Peavey’s Revalver 4 has now been about for a while now – It’s been ecstatically reviewed by Guitarist and Iguitar, my view was rather more equivocal. There is a lot of exciting technology in Revalver 4 and a lot of it works extremely well, but there was also huge inconsistencies the quality of the models – I wrote about it all in some depth here.
One of the most interesting developments were the introduction of guitar emulation through Peavey’s ACT tech (Audio Cloning Technology). In theory, this analysed the signal from your guitar and would then add the modeled tones of a range of electric guitars.
I found that electric models fared much better than acoustic models and that the ACT technology was happier working with single coils than humbucker. Overall, you could get reasonable sounds that could sit back in a mix but the quality was not quite there for solo work. But now Peavey have added new ACT models to the package, have they improved the quality?
There are three new guitars to play with and they are all as iconic as they come, Gibson SG, Ricky 360 and – gulp! – the Gretsch White Falcon. So lets give them a go, at £4.99 each, are they going to be a bargain way of accessing some of the greatest guitars of all time? I used a Tele and a Les Paul with these tests to compare how the software handled both humbuckers and single coils – the signal then went through a variety of Revalver 4 amps with no other effects or processing.
Its been a Gibson SG year this year, I’ve had enormous fun with the soon to be deleted SGJ. How does the ACT SG model compare? The neck pickup emulation was a little boomy (all the models would benefit from a tightening of the neck tone frankly) but had a lovely smoothness through an emulated Marshall (there was a rather harsher, digital tone through a clean Fender emulation) but it is the bridge pickup modeling that is a revelation here, there is (at least through the Marshall model) something of the snarl and snap of a proper, full-fat SG. Chord work has that real Angus grit to it and there is even a decent solo tone there. The amp you use is vital here, clean and there is just too much digital coldness and the tone becomes flappy with too much distortion but with a mildly overdriven tone, you really have something very exciting here. Easily the most effective guitar modeling I’ve heard on the Revalver 4.
I remember hearing the 360 emulation on a Roland VG-8 back in 1995 and being stunned by it – surely this £2,000 black box is the futures of guitars I thought. Well, of course that never quite happened did it? And nearly 20 years later Peavey have attempted to model a 360 and the result is…pretty poor. That neck is very dark and boomy and there is none of the chime that you would expect at the bridge or the in-between settings. Of course, played clean does none of these models any favours, but if you cannot really play a 360 clean – what is the point of the 360?
After the disappointment of the 360, I had doubts about the Falcon – another guitar that you would expect to be played pretty clean so would the modelling hold up. The first surprise is that there are a lot more tone options here. As well as bridge, neck and middle options, there are Varitone options for all 3 pickups and this is not a gimmick, but has a genuine, musical effect on the tone.
The neck is a little boomy through a clean amp, but it is not excessive and a spot of EQ’ing helps. There is a pleasant, fluid jazzy feel to the tone that rockerbillies up nicely with a hint of overdrive. The Varitone option darkens things without making everything too muddy. The bridge option has a jangly, sparkly character though a Fender amp model (in fact it sounds closer to a 360 than the 360 model did). With a hint of overdrive you do really get a hint of Brian Setzer – its a big, bold clangy tone that had me whizzing through the solo for “Rock this Town” without disgracing itself.
So, what do I think? Well, this type of software emulation is still light years behind the hardware emulation that Roland and Line 6 have been pushing for years. But the SG and White Falcon models do represent a big step forward – they are genuinely musical and versatile and actually sound something like the guitars they are meant to emulate and at £4.99 each are certainly worth the investment.
Now if Peavey can continue to improve the modeling, then these ACT guitars could really become something very interesting indeed. Could we end up with a 1959 Les Paul Standard for £4.99? Personally, I would love that!