Affordable Dual Rectifier, JCM800 and 5150 tones for your pedalboard? TC Electronic makes a play for the high-gain sector with 3 new Ampworx pedals

Back in June, TC Electronic debuted its all-new Ampworx range with three affordable amp modeling/preamp guitar pedals that sought to provide authentic Fender, Marshall and Vox tones.

Now, the Danish effects specialist has issued an Ampworx expansion pack, which comprises three further stompboxes that set their sights on a trio of classic guitar amp sounds.

Notably, whereas the first Ampworx drop was dubbed the “Vintage Series”, this collection has been named the “High-Gain Series”. There are no prizes for guessing what kind of amp sounds that would entail.

TC Electronic certainly has chosen a strong lineup for its High-Gain collection, which is made up of the Mesa/Boogie Dual Rectifier-inspired Dual Wreck, Marshall JCM800-esque JIMS800 and the original Peavey 5150 tribute, the 550.

As was the case before, each Ampworx pedal features a twin-channel design, optional Celestion cab sims and a host of controls that seek to deliver amp-faithful performances.

Another spec that wholly unites each High-Gain Ampworx pedals is the units’ topography: each has two footswitches – one of which engages the boost circuit – as well as a three-band EQ, master gain and volume knobs, and either Reso (550), Tight (Dual Wreck) or Boost (JIMS800) parameters.

Furthermore, similar to the Vintage Series Ampworx range, the three new units offer brand-specific aesthetics. That means the JIMS800 flaunts gold controls, the 550 flashes chickenhead versions and the Dual Wreck has robust chrome alternatives. A nice touch that will no doubt be appreciated by gear geeks.

Taking one pedal at a time, the 550 – said to be a recreation of EVH’s 1992 Peavey MK1 Script Logo 5150 – is fitted with a Celestion 4x12 G12M Heritage cab sim IR, and offers both Rhythm + Crunch and Lead channels for a suite of classic rock and heavy metal sounds.

It’s a similar story for the Dual Wreck, which instead opts for a Celestion 4x12 V30 cab sim in its quest to channel the spirit of the 1995-era Revision G Dual Rectifier.

The just leaves the JIMS800, with its Celestion 4x12 G12-65 IR and popular amp-appropriate internal mods, which include a treble bleed, tonestack tweaks and second stage gain mods.

When the first Ampworx drop arrived, players were particularly taken by the pedals’ price tags – at $149, they marked some of the most affordable amp modeler/preamp pedals on the market.

The High-Gain Series is no exception. Each new unit has once again arrived weighing in at $149 – a clear statement of intent from TC Electronic, which seems to be taking its excursion into the amp modeler market very seriously indeed.

It will be a welcome sign for players who are keen to dip their toes in the amp modeler waters but don’t wish to fully submerge themselves (or their wallets) in the likes of Blackstar’s $499 Amped 1 or Tech 21’s $249 SansAmps.

And, as noted before, what the TC Electronic Ampworx range lacks in features and configurability, it more than makes up for in price, purporting to be the perfect alternative for anyone looking for a simple, no-nonsense preamp pedal.

Plus, with the precedent now firmly set that the firm isn’t afraid to traverse various sounds and styles with its Ampworx family, there’s no telling where it could lead. It can't be long before a Dumble model arrives, surely...

To find out more, head over to TC Electronic.

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Matt Owen

Matt is a Staff Writer, writing for Guitar World, Guitarist and Total Guitar. He has a Masters in the guitar, a degree in history, and has spent the last 16 years playing everything from blues and jazz to indie and pop. When he’s not combining his passion for writing and music during his day job, Matt records for a number of UK-based bands and songwriters as a session musician.