MINICAB DRIVER is our tribute to the first generation of “amp in a box” and “speaker emulator” type gizmos made for guitarists around the late 80’s. The idea was that you could get amp-like tones without the hassle and noise of micing-up an actual amp. Of course, compared to today’s whizz-bang digital modellers and cabinet impulse response loaders, these old boxes might not sound terribly convincing to the tone purist, but we think they have a certain charm and sound of their own.
Ultimately though, please note that MINICAB DRIVER isn’t a model or emulation of a specific amp. If it’s an emulation of anything, it’s an emulation of an emulator, leaning more towards a British / classic non-master volume Rock style guitar amp. And of course, we couldn’t resist adding a couple of digital-age bells and whistles of our own - a room reverb, and to the best of our knowledge, a fairly unique mains hum noise reduction system.
MINICAB DRIVER handles mono or stereo inputs / outputs, and the stereo image is maintained throughout. If you’re using a guitar, route it to the left or right input, and use both outputs in stereo to get a room sound “spread” effect.
As you’ll most likely be using MINICAB DRIVER with an electric guitar, we’ve added a handy monitor LED next to the input jacks. For optimal setup, the LED should typically only be blue if you’re playing otherwise too much background noise is being amplified - in which case reduce your input level. Also, the LED should only flash red when your playing is at its hardest / most aggressive. If the LED is red nearly all the time, then again, back off your input level.
The POWER switch toggles MINICAB DRIVER between active and bypass mode. The LED below the switch will be lit when active.
Next up, we have a CAB SIM switch with status LED. When lit, this brings in our guitar cabinet simulator designed to mimic the frequency response of a legendary green 12” guitar speaker.
DRIVE adjusts how hard your input signal hits the “preamp” of MINICAB DRIVER. A dual cascading “preamp” stage delivers tube-like crunch, and a “power stage” adds more distortion and compression as you crank up the DRIVE. And yes, the drive does actually clean-up with your guitar volume and picking dynamics, and it goes up to ELEVEN!
TIGHT mode when lit, increases the overall compression for a “tighter” feel, useful for lead playing. When off, the response is a bit more dynamic and “open”.
LEAD mode when lit, increases the gain of one of the “preamp” stages for when you need that little bit extra drive!
The BASS, MIDDLE and TREBLE controls are based on a fairly traditional guitar amp tone stack found in a famous amp with a similar colour scheme. Like many high gain rock-oriented amps, the tone stack comes after the “preamp” stage. Boosting the MIDDLE control will result in noticeably more drive and saturation occurring at the “power amp” stage.
The switch in the centre of the BASS, MIDDLE and TREBLE controls can be used to bypass the tone stack entirely when not lit.
ROOM allows you to bring in a bit of ambience, adding to the illusion of a guitar amp in an actual physical space. This control also helps spread your sound out a bit, avoiding that “pin point” / dead-centre DI type effect.
The SMALL / MEDIUM / LARGE switch sets the size and damping characteristics of the ROOM ambience, from recording booth to large hall.
BUZZ KILL. Here at Waverley Instruments HQ, we love the sound of single coil guitar pickups, but we're not so keen on the mains hum they're also prone to picking up! It can be a real buzz kill. So... we added a BUZZ KILL switch to MINICAB DRIVER! This is a noise reduction system aimed specifically at mains hum, switchable between 50 and 60Hz depending on where you are in the world. Due to the way it works, you might have to tweak your tone controls to compensate for the offending buzzy frequencies being attenuated. The centre position bypasses the noise reduction. Please note, if you’re using a humbucker pickup guitar, you’re unlikely to need this function.
Ultimately we wanted to keep MINICAB DRIVER really simple, but add enough features so you could use it to get decent guitar tones easily and quickly for recordings or even for playing live.
We hope you’re tempted to take a rock’n’roll ride back in time with the MINICAB DRIVER!
Credits: Many thanks to Ben at bensmithguitar.com for recording the demo clips and providing invaluable feedback during development.
Title of Song