Put your core guitar tones at your feet with a pedalboard amp! Perfect for players who prioritise portability, these innovative units are designed to live neatly alongside your effects pedals so that you can plug in & play anywhere.
Big guitar amps look and sound great, but for live performers in particular, they can be absolute back-breakers! That’s why over the last few years, more and more amplifier and stompbox brands have brought out dedicated pedalboard amps — often referred to as “amp-in-a-box” pedals.
What Does a Pedalboard Amp Do?
A pedalboard amp is a lightweight, compact unit that’s designed to replace your existing amp. This is so that you can have literally all of your essential sounds beneath your feet — conveniently mounted on a pedalboard together with your other effects pedals. If you love your real amp too much though, one of these can serve as a handy backup that’ll easily fit in your gig bag.
A lot of amp pedals emulate existing, iconic valve guitar amplifiers using innovative digital modelling technology, and will also come equipped with cab IRs (impulse responses) that mimic the sonics of mic’d-up speaker cabinets. Strymon and Walrus Audio are specialists when it comes to these kinds of amp simulator pedals.
How Do I Use a Pedalboard Amp?
Most pedalboard amps allow you to plug straight into front-of-house PA systems with convincing amp tones. As most examples boast cab IRs, they can imitate the characteristics of real-world guitar cabs so that they sound natural to the ear. This means that you can turn up to a gig with just your guitar and pedalboard! Guitar amp pedals are therefore great for recording too, as you can connect them directly to audio interfaces with no need to set up microphones, etc.
Alternatively, there are a few companies that quite literally make “amp-in-a-box” pedals — which work and behave just like conventional amplifiers. Some, like Victory’s V4 Guitar Amps, even feature analogue valves and effects loops! The beauty of products like these is that they’re slightly more familiar and tactile than their digital modelling counterparts, and can even be connected to traditional speaker cabs — just like an amp head.
What's the Difference Between Pedalboard Amps & Preamp Pedals?
Pedalboard amp simulators are designed to be all-encompassing units that provide you with authentic amplifier and cab sounds. Some products even feature built-in effects like reverb, boost and overdrive. They’re purposely designed to be plugged straight into PA systems or audio interfaces for live performance and recording situations.
Preamp pedals are similar, but specifically emulate the preamp sections of amplifiers only. Most of these are therefore designed to be used in conjunction with real guitar amps — either into their inputs so that they can be employed as sophisticated overdrive/distortion pedals, or through their effects loop ‘return’ jacks to give them a completely new voice. However, a lot of guitarists also use preamp stompboxes together with dedicated power amp and cab simulator pedals.