VS Audio packs two flavours of classic Fender-style tones into the Blackbird overdrive

VS Audio has hatched a cunning solution for fans of vintage Fender guitar amplifiers and want to get in on the action via an easy-to-use amp-in-a-box pedal. 

The BlackBird overdrive presents a wide range of Fender tone mojo, with Blackface '65 and Brownface '63 tones easily accessed at the touch of a toggle switch. A second  toggle switch selects between two stages of compression and gain. Once selected, you have a familiar trio of knobs controlling Volume, Tone and Gain.

Featuring an all-analogue signal path, the BlackBird can be run at 9V or 18V for more headroom, and VS Audio recommends experimenting where you place it on your pedalboard, as it can change the response of your other drive pedals in all kinds of pleasant ways.

Vintage Fender amplifiers are not cheap. Online, a 1963 Brownface Deluxe could easily set you back north of two grand, a '65 Blackface north of three grand. 

Of course, the tones, the touch-sensitive dynamics all whisper in your ear that they are worth it, but it's good to know that in today's market there are alternatives, and the BlackBird makes a very affordable one.

It retails for £124 / €179, and is available direct from VS Audio and select retailers worldwide.

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.