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Meet the new Tech 21 SansAmp Classic, same as the old SansAmp

Tech 21 SansAmp Classic
(Image credit: Tech 21)

GEAR 2021: Tech 21 has brought back the original SansAmp as the SansAmp Classic, the all-analogue guitar amp and speaker simulator in pedal form that blessed many a DI recording with the organic warmth of a tube amp.

Designed by the Hungarian musician B. Andrew Barta, the SansAmp revolutionised direct recording upon its launch in 1989. In many ways, its circuitry prefigured the DSP-fuelled arms race in guitar amp modelling technology. Would there be a Strymon Iridium without a SansAmp?

The seed of the idea was planted by the vaccum tube amplifier's inherent impracticality. Barta sought a compact solution that would mimic that tube amplifier warmth and tone without the volume and constant search for the sweet spot, a device that would take your instrument's signal and process it en route to a studio mixer or stage PA and, crucially, make it sound incredible.

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Enter, the SansAmp... Now, the 2021 SansAmp Classic, is no different. It has the same compact enclosure, the same circuit under the hood, with a series of dip-switches on the front for selecting the character of your tone, plus three input switches for selecting the flavour of preamp gain.

That offers guitar players a choice of three tantalising options. There is Lead, which will give you the sound of a Marshall-style preamps, with an emphasis on the mids and top end. Then you can go American boutique, with the Normal setting giving you a Mesa Boogie-style preamp setting with a flat EQ. Then there is Bass, which is for your Fender-esque tones, and as the name suggests, it plays nice with bass guitars, too.

And that's the thing: the SansAmp has the potential to improve any recording. Thanks to its all-analogue circuit, it has zero latency, making it a powerful production tool for parallel processing all kinds of signals. Stick anything through it if you think it needs some warmth in the recording. Or something skronky – Kurt Cobain reportedly used an original SansAmp circa In Utero.

See Tech 21 for more details.