The Sheriff V4 Preamp (same sound as from The Sheriff amp) has a full-bodied Marshall Plexi sounds; and so, if you want to integrate that sound with an amp you already have (via the FX Loop) or as a stand-alone pedal while recording or direct to PA, The Sheriff V4 Preamp likely is the premier piece of gear for consideration.
The sound is fantastic as it’s not merely a pedal, but a four-valve preamp that produces authentic amp tones that not only mimic a high quality plexi, but adds a unique chewy robustness that is unmistakably Victory Amplification. The first channel is not exactly a ‘clean’ channel – although when dialed back to about 9-o’clock it sounds somewhat clean with melody lines and some light chord strumming (it helps to have your guitar volume dialed back a bit as well). Beyond that point you get some quality gain, and anything past 12-noon is excellent for light to medium rock riffing with a good dose of crunch in the mix. The second channel has a similar sound to the first, except it is far more robust, aggressive and with a thick grainy punch. This channel has obvious use for lead playing, as well as heavy power chord work. The first channel has very good headroom, whereas the second channel is a bit tighter with added saturation. Both channels accept dirt pedals well, although anything intense or high-gain oriented works best on channel 1 (due to added noise in the signal when cranking channel 2), although channel 2 accepts such pedals fairly well if its gain is not turned up too high and the gain on the pedal is kept low as well (when combined modestly there is plenty of balls). Although The Sheriff V4 is considered moderate gain (whereas its counterpart The Kraken V4 is high-gain), The Sheriff still sounds plenty hard-hitting to my ears, and particularly when adding some push from an overdrive pedal. The Sheriff V4 does not have as much bottom end as The Kraken or The Countess, which likely is why it’s considered less high-gain than the other two.
OVERALL IMPRESSION: Victory Amp’s answer to the Marshall Plexi is The Sheriff, and it may be argued that it has superior tone quality to many Marshall Plexi models. The four valves running the Sheriff V4 produce thick rich tones that range from sizzling to heavy and biting. At a price $499 USD, The Sheriff V4 Preamp is an investment to be certain, but definitely a piece of gear that ensures both quality and functionality (being able to transform any amp into a Plexi beast). The Sheriff V4 was designed primarily to be integrated into an amp’s effect loop, to give access to additional amp tones at a fraction of the price of a new amp (and so, you can set it atop your amp head or amp/cab combo), which means being able to use your Fender, Vox, Friedman or ENGL amp and still get the Plexi-type tones from Victory’s Sheriff V4 at a third the price and a fraction of the weight (an important factor for gigging musicians). As well, the Sheriff V4 Preamp can be used as a standalone unit in front of your amp or directed into your DAW or PA system when gigging. Part of the Victory preamp collection (including The Countess and The Kraken), The Sheriff has its own characteristics that make having all three fun to own and use interchangeably. Not only is the overall quality of sound exceptional and more ‘alive’ than what can be achieved with amp-simulators, but the quality of construction is outstanding (and other pedals sound superb when mixed with either channel). And because you’re feeding this 4-valve tank a lot of power, it comes with its own 2-amp 12-volt adapter (together with plug ends to accommodate any country’s electrical concerns).
GENERAL USE: Used as a standalone unit (on your pedal board) or with your current amp in the effects loop, The Sheriff V4 Preamp found its home on my pedalboard and through an Axe-Fx II for speaker simulation. However, its chief design was to afford musicians the ability to use an amp’s channel(s) as usual, and also the Sheriff V4 for additional sounds and tones (perfect for those who run clean single-channel amps). Because the Sheriff V4 is valve-driven, it has that pure analog quality and will sound natural with other valve amps. And so, you can have your channel(s) in your amp, then switch to the Sheriff V4 (which bypasses your amp’s preamp) while producing great sound. Adding dirt or delay pedals, for example, will need to be arranged as usual and to your preference. In standalone mode you place whatever you want before and after the Sheriff V4 (dirt before, delay/reverb after and modulation where they sound best). If integrating the Sheriff V4 within your amp’s effect loop you can add pedals direct to your amp’s input or along with the Sheriff V4 in the loop. The Sheriff V4 operates just like any other amp/preamp. There is a switch to bypass or turn the unit off (the LED is on when the pedal is on) and a switch to navigate between the two channels. Each channel has its own Master Volume and Gain, but both channels share an EQ. The Bright switch likely will remain on ‘0,’ which is neutral, unless you find your effects loop (or even a single-coil guitar) a bit bright or harsh, then you can remove some treble by flipping to -1 or -2. If operating in standalone mode, adjust the EQ and reserve the Bright switch when using the Sheriff V4 in an amp’s effect loop. There also is a TSR input that allows remote switching, ideal if you have the Sheriff V4 mounted atop your amp.
OTHER DETAILS: The Sheriff V4 Preamp measures in at 225 (w) x 140 (D) x 80 (H inc. feet) mm (8.85 x 5.5 x 3.1 inches) and weighs 1.7 Kg (3.75 lbs). It is built like a tank and meant for road-wear. With an all-steel chassis (held-together with high-torque 8-blade Posidrive screws and machine bolts) the four internal valves are well protected. The Sheriff V4 comes with a 5-year warranty and the valves come with a 2-year warranty (good for approximately 6000 playing hours, which works out to two-hours-per-day over eight years – they can be replaced for approximately $15 USD). The pots have a very smooth feel when turned and all pots and foot switches are silent when turned or engaged (no static, crackling or clicking sounds). The Sheriff V4 boasts a protective kick bar with powder coated gold metallic paint, together with black writing and graphics. The LEDs for on/off and channel selection are raised only slightly and well located, and so they are free from foot stomping trauma. All connections are made through the back (with the exception of the TSR remote switching input), all of which is good for protection of the cables and inserts, but also saves on pedal board space. The rubber feet under the unit are heavy-duty screw-in types.