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RJM Mini Amp Gizmo
Review by:Scott Kahn

  WIHO Award - Wish I Had One!  
             
  Features  Usability  Sound  Documentation & Product Support  Price  Other Comments
Contact Info  Overall Rating—Product Summary
 
             
   
RJM Mini Amp Gizmo

No, RJM doesn’t stand for Racks, Just Marvelous, but it may as well, because when it comes to building pro-grade guitar rigs, Ron Menelli is one of the top engineers building products that solve challenges and deliver essential solutions, typically with fantastic user interfaces so easy to use that even an old school blues rock player could figure them out.

Joking aside, the RJM Mini Amp Gizmo is one essential device for your pedalboard (or rack) that enables you to use any MIDI foot controller to control up to eight functions on your amplifier remotely, without the manufacturer’s foot controller. Many multi-channel amps offer dedicated footswitches that have multiple switches, and they connect to the amp via a proprietary cable. Those amps also typically provide a multitude of quarter-inch switch jacks for interfacing with external switching solutions.

The Mini Amp Gizmo lets you easily control amp channel switching, reverb on/off, effects loop bypass, and more, from any MIDI foot controller, conveniently utilizing your amp’s proprietary footswitch connector (or quarter-inch jacks if necessary). It is compact enough to fit on your pedalboard, and it runs off of a standard 9V jack on your pedalboard power supply, too. Simplicity of operation/programming, reliable functionality, easy integration, and affordability all add up to one fantastic product for your guitar rig.


Features

4 Stars

RJM Mini Amp Gizmo rear view

The Mini Amp Gizmo looks just like a compact version of other RJM products (including the larger Amp Gizmo, of course), with eight small, illuminated buttons on the face that correspond to up to eight functions in your amplifier.

The rear of the Mini Amp Gizmo is equally basic, offering one jack for connecting to your amp, MIDI Out (5-pin DIN), MIDI In (7-pin DIN, provides phantom power to most MIDI foot controllers that support it), and a 9V, 260mA AC/DC power supply jack, compatible with most pedalboard power supplies.

Connection to your amp is similar to the other larger RJM products: you order a custom cable for the amp of your choice, in whatever length you need, and it plugs into your amp’s proprietary footswitch jack. If your amp uses one or more quarter-inch jacks for its footswitch, RJM can make a custom cable that matches this as well. These cables are compatible across all RJM switching solutions, so if you already had a cable made for your Rack Gizmo or RG-16 and just downsized from the big rig to a pedalboard, you can re-use that interface cable.

The amp control jack is electrically isolated from the rest of the Mini Amp Gizmo to avoid any ground loop issues.

The Mini Amp Gizmo has memory for 256 presets, which should cover most guitarists’ needs.

If you have advanced control requirements, you can do more than just summon presets in the Mini Amp Gizmo from your MIDI foot controller—you can also send continuous controller (CC) messages to it to activate the eight switches individually. Cool! And if you would like to control multiple amps or devices, you can connect the Mini Amp Gizmo to the RJM BOB-8, a breakout box with eight quarter-inch switch jacks, and you can then control various switch functions on multiple devices. Alternately, you might consider the RJM Amp Gizmo (not Mini), which builds in four, quarter-inch switch jacks to the product in a slightly larger form factor.

Need more versatility? By default, the eight switches are configured for latching operation, but if you need to control devices with momentary switch jacks, you can change the configuration of each jack as necessary.


Usability


4 Stars

Controlling your amp doesn’t get any easier than this:

  1. Connect any MIDI foot controller to the MIDI In jack.
  2. Step on your desired preset number on the foot controller.
  3. Press the function switches on the Mini Amp Gizmo that correspond to the various amp channels and features.
    They light up.
  4. Hold the Save button for a few seconds until the lights blink. You’ve now saved a preset.

The RJM Mini Amp Gizmo is as small as many pedals.Use of the Mini Amp Gizmo really is this easy. On our pedalboard, we powered it from a jack on our Voodoo Lab Pedal Power 4x4 power supply, and we tested with the BOSS ES-8 audio looper/function switcher and a Mesa Boogie Mark IV amplifier. The ES-8 wasn’t capable of controlling our Mark IV, whose footswitch has options for three channels, effects loop bypass, and two different EQ on/off controls.

Adding the Mini Amp Gizmo to our pedalboard provided a solution that not only worked great, but the ease of programming blows away what is involved with setting up function switching in the BOSS footswitch. The compact size of the Mini Amp Gizmo, along with its rugged metal housing, enabled us to mount it directly underneath one of our BOSS-sized effect pedals, so we didn’t have to give up any additional pedalboard space. Another option would have been to mount it underneath the board, but you’ll want easy access to the buttons for saving your presets.

If you're a rack player, the Mini Amp Gizmo is compact enough to stash behind your amp with some industrial Velcro, too.

Quick Setup shortcuts can preconfigure the eight switches various ways such as grouping some of the buttons for either/or operation (see the documentation). For example, the first two buttons may be used for changing your amp channel, but only one of them should ever be On at one time. The custom cables provide instructions for selecting the appropriate configuration if necessary.


Documentation and Product Support

4 Stars

RJM Music Technology consistently produces outstanding product documentation, complete with example setups. The Mini Amp Gizmo is already pretty straightforward, but the documentation explains it in further details, plus provides details on the various MIDI CC values, switching momentary/latching control, and more.

There is a two-year warranty on the Mini Amp Gizmo.


Price


3.5 Stars

The RJM Amp Gizmo sells for $229, which is a very good price for such a useful rig accessory. Custom cables are required for your amp, of course, starting at $49 apiece.


Contact Information

RJM Music Technology
www.rjmmusic.com

 

Overall Rating - Product Summary

   
   
Category Value Rating
Features 20% 4 Stars
Usability 25% 4 Stars
Sound 25% n/a
Documentation & Support 10% 4 Stars
Price 20% 3.5 Stars

OVERALL RATING = 3.9 Stars, which earns it a WIHO Award!

3.6 stars or better: Outstanding, WIHO Award
3 stars or better: Worth considering
2 stars or better: Suited to specific needs
1 star or less: Not recommended
 
  Evaluation Short-List
  • RJM Amp Gizmo
 
   
   

 

 

   
             
             
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