Mesa Boogie V-Twin preamp (guitar pedal) Reviews 5

I stumbled upon this effect during a studio recording session in '96. At the time being, I was a happy Boss OD-2 owner, but after trying the V-Twin out, I instantly settled on it for all my recordings that day. From this day on, there was no way back...I was completely sold, and just had to have one. After begging and borrowing, I eventually managed to scrape together most of the money for it. I made my way to the one store in Copenhagen that carried the V-Twin in stock at the time, and a hard bargain followed. Negotiation techniques is an often underestimated skill, that tends to follow the poorest of guitarists. I ended up paying around $215 for it, after using the old "placing-all-my-cash-on-the-counter-with-a-'take it or leave it'-final-offer" for a grand finale. I have used the V-Twin as a distortion pedal ever since, and consider it to be my most treasured guitar effect.

The V-Twin is really a tube preamp, featuring two built-in tubes (that can be swapped with other brands of tubes, if you tend to be the experimenting type), but built as a floor unit. Featuring 4 tone controls (bass, mid, treble, presence), 2 volume controls (gain and master volume), a 'bypass' switch, a 'channel' switch, and a 'clean/blues' button, on the front of the unit. Since I am satisfied with the clean guitar sounds through my Fender 'The Twin' amp, I only use the V-Twin for distortion. I therefore either bypass it for clean sounds, or use the 'channel' switch for switching sounds between distorted rythm and solo parts. Rather than sending the output to the power amp, I route the signal from the 'to guitar amp' output, through the rest of my floor effects setup, and into the amp. The distortion that you get from the V-Twin is in one word: SUPERB. Ranging from soft bluesy overdrive to Smashing Pumpkins-like fuzz, with immense richness, crisp and punch in both high and low ends of the spectre. Soundwise, (as always, I believe), this unit is not for everyone. But: if you are annoyed with the metallic sound of traditional digital distortion guitar pedals, and is searching for a contrast to the somewhat stereotype and sterile sound of an overdriven Marshall stack, this might be it.

The biggest disadvantage about the V-Twin is its lack of a foot-controlable switch between 'clean' and 'soft overdrive' sound. If you want to use V-Twin for clean sounds, you can only swith between 'clean' or 'full-on distortion' This means that the V-Twin is not an optimal choice for a preamp to play through at all times - and thats what preamps are for, right ? Sincerely, I thank Mesa/Boogie for making that choice. Since there is only one set of tone controls for all modes, playing through the V-Twin at all times would present one with the challenge to get the unit to sound exactly the way you like it in all the three different modes (clean/soft/full-on distortion). I believe this is a limitation due to the compromises that has to be made, when one decides to make a floorunit out of a preamp. However, I know V-Twin owners that has had a custom modification applied to the unit, so that the 'bypass' footswitch gets the function from the 'clean/distorted' button. This modification allows you to play through the V-Twin at all times. But mind you, that this mod comes with the challenge to dial up exactly the sound you want in all 3 modes.

Overall, the V-Twin design yields an impression of quality and toughtful design The unit is built with a massive and sturdy metal casing, and roughly weights around 8 Kg's (16 pounds). The tone and volume controls are big and slow turning. Further, a firmly attached, but easily removable casing, allows access to changing the tubes. The juice for this unit can only be supplied by a 12V AC power supply, that naturally comes with the unit when purchased. Ever try a Boss effect jamming on you while playing live, because a cable is stuck in the crack under the footswitch ? Boss's design flaw will be mere history if you pick this unit: because of the V-Twin footswitch design, it simply cannot happen ! Do you tend to gaffa your effects to the floor, or mount your effects on a floorboard ? No need with the V-Twin: because of its weight it stayes pretty much in place, no matter what your scene act is like. I have owned this unit since '96, I have played 100+ gigs with it, and never had any problems with either the unit or its power supply.

Being a preamp designed as a floor unit, the V-Twin features some obvious compromises in design. However, if you are looking for the best tube distortion floor unit that money can buy, I believe the Mesa/Boogie V-Twin is highly recommendable and worth checking out.

TBA /DK rated this unit 5 on 2003-01-31.

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