I'm a guitarist and bassist with over 35 years of experience as a musician.
The Peavey Nano Vypyr
The Peavey Nano Vypyr is a portable, battery-powered guitar amplifier that features a whole bunch of great amp models, sounds and effects in a tiny little package.
Battery-powered amps have come a long way in recent years, and if you've been playing guitar for any amount of time you might find that the Nano Vypyr has better sound and more flexibility than the amp you started out on.
I wrote about this little amp in my review of portable, battery-powered guitar amps, and decided I liked it best when compared to similar models from brands like Fender, Line 6 and Spider. When I wanted a small, portable guitar amp, I put my money where my mouth is and grabbed a Peavey Nano Vypyr.
After a few weeks of putting it through its paces it was time to write my review of this cool little amp. In this article you're read about what I like, and don't like. I hope you find this helpful when considering if this is the right amp for you.
Why I Chose the Nano Vypyr
In considering a small, portable battery-powered guitar amp you have a couple of different options. You can go with a mini amp. These are very small 1-3 watt amps with tiny speakers that run on batteries and fit right in your guitar case.
They sound okay for their size, but they don't have much flexibility. If you're just looking for something to boost the sound of an unplugged electric guitar they work well enough and are a lot of fun to mess around with.
Then there are more serious battery-powered amps. These are more like small practice amps, with different amp models and effects to shape your sound. Usually under 10 watts and with 6- or 8-inch speakers, they are hardly gig-worthy, but certainly good enough for jamming with friends in the backyard, on the beach or in the park. The Peavey Nano Vypyr fits into this group.
The Fender Mustang Mini, Roland Micro Cube and Line 6 Micro Spider are all comparable amplifiers, but I chose the Nano Vypyr because it has solid-state distortion (compared to digital), the largest speaker of the lot, and it is very easy to use.
Truthfully, I think would have been happy with any of those amps, but so far I'm glad I chose the Peavey.
Basic Overview and Thoughts
The Nano Vypyr puts out an earth-shaking 7 watts of power through an 8-inch speaker. It doesn't seem like much, but this little amp sounds pretty darned good for its size. The cabinet also has a tilt-back design, so you can point the speaker up at you. I'm actually using that feature more than I thought I would.
At a weight of only 10 pounds and with a sturdy handle on top this little guy is easy to tote around. When I bought it I also purchased a 10-foot instrument cable, so I can pack the cable and everything else I need in a gig bag and easily carry a guitar and the Nano Vypyr anywhere I want to go.
It runs on four D-cell batteries, and after two weeks of playing just about every day, they haven't died yet. This was my number-one concern with a battery-powered amp, that the batteries would last a couple of hours and have to be replaced. But I've been very happy with the battery life.
It also comes with an AC/DC adapter in case you want to plug it into a wall the old fashioned way.
Top Panel Controls
The top panel of the Nano Vypyr is super-easy to understand. I get annoyed with modeling amps that you need a master's degree in computer science to figure out. The Nano Vypyr is simple and very intuitive.
There are ten knobs and a couple of other items. From top to bottom, left to right, they are:
- Input Jack: Labeled "Guitar" so you don't erroneously plug your washing machine into it.
- Gain: Adjusts gain, which varies depending on the amp model selected.
- Amps: 11 amps models, selectable by the turn of this knob.
- Low/Mid/High EQ: A very useful 3-band EQ to shape your sound, independent of amp model.
- Effects: There are eight different effects to choose from, again selected by a simple turn of a knob.
- Effects Morph: Changes the parameters of the effects.
- Delay: Delay effect. It can be adjusted by turning this knob as well as by using the "Tap Tempo" button below it.
- Reverb: Reverb effect.
- Master: Master volume
There's also a tuner that kicks in when you hold the Tap Tempo button for two seconds. This is a nice feature that I've found myself using more than I thought I would.
Nano Vypyr Rear Panel
Like the top panel, the rear panel of the Nano Vypyr is very easy to figure out. From left to right:
- High Z Mic Input: Apparently this thing works just fine as a mini-PA.
- Mic Level: Adjusts mic input sensitivity. It's worth noting that the microphone signal is not sent through the amp models and effects.
- Expression Pedal Jack: An expression pedal (sold separately) gives you more control over the effect parameters while you play.
- Aux In: For plugging in your MP3 or CD player.
- Phones: A headphone jack on a battery-powered amp is a must.
- AC/DC Adapter: Plug in the included AC/DC adapter here. Bonus points for jamming on AC/DC riffs while powered via the AC/DC adapter.
Here's a look at the 11 different amp models and my thoughts on them so far. Going clockwise around the selector knob they are:
- Acoustic: For use with an acoustic guitar, but sounds just fine with an electric. Very clean and simple.
- Clean 1 and 2: According to Peavey, Clean 1 is for use with humbucking pickups while Clean 2 is higher gain for use with single coils. I find a humbucker is a little too hot to keep either model pristine clean, but they both sound good. Really good with single coils, like the neck position on a Stratocaster.
- Overdrive 1 and 2: Warm and bluesy. Each model is voiced slightly differently.
- Crunch 1 and 2: Both models reminiscent of an overdriven tube amp, again with slightly different voicings.
- Metal 1 and 2: Metal 1 is supposedly a more modern sound, while Metal 2 is the classic "thrash" sound. Neither will sound like a Triple Rec or 6505, but Metal 1 does a very good job of providing good classic metal sounds with a little depth. Metal 2 is a touch more brittle.
- Lead 1 and 2: These two models are interesting. There's a ton of low end and compression programmed in here, and they are of little use for rhythm and chords. But for straight-up lead playing, not bad. Throw in a little delay or reverb and strike your favorite rock star pose.
On to the effects! For me to get into an amp with onboard effects they have to be really easy to use. I quickly get bored and annoyed with technology that seems to be more complicated than it ought to be. The Nano Vypyr doesn't have that problem. The effects sound good and are very easy to fiddle with.
Included effects are, again clockwise: Wah, Tremolo, Chorus, Compression + Chorus, Rotary Speaker, Phaser, Flanger and Octaver.
The Effects Morph knob makes it easy to adjust the parameters of the effects. At zero the chosen effect is off, and as the knob is turned clockwise it cycles through various parameters. You can't fine-tune an effect as you would with an effects processor or even a stompbox, but the array of sounds are very usable in this context.
In addition to the effects on the main knob, you also have separate controls for delay and reverb. I like this a lot since these are two effects often used in conjunction with others, or on their own. This really increases the number of available effects combinations.
My Overall Impression of the Nano Vypyr
I write this review as summer is on the way. Right now nothing sounds better than grabbing one of my Strats, cracking open a cold one and jamming on my back deck while burgers and dogs sizzle on the grill.
Unfortunately, I have no outdoor power outlet on that side of my house. In the past, I've run an extension cord out my kitchen window, but that's a major pain. The idea of a battery-powered amp was sounding better and better.
This Peavey Nano Vypyr satisfies all of the criteria I had in mind when choosing an amp for this purpose. It sounds good, it's easy to use, has some flexible amp models and effects, a headphone jack, and a decent battery life. It's head and shoulders above most of those tiny mini amps, that's for sure!
My only complaint so far involves the battery compartment. It's a tight fit, for both putting the batteries in and getting the door to open and close. I chipped a little piece of plastic trying to open the compartment. It doesn't impact the function of the battery door, but it was very frustrating. Just be careful with the battery door and, unlike me sometimes, have some patience.
If you want to go even smaller I recommend checking out the Blackstar Fly, another little amp I've become quite enamored with. Otherwise, if you're thinking of a battery-powered guitar amp, you too will find the Peavey Nano Vypyr is a great choice.