As a self-proclaimed gear nerd and tone chaser, as I’m sure many of us are, we often obsess over the major components of our guitar rig while we are on the quest for that perfect slice of tone we hear in our head. Whether it’s a vintage or modern guitar or amp, one off pedals or mass-produced pedals – we are all guilty of going to our favorite music store and playing them all to try and find “the tone”. However, we often times don’t think about the smallest and cheapest component of our rig… the lowly plectrum!
The plectrum, or pick, comes in a variety of different materials, shapes, sizes, and thicknesses. While there is no hard and fast rule to what pick will be the most comfortable in your hands- there are a couple things to think about as far as thickness and material of a pick; and how they can shape your sound.
Material is often something we don’t think about when it comes to choosing a pick. Different materials that picks are made of will help produce different tones and dynamics. Some common mass produced picks are made of tortex, polyurethane (plastic), nylon, celluloid, and acrylic. But the list doesn’t stop at just those materials. Some traditional picks are made of wood, felt, and tortoise shell. Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top swears that the secret to his tone is a metal Peso that he uses as a pick.
Nylon, poly/ acrylic, ultem, and celluloid type picks can help brighten up darker tones. The interaction between this pick material and the metal strings of your guitar – can produce higher frequencies that some darker rigs might be lacking. Picks made out of tortex, delrex, and similar materials can often have the opposite effect and give your rig a darker or a more mid-scooped response. These types of picks can often help tame bright sounding guitars and amps.
Pick thicknesses are often times just as broad as the materials that they are made out of. On average - pick thicknesses range from extra thin (usually around .44mm or less) to extra thick (usually around 1.50mm or higher). Thinner picks can often times help with strumming patterns and players that want to play sweeping style movements. Thicker picks will help with individual note definition and produce a heavy, more robust, and often times louder sound.
My personal "pick" has traditionally been of the celluloid variety in a heavier gauge. Lately however, I have been playing a heavy gauge acrylic pick from the guys at Gravity Picks. My note to note definition sounds better than ever. I typically have a darker tone and celluloid or acrylic style picks help give me some of the higher tones that my rig sometimes lacks.
Ultimately, you are the creator of your own music and the pick that you are most comfortable using at the end of the day is all that matters. No one but you can decide which pick to choose or what thickness to use. So get out there and try a couple different brands, thicknesses, and materials and find the one that will never leave your pocket – except to play your guitar.
- Max Jeffrey (Wampler associate)
Wanted to thank Tyler Chiarelli , guitar player for Florida Georgia Line, for taking a quick break from their Monumental Music Jam Tour (with Brantley Gilbert and Thomas Rhett) to show me the ins and outs of his live rig. Keep an eye out for the Plexi-Drive!
While browsing through gear forums and threads, you might run across the term “sag” occasionally when referring to different pedals or amps. So what is sag and is it good or bad?
Sag and compression are often times synonymous terms. When a tube amplifier is cranked up hot and loud, the tubes will naturally start to compress, or sag while being pushed. This natural occurring compression is helping to create that wonderful tube breakup tone that so many of us are in love with.
Some of our favorite pedals, Wampler and non-Wampler, are designed to help create this phenomenon to make your pedal sound more natural and responsive – just like a tube amplifier. Sometimes a player will need/ want sag in their tone. Fender amplifiers, especially blackface style amps, have some very characteristic sag that makes them sound wonderful. Sag in fuzz pedals can also be a very positive attribute at times as well. (Giving you that big and heavy 60’s fuzz type tones for example.)
Occasionally, players do experience too much sag/ compression in their tone. Sometimes you will read about players that experience a sudden loss of volume when playing a high output guitar through a high gain pedal.
An example might look something like this:
“Whenever I play my Les Paul with burst-buckers through my Wampler Pinnacle Distortion, I temporarily have volume loss from my signal on the first few power chords that I play. The signal sounds almost delayed or ‘soft and squished’. This problem doesn’t occur when I use my Telecaster or Stratocaster – just my Les Paul.”
This is a perfect example of sag! As you probably already know, the higher the output of your pickup (Big overwound or hot humbuckers for instance) the harder you will drive the circuit of your pedal. Just like a regular tube amp, when the pedal’s signal is pushed – the signal will start to naturally sag.
However, this problem doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy your favorite high output pickup guitar and your favorite high gain guitar pedal together again. Don’t let your sag be a drag – this problem is often times very simple to fix. Often times sag and compression issues with a pedal can be alleviated - by lowering your pickup height. (Check out Brian's pickup spacing on his Whitfill telecaster below). So how much do you lower the pickup height? Honestly, it’s a trial and error approach. Make small adjustments with a screwdriver to the screws on each side of your pickup equally, until you hear the desired amount of sag in your signal.
Sometimes when you lower your pickups to make one pedal sound better, it might not make another pedal in your chain sound like it did before you lowered your pickups.
For example: By lowering the height of your pickups – you made your high gain distortion sound better, but now your Tube-Screamer doesn’t sound as beefy as it did on the old settings. When you lower your guitar’s pickups – you will at times need to adjust your pedal’s volume, tone, and/or dirt settings to achieve the unity with your other pedals.
Some pedals will naturally sound better with higher pickups rather than lower pickups; in this case you may have to decide which pedals you like the best with which guitars. In the same way that some guitars sound best with different amps, some pedals naturally sound better with different guitars. This isn't a hard and fast rule! Every component of a rig has a unique sound to it and all your gear works together to form your individualized tone.
So is sag a bad or a good thing? When used in proper doses, sag can make your tone sound more robust and can add color to your solos while helping you to achieve some killer tone! So how much sag will you need? Only you can answer that one, so get out there and add or take away as much sag as you want until you achieve the perfect amount you hear in your head!
- Max Jeffrey (Wampler Associate)
For those of you scrolling through our product page, or for those who have been following us on social media – you may have realized that we have changed the name of our Ace Thirty pedal to the Thirty Something.
So why change the name? Ultimately it was easier to change the name than to pay an attorney thousands of dollars to argue over something that is not all that important. In the end, changing the name was a better idea. Now I can get back to what I really want to do – chasing guitar tones and building pedals.
After asking all of you to come up with a great new name we have finally arrived at our final choice: Thirty Something. Our good friend and demo guru, Brett Kingman, suggested the new name to us. Instead of Brett receiving another new pedal - we have decided, with Brett’s blessing, to donate the money equivalent to a charity of his choice. Brett has requested it go to "childwise", (http://www.childwise.net) an anti child-abuse organization.
We would like to thank each and every one of you for all of your fantastic re-name suggestions and for your continued support. We truly do have the best customers in the world.
We had yet another very successful Winter NAMM this year! While I have traded in the mid 60’s weather of Southern California for the sub-zero, polar vortex weather of Indiana – it is still good to be back home. This year at Winter NAMM we met up with some great friends and some killer players, demoed two new Wampler Pedal prototypes, and announced the new name of the Ace Thirty pedal; the “30 Something”.
While there were countless talented musicians that stopped by the booth, too many to list, it was good to see some familiar faces and a couple new ones! The short list of players I want to say thank you to for stopping by is (in no particular order): The always wonderful Tom Quayle, Pete Thorn, Hexx Henderson, Bruce Bouillet, Synyster Gates (Avenged Sevenfold), Gary Morse, Daniele Gottardo; who was accompanied by the very talented Gretchen Menn.
NAMM is also a time where pedal builders can catch up with one another and even indulge in some good old fashion shenanigans with one another. Wampler Pedals is very fortunate to have some great pedal building friends that make some fantastic products. Big shout out to Nicholas from Caitlin Bread Effects, Philippe from Caroline Guitar Co, Josh from JHS, Sean from Lotus, all the guys from Walrus Audio, and Jamie from Earth Quaker Devices!
Stay tuned for our video recap of our Winter NAMM show. In the mean time, check out our good friends at SonicState.com as they go over the “30 Something” with Brian as well as explore our new Tremolo and Plate Reverb prototypes.
Recently we released a pedal which is my take on the sound and feel of one of my favorite amps, an old vintage VOX AC-30 amp - we called it “Ace-Thirty”. While legally we couldn't find any trademark problems with this, the good folks over at VOX seemed to be less than thrilled with our choice of name!
We have to sell through our stock that is already built, so this is your chance to have a very limited edition Wampler Ace Thirty pedal before the graphical change... Since we'd rather spend money on coming up with new designs and building pedals than pay attorneys, we need a new name for the pedal so... Name that pedal! Winner gets the last Wampler Ace Thirty ever!!! Fill the thread on Facebook up with your suggestions!
Although we are known well with the country genre, with signature units from Brad Paisley AND Brent Mason it's hard not to be, but we are proud that our pedals are used by musicians from a wide range of genres.
For example, let's take a look at what might be considered the opposite of Country Music, how about we look at real Scandinavian Metal, especially You Tube demo legend and widely respected session guitar player, songwriter and producer Ola Englund.
If you have heard of Ola, you know what a tone hound he is and that he is extremely precise in his gear choices, if you don't, consider this. He has a signature amp from Randall (he joins artists such as Dimebag, Nuno Bettencourt and Kirk Hammett to name but a few) and a signature guitar from Washburn... Why? Because there is nothing available that ticks the right boxes... Nothing is completely right out of the box.
With that in mind, you'll understand how proud we are when he chooses to use the Wampler Faux Analog Echo as his delay of choice, and says that with it "my rig has never sounded better".
You can check out Ola's touring rig here!
Ola has previous demo'd some pedals for us, check out his awesome demo of the Triple Wreck!
Christmas is upon us, and I felt like spreading some holiday cheer with some great tones. I asked a good friend of mine, and great player, Steve Townsend to stop by and put the Pinnacle Deluxe and Pinnacle Standard through its paces. Steve demonstrates some really great examples of Early Van Halen, and the “brown sound” that has been made popular by the legendary guitar player Eddie Van Halen.
For this video – I paired both the Pinnacle and the Pinnacle Deluxe with a Port City Pearl amplifier and Port City Cab. Keep an ear open for Steve kicking on a MXR EVH90 Phaser to round out that great Van Halen sound.
Check out Steve demonstrate some great tones of the Pinnacle in the video below.