Adding to its line of compact DI/multi-effects units for traveling guitarists, Tech 21’s Acoustic Fly Rig is more than a collection of tone sweeteners – it contains a gig bag worth of functionality specific to the needs of acoustic performers.
Opening the black tin packaging, it’s immediately striking how miniaturized this pedal is. The chassis is only slightly wider than a guitar’s neck across the top and about 12 frets long. Tiny dials, buttons, and parameter names mean you’ll want to learn the controls before making changes on the fly in a live setting, but that seems reasonable for a unit you can slip up your coat sleeve.
A range of performance scenarios will be well-served by this rig, from acoustic player in a band, to troubadour-type, to solo instrumentalist. Using the row of black pushbuttons, setup choices can be made based on player preferences and the system you’re plugging into. For example, use the Acoustic Fly Rig as a DI running to a mixer from the XLR out or the 1/4″ universal output, or send the 1/4″ to the front end of a guitar amp. Other pushbuttons switch the 1/4″ to a high-powered headphone jack, swap the EFX section from delay to chorus, change the reverb’s room size, and reverse the phase for feedback control.
Tech 21 long ago staked its territory in amp emulation, and at the center of the Fly Rig is their all-analog SansAmp technology. The last thing most acoustic players want is to sound like they’re running through a tube amp. This SansAmp offers tone-shaping parameters acoustic performers need when going DI, like an EQ with Mid Shift and a Notch filter. Tweak to compensate for a quacky piezo pickup, PA quality, or amp characteristics that otherwise would be friendly only to an electric.
An EFX section is switchable via dedicated footswitch between delay, thick chorus, and dark reverb. The Comp section is understandably limited, but with just two dials to control spikes while strumming or bring out gentle fingerpicked attacks.
More smarts include a boost for acoustic solos, a clip indicator, switchable AC assemblies for overseas power, and a tuner that mutes when engaged – invaluable for amplified acoustics prone to feedback and microphonic sound. Whether going silent or using every bell and whistle on the Acoustic Fly Rig, guitarists on the move should be thrilled to have this much portable, patchless, clutter-free capability on hand.
This article originally appeared in VG May 2018 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.