The author is a guitarist and bassist with over 35 years of experience as a musician.
The Peavey Vypyr
When I heard that Peavey replaced their Vypyr guitar amp line with the Peavey Vypyr VIP series I was a little depressed. I love my Vypyr 15 practice amp, and I was even looking forward to getting a bigger version sometime down the road. I couldn’t imagine why Peavey would want to mess with such a great amp.
For whatever reason, Peavey decided they had to mess with the Vypyr. What they ended up with is a trio of amps that are a lot like the original Vypyrs, and then again really not. The VIPs are ground-breaking amps, and it’s fair to say they’re unlike anything else out there.
Will they stand the test of time? It's been a few years, and so far so good. Peavey is one of the best guitar amp builders in the world, and this is a pretty innovative idea.
Maybe the more important question is: Are these amps as good as the original Vypyrs? The originals were affordable, versatile and they sounded fantastic.
When I spotted one in Guitar Center I decided to find out.
A Different Kind of Vypyr
The current generation of Vypyr amps has a different look than the black-fanged motif of the originals. They’re cleaner, more modern and maybe a little more serious. There are three models: The 20-watt VIP 1 (1x8), the 40-watt VIP 2 and the 100-watt VIP 3 (both1x12).
As you can guess, each of these amps is geared toward a different kind of player with different goals.
- The Vypyr VIP 1 is an outstanding practice amp with powerful effects and amp models. It's affordable enough for beginners, but veterans looking for a small amp for home use will appreciate it as well.
- The Vypyr VIP 3 built for the stage, and perfect for gigging musicians who need to cop a bunch of different tones during a gig. Working pros can haul this amp to a club and not have to worry about cases of pedals and cables.
- The Vypyr VIP 2 is, in my opinion, the best choice for most players. This amp is somewhere in between the 1 and the 2, and a great choice for guitarists who want a flexible, feature-packed amp for jamming at home or in a lower-volume rehearsal situation. If you just want something that sounds good and you don't care about power, the VIP 2 may be the way to go.
Like the original Vypyrs, these amps employ Peavey’s WYSIWYG system, making adjustments to models and effects a snap. They also use Peavey's patented TransTube technology instead of digital distortion, which is a huge plus in my book.
But don’t go thinking these are just remakes of the originals, because these amps have a couple of tricks up their sleeves.
Peavey Vypyr VIP Series Features
The new VIPs aren’t only for electric guitar but also built for bass and acoustic guitar. VIP stands for Variable Instrument Performance. They are three amps in one, essentially, and feature amps models for all three instruments.
Even cooler, you can emulate other instruments. So, even if you don’t play bass, you can emulate one with your guitar. You can also emulate violin, mandolin, baritone, 12-string, a 7-string among other instruments. This is a powerful effects package, one you'd expect to see in a more advanced processor.
This is a neat idea, and it definitely takes the modeling thing to another level. However, I was a little put off to it at first. Even though I play both guitar and bass, I guess I’m a bit of a purist. I have my bass amps and my guitar amps, and I don’t need any new-fangled machines to mix the two together.
But, the more I think about it, it sure would be nice to replace two amps with one. If the Peavey Vypyr VIP series passes the sound test, that is.
More on the VIP Series
Peavey VIP Sound
I tried the smaller version, the VIP 1 because I thought it best compared to my Vypyr 15. I consider the Vypyr a good-sounding amp for what it is: a 15-watt practice amp with an 8-inch speaker. The VIP 1 met and exceeded my expectations.
I was particularly surprised at how deep it sounded for such a small amp. At Guitar Center, they have all the combo amps recessed in little cavities with sound baffling.
I pulled the amp out of there because I thought for sure that was what accounted for the fullness of the sound, but it sounded just as good in the middle of the floor as it did in the cavity.
The VIP does not have as many guitar amp models as the original Vypyr, but it does have the Peavey 6505, Twin and British models which are what I use the most anyway. It also has a 6534 model, which was interesting, along with the XXX, Butcher, Classic and Buddha models.
It’s got Trace and Peavey models for bass and acoustic, and the same great effects as the original plus a few especially for bass an acoustic.
The VIP series is packed with other cool bells and whistles, like a headphone jack, USB port, auxiliary input, onboard looper, chromatic tuner, and global reverb. Yeah, there’s a lot going on with this amp.
If you are thinking about an amp for home practice, or if you want something small to carry around to your friend's house, you can get that in the Peavey VIP 1 without sacrificing all the sounds and effects you love.
Hear the Peavey Vypyr VIP
I was pleasantly surprised with the results of my Peavey Vypyr VIP Series review. Any sense of frustration and betrayal I felt at the alteration of my beloved Vypyr lineup quickly dissipated.
In fact, I’ve since been seriously considering replacing my Vypyr 15 and Fender bass practice amp with the VIP 2. As long as she holds together, she’d be all the home-use amp I could want or need for a long while.
Eh, who am I kidding? There’s always a need for another amp!
If I were a gigging musician, I can see how the Vypyr 3 would be super useful. It's got power, a massive array of available sounds, and it's highly portable.
Plus, if you are involved in different projects, a rock cover band, and an acoustic duo, for example, you can get by with one amp. That's priceless in itself!
My experience with Peavey gear has been positive for 20 years. I’ve never owned a Peavey amp that wasn’t bulletproof, including my Red-stripe Bandit that I bought new in 2003 and keeps in trucking. I’d expect the VIP to hold up in a similar way. If you’re looking for a solid amp for practice or home use give the Peavey VIP series a look.
There’s the Sanpera foot controller you can buy to make switching easier, control effects and store presets, but even without it these are great amps for those of us who mostly just jam at home.
Would I use it on a gig? The VIP 3 maybe, with the Sanpera. I have no doubt it would hold up and do the job, but I’d probably prefer a tube amp for a live situation.
Anyway, check it out. Especially if you play bass too, the Peavey Vypyr VIP series are great amps at a great price.
Which Peavey Vypyr VIP?
Questions & Answers
Question: What is the difference between the Peavey Vypyr VIP 2 and VIP 3?
Answer: I suggest visiting Peavey’s website and comparing the specs for the two amps side by side. Here are a few differences I think are important:
The front panel for the VIP 3 is more advanced. It has an LCD display, so you can clearly see what effects and models you are dialing in. I like this feature in modeling amps. It gets a little confusing trying to figure out which knob is doing what, and the little display can help.
The power rating is another major difference: The VIP 3 is rated at 100 watts, and the VIP 2 at 40 watts. While the power alone may not be a deciding factor for some guitarists, for others power should be a consideration.
For example, if I were going to play in a band, I would definitely prefer the VIP 3. I would want the volume and headroom that comes with 100 watts. On the other hand, if I never intended to take the amp out of my house, the VIP 2 is certainly loud enough.
However, even for home use, I may prefer the VIP. It has a variable power feature, so even though it is rated at 100 watts, the PowerSponge lets you dial it back as far as one watt. This, in effect, is like using a power soak on a tube amp.
The cost difference between the VIP 2 and VIP 3 is about $100 at the time I am writing this. However, remember that you may want one of the (optional) Sanpera pedals to control the amp, so factor that into the cost as well.