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.

  • NAMM 2021 is cancelled, but we'll be covering all the big January gear announcements right here on MusicRadar.

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.

Jonathan Horsley

Jonathan Horsley has been writing about guitars and guitar culture since 2005, playing them since 1990, and regularly contributes to MusicRadar, Total Guitar and Guitar World. He uses Jazz III nylon picks, 10s during the week, 9s at the weekend, and shamefully still struggles with rhythm figure one of Van Halen’s Panama.