Gearphoria Volume 7, Number 1

58 GEARPHORIA SEP/OCT 2018 GEAR REVIEWS u Benson Preamp Power to the Preamp Benson’s new stomp channels Chimera character BY WADE BURDEN WHAT DO I say about the Benson Preamp pedal? I think at this stage in Chris Benson’s story you either haven’t heard of him or you own an amp. The Monarch and its more muscular big brother the Chimera are that good. And of course, that leads to some pressure for every- thing Chris builds to be mind- blowing. That’s probably why I’ve heard him tell several people “It’s just a dirt pedal,” with an air of “Calm down” in his voice when en- thusiastically asked about his new Preamp pedal. You see, the Preamp pedal can’t be mind-blowing to everyone. It is just a dirt pedal after all. It’s a tool meant to work together with other tools; you place it in front of a 50’s Tweed and it’s going to sound amazing. You plug it in to a Chinese Fender and it’ll perform admirably, but something will still be lacking. Everything Chris builds can’t be mind-blowing to every single player that plays them. They are tools, and tools are meant for different jobs. The Monarch is the flagship of the Benson amp line, and it’s truly the result of Chris’s vision, along with years of trial and error. The Chimera is essentially two Monarchs bolted together, giv- ing you more power and volume, but forfeiting that early control- lable breakup of the low-watt Monarch. Want something a little more Vox-y? The Earhart is a top boost-inspired version of the Chi- mera circuit - but you lose a lot of the warmth that makes the Chimera the Chimera. Each of the afore- mentioned amps is a tool meant for different jobs, and each appeals to different types of players. The Preamp pedal is composed of the circuit that makes up the pre- amp section of the Chimera, with FETs replacing the tubes. What you get when you take an amp circuit and replace the tubes with FETs is a very amp-like dirt pedal. Being that it has transistors in-