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Recently, while taking a break from filming – Travis was showing off his vibe pedal, The Depths, that he bought at the 2013 Nashville Amp Expo from our good friends at Earthquaker Devices. Being the professed gear-nerds that we are, we love taking the chance to show each other some of the great gear that is available out there!
Travis paired up The Depths with the Wampler Pedals Velvet Fuzz. (Running The Depths before the Velvet Fuzz.) All of us in the studio were immediately blown away by what we were hearing! Such tone! Hendrix and Robin Trower on tap! Check out the classic 60’s tones that Travis was able to create.
- Max Jeffrey
This week I wanted to take some time and talk about A.C./ D.C. (Alternating Current and Direct Current – not about one of the arguably best rock bands of all time.) Frequently I have customers ask me about what kind of power supplies they should use to power their pedals. While there are several great options out there – I wanted to just go over a few of our favorite options here at the shop.
Most pedals run off of a 9 Volt battery/ power supply. Most all of your off-the-shelf batteries will power up your pedals just fine with 9 Volt D.C. power. While most all of your off-the-shelf 9 Volt batteries are very close to providing 9 volts, not all of those batteries will register a perfect 9 volts when tested with a multi-meter. If you test a 9 volt battery with a multi-meter your battery might read anywhere from 8.5-9.4 volts (give or take). Your pedal’s tone can sometimes fluctuate depending on how much power that pedal is receiving. Dirt pedals with weaker batteries can often sound muddier or have a weaker output. Delay, reverb, compressors, and some other types of non-dirt pedals will actually start clipping and will often times sound bad. Depending on your rig/ setup - this tone can some times be desirable to certain players. Wah pedal often fall under the same category. Many players claim that slightly weaker batteries produce a sweater tone. Recently, I tested this theory with a 9-volt battery from a smoke detector (I replaced the old smoke detector battery with a new one). I’m happy to report that it did in fact change the tone for the better!! While some pedals work better with drained batteries some pedals need a full charge or better yet a dedicated power supply – most often times modulation pedals, like delay pedals, fall under this category. Many fuzz pedals fall under this category as well and will sound different, often times better, with a lower level of power from a weaker battery.
A One-Spot or a Daisy-Chain type power supply is often a great option for smaller pedal boards or players that are on a limited budget. If you are looking for a lightweight option to power only a couple pedals, these types of power supplies will do the trick. A Daisy Chain type of power supply provides several D.C. barrel adapters on a single string of wire to provide your pedals with power. This will cut down on your need for remembering batteries at a gig. Because of this uninterrupted power flow, sometimes certain types of pedals will not “play nice together”. Some delays and some dirt pedals with these types of power supplies will create ground loops/ unwanted hum and other potentially annoying signal interference in your rig.
Another popular option, and one of my personal favorites, is an isolated power supply. Isolated power supplies are made by several companies and greatly range in price. ISO power supplies, like Voodoo Labs, are often times heavier, larger, and more expensive. However, with a dedicated/ isolated power supply provided for each pedal, a player can effectively eliminate any unwanted ground-hum noise that may occur. (Like a bar with a hundred neon signs). Although some ground noise my still come through on occasions, a lot of it is taken care of. Most of these types of power supplies will regulate the current going in to your pedal at a nearly perfect 9 Volts. However, some isolated power supplies will have dip-switches that will allow you to “sag” your power to certain pedals to allow you to achieve that dead battery tone that some players have come to love.
So which option will work best for you? If budget allows and you have room on your pedal board – I personally think an isolated power supply, like a Voodoo Labs, is the way to go. But if space, weight, or budget is an issue there is absolutely nothing wrong with a Daisy chain/ One-Spot style power supply or even a good old-fashion store bought 9 Volt batteries. You be the judge!
- Max Jeffrey
Brian Wampler was raised on a diet of the most excellent 80's hair metal. From Winger, Dokken and even White Lion he knows the three things you need to be a living legend... Great tone. Great chops. Most importantly, you need awesome hair.
So, what did we decide to do about it? Well, we got the King of gain - Brian Wampler of course, to design a genre defining pedal, we packed it tighter than Derek Smalls pants with AMAZING tone - does all you need to do is bring chops? Not quite... That was not enough... We decided to give you the ultimate. Just check out the video to see what the HAIRstortion can do for your stage presence!
So, be excellent to each other and party on Darth. I think it was Darth anyway, I can't remember. The Wampler Pedals HAIRstortion. Because your tone is worth it.
For most us tone chasers, there are few memories as strong as the first time you plugged in to your very first tube amp. For some of us, that memory was at your local guitar shop, for others it was sneaking in to our big brothers room while he was away, while yet others it was a special occasion like a birthday or Christmas. For me, it was the latter; Christmas morning of 1997. I had saved money all summer long bailing hay and had over half of the money saved for a brand new Fender Hotrod DeVille 2x12”. My parents surprised me for Christmas by paying off the remainder of my balance at my local music shop and having it under the tree me.
For most us, the switch from solid-state amplifiers to tube amplifiers was a tonal game changer! From the warm glow of the tubes and the slowly lighting of the jewel light, to definitive click of the on/off switch and this new switch called “stand-by” - I was hooked! Every chance I got, I cranked up my amp up louder and louder so I could get that natural saturation from compressing the tubes harder and harder – often times with much annoyance from relatives and the neighbors.
The only tradeoff was the weight! For me, going from a mass-produced 15 watt 1x10” combo that weighed under 20 pounds to this 2x12” 70 pound behemoth was a drastic difference. But while my young back screamed with my pain, my eyes wept with joy at having the ability to closer achieving the tone I kept hearing on the radio from some of my favorite artist.
Although years later, I own a couple of different amps now (different circuits, different tubes/ tube configurations, a plethora of different speakers in various different sizes.) I still get a certain thrill thinking about that amp and the first time I ever fired it up. That amp has been through the ringer for sure – from numerous gigs, rehearsals, bedroom practicing, re-tubing, re-capping, and new speakers – it is still with me. Every now and then I feel nostalgic and fire up that amp and crank it! Although I still have to watch my volume with the neighbors, I no longer have to worry about the annoyance from the relatives – just the fiancé.
So now that I have shared my first tube amp story with you, we would love to hear what your first tube amp was too! So tell us, what was your first tube amp?
- Max Jeffrey (Wampler Pedals Associate)
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.