Adrian Thorpe and Victory conspire to build a top-boost AC-style amp-in-a-box that thrills.
Well-built. Beautiful Vox-like revoicing capabilities with the right amp. Wide range of gain from subtle bite to raunchy overdrive.
Destined to be too bright for some amps.
Victory V1 The Copper
For a young amp company, Victory has had more than its share of, well, victories among their amp releases. These days, though, the company’s overdrive pedals, which are effectively amp-in-a-box versions of the firm’s flagship products, threaten to glean as much attention as their celebrated tube-loaded siblings.
Designed in conjunction with Adrian Thorpe of ThorpyFX, the V1 Copper squeezes the essence of Victory’s archetypal AC30-inspired, EL84-driven VC35 Copper amp head into a 5-knob gain and tone-shaping device. And it has the power to transform the right amp in true transatlantic style from a murky mess into a chiming, jangling, crispy, and crunchy overdrive machine.
On His Majesty’s Overdrive Service
Like Victory’s amps, and Adrian Thorpe’s very exacting pedals, the V1 Copper is handsome and built to last. The rugged, folded-steel enclosure measures 4.75" x 2.5" x 1.5" and is slanted gently toward the player to aid control visibility. We’re not sure whether it’s named after the British slang for a penny or a policeman. Either way, the piece that forms the top, front, and back is finished in metallic copper and decorated with a heraldry-style lion and unicorn on either side of the footswitch, a purple amp-style jewel light, and a shining crown between the knobs.
The control complement offers a slight modification of the gain, volume, and 3-band EQ control configuration on the VC35 Copper amp. Instead of a mids control, there is a tone control. It’s effectively a stand-in for the cut control on the top-boost AC30s that inspired the VC35 Copper amp. On an AC30, the cut control adjusts the treble at the output stage, and the V1 Copper’s tone control assumes a similar role to very practical effect.
”The Copper has a lot of transformative, tone-twisting capabilities. But it’s important to consider the amp you want to revoice before switching the thing on.”
Both the input and output are on the crown of the enclosure, with a center-negative 9V DC input between them. The pedal draws a mere 15.3 mA. There’s no room inside for a battery, and the 1.1 pound heft of the thing suggests it’s pretty well packed with quality components. Switching is true bypass.
Spend a Penny
The Copper has a lot of transformative, tone-twisting capabilities. But it’s important to consider the amp you want to revoice before switching the thing on. It might be self-evident, but it’s worth noting that a pedal intended to perform like a top-boost AC30 works best with an amp that’s lacking life on the treble side. With a very Vox-like 65Amps London, for instance, the pedal was altogether too much, yielding trebly, brittle results without aggressive EQ adjustments at the amp, which left the London too dark to enjoy once the pedal was switched off again. With a darker, warmer tweed-Deluxe clone, however, the Copper’s transformative powers shone more brightly and usefully. It’s still predisposed to some eviscerating brightness—probably just the way a lot of top boost AC30 fans like it—but the tone knob does a great job of tailoring that treble edge to suit the amp you’re driving.
Like the top end, the gain in this pedal comes on strong, especially for a design that’s not categorically a high-gain pedal. Unity gain usually hits at about 8 o’clock on the pedal’s gain and volume controls. By the time I reached noon on each control, I was slamming my amp much harder than I normally would. That said, the Copper’s capacity for gain means you can tap into a lot of really fun, gnarly, cranked-amp-style lead and crunch sounds. And when that’s what a song calls for, the Copper delivers. It doesn’t just excel in high-gain applications, though. At subtler settings, the Copper is great for enlivening a dark amp or adding sparkle and a hint of grind to your basic signal—a lot like a good top-boost AC30 might.
At restrained settings, the Copper offers a fast track to the chime and trebly bite of a top-boost preamp and EL84 output tubes. It churns out loads of gnarly overdrive when pushed. But all that available gain means it needs to be used judiciously with intrinsically bright amps. In the right setting, though, and with the right amp, it’s a perfect vehicle for a quick trip to London circa 1965.