I must confess, I am a bit of a fan of the Tech 21 range and recently I was able to borrow some, with the first being the Liverpool, which is based on the classic Vox amp, the AC30. Secretly I love the idea of trying to get an amp in a pedal, it just intrigues me how they do it.
Tech 21 produce the ‘Sans Amp‘ range that used to primarily be for plugging into a mixing desk when you couldn’t play through an amp, and then running that out to the front of house. In fact many believe the Tech 21 pedals sound better into the front of house, or into a computer rather than in front of an amp, but really, they’re still very cool in front of an amp!
Now to give you a visual, we don’t have our own YouTube demo so the next best option is to check out this video from non other than the Burger Man.
Okay, so to buy this pedal new it isn’t cheap, and they would usually start at about $175, so if you can get one 2nd hand I would recommend that.
The controls for the Tech 21 Liverpool Pedal are…
- Character (how much ‘Vox’ and type of Vox amp you get)
I thought the controls were very sensitive and a slight turn can change the tone a lot. Therefore this pedal is not a plug and play straight out of the box type of pedal, you need to experiment and tweak it to find the ‘Sweet Spot‘!!
Now often pedals that simulate an amp will totally color the overall tone of your signal chain and the amp your running the pedal into… aww derr!!!. Now that probably sounds like a really dumb thing to say, but you need to keep that in mind as it becomes important depending on where you put this pedal in your chain, as it will mess with the EQ and overall tone.
I have used this pedal in both live and at home situations, and found it hardest to use in front of an amp live. I found that when used in a live setting this pedal really was a bit dominating and didn’t mix so well with my other pedals. I also found that it created a fair bit of noise and had some weird hum issues. However, I do acknowledge that I was playing in a dodgy hall each week with a power supply that was probably less than average quality, which was the probable cause of the hum. But using this pedal seemed to accentuate the noise, whereas my other pedals didn’t?
Personally, I thought the pedal didn’t stack well with other pedals and was best being the main dirt and ‘EQ‘ pedal. Now if you just used this, with some delay or light modulation then that is okay, but for me I found that it wouldn’t stack well with other dirt pedals for example.
Running it straight into the front desk I thought it was awesome. It sounded clearer and more like a Vox in this use. Not to mention the convenience of being able to pull my ‘amp‘ out of my gigbag, plug in, and play, very cool.
Now at home, it is a much more controlled effect, as you have less demanding situations and less volume too. To be fair it does a pretty good Vox chime, grind or that full on Brian May saturated tone that squeals and just sustains. I will add at this point that Tech 21 have a new version of this pedal out which has an extra button, so if you are using this in front of the amp you press that switch and it sounds much better and has been modded to sound more like part of your amp.
Okay, Friday afternoon and getting tired so let’s wrap up… The Tech 21 Liverpool Pedal CAN get you the Vox tone, definitely, with some reviews feel it is one of the best at it (besides the Carl Martin AC Tone?!) and with some tweaking and integration with your existing pedal board and amp, can sound really good.
I didn’t get into individual knobs much in this review but the Character knob goes from a vintage Vox tone to a more ‘modern‘ sound. I found the 12 o’clock mark on the Character knob to be a fairly safe setting for my tastes, with EQ slightly up, with the gain (which is really touch sensitive as are all the knobs) about 1/3 up, and it is awesome!
If I could afford version 2 I would love to get it as it brings a whole new tonal range to your sound, but sadly not at the moment!! Okay excuse my rough review, but over and out from Andy!