Are amp in a box pedals amps? Well, not really. But, are they pedals? Yes, but not entirely. Then, what are they?
A mixture of both.
Upon hefty interaction and exploration with the guitarist community, manufacturers had an idea - why not create pedals that mimic the tones of actual amps? Not only that, but these pedals have come frighteningly close to replicate amp tones accurately.
This is a big deal for all guitarists worldwide as the main issues with amp heads and cabinets are being dissolved with the invention of these pedals; size and portability. You can carry these pedals in a tote bag or something even smaller!
Versatility is also one of the most important things in guitar pedals. You want to be able to use it in more than one way. One versatile tool can save you from the hassle of using multiple.
While some musicians may complain that pedals aren't versatile enough, we decided to prove that they can be by creating this list of 3 undeniably versatile amp in a box pedals. Without further ado, let’s begin by announcing our favorite pick!
If you were to find ten pedals on the market that can accomplish pretty much any sound that you might want to get, chances are the JHS Double Barrel V4 would be one of them. It’s capable of producing just about any kind of overdrive sound, meaning that it’s perfect for people who like to play lots of rock, blues, and when paired with other effects - metal!
We believe it is remarkable that so many quality products can be packed into one small pedal. Since this is our top pick for the year, we highly recommend it if you are in need of a versatile amp in a box pedal.
For a detailed review of this pedal and the other two hot contenders, keep reading on!
This section is geared towards guitarists that are looking to find the right amp in a box pedal and maximize its performance. A guide is always essential before you buy any gear, especially pedals. So, before you head off to purchase one, do give this section a thorough read.
While there is no universally accepted definition for what makes an amp in a box (AIAB) pedal, we interpret it as a pedal that mimics the sound of a tube amp while offering up some unique additional features to boot.
While most AIABs do feature some form of gain, so many of them can be used to emulate many of the different tones of an analog amplifier that it is difficult to categorize them accurately.
Thus, these pedals are more than just about tone and boost. If you’re interested in exploring amps but can’t afford them or have the space for them, it is worth using a pedal instead.
There are a few things to consider when choosing your amp in a box pedal.
If you're a long-term musician, rather than a weekend warrior or hobbyist, then you should be investing in products that have the best quality sound, even when you’re just practicing at home.
Unless your budget is unlimited when it comes to buying an amp in a box pedal, chances are you'll probably stick with just one for a long time. That's why it's worth considering the longevity of the pedal before you buy it. Will the amp in a box still sound good years down the road? Most will, but it definitely depends. The ones on our list certainly will as they’re top-of-the-trade brands.
These pedals should be viewed as long-term investments that have the potential to last years and be used on multiple stages. You can use these tools as practice amps or amps for smaller venues as well as bigger, louder stages when connected to an in-house PA.
One of the biggest benefits of going for a well-known brand is that you can expect good customer service and a warranty.
Find out how long the warranty lasts and what type of coverage this covers. Also, if there is a guarantee, make sure you see some type of proof of such. It is always a good idea to have a warranty on your pedals, especially if it’s going to be used professionally.
It's also a good idea to look for customer testimonials and recommendations, especially ones who had problems with their product and what the company did to resolve them. If you have a problem with your pedal or shipping, you’d want the issue to be resolved as easily as possible, which is why good customer service is important.
Ultimately, your decision comes down to what type of sound you're trying to get out of your amp in a box pedal. Are fuzz sounds more of what you're looking for? Are you after some crunchy goodness? Are warm or bright blues tones more your speed? You’ll know which pedal is best for you after you go through our review list. Plus, viewing a few demos online is always a good idea.
Use that amp in a box pedal with your other pedals. When effects are staged properly, you can get a whole that is greater than the sum of the parts. If your amp in a box pedal has its own effects loop, then it can be ideal to add to your pedalboard.
If there isn’t an effects loop, or if you just aren’t comfortable with adding another effect to your signal, then placing the AIAB in front of your existing pedal is also great for powering through your entire rig.
You can add almost any pedal in front or after you run your signal through the pedal. Dialing in your signature sound is about finding what's right for you.
Using a quality instrument is paramount. Don't discount the importance of your guitar when it comes to tone shaping. Amp in a Box pedals can be very powerful, but they’re not magic bullet solutions.
You can’t buy better fingers either. If you want to sound good - learn your instrument, practice, and play with others because there is no one way to make music, only ways to play an instrument. The same goes for buying these pedals - don’t get so caught up in the image that you forget what makes it all possible - the Guitar and the Player.
Your pedal's tone is something you need to decide for yourself, depending on the sound you intend on achieving. Playing with the knobs on the pedal will help you adjust it to your liking, which can result in a better tone.
An amp in a box pedal will not be able to replace your $$$$ tube amp, but with some tweaking, it can give you massive sound.
Don’t be afraid to try out a few pedals and mess around with them. You never know what you might stumble across in your effort to discover your tone. You can have hours of fun trying new combinations until you get that sound you want for your own style of playing.
In the end, what really matters is that you find a tone that works for you. That is the real goal, whether it’s getting that heavy metal crunch or the mellow tones of jazz or blues. With a little experimentation and patience, you can find just the right sound for your playing style and preference.
If you’re looking for a compact, versatile way to bring personality to your performances, we recommend these 3 amp in a box pedals. They’re diverse and powerful, and they should suit all kinds of musicians.
Although you should keep in mind that our versatility rankings below are based on our experiences as guitarists, it remains a worthwhile point of reference. Furthermore, if a given pedal were to take the top spot in a future version of this list, or if a new pedal should join these ranks, that would only reinforce the value of the ranking system itself.
So, feel free to consider other popular amp-in-a-box pedals for yourself, but don’t overlook the options highlighted below. And whatever you do, don’t be afraid to try out various models at your local music store and find an option that complements your playing style and expectations.
The JHS Double Barrel V4 is a 2 in 1 guitar effect pedal. The 2 Overdrive channels can be used independently or stacked for massive gain on tap at your feet, enabling you to dial in your sound with surgical precision.
JHS pedals have always been about enabling players to make their own sound. The Double Barrel V4 gives you double the overdrive and adds some color to your tone while giving you a remote switching option to influence your live rig!
If you're for looking for one pedal to get all overdrive sounds anyone can possibly fathom, the NHS Double Barrel V4 pedal is sure to fill up that void. Set it up with other pedals and you have the ultimate tonal setup, which is why we chose it as our favorite!
The Strymon Iridium has a hybrid room reverb and nine stereo impulse responses. It has three iconic amplifiers and a total of nine speaker cabinets that deliver as much tone as they do style.
The four channels can all be run independently or combined for a full-on riff-storm, and the clean and dirty channels sustain so long that it’s not even funny. The powerful Amp Modelers will take your sound to the edge with incredible fidelity!
If you want an amp in a box pedal that sounds almost exactly like a tube amp, this is one is a great choice!
The Walrus Audio ACS1 Amp & Cab Simulator is quite a versatile AIAB pedal. Quickly select from any of the world's most iconic amplifiers and speaker cabinets, or load in your own IRs and update firmware right from your desktop.
The ACS1 was built from the ground up with the serious musician in mind. With an easy-to-use interface, large simple knobs, and a bright display, you have all the control you could ask for to dial in your sound quickly.
The two separate fully featured channels offer many options, allowing you to run two amps simultaneously, or add different cabinets and interfaces into the signal path.
This pedal is incredibly useful for a wide range of classic tube sounds, as it emulates Fender Deluxe Reverb, the Marshall Bluesbreaker, and the Vox AC30 amps - all in one place!
There are many reasons why amp in a box pedals are so popular. They are cheap, portable, sound great, are compatible with almost any source, require little or no skill to use. This makes them irresistible to newer guitarists, but they are versatile enough for professional guitarists to use.
The best thing about amp in a box pedals is that they are some of the easiest to use. Simply connect your headphones/speaker to the output jack, plug your guitar into the input jack, turn on your amp’s lead channel, play around with all the different sound effects features, and rock out!
A cheaper amp in a box pedal is usually not a good idea. You can purchase entry-level AIABs in the market (around $100-$120), but do so at your own risk! The Friedman Smallbox Overdrive is a good choice for a comparatively low-priced AIAB pedal, but it’s still not super cheap! (~$200)
The JHS Double Barrel V4 is undoubtedly one of the best amp in a box pedals for the price, but the Strymon Iridium and the Walrus Audio ASC1 are no less.
No one really knows what the future of guitar effects will look like. But you can bet plenty of people are working on it, and we’ll likely see some pretty exciting changes in the coming years.
One thing is certain: guitarists will need top-notch pedals to make the most of their effects chains in the studio and onstage. Overdrive and distortion pedals will undoubtedly be a part of this picture, and we’re excited to see how everything else shapes up with the addition of AIAB pedals in our beloved guitar-sphere.