tone Mak­ers

The brains be­hind Wam­pler Pedals takes us through his jour­ney from early Noughties ana­logue mods to the daz­zling fu­ture of DSP

Guitarist - - Contents -

What was the first pedal that you built and how did the de­sign come about? “I started out mod­i­fy­ing pedals, but the first pedal I built was back in 2002. It was a ba­sic over­drive us­ing Ver­oboard from one of those DIY web­sites. Gosh, that goes back some years… I’ve slept a few nights and had a few beers since then! Even­tu­ally, I bought a bread­board and learned my way around circuits from build­ing them and ex­per­i­ment­ing. Orig­i­nally, my com­pany was called IndyGuitarist and the first pedal – which sold more than two or three units – was called the Blue Fuzz. Even­tu­ally, as the com­pany started grow­ing, I fol­lowed in Robert Kee­ley’s foot­steps and branded it af­ter my name, so we be­came Wam­pler Pedals.” What do you think makes Wam­pler Pedals unique? “It’s changed over the years for us. What orig­i­nally set us apart was that we weren’t do­ing things like Fuzz Face and Tube Screamer clones – it was all com­pletely unique dis­tor­tion and drive circuits. It was al­ways in my mind that there were al­ready peo­ple mak­ing great clones. I thought, ‘I could buy those if I want to, so I’ll just cre­ate my own thing that doesn’t ex­ist yet.’ Over the years, as peo­ple have begged and pleaded for us to do clones, we’ve done our spin on that. Our Tum­nus, for ex­am­ple, is a Klon-style pedal. I like to be forth­com­ing and let peo­ple know if a prod­uct is based on the skele­ton of some­thing else.” What’s your best-sell­ing pedal and why do you think that is? “It changes all the time, but right at this sec­ond it’s ei­ther the Pan­theon or the Tum­nus Deluxe. They feel good un­der the fin­gers, they sound good with a va­ri­ety of amps, and they last a long time. You can run over it with a car and it’s prob­a­bly not go­ing to break! At least if some­thing does hap­pen to it, we’ll get it taken care of im­me­di­ately with­out a lot of fuss.” Which no­table play­ers/bands have used Wam­pler Pedals? “If you go to our web­site there’s a huge list of them [in­clud­ing Brad Pais­ley, Neal Schon, Dweezil Zappa and Oli Brown, among many oth­ers]! To be hon­est with you, I ac­tu­ally find it very sat­is­fy­ing when some­one who’s saved up for three months to in­vest in their pedal takes the time to email me and give me their thoughts on it.” Is there any­thing new on the hori­zon with Wam­pler Pedals? “We’ve just re­leased a pedal called the Fuz­ztra­tion. It’s a fuzz com­bined with an in­de­pen­dent Oc­tavia-style oc­tave cir­cuit. The fuzz cir­cuit has mul­ti­ple op­tions, in­clud­ing a three-band EQ, and it goes from a Big Muff-style fuzz to some­thing much more gnarly and open.” Could you tell us a se­cret that you’ve dis­cov­ered about ef­fects? “Tra­di­tion­ally, peo­ple put de­lays af­ter their dirt pedals, but if you put a de­lay be­fore, there are some pretty wild things you can do, de­pend­ing on what style of over­drive or dis­tor­tion you’re us­ing. It re­ally changes the flavour of the de­lay. It can make it sound ugly, but it can make for some re­ally cool sounds as well.” What’s your best tone tip? “Al­ways be in tune and get lots of prac­tice – that’ll prob­a­bly im­prove your sound more than any­thing else!” Name a com­mon mis­take that guitarists make with ef­fects... “Run­ning the wrong volt­age into a pedal. I see that a lot. It’s an easy mis­take, but some­times when you put that 18-volt power sup­ply into a nine-volt pedal you’ll get noth­ing out of it apart from smoke!” What new pedal trig­gers your GAS most now? “I love what Chase Bliss Au­dio and Meris are do­ing. I love the Kem­per and Frac­tal tech­nol­ogy and the im­pulse re­sponse stuff that’s hap­pen­ing these days. I’m re­ally in­trigued by a lot of the DSP-based stuff and I re­ally like how things are go­ing in that area. Those are ar­eas that we’re work­ing on for the fu­ture as well. It’s quite dif­fer­ent from the ana­logue world, but to be hon­est with you, it’s prob­a­bly more ex­cit­ing to work with be­cause you’re not as lim­ited.” What prob­lems have ef­fects de­sign­ers yet to crack? “There can still be is­sues with cost ver­sus pro­cess­ing power. You might be able to do amaz­ing things on the dig­i­tal plat­form you’re us­ing, but un­able to take that chip and the cir­cuitry around it into a pedal for a price that peo­ple are will­ing to pay. But it’s get­ting bet­ter, and we’re start­ing to see more com­pa­nies com­ing out with cooler and cooler things be­cause the price of that tech­nol­ogy is com­ing down and mak­ing it more af­ford­able.”

The new Fuz­ztra­tion pedal com­bines a fuzz with an Oc­tavia-style oc­tave cir­cuit

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