By Jon Chappell
The Peavey Nano Vypyr brings the versatility and tone of its big brethren in the Vypyr line but wrapped tight into a lightweight cordless box that’s perfect for songwriting, practicing, or any situation that doesn’t require a larger, heavier, performance-level amp. You might not want the big Vypyr fangs in a hotel room, for example, but the Nano will wrap its sound around you without putting the squeeze on your welcome there. And its compact size and sound are just two entries on its serpentine list of charms.
The Nano Vypyr is a 10-pound combo amp that would measure 10 inches cubed but for the slanted back corner, which gives the cabinet a fifth side and allows it to tilt back for floor monitoring. The sturdy 8-inch speaker keeps the amp firmly rooted whether tilted or upright, and the Nano’s cabinet projects a surprising amount of volume for its size.
The amp has feet on both the bottom and slanted back, hard-plastic protectors on eight corners, and a wide fixed handle on top. A perforated hard grill protects the speaker cone. This thing is solid. The amp feeds 7 watts into its speaker, but the Nano’s design makes it feel like a lot more. A latched plate on the angled bottom covers a compartment for four D-cell batteries—great for those street gigs or any impromptu setting where you can’t find, or don’t want to mess with, an AC outlet. A rear-panel receptacle can accept a 6V AC-DC adapter.
Peavey has packed 11 amp models and 32 effects combinations into the new Nano. Models include two clean, two overdrive, two crunch, two metal, two lead, and one acoustic model. For EQ, you get global bass, mid, and treble, along with a gain control. There’s one instrument input on the top panel.
The Nano also has a built-in DSP section that includes chorus, wah, compression/chorus, flanger, octaver, tremolo, rotary speaker, and flanger. There’s also reverb and delay with tap tempo, which doubles as a button to engage the built-in chromatic tuner when held down. An Effects Morph knob adjusts multiple parameters for each effect at once, while the optional expression pedal gives users real-time parameter control over the effects. (Without the pedal, the wah effect functions as an auto-wah.)
An added advantage on the rear panel is a quarter-inch high-Z microphone input with independent level control for adding a vocal or acoustic instrument to the mix. There’s also an auxiliary input for a music player and a headphone output, along with the power switch.
Travel amps have gotten more versatile in recent years, but the Nano is the only one with the Vypyr pedigree. The tone and versatility of those larger combo amps has been injected into the Nano—including Peavey’s patented TransTube® tube emulation technology— and the amp has the fangs to prove it. I tried out the Nano with various guitars on music from country to metal to jazz and was impressed with the wide range of tones coming out of this mighty mite. Its crunch and metal sections are great for working on parts before you plug into your stack, and its acoustic and clean sections will help you keep your country and jazz chops at the ready.
The Nano can also be used for recording. I’m a fan of its built-in chorus and used the Nano’s headphone output to put some rich rhythmic Strat on a country track I recorded. On the same track I recorded Telecaster lead lines by miking the Nano speaker. Running the Nano on batteries made it a cinch to keep it close by whether I was in a control room or live room, and I was impressed with the amp’s power management. I kept the amp on for over a half-dozen cordless sessions, and the batteries are still running the amp. It was clear that the Nano Vypyr could come in handy for studio tasks as well as being a travel companion.
You’ll probably get the full fangs of this Vypyr, however, with your headphones on or when songwriting in a small room. Considering its cost, compact size, and cool tones, this Vypyr might replace Fydo as a guitar player’s best friend.
Jon Chappell is a guitarist and the Senior Editor of Harmony Central. He has contributed numerous musical pieces to film and TV, including Northern Exposure, Walker, Texas Ranger, All My Children, and the feature film Bleeding Hearts, directed by actor-dancer Gregory Hines. He is the author of The Recording Guitarist: A Guide for Home and Studio (Hal Leonard), Essential Scales & Modes (Backbeat Books), and Build Your Own PC Recording Studio (McGraw-Hill), and has written six books in the popular Dummies series (Wiley Publishing).