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Tech 21 Sansamp PSA-1 programmable pre-amp £130

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Posted (edited)

<|| NOW JUST £130 - see edit below ||>

The PSA-1 is a 1U rack device that uses analog modelling to simulate the sounds of classic amps. Effectively you can set separate distortion levels for low, mid, and high frequencies. It comes loaded with 49 presets covering various Marshall, Fender and Boogie amps as well as bass amps. The signal path is 100% analog, but you can save settings to one of 49 user memory locations. The programs can be accessed form Up/Down buttons on the front panel, or by MIDI program change.

The Tech 21 'character' pedals use the same sort of technology but with some of the parameters pre-set to suit the kind of amp they are mimicking. Here you have the full range of tweakability.

The PSA-1 can be considered a pre-amp or an amp simulator, but it doesn't have any onboard speaker simulation as such. It can be used into a clean guitar or bass amp, or into a power amp with a suitable guitar or bass cab. For direct recording most of the (dirtier) sounds also require a cab simulator device, IR loader or similar. Even so, I recorded the clean guitar in this clip without a cab sim.

To me, the standout guitar presets are 07 (Hendrix - Marshall), 12 (Stevie Ray - Fender) and 48 (AC30 Queen). There are also a number of bass presets including SVT and Bassman. As is usually the case with presets, you probably won't like them all, so copy one you like to an empty memory slot and tweak away.

There are plenty of connectivity options including front and rear inputs, FX loop, balanced outs, and MIDI in/out.

The unit is in full working order. There is an in-line IEC plug/socket part way down the mains lead, which makes it easier to run through rack panels. The only negatives I can find are:
(1) The Up/Down buttons sometimes jump more than one increment at a time (but it's easy enough to go back to where you want to be);
(2) Some of the lettering has worn away on the rear panel;
I don't have a hard copy manual but you can download it here.

Reason for sale: I have used this much less since getting a Revival Drive!


  • I have just refunded the original buyer and this is now back up for sale at just £150 £130 delivered. The buyer reported that the unit exhibited a random clicking in use. I realised this had happened to me once, and I also remembered what it was and how to fix it.
  • When you call up a preset, the unit uses the stored data to set all the parameters. Once you start turning the controls, it 'reads' the parameter values from the pot settings. When you turn a control it updates these values, and you can get a click. Also if one of them is near the crossover point between one value and the next, it can jump back and forth between these values, again causing a click each time this happens. If you save settings to a spare memory location as you go, the clicking goes away. The buyer agreed this seemed to be the case, but requested a refund, which I was happy to provide as this would have been in the description had I remembered it.
  • I have had the unit plugged in this evening and I have been unable to get it to misbehave. However, it can happen, and it is an easy fix.

So, yours for just £150 £130, looking like it does, and with some minor niggles as described here. No trades thanks. These are selling for a lot more on eBay!

Not really looking for trades thanks.

Here's a dude showing off some of the guitar presets:



Edited by JapanAxe
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Might also be interested in an Aguilar Octamizer in trade.

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One of the presets in the Bass section is called 'Yes'. Naturally by engaging this setting you'll immediately be able to play like Chris Squire.





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A couple of years ago I had the privilege to visit the control room of Peter Gabriel's Real World Studios. What should I see in the rack but a special edition pink-panel Sansamp PSA-1. I'm told it gets a fair bit of use...


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It has been pointed out to me that there is a second (silver fronted ) PSA-1 near the bottom of the right-hand rack. So Real World have two of these - that should tell you something!

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Almost free now at a frankly silly £170 delivered.

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