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Tech 21 Character Series

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Reviews Tech 21 Character Series

Tech 21 VT Bass DI Review

A New Bass Pedal in Town The VT Bass DI offers vintage tone and lots of handy features. How does it compare to Tech 21's other VT Bass products? read more…

Tech 21 Characters Series VT Bass Deluxe Review

At Your Beck and Call... Following the Red Ripper, let's check out the new VT Bass version released by Tech 21. The unit is a preamp in stompbox format. It simulates the sound of the legendary SVT amps from a manufacturer whose name is unnecessary to mention. since you are all very cultivated. Many AF members have praised this system in the forums and asked for a review of the Deluxe version. That's why we decided to try it out and give you our opinion. read more…

Tech 21 Oxford Mini-Review

Who Stole the Orange? The story of the Character Series started over two years ago when Tech21 decided to market five effect pedals that each one simulated a legendary amp. Their immediate success made the manufacturer launch three new models in 2010. We tested the Oxford, a stomp box that smells like orange peel... read more…

User reviews on Tech 21 Character Series products

Orange amps (Tech 21 - Oxford)

By iamqman, 01/07/2011
The character series from Tech 21 has really gone after some of the most highlighted amplifier manufacturers in the world. We have seen a Fender, Mesa Boogie, Vox, Marshall, and several updated version of the Liverpool and the Mesa Boogie. These amp manufacturers are probably the leaders as far as the most used and most recognizable amplifiers in the world.

This particular pedal goes after the voicing s and tones of the famous Orange Amplifiers. These amps have a familiar British character to them but unique on their own. They have a tone that is closer to the Marshall amps and yet has been able to separate itself quiet well with their out of the box high gain amps. Most Marshall amps need to be modified to have the tones you heard in many records or the 70's 80's 90's and today. The Orange amps had that crunch straight from the factory much like the Hiwatts had. Still the tone of the Orange amps in distinct and unique on its own.


Tech 21 SansAmp Character Series Oxford Amplifier Emulation Pedal Features at a Glance:

The classic tone of '70s era Brit-rock and psychedelic movement
Creamy, Vintage 30-style 4x12 speaker emulation
Speaker emulation defeat switch for use with a real amplifier
Level and Drive controls act like a traditional, well-equipped amp's
Active Low, Mid and High EQ controls let you dial in your sound
Continuously-variable Character knob moves seamlessly between different voicings


This has to be one of my favorites of the character series from Tech 21. My favorite has to be the Mesa Boogie simulator which is called the US Steel or the California. The tone from this pedal is very rich and sounds extremely close to those Orange amps from the 70's. Well at least as close as you can get from a distortion pedal.

I like this pedal with a Gibson Les Paul or another guitar with a humbucker pickup installed. I find that it reacts t the nature of the pedal better with the thicker double coiled pickups.


These pedals are great for going straight into a recording session as they suffer a bit in front of a tube amp. At new these pedals come in at around $169, which is a decent price for this pedal.

I would recommend this pedal to those who want that creamy orange distortion tone and don't want to shell out $2000 for an Orange amp. This pedal will not sound like an Orange amp or have that feel of the tubes but the voicing is pretty close to the style and tone.

nickname009's review (Tech 21 - Oxford)

By nickname009, 18/08/2011
# True Bypass
# Level dial
# Mid dial
# Character dial
# Drive dial
# Low dial
# High dial
# Speaker Sim On/Off

This is an interesting pedal, actually most of the character series is interesting. They all have their own little flavors of famous amps using the same set of controls on each. The Oxford in particular, as you may be able to tell from the orange aesthetic is meant to emulate or have the sounds of vintage tones specifically marshalls, orange amps etc.


All the knobs, are ACTIVE. Meaning that even with the slightest turn, it'll affect the sound, GREATLY. You don't need to turn each knob too far to start hearing results.

The speaker sim is sort of a love/hate thing. Some people don't like it some people do but it actually depends on how you're setting the rest of the knobs. One setting you have that sounds great with the speaker sim on, will not sound the same with the speaker sim off. As a matter of fact you should think of setting the speaker sim on or off first, and THEN tweaking the rest of the knobs.

As I've toyed with this for quite a long time, one can actually get great sounds with the speaker sim on OR off. It just completely depends on how you set everything else.


Ok here's where we get really critical. Does it sound good overall? Yes it sounds great!

Does it sound like a vintage marshall or orange amp? No. Not at all. But the sounds I was able to achieve sounded very convincing and very good when paired up with a tube amp of any sort.

I haven't tried this direct but knowing most pedals of this type, the tone will probably lack when compared to hooking it up to an all tube amp. The distortion is clear, and can be tweaked for low/medium gain applications or even super high gain metal type and get get quite convincing, strong, thick rhythm tones.

In my opinion the sounds are most like a smoother sounding solid-state pedal. Which is great! But may not suit others. If i were blindfolded, would I be able to tell? probably not.


Overall it's a good sounding pedal and is very tweakable. You can get a wide variety of vintage-esque sounds from low gain to completely over the top high gain. The sounds are very convincing but you have to work with the speaker sim which some people may not like the sound of when engaged. There is a specific sound that this pedal gives out overall, a vibe, if you will that some people might like, and some people won't.

Does it sound exactly like a vintage marshall-esque amp? I wouldn't say so but at the same time I can't tell you why either. There is something about it that is untrue that can be heard when playing leads, single note runs etc. Maybe it's how it tracks, or maybe it's how the notes decay when playing leads that differentiate it from tube amps.

Either way it's still a really good sounding pedal for what it is and the price, and if paired up with a tube amp, you're set to go!

nickname009's review (Tech 21 - US Steel)

By nickname009, 31/08/2011
Knobs: level, low, mid, high, character, Drive and the speaker sim.

This is a new character series pedal from tech 21 called US steel. It's modeled after an american type of overdrive/distortion.

100% pure analog circuitry apparently.

For a pedal, there are quite a few options which is always good for the tweakers.

This pedal is supposed to excel as a straight, direct in sort of pedal, right through to the PA or even better as a preamp into another amp.


pretty simple to use, just tweak all the knobs till you get something decent and then tweak again. Depends on how you set it up however, you'd probably get better sounding results if you plug into a tube amp of some sort into the clean channel.

Otherwise, you can hook it up direct to the board/PA/your DAW whatever it is and use the speaker simulation and try to get some workable sounds.


The one thing I like about it, is the switch, it's quite and smooth. It doesn't pop or click.

Everything else, I hate. It sounds nothing like the "US" amp it's supposed to mimic. Rather it just sounds like a distortion pedal with lots of tweakability. There's nothing tube-sounding about this pedal whatsoever. The speaker sim is actually quite bad. It sounds better when it's off, whether that's plugged in to a tube amp or not.

It doesn't even sound like a good solidstate amp. It just sounds horrible. I've heard many clips and some people have been able to make it sound decent at MOST. But that's it. I really think this one's overhyped. The rhythm sounds are probably the best sounding thing, you play leads with this and you'll notice right away how the notes decay is so inorganic and unnatural sounding.

There's this artificial high end that just can't be dialed out with this pedal no matter what you do and if you go to the extreme settings it just muddies up completely. Not to mention it's quite noisy with the gain higher up too.

The distortion is just unclear, or too brittle, and synthetic sounding. Doesn't sound tubey whatsoever, doesn't sound like amp distortion, nor does it sound like any american high gain amp.


Overrated. Sounds nothing like what they claim it to sound like. Sounds like a distortion pedal, with an annoying high end frequency that can't be gotten rid of. Doesn't sound like amp distortion either, and the speaker sim is completely unusable. The only good thing about this pedal is the build quality and the switch is not noisy. I like tech 21 effects pedals, I think some of their stuff is really good. This is not one of them. Definitely look elsewhere for your boogie in a box.

Tech 21 Sansamp VT Bass Pedal (Tech 21 - VT Bass)

By MGR/Billy, 28/11/2011
Tech 21 is known for their popular line of Sansamp rack mountable units. With the new technology of bass amplification out these days not many guys are using racks, yet rather smaller amp heads that still need a little kick in the pants in the preamp section that Tech 21 is known for delivering.

My friend ended up not using his and let me borrow it to play out with my live rig to see if I dug it. New they cost right around $130. They are very popular right now and pretty tough to find in stock, if you are on the fence grab one, if it is not your cup of tea I am certain you can easily flip it for close to what you paid.

It gets you into the ballpark of an Ampeg SVT tone for about $1000 and 100 pounds less! It can easily be powered by any 9 volt power supply.

You can add just a little grit to simulate some tube breakup or you can this thing into full overdrive mode similar to an Electro Harmonix Big Muff.

I was hoping for just a little more in the sub low end department. They can really make or break you if you are playing a room with big ceilings and concrete floors.

I wish there was an XLR out on it. BTW I have seen mods for this, I just have not done it myself.

A tough aluminum box, a red LED light to let you know if the pedal is on or off. The knobs starting from the top left and moving to the bottom right: Level, Mid, Character, Drive, Low and High. The finish of this is a nice powder coat, if kept well it should last a long time.

A simple and effective way to spice up your bass tone. A great unit to toss in your gig bag in case you need to use a house amp, yet still keep the integrity of 'your tone'

This review was originally published on

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