Mooer Micro Preamp US Gold 012 Review

Mooer Micro Preamp 012 US Gold 100 Review

Mooer’s range of Micro Preamp pedals seems to be a huge hit with guitarists all over the world. Can such a tiny pedal really sound like a huge amp? I decided to find out for myself and bought the Mooer 012 US Gold. This mini pedal is based on the Friedman BE-100 amplifier which is basically a hot-rodded Marshall Plexi. The hand-wired amps are absolute monsters and have a price tag to match so Mooer would have to work some magic to recreate those tones in such a small and affordable pedal!

The Mooer 012 Pedal

The pedal itself is one of those super-cute mini pedals which are becoming very common. They take up hardly any space on a pedalboard and can easily be kept in a guitar case or gigbag as an emergency backup. The only downside to such a small pedal is the lack of space for a battery so you need to use it with an external 9v power supply.

Controls are super simple with the usual amp controls of volume, gain, bass, middle and treble. There is also a small button which doubles as a light. This changes channels and operates the speaker cabinet simulator. The footswitch can either turn the pedal on and off or change between the clean and dirty channel. You change the way it works by holding the switch down for a couple of seconds. Another nice feature is the pedal remembers the last settings you used when you switch channels. I was worried about only having one set of shared controls but if you set one channel the way you want then switch to the other and do the same you can switch back and forth without the controls changing your settings. For such a tiny package they’ve managed to squeeze in all of the controls you’ll need in a user-friendly way. Good work Mooer!

Mooer Micro Preamp 012 US Gold Review

In Use

The Micro Preamp pedals can be used in a number of ways which makes them super-useful. With the speaker cabinet section turned off you can either use it as an overdrive pedal or plug it into the effects loop of your amp to give your amp a different flavour. Turn on the speaker cabinet simulator and it can replace your amp completely, which is great for running straight into a PA system or for recording purposes.

Channel 1 is the clean channel. Trying to get a completely clean sound proved difficult with my usual humbucker equipped guitar but when I turned up the gain a little I found some very nice lightly crunchy tones. Turning the gain right up provided some really nice low gain sounds which were just crying out for arpeggios. Switching to a Strat really brought this channel to life. Pure cleans sounded sweet and as I increased the gain the tones got better and better. The way the pedal reacts to playing dynamics started to shine through as I found I could play normally and then make certain notes pop out by playing harder, or switch between rhythm and lead by changing the way I played. Add an overdrive pedal and this channel can cover a lot of ground. Perfect for blues or classic rock tones. There is a little hiss but it’s not too bad.

Let’s be honest, if you’re thinking about buying one of these pedals it’s the distorted tones you’re likely to be most interested in. Switching to channel 2 unleashes the sounds I was really hoping to hear from this pedal. With the gain down low it’s slightly less crunchy than the clean channels highest setting. There is a change in the character of the sound though which makes it more aggressive (in a good way). A little gain on this channel with a Strat is a match made in heaven. And the response to how you play proves to be even better than with channel 1. After adding a little reverb I lost half an hour because I couldn’t stop playing.

Plugging in a humbucker equipped guitar really beefs up the sound and you’re rewarded with some great rock tones at low gain settings. Start adding more gain and it simply sounds huge. Thick, chunky and everything you’d hope to hear from a modded Marshall. It’s a versatile kind of distortion too. Depending on how you set the gain and EQ it can do anything from modern rock, classic metal, modern metal, doom and pretty much anything else you’d want a high gain sound for. Killer lead sounds are easy to get with the help of a little reverb and delay. You can really make it sing. And once more, those dynamics really come through well. Change between playing open and really digging in with palm muting and it reacts extremely well. Palm muting sounds very tight already but with a little help from a noise gate, it’s possible to get incredibly tight sounding rhythm chugs.

Being able to turn off the cab simulator is a handy feature. The built-in cab simulator sounds good and matches the preamp’s tone well but it is pretty forward and aggressive sounding. Using some an impulse loader in my DAW helped me find a number of good alternatives to further expand the pedal’s range of tones. For live use you could always add something like a Mooer Radar pedal after the preamp.

Conclusion

For such a small and inexpensive pedal the Mooer Micro 012 Preamp provides a huge sound. It’s not a lot of money at all and you really could replace an amp if you can get your sound out another way. For the ultimate micro rig, all you need is a small pedalboard with a few basic pedals, one of the Mooer Micro preamps and some kind of small power amp such as the Mooer Baby Bomb and a speaker cab. Or ditch the power amp and cabinet and run straight through the PA. The preamp is also perfect for recording. If you already own a pedal setup you’re happy with and don’t want to mess around with a mic and cab then this could be a great solution. Mooer make a wide range of preamps but if you’re looking for the kind of thick tones only a modded Marshall can deliver then the 012 is the one for you. Even if you don’t think you need one it’s well worth buying one just for emergencies. I have a feeling you’ll decide to start using it after you’ve heard the tones it can produce though.

Rating 9/10

The Mooer Micro Preamp 012 US Gold is available for around $99. For more information visit MOOER


Mooer Micro Preamp 012 US Gold 100 Demo Video

Mooer Micro Preamp 012

9

Rating

9.0/10