Peavey’s VYPYR series of modelling amps has been around for a while now, and is the logical successor to the company’s successful Transtube technology. The new VYPYR V.I.P 3 – that’s Variable Instrument Performance – is a world first in that it combines amp models for electric guitar, bass and acoustic guitar, as well as instrument modelling. It’s aimed at the giggling musician: the dude or dudette who might be in a cover band or duo and is called upon to provide electric, acoustic and bass guitar throughout the course of a gig, and who needs recognisably accurate sounds to match particular songs. That’s not to say that performers of original music can’t use it too, but it definitely seems to be an amp aimed at the cover band guitarist. 

The VYPYR V.I.P is a 100 watt combo with a custom-voiced 12″ speaker specifically designed for modelling amplifiers. It has PowerSponge variable power control which lets you dial anything from 1 watt to 100 watts of operation, with all the sonic benefits that come with that. There are over 400 amp-accessible presets which you can customise, and you can use Peavey’s Sanpera I or Sanpera II foot controllers to get easy access to the presets, effects and expression pedal effects. There are ten instruments models including acoustic guitars immolators, 12-string guitar, mandolin, 7-string guitar, baritone guitar, resonator, electric violin and bass guitar. There are 12 amp-accessible stomp box models as well as delay, reverb and (if you use the Sanpera) wah. There’s 36 onboard amp models with six bass models and six acoustic amp models. And there’s even an onboard looper (again with Sanpera control). Aside from the Sanpera connection there’s an Aux/MP3/CD input and a new USB bi-directional data and audio port to provide an easy way to record or to connect to our VYPYR software so you can store presets, get lessons, and practice to backing tracks while connected to your computer.

VypyrVIP3I plugged in my 1987 Ibanez RG550 with DiMarzio Gravity Storm Steve Vai signature pickups for testing. As is pretty common with amps of this ilk, the presets overdo it a bit in terms of gain and effects. They’re great for showing off what the amp can do in a crowded music store, but not so great for showing the subtleties inherent in the models. So if you encounter a preset that’s just a bit too ‘runaway train,’ it’s always a good idea to back the gain down by between 30 and 50 percent to see what the models actually sound like. You’ll then find that many of the metal-oriented patches are much chunkier and punchier than they initially seem, and most of the lead sounds are more articulate. Some of the lead sounds are simply amazing – one is like a dead-on clone of the Def Leppard “Women” tone, for instance – and it’s a shame that heavy-handedness in the programming side of things means you have to dig around a bit to hit the real gold – because it’s in there and it sounds great.

The synth-based sounds are all very entertaining to play with and will surely find some kind of musical use somewhere along the line. Some of them have a very ‘analog synth’ vibe that many guitarists will feel really comfortable with. The dedicated bass presets sound great and are named according to the playing styles they’re best suited for, but the bass simulation leaves much to be desired, with weird pitch-shift artefacts and unacceptably slow tracking. And the 12-string simulation doesn’t sound like a real 12-string guitar. But brush these inconsistencies aside and there’s a lot of great, usable tone lurking in the VIP 3

The VYPYR V.I.P is a really useful, well-voiced amp. It’s a shame that most of the presets sound so artificial out of the box because some very simple and easy tweaking makes them sound a lot better, and will probably help to sway a few sales on the shop floor. If you’re in a working band where you require amplification for electric, acoustic and bass guitar, along with the occasional digitally mimicked synth, mandolin, 12-string or baritone, you really owe it to yourself to check this bad boy out.