thing.
Universal Audio spends a lot of time studying interfaces of every kind—from those on ancient guitar amplifiers and outboard studio gear to the digital interfaces that make up their tracking and emulation software. The experience shows in the Ruby ’63. What stands out on the Ruby’s interface is economy. This pedal covers a lot of possibilities while barely deviating from the AC30’s control template. Of the six knobs on the Ruby ’63, four are the equivalent of controls on an AC30. Another two, the vibrato speed and depth, are available as secondary functions. UA adds a few goodies to enhance Ruby’s vocabulary. The brilliant control is paired with a Echoplex EP-3 preamp emulation. The normal channel setting is mated to a Rangemaster emulation, and the vibrato channel is mated to a clean boost. All of these boosters can be enabled or removed entirely via the boost knob. But I dare any reader to refrain from adding a touch of each respective boost when in the respective channel. They are, for the most part, the source of electric, ecstatic stuff.
The Ruby’s ability to process pedal tones in an amp-like way is one of its most impressive features.
One tone enhancement feature that isn’t an option on the average AC30 is the 3-way speaker toggle, which offers the option of moving between virtual Celestion silver, blue, and green speaker models—or no speaker coloration at all. The choices coax a lot of extra range out of the amp models, including some really beautiful high-mid activation from the silver mode.
Preset options aren’t abundant on the Ruby. You can only store one. But in my estimation, that’s plenty. I had much more fun using the single preset as a hot, boosted version of my base tone, and then blasting the pedal with a period-authentic fuzz, which, by the way, the Ruby reads and reacts to just like your amp would. The Ruby’s ability to process pedal tones in an amp-like way is one of its most impressive features.
Another impressive facet of the Ruby’s makeup is its modest but smart and effective connectivity options. Mono and stereo outs can be routed to amps, interfaces, or PA. You can bypass a real amp’s preamp in amplifiers that have an effects loop. Or you can also use a 4-cable method for switching between the Ruby with your real amp’s preamp section bypassed and your amp and preamp with Ruby bypassed.
Chelsea Boots Kickin’ With Brit Brawn
One of the beautiful things about the Ruby is how completely it can recolor your amp. Generally speaking, you need a pretty clean amp to achieve the most accurate picture of the Ruby emulation. But even if you want to kick the volume on your amp up into light gain zones, Ruby’s many EQ-shaping tools make the pedal adaptable and capable of retaining its Vox-iness. And even with a black-panel Fender cranked to the point of discernible distortion and compression, the Ruby’s boost, treble, and speaker options can all be used to summon characteristic AC30 sounds to the mix. You can also add focus with the room control by bringing the amp tone right up in your face or adding space, ambience, and a little extra bass ballast from the soft room reflections.
Most efforts to transform an amp by putting a model of another amp in front prove futile. The Ruby ’63 didn’t magically transform my black-panel Fenders to AC30s. But they did make my amps into amazing hybrids that were bristling with unmistakable and thrilling AC30 attributes. I don’t have any newer amps with effects loops, but I’d love to hear how the Ruby ’63 works without a preamp section in the way. At 400 bucks, the Ruby ’63 is expensive, but it seemed transformative enough to feel like another amp entirely. If Ruby can work the same magic for your amp, that 400 bucks could well be a bargain.
Inspired by the legendary 2 x 12-inch combo amplifier that powered the British invasion, Universal Audio’s Ruby ’63 Top Boost amp pedal is loaded with jangle and bite! This pedal is an end-to-end emulation of one of the most iconic British amps of the ‘60s, sporting Brilliant, Normal, and Vibrato channels that deliver everything from chimey cleans to all-out crunch. Guitarists at Sweetwater are amazed at how closely the Ruby ’63 recreates the sound of a tube amp recorded in a live room, and this life-like quality comes courtesy of UA’s incredible mic, cab, and Dynamic Room Modeling technology. What's more, each pedal in the UAFX series allows you to bypass your amplifier's preamp when the pedal is engaged via the special "4-cable" mode, supercharging your amp with two additional channels.
- OX Me Again: Revisiting Universal Audio's Amp Top Box ›
- Universal Audio Starlight Echo Station Review - Premier Guitar ›
- Universal Audio UAFX Golden Reverberator Review - Premier Guitar ›
Looking for more great gear for the guitar player in your life (yourself included!)? Check out this year's Holiday Gear Finds!
D'Addario XPND Pedalboard
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Wampler Pedals Ratsbane
Flare is a dual-function pedal with a tube-like booster and a 1970s-style ring modulator effect that can be played separately or together.
Flare’s ring modulator is based on the iconic tone of the original Dan Armstrong Green Ringer. This vintage classic was made famous by Frank Zappa who loved the unusual modulations created by generating a harmonic octave over notes. Messiah’s version offers two control knobs: a “Sparkle” tone attenuator and output Level control. Its taupe-gold body, purple and green knobs and stick-figure rock ’n’ roller holding up a flame convey an appropriately rockin’70s vibe.
In a unique twist, Messiah’s Flare pairs the ringer with a warm tube-style boost instead of a fuzz. Flare feeds the booster into the ringer for an extra punch, while preserving the Green Ringerspirit. The ringer side also turns any fuzz into an octafuzz, and it has the ability to quiet signal background noise fed through it.
The booster side features a single Boost knob to control the MOSFET circuit, making it very tube-amp-friendly with a warm, organic boost and gain of up to 32dB.
The pedal is a distinct improvement over the 1970s pedal that inspired it. “Most ringer pedals don’t track well,” Tom Hejda, owner of Messiah Guitars. “The player can’t rely on repeating the same effect even with the most consistently played notes. We carefully matched the components, so our ringer follows your every move, producing that slightly dirty octave you expect on demand.”
Messiah developed this vintage octave pedal with flexible features so that people who love that messy, dirty Zappa-esque sound can get there with ease but there’s also something for those who have not fallen in love with fuzz or the Green Ringer alone. Flare offers an array of sonic options while retaining simplicity in the controls.
Each Flair Pedal Includes:
- 3 control knobs: Boost, Sparkle, and Level
- Two effects – Ring Modulator and Boost – can be used together or separately
- Space-saving top side jacks
- Durable, cast aluminum alloy 125B enclosure with fun artwork
- Easy to see, illuminated True-bypass foot switch
- Standard 9V pedal power input
Flare Pedal Demo
Messiah Guitars pedals are designed with an explorative player in mind. Like their custom guitars and amplifiers, Messiah’s pedals are hand-crafted in Los Angeles for a long life with guaranteed quality.
Flare retails for $199.00 and can be purchased directly at Messiah Guitars or you can hear it in person at Impulse Music Co. in Canyon Country, CA.
For more information, please visit messiahguitars.com.
This feathery little guy is a joy to play because of its incredibly quick response to your right hand - much faster and more expressive than your typical auto-wah pedal.
If it looks like a duck, acts like a duck, and QUACKS like a duck, then it must be a duck. That's how we came up with the name for our new envelope filter. This feathery little guy is a joy to play because of its incredibly quick response to your right hand - much faster and more expressive than your typical auto-wah pedal. Trevor explains how this is possible in the launch video, as well as gives a demo on Le Canard’s operation.
The attack control determines how quickly the filter responds to the envelope, and the decay sets how quickly the filter releases afterward. The range controls which frequency spectrum the filter does its magic on. Add to this relay-based full-bypass switching with failsafe, and you've got one crazy little quacky beast. It is so expressive that you'll want to give up on your rocker-wah forever.
The MayFly Le Canard envelope filter features:
- Super fast responding envelope follower. Touch it and it jumps!
- Range control to dial in the character of the filter
- Attack control to control how fast the filter moves on that first touch
- Release control to control how slowly the filter slides back to baseline
- Full bypass using relays with Fail SafeTM (automatically switches to bypass if the pedal loses power)
- Cast aluminum enclosure with groovy artwork
- MSRP $149 USD ($199 CAD)
Introducing the MayFly Le Canard Envelope Filter
All MayFly pedals are hand-made in Canada.
For more information, please visit mayflyaudio.com.
Outlaw Effects introduces their next generation of NOMAD rechargeable battery-powered pedal boards.
Available in two sizes, NOMAD ISO is a compact, versatile tool that offers the convenience of a fully powered board plus the additional freedom of not having to plug into an outlet. NOMAD ISO is ideal for stages with limited outlet availability, quick changeovers, busking outdoors, temporary rehearsal locations, and more.
NOMAD ISO builds upon the legacy of the ultra-convenient and reliable NOMAD rechargeable pedalboard line originally launched in 2018. The brand new NOMAD ISO editions feature eight isolated outputs (1 x 9V DC, and 1 switchable 9V/12V DC) for even more versatility and clean, quiet power. With an integrated lithium-ion battery pack boasting 12800mAh capacity, NOMAD ISO can fuel a wide array of pedals, and will last over 10 hours* on a single charge.
Each NOMAD ISO pedal board includes adhesive hook & loop pedal-mounting tape, eight (8) standard DC connector cables, and one (1) reverse polarity DC cable, giving you everything you need to build your ultimate "off-the-grid" rig. A rugged, road-ready padded gig bag with shoulder strap is also included, to safely protect your gear while you're on the move.
NOMAD ISO S
NOMAD ISO S: MSRP $309 / MAP: $249
Dimensions: 19 ¼" x 5 ¼"
NOMAD ISO M
NOMAD ISO M: MSRP $349 / MAP $279
Dimensions: 19 ¼" x 11"
More info: https://www.outlawguitareffects.com.