Tag Archives: wampler

Fuzzy, Overdriven Distortion! The best of all worlds…….?

One of the really good bits about working here at Scan Towers, is the chance to test the cool new pedals that arrive here daily, but just the other day I found myself contemplating just what I was listening to and why… bear with me…

The real shame about the dearth of live music venues over the last 30 years, is the amount of guitarists, who have never got to make a real big noise on stage.

Back in the day, I can remember at least 10 venues in my local area alone, that would feature a Live band at least one of the days of the weekend, and these bands would invariably play a mixture of Rock tunes, famous in their day, which people would know and hopefully sing along with… however the common denominator was the Guitar and amplifier, and the volume was usually LOUD!

Now, what that meant, was that even the most mediocre of bands had the opportunity to get up and make a racket, and in doing so their guitarists began to understand the skillset involved in driving a powerful amp and cab at considerable volume.

And it really is a skillset… A Marshall 100 watt stack has a certain attitude, that requires a definite approach, even before you start to play. Everything from the way you hold your pick to where you stand in relation to the cab affects the overall tone and performance.

Which means that when I now play through a pedal at lower volumes, I have a different expectation based on my experience, than someone who maybe hasn’t ever used an amp in anger, so then, what do these different terms mean and what can we expect from the relevant pedals?

Fuzz:

To me, Fuzz is generic term for ‘Broken’.

Back in the early days of guitar amplification, every so often an amplifier would develop a fault like a misaligned valve or an ‘iffy’ bit of soldering, and the resulting form of distortion became sought after by those of a more adventurous ilk. It was adopted by some of the early Punk bands in the US and is still enjoyed by many as a raucous form of distortion, very suited to fast Rhythmic playing rather than searing lead guitar solos….  Famous examples include the ‘Big Muff Pi”

Distortion:

A more controlled, yet still pretty artificial version of distortion that offers a lot more gain and aggression, but is also capable of being shaped to provide an approximation of High Gain amps from the ‘80’s and ‘90’s. Boss pedals were the one-time king of this genre with their DS1 and HM2 pedals finding their way onto 1000’s of boards throughout the ‘80’s. The downside for me, is the lack of dynamics you can achieve, although when it comes to piles of dirty filthy grittiness, these things are the bomb…

OverDrive:

These pedals aim to simulate the very desirable sound of an over-driven tube amp, which can by degrees, be a creamy, smooth form of distortion, much loved by Guitarists because of the ability to control the distortion amounts and shape the EQ to suit many different styles of music. A famous example would be the Tube screamer from Ibanez.

 

So, given that this is my expectation, what else could affect my experience?

Well, this, I think, is where the experience of driving a big amp in a live situation comes into play.

I have played various Fuzz pedals over the years, and as an effect they have worked well, but the sound is still quite artificial when compared to driving a real amp. For my style of playing, this doesn’t work so well for me. Most of these pedals are very definitely a sound within their own right, and consequently, I find them pretty one dimensional, ( albeit if this is the sound you want, nothing does it better… see Jimi Hendrix Purple Haze or Machine Gun or the Stones’ Satisfaction…)

Distortion Pedals are another problem for me. When you play a valve amplifier loud, there is still a varied range of dynamics you can get from the sound, either by reducing the guitars volume or by Pick attack or finger pick strength. Distortion pedals tend to fight to corrupt the sound exactly the way they want, regardless of what you may require, and as such don’t allow the kind of control I require from a sound……

So, that leaves Overdrive pedals…. For me the most satisfying of all the ‘noise’ pedals, because they actually set out to mimic the sound of an overdriven tube amp, and consequently strive to allow the dynamics and nuances through. An easy way to test this is to play softly and then dig in hard…. The amount of distortion should change dramatically…   In a nutshell, these pedals are attempting to force your valves to work harder at lower levels, thus mimicking the effect of playing your amp much louder… Now the good bit…. There are hundreds of them out there!! And most of them very good indeed, but each offering a different sound, a different depth of distortion and a different level of control from one another.

So here, is a quick look at some of our favourite Overdrive pedals, and why…..

LN76105      BE-OD  Overdrive pedal by Friedman

Mr Friedman knows his  amp tones.

As the Father of the ‘Dirty Shirleys’ and ‘Buxom Bettys’, he has taken his amp know-how and pushed it inside this little box… and it shows. This little beauty emulates the Friedman BE-100 amplifier.

LN76104                 Ecstasy Red Guitar Pedal by Bogner

The Bogner Ecstasy amp has been hand built in California since 1992, and this is their own approximation of it’s famous Red channel…..

LN76241                 .45 Calibre Overdrive by J.Rockett

This pedal is startlingly good at one thing.

If you need the sound of an overdriven original 1962 JTM45 (think AC/DC -Ballbreaker, Gar Moore-Still got the Blues or Jeff Beck- Live at Ronnie Scotts) then this is it…

LN72684                       CKK Scream Drive

                                           (Two Gain Stage Classic Overdrive pedal)

Based on the classic Tubescreamer circuit, this offering from GKK gives you that Iconic sound and then the option to wind it up through the roof!

LN81096                   One Control Strawberry Red 

Of all the Overdrives featured here, this is my favourite. It doesnt actually try to emulate any one amplifier or sound. Instead it has been voiced to put out a sound that One Control hope all guitarists will enjoy. And I do.

 

Distortion Units:

So if you want to go Hell for KLeather into the world of pure Distortion, here are our recommendations:

LN72834                           Valeton Darktale Vintage Distortion

This peadl has a sound based on the famous RAT distortion pedal from Pro Co.  Everyone from Jeff Beck to Blur have used this sound, and this klittle beauty brings it straight to your door..

 

LN72836                      Valeton Hell Flame Extreme Distortion

From the vintage to the MOdern, this brings you a very modern ‘Metal’ Distortion with a very aggressive tone.

LN81124                     One Control Anodized Brown Distortion

With this pedal, One Control were looking to give the player a lot more physical control over the distortion sound, and If I were to use distortion, this is the kind of thing I’d be looking for…..

LN78881                    Wampler Pinnacle Standard Distortion

Think Eddie Van Halen’s ‘Brown Sound’ and you’re right there…. A very high-gain guitar sound that exudes liquid sustain, warmth and Organic response.

LN78891                    Wampler Dracarys Distortion Pedal

A Gain monster! With a 3 band active EQ to allow you to ‘sculpt’ the tone, The Dracarys is modern and versatile, and if you like Game of Thrones, you’ll even understand the name…..

And finally, the Scuzzy, Buzzy world of Fuzz!…. Here’s our pick of the Fuzz tones:

LN68968               Fuzz screamer from Xvive Micro Pedal

Cheap and effective, if you only need a fuzz pedal for one or two songs in your set, this little cracker is the most cost effective thing on the market. Classic Fuzz with a 21st century twist…..

LN72837                      Valeton Red Haze Vintage Fuzz

This is based on the legendary ‘Fuzz Face’ circuit, and usimng a special Germanium transistor to recreate the vintage fuzz tone, this is the sound of Jimi’s ‘Foxy Lady’ and other Iconic fuzz tones…

LN79616                       Voodoo Labs Superfuzz

Back in the ’60’s there was a tiny little unit called a Jordan electronics Bosstone. Randy Californis’s band ‘Spirit’ were the famous users of the day, and this pedal gives you the famous tone whilst allowing a wide selection of variations…..

LN76547                   KHDK Scuzz Box Fuzz Pedal

Kirk Hammett ( he of Metallica fame) has put together a company yo make guitar effects pedals, and they are gaining quite the reputation. This is their take on the Fuzz sound, and I have to say it would be my choice too. Two different types of sound, one is a dynamic fuzz tone, where the Scuzz sound is just c razy….

 

LN76245                     Hooligan Fuzz by J.Rockett

To my mind, this is the most versatile of all the Fuzz pedals here, in that it can replicate many classic tones, as well as being capable of creating a right sonic mess…..

So there we have it, take your pick of the myriad pedals here in stock at Scan, and whichever way you like your dirt, we hope you have fun.

We also stock all the nits and pieces you might need to build agreat board including different sized boards, jack leads, brackets etc.

 

Wampler Pinnacle Distortion Pedals. “Brown Sound” Anyone?

The entire range of Wampler Pedals are now available here at Scan and we are just slightly pleased to have them all here under our roof. I say slightly pleased……..as a pedal freak I’m ecstatic that these pedals are here as they are fantastic and I get to sneak off and have a play through them whenever I have some spare time!

I get asked about distortion pedals all the time and often the customer has a particular sound or style in mind. This narrows the search beautifully as a player looking to nail that SRV tone is not looking to buy a high gain pedal and vice versa the high gain lovers are not looking to buy a mild overdrive pedal. This is all well and good but what do you do when you fancy a light crunch for lunch and a high gain thump for dinner? Buy different pedals is one answer and many do for specific tones that they can switch between instantly but if this is not a requirement then a wide ranging drive pedal is probably ideal for your needs. Which after all this rambling brings me to this beauty……

In a nutshell the Pinnacle gives you mild overdrive AND extreme gain all rolled into one beautifully built pedal and its party piece is one of the most convincing “Brown Sounds” in a pedal you will hear. In fact, Eddie Van Halen’s guitar tech Zeke Clark played through this pedal and said….

“I’ve played tons of pedals that promised that “Brown Sound”… this pedal NAILS it better than anything I’ve ever heard or played.”

Trust me when I say if you are considering a drive pedal this has to be at the top of your list of must tries and if you love the tone but need extra versatility Wampler has got you covered on this score as well with the V2 pedal below. Full three band E.Q and a boost as well!

Did I mention it does that ”Brown Sound”…grab a PAF and enjoy !!

Wampler Pedals @ Scan

Multi Effects or Dedicated Pedal Board?

Multi Effects or Dedicated Pedal Board?

It’s an age old question, in these days of super modelling, Ultra High DSP and Super compact sizes, why would anyone ever bother with a Big Lunky Pedalboard?

Well, the first thing to say I guess is Horses for Courses….

If you’re playing at home or just jamming with friends, or even in a local ‘covers’ band down the local pub every Saturday, the quality of sound from the new generation of Multi FX boxes like the Zoom or Korg or Boss really is very accurate, and indeed if you’re looking to emulate the exact delay of a U2 track or the chorusy swirl of a Stone Roses cover, you’ll probably find that someone has done the hard work for you, and the sounds are VERY close indeed, but for those seeking the Holy Grail of real guitar tone from a real amplifier with real dedicated Stompboxes, the Pedalboard will always be the way forward.

There’s just something about the ‘physicality’ of the guitar, where you have to physically ‘make’ the notes using both hands, (as opposed to say a Piano player who just pushes a key and the sound is there) that sits so well with a dedicated pedal.

Let’s try and explain…

For me the one thing that will always be missing from the Multi Effects brigade is the movement of air by the speaker cone, and the way that sound evolves over the course of a show, as the room warms up and the tubes in the amp warm up and how a pedal fit’s right in to that mix, as another thing to be controlled.

Indeed, I usually recommend to anyone playing a Multi effects box live, to run it straight into the PA and let the sound guy give you your sound back through the Monitor. Especially if the unit has the ability to model or emulate a speaker cab. (What’s the point of a great speaker cab emulation which then gets run through your existing amp and consequently takes on the character therein, hence doing away with the Cab sim completely…)

In these circumstances as I said before, especially in a small Pub or club, these units can sound absolutely accurate for classic tracks, and the sound man will love you forever as you entrust your levels to him, but for the true guitar Tone Meister, only the real thing will do.

One of the problems of the Old Fashioned Pedal board, was the perpetual ‘Tap Dancing’ to be seen on stage, as the hapless guitarist tried to switch pedals in and out for different parts of a song, but nowadays, there are some pretty sophisticated switching systems that lie on your board alongside the pedals , and are capable not only of switching between various pedals, but also switching patches within the pedal or Patches via MIDI.

Also, in the same way that a real amp moves air in a different way depending on the venue, a real pedal can be reached down to and tweaked on the night, mid song, as the room eq becomes more apparent, in a way that a multi-effects unit can’t ( most of them being editable via a series of LCD or LED windows ).

However, it must also be said that in the studio, where you have the time to tweak the unit and add extra e.q.’s and tone shaping, there are some Multi-effects boxes that work a treat, and in truth, you’d be hard pushed to know the difference between them and the real thing in the depths of a mix.

Also, there’s portability…. My current board is not dissimilar to carrying a Mini Clubman under your arm, and the resulting benefits in tone, are completely offset by the lack of ability to play properly after carrying it in from the car… So… what’s the answer.

The answer is obviously, you have to have both.

In my studio at home I have all manner of Guitar FX units, each capable of creating sounds that fit wonderfully inside a mix, ( I have a Korg A1 unit from 1991 that does one sound I cannot re-create anywhere else…), and I’m seriously tempted by the latest little Zoom units,

but ultimately, for me to play live, I still rely on my board,

after all,

he who has the most toys wins, right? J