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Review: BSM RPA Major

Discussion in 'The Effect effect' started by ifurgoingtoSF, Feb 20, 2011.

  1. ifurgoingtoSF

    ifurgoingtoSF Strat-Talker

    Oct 18, 2009
    New Orleans
    My quest to obtain tone similar to that of Ritchie Blackmore's led me to BSM, a pedal company in Germany that was founded by Bernd Meiser- a Ritchie Blackmore crazed genius. After taking a look at BSM's website and tone guide, I decided that the RPA (Ritchie's Pre-Amp) Major was the pedal I wanted. Six business days later, the pedal arrived here in The Big Easy and I've been using it heavily over the last few days.

    Price paid: $360.00 + $9.00 for shipping and handling

    I'm going to review this pedal on a 100 point scale based on the following criteria:

    Features (25 points)
    Fit & Finish (25 points)
    Functionality (25 points)
    Overall service (25 points)

    This all adds up to 100 points.

    Features: The RPA Major is the high gain version of the RPA special booster. Essentially, the RPA Major is a pre amp. It emulates Ritchie Blackmore's AIWA tape recorder preamp and his hotrodded marshal amp with its modified high-pass function. A lengthy description of all this can be found on BSM's website. In short, the pedal acts as an overdrive and a treble booster. It recreates Ritchie's live sound from the 1976 and 1977 Rainbow tours. It has a level knob and an eq knob. It also has a 9 volt jack so you can hook it up to a charger. It takes batteries as well but it eats them up like no pedal you've ever used before. The pedal is easy to use and is quite adjustable. It's made by hand by Bernd. I give it a full 25 points for this category.

    Fit & Finish: The pedal is built like a tank. It also looks really cool. It has this unpolished steel construction and a cool label on top. The pedal is entirely hand made, and it looks that way. It looks just as aggressive and down to business as it sounds. 25 points.

    Functionality: (I'm using a Peavey Vypyr 30 and a BP50 on factory preset 22. My guitar has CS69 pickups with an orange drop cap) The pedal engages easily, and sounds great. The level control basically lets you control how much gain the pedal is creating. The pedal puts out 8 volts when the level is on max, so you have to run it directly into the amp. You can put other effect pedals after it. If you were to put these pedals between the RPA and the amp, you would fry them if you set the level over 50%. The EQ control lets you shape the sound created by the pedal. With the EQ fully closed, I get a Machine Head sound, perfect for "Highway Star" and "Smoke on the Water". When you set the EQ a quarter of the way to the center, I get the 1976-77 live Rainbow sound- tones of aggressive thick strat crunch, a bridge pickup sound with an emphasis on the highs, and a thick neck pickup tone. If I continue to move the EQ control passed center and another 45 degrees, I get tone like that from "Burn". If I fully open the EQ, it creates a nasally sound like that from "Sail Away". The pedal delivers on the tone that it promises, but at a price. There is lots of hum and background noise. I was able to get rid of some of the noise with my BP50, but there is still a hiss in the background. It's only a problem when your not playing. Note that I was playing with the level fully on and with some gain dialed up on my amp (although I was using the crunch channel and not the distortion channel). 22 points.

    Overall Service: I ordered directly from Bernd and he was a pleasure to deal with. Shipping was extremely fast and Bernd has promptly answered the questions I've sent him. I would definitely do business with him again. 25 points.

    Conclusion: The price of this pedal is very high, but if anybody asked you how much Ritchie Blackmore's tone costs, you'd probably say it's priceless. It's not- you can have it here for $360. Heck, I've been getting the Blackmore tone out of a cruddy 30watt solid state amp. I can only imagine what this pedal sounds like through a good tube amp. If your a Blackmore nut like myself, I suggest you get this pedal. Final score: 97 points (A+).

    Sorry, no pictures--- I couldn't upload them because I already used the pictures I was going to use here in another thread.
    Pythonman likes this.