Review: Peavey Vypyr VIP3 1x12 Combo

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It’s tempting to look at the absurdly low price of Peavey’s Vypyr VIP Series amps and automatically assume that they’re toys for beginners.

But guitarists who are able to overlook that bias and plug into one will likely find themselves reaching for their wallets in a matter of minutes. In a marketplace already filled with great bargains, from inexpensive guitar apps to multieffect processors that fit into a standard-size stomp box, Peavey’s Vypyr VIP amps may be the best value available today.

The VIP3 is the flagship product of Peavey’s current Vypyr Series, providing a staggering set of features that will please bedroom beginners and performing pros alike. In essence it’s a 100-watt 1x12 combo, but in addition to providing a wide variety of digitally modeled amps and effects it features instrument models that emulate a variety of string instruments and amp models for acoustic-electric guitar and bass. With the optional Sanpera II foot controller, the VIP3 also offers looping functions as well as comprehensive control of effects and preset selection.

Together, the VIP3 and Sanpera II foot controller provide a complete rig for any application, including practice, performance and recording. The VIP3 looks similar to a standard guitar combo amp, with controls for pre and post gain, EQ (low, mid and high) and master volume on its front panel. However, it also features a 2x20-character LED with controls for editing the amp’s instrument/stomp, amplifier and effect settings. Peavey’s patented TransTube digital technology offers realistic-sounding models of 24 guitar amps, six acoustic amps, six bass amps, 25 effects, 12 stomp boxes and 10 instruments. The combo stores 400 presets and allows guitarists to use up to five effects simultaneously.

Other VIP3 features include a preset selector and Peavey’s PowerSponge control, which allows guitarists to set the output anywhere from 1 to 100 watts to maintain the dynamics and performance of a 100-watt amp even at bedroom volume levels. The control panel also has a USB output (for direct digital recording applications), an auxiliary input and a headphone output. The combo’s cabinet houses the specially designed 12-inch speaker in an acoustically ported, semi-enclosed enclosure.

The optional Sanpera II foot controller expands the VIP3’s capabilities by providing direct access to up to 30 seconds of looping, two treadles for controlling volume or wah or other effect parameters, a dedicated tap-tempo switch, switches for scrolling through and selecting presets and much more.

It’s easy to be dazzled by the VIP3’s numerous features and innovations, but what’s truly impressive is simply how great it sounds. The amp models and EQ controls are all optimally dialed in to the point where even extreme settings sound good. The instrument models greatly expand any guitarist’s creative potential (the sitar and electric violin models are especially inspiring), and the amp models accurately replicate the character of several of Peavey’s greatest, including the Classic, XXX, 6505+ and 6534+, as well as classic American and British amps and Peavey and Trace bass and acoustic amps. The effects are great, with the reverb in particular delivering the smooth, refined sound of a much more expensive processor. The high-gain presets are bold, ballsy, dynamic and fun as hell to play. It’s hard to believe that such big sound and loud volume is coming from a small box.

While basic gain and EQ controls are easily accessible from the front panel, dialing in effect settings and saving presets is not as intuitive, so it’s worth reading the manual before digging deeper. The Sanpera II foot controller is a must-have for anyone who plans on gigging with the amp (a task that the VIP3 can handle quite capably), but with its looper access, wah controller and other functions, it’s also highly recommended for anyone who wants to get the most out of the VIP3.

Cheat Sheet
Street Prices Vypyr VIP3, $299.99; Sanpera II, $229.99
Manufacturer Peavey Electronics,

Guitar, bass and acoustic-electric amp models and 10 virtual instrument models make the VIP3 a versatile studio and performance tool for a wide variety of instruments.

The Sanpera II foot controller expands the VIP3’s capabilities by providing a 30-second looper and foot control of numerous features, including wah and preset selection.

The Bottom Line
From stage to studio gigs and backstage to bedroom warm-ups, the VIP3 is a versatile and inspiring creative tool that provides an entire universe of world-class sounds for an absurdly low price.

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Chris Gill, Video by Paul Riario

Chris is the co-author of Eruption - Conversations with Eddie Van Halen. He is a 40-year music industry veteran who started at Boardwalk Entertainment (Joan Jett, Night Ranger) and Roland US before becoming a guitar journalist in 1991. He has interviewed more than 600 artists, written more than 1,400 product reviews and contributed to Jeff Beck’s Beck 01: Hot Rods and Rock & Roll and Eric Clapton’s Six String Stories.