The Pedal File: Yay Pedal News!

Hey there!  I realize you may not spend your time scouring the web for new pedals to feed your horrible pedal addiction, which is why The Pedal File is at your service.  It’s been  a minute and I’ve been seeing blurbs here and there about various new pedals that are getting me all bothered and excited!  I thought I’d share this stuff with you so you can also be excited and feel ahead of the curve and like you’re better than others (because you so are just for reading my site right now!).

Earthquaker Devices Palisades

Earthquaker Devices Palisades

I saw some forum posts about this new overdrive/distortion from the folks at Earthquaker.  Apparently some goober was touring the shop, took a pic of this unreleased pedal, and thought it was cool to post on Tumblr or something, which of course spread through the pedal community faster than Ricky Martin’s butt cheeks in front of a mariachi band.  No big deal, right?  Honestly, not a huge deal, but he probably should’ve asked if it was cool beforehand as it seems Earthquaker was scrambling to stop the wild speculation of what type of pedal it was and let it be known this was no hoax.  But now, ToneReport has the scoop that this baby is a indeed a distortion device, featuring parameters that seem to combine distortioning, EQing, and buffering.

(***Pedal File Editor’s Note:  Premier Guitar printed a press release from Earthquaker claiming the Palisades is basically a TS808 Tubescreamer with all the bells, whistles, mods, curves, and angles you could possibly want on the TS808 circuit.  Personally, I’m not a huge fan of the Tubescreamer, but I’m still excited because do you know what I’m a big fan of?  VERSATILITY!)

My favorite tweakables are:
-the ability to toggle between two different gain settings (via Gain A/B knobs & a stomp switch)
-you have some control over the bandwidth frequency going into the pedal with a rotary switch.  There are actually 5 total frequencies to select, so you have a lot of tone options there.  Kind of like a frequency knob on a distortion pedal (think the Rat here).
-another rotary switch selects how you want to ‘clip’ the signal or in other words – how do you want to distort the signal?  The Palisades offers 6 ways to do so:

Diode life (no clipping): not sure what this means.  I’m guessing you can use this setting more as a clean boost or for tone shaping?
LED:  more of a low-gain, edge-of-breakup sound
MOSFET: higher gain
Asymmetrical Silicon: clips the waveform unevenly or asymmetrically providing more compression/clarity.
Full silicon: I assume this is symmetrical clipping meaning it clips the positive and negative cycle of a waveform evenly giving the effect of more distortion (as opposed to asymmetrical clipping)
Schottkey diode clipping: I’ve never heard of this diode before.  After some research it looks like people traditionally put them directly in their guitar with a way to switch them on for more gain.  I like the idea of using something in a way it was not intended.  The description of the way they sound makes me think this has a ‘germanium’ texture to it.

This is apparently what happens when a man like Jamie Stillman gets to be alone all day with electronics.  If you need to replace your whole collection of overdrives with one pedal, this one could and should be it.

For some more info/pics check out the most recent ToneReport.

 

Wampler Latitude Deluxe Tremolo

Wampler Latitude Tremolo

I’m a big fan of Wampler pedals.  They are solid, versatile, and sound great.  So naturally I’m excited for their new deluxe tremolo.  The Latitude, much like the Palisades, is a knob-tweaker’s dream.  Most tremolos these days are suited for either a vintage or modern sound and feature about 2 or 3 knobs (yawn!).  Empress and a few others make very nice and tweakable trems but they’re awful expensive and big.  Wampler has proven again that they really can compete in the pedal trade by jamming so many cool features into such little enclosures (You get controls more recognizble on a delay pedal for instance, like tap tempo and four selectable time subdivisions).  Brian Wampler is stepping up his game, yo!

My favorite tweakables are:
– the wave form selector.  Select from square, bell, or sine waves for different trem flavors.  Get some vintage amp tremolo or modern helicopter (judo) chop.
-the spacing knob.  Increases the space between volume bursts or ‘throbs’ or ‘pulsations’.  It controls the amount of ‘dead space’ while you play.
-the attack knob.  Adjust from punchy all the way to rolled off attack.  Possibly can do volume swells.  Sweet!  With these three controls alone you can do much more than the average tremolo.

The Latitude has no price listed until the official release (May 29th) but I’d imagine this one falls around the $200 mark.  If you’re in the market for a new tremolo I just found it for you.

Check out Wampler’s site for more info.

That’s my update for you, I hope you feel that much more informed.  Stay tuned for some cool new things coming soon the the site!

Thanks for reading.

Love,

Nick
The Pedal File

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Pedal Feature – Wampler Pinnacle Deluxe

wamplerlogo

Greetings, pedal seekers and tweakers.  I bring you news and tidings of pedals and such!  Today I’d like to talk to you about a great pedal company I think is underrated and not well known – Wampler Pedals.  Specifically I want to talk about the Pinnacle Deluxe, my current favorite distortion, but first allow me to give you some background info.  In fact, you have no choice in the matter (I’m beaming mind-control waves through the screen to keep your attention on every single glorious word…and you thought it was the Ritalin.  And the aliens.)

IMG_3127Brian Wampler started out modding pedals and even wrote a book (now out of print damnit) about pedal building and modification.  Since about 2006 he’s built a high quality product line that mostly consists of distortions/overdrives and ‘amp-in-a-box’ pedals with a few takes on modulation effects like delay, reverb, and an exciting new deluxe tremolo that I posted about previously.  He also offers a buffer and a compressor, the latter of which is currently on my board…not that you care.  But famous muckymucks like Brad Paisley who actually matter use them so you should care!  In addition I’ve begun to notice a lot of session guitarists and studios use Wamplers, which to me said, “Hey Nick!”  And then I was like, “What?”  And then my brain was all like, “Wamplers must be pretty god damn versatile to be used by so many people needing so many tonal options!”  Then I was like, “Brain, you might be on to something!”  My brain and I agree for once. Any company that can build such a reputation so quickly must be doing it right.  You might be thinking, “Come on, the Brad Paisley Drive?  I don’t want to sound like a country guitar player.  I play punk or metal, I’m super hardcore, and that’s not for me !”  Well I say ‘listen with your ears and not your dick’ (what, that’s not a saying?).  I’m no Brad Paisley fan, but I can’t deny a pedal that sounds fantastic.  Even if they called it the ‘Justin Bieber Drive’, I don’t care, it’s all about the tone, right?
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Speaking of tone, we’re not talking about the Brad Paisley Drive so why did you even bring it up?  Kind of off topic, but anyway…The Pinnacle is like a Chipotle burrito chock full of distorted goodness.  Stay with me.  The guitar is your mouth and the amp is your ass.  Let them become one and you’ll be blasting diarrhea geysers of tone like volcanoes erupting into outer space like a true ass-tronaut!  This sexy red-sparkled contraption offers up everything from mild overdrive to fat and crunchy, super high gain distortion that borders on fuzziness, to scooping those mids, to the famous or infamous ‘brown sound’ (depending on your opinion of Eddie Van Halen).  I like the idea of tone that could potentially make people poop their pants, and I’d like to think Eddie’s was named after the elusive frequency.  Simmer down you damn hipster, I’m not that crazy about Van Halen either, I just admire the tone: high gain, crunchy heaviness with presence that’s not too treble-y or muddy.  That is what Nicky likes and again it’s about what pleases your ears, not imitation.   (But let’s be real, who wouldn’t enjoy playing to an arena of a bunch of drunken people who all crapped themselves at once?)  I haven’t been successful at making anybody poop yet, but don’t be scared because even if you hate Van Halen I’m convinced you could still produce distorted tones that are satisfying.  The Pinnacle goes way far beyond just emulating the EVH sound.

Tweakables: Quoted text is taken from the Pinnacle ManualIMG_3130

Volume – This perky knob adjusts the output level. Mr. Wampler says, “There’s plenty of volume on tap in either standard or Boost mode, so whether you want to go farther than your input level or just make sure it can do unity volume (the same level of signal going out as you feed it, when active), you’re covered. The Gain, Tone and Contour knobs, and the Boost toggle (or for Pinnacle Deluxe owners, footswitch) all have an impact on total output volume level, so you’re probably better off waiting to adjust the Volume until you’ve dialed in the other controls. Re-adjustment might be necessary if you get it to the desired level and still need to tweak the sound.”  He makes volume sound hard, but don’t worry, I have faith you can figure it out!

Gain – “This control, in conjunction with the Boost toggle (or, for Pinnacle Deluxe owners, footswitch), lets you dial in anything from a classic, almost laid back early rock tone all the way to modern high-gain.  Our users, from international pros to weekend warriors, all have their own favorite ways of using the pedal, so however you end up liking the Gain setting, that’s just fine.  The “Brown Sound” is in there, that’s the goal after all!  But in terms of how much distortion you want, there’s a great deal of flexibility and we encourage you to run through the whole gamut to get a good sense of how it works and responds before you settle on how you’ll use it.”  I agree.  The gain is incredibly touchy so you have really fine control of how much break up you want in that there tone of yours.  Also, I think it’s totally cool that this pedal is made to emulate a certain tone, yet it can also sound pretty much like any distortion/overdrive (and almost fuzz) you could want.  Extra points all around, Sir Wampler.

Tone –“This adjusts the frequency emphasis on the highs.  It interacts substantially with the Contour knob and  Vint./Modern switch.  There are several ways you can approach adjusting the Tone.  You could start with it maxed and roll it off until you like the amount of highs, or you could start with it lower and adjust it either direction if you want more or less.  Either way, it’s a fairly straightforward control, but the interaction with the other tonal adjustment options means you should expect to spend some time getting used to the overall tonal possibilities.”  Maybe this is a stupid thing to say, but it still surprises me how much control this knob has over the tone of the pedal.  It adjusts from way scary dark to shiny, bright and glittery.  I like to keep mine set from around noon to 3 o’clock depending on how bright I want it.

Contour –“This adjusts the frequency emphasis overall.  It interacts substantially with the Tone knob, and is affected by the Vint./Modern switch as well.  At noon, this knob gives you a balanced presentation of the overall frequencies; counterclockwise it becomes very midrange-forward, and clockwise it takes the mids out pretty heavily, contouring the sound for a very “scooped” tone.  A little adjustment goes a long way with this control.  The best approach would be to start with the Contour knob at noon, and adjust from there.  Of course, making such broad tonal changes, you’re going to want to adjust the Tone control in conjunction with the Contour knob!”  This knob is how you go from vintage to modern voiced gain.  I’m not usually a fan of scooped mids, but I’ve been digging the scoopage on the Pinnacle!  This is a useful feature for recording because I don’t have to have 7 pedals on hand (I do have them on hand anyway just because!  Pedals!!).  I can use the Pinnacle’s versatility to give it to me (ooh yea).  Typically I keep mine around 9 o’clock as I prefer more mids in the mix.

Vint./Modern Switch –“This control essentially sets the overall voicing of the pedal’s frequencies, to be either darker with a classic tonality or brighter and more modern if you’d prefer that.  Setting this up first will give you a good “starting point” for your tone, but it’s also useful if you’ve adjusted everything else and feel the overall tone needs to shift in a larger direction.”  Once again this feature makes this pedal great for the studio.  I wouldn’t say the change in voicing is incredibly drastic, however I would say it’s enough to be like two pedals in one.  Why do I like that idea?  That’s right, versatility, Stupid!  I prefer the vintage setting myself, but the modern is great for when you need to kick it up the gain some more.  The Pinnacle is perfect for intricate riffage and lead playing alike, and the ability to toggle between the two modes makes it well-suited for blues, jazz, rock, punk, metal, polka, muzak, easy listening, hard listening, and your mom.  Just kidding about that last one, don’t plug your mom into the pedal or vice versa!  I doubt that’s covered by the warranty…

(Pinnacle Standard Only) Boost Toggle –“This switch alters the internal gain structure of the pedal to bring much more drive, heavier and more aggressive distortion when engaged.  On the Pinnacle Deluxe, this functionality is found on  the Boost foot switch, for adjustment on the fly!”  I don’t use the boost a whole lot, but it does add a nice dose of gain to push the pedal a little further if you need extra cream in your crunch.  Brian Wampler says it’s not intended to be an actual volume boost but I swear my ears hear a boost in volume.  Could be my stupid brain perceiving something that’s not there…  There’s also an internal trim pot to adjust the output volume if you want to ‘go to 11’.  I do.  I do want to go to 11.

At first impression it’s easy to presume the Pinnacle (and Wampler pedals in general) aren’t intended to get too wild.  But it doesn’t take much knob-fiddling to realize it possesses a deliberate flexibility that could surprise the naughtiest of noise-makers and tone-chasers (especially when stacking pedals together.  This pedal stacks fat with fuzzes and other distortions as well as any gauntlet of modulation effects.  I like it stacked with an EQD Bit Commander>Wampler Pinnacle>Pigtronix Envelope Phaser.  It’s the fattest, funkiest, fuzziest synth sound from hell).  I’ve owned my Pinnacle for a while now and can still find new tones I didn’t know it could make every time I play.  The best part is that 99% of them are pleasing and musical, proving to me that Wampler pedals kick ass.  Even though Brian Wampler seems kinda nerdy and unassuming (I presume he smokes less weed than the goofs at ZVex or my silly neighbors at Earthquaker Devices), it doesn’t mean his pedals aren’t creativity-inspiring mean green tone machines much like those of the more experimental builders.  Just seems like most Wampler players are Nashville chicken pickers and not so much the shoegazers or experimentalists.  Part of this review is to spread the truth of the good word to the world:  Wamplers are for everyone!  Hallelujah!

Speaking from personal experience, Wampler pedals are rugged and could take any hard wample-stomp (I’m coining a new word…) from your combat boot, chuck taylors, or stilettos better than a fetishist’s balls.  Some pedal companies skimp on jacks and switches and whatnot, but not Wampler.  Rest assured that your pedal will sound and look great for a long time.  With a 5 year transferable warranty on a ‘Merican-made product you can’t go wrong!

For more info, please check out www.wamplerpedals.com

What do you think about Wampler?  Love em, hate em, don’t care?  Make sure to leave a comment in the reply box at the bottom of the page!!!  Oh yea, and also be sure to subscribe to stay up-to-date with The Pedal File!

That’s all I got.  Thanks for reading!  Until next time…

Love,

Nick
The Pedal File

Pedal Feature – Sweet New Pedals of 2014

If you’re like me and obsessed, you keep up with all the news and products of the pedal world by reading blogs, checking manufacturers’ websites, and scouring the latest trade show news.  Wait, you don’t??  It’s just me?  Whatever, I can quit any time I want!  …Ahem, sorry…  Allow me to compose myself by telling you about some of the cool new effects that I’ve come across over the first month or so of 2014.

Blackout Effectors –
Cadavernous Pandimensional Reverb

cadavernous_reverb_blackout_effectors

I noticed that as soon as I started getting more into reverb, every company has now been making super cool reverb pedals.  I never thought you could need more than one, but the differences regarding features and tones make the need (perhaps want is a better word?) quite apparent.

The Cadavernous Pandimensional Reverb looks enticing with unique controls usually seen on delay pedals such as swell and regeneration.  Using these controls in combination can create self-oscillation.  Cool!  I can imagine all sorts of thick atmospheres being summoned with these controls.  Also via an internal switch you are free to choose if you want to engage or disengage the swell effect while holding down the swell button for creative dynamics in your songs and solos. The dampen knob is a low pass filter for darkening or brightening tone while the reflections knob adjusts the ‘room size’ or reverb time. Another great feature of this pedal is the dry mix knob.  I love me a dry mix knob so much I think every pedal should have one.  This allows you to mix in your clean signal to create dimension and keep your clean signal as intact as you like. By adjusting the reverb knob in conjunction with the dry mix, I’m sure you can make a staggering amount of ambient and dreamy tones.  More info can be found at: Blackout Effectors

Walrus Audio –
Descent Reverb

Walrus-Audio---Descent-Reverb

The Descent is an interesting take on reverb that tackles the usual sounds, but gets weird with ‘reverse’ and ‘shimmer modes’. Reverse reverb builds up before you strike a note, like a little ambient cloud hanging around your attack.  Shimmer of course is for when you wish to sound like a crystal wind chime on Jesus’ porch.

Other weird features include a dry mix as well as a dry signal knob.  Dry mix is that knob I love so much to add your clean signal to taste.  The dry signal knob is a separate control where you have the ability to mix your dry signal with an octave up and/or octave down for really cool ethereal effects more akin to the organ sounds EHX HOG/POG and Earthquaker Devices Organizer.  I’m not certain, but the tweak knob is probably a tone control for darker or brighter reverberation.  More info at:  Walrus Audio

MAK Crazy Sound Technology –
Space Reverb

spacereverb

I mentioned MAK in my previous post and am excited to actually get to try out this pedal and post a demo soon (I bought it on Ebay, no one sends me pedals to demo by the way).   This made-in-Ukraine reverb caught my attention because it also has three modes: ‘plate’, ‘ambience’, and ‘shimmer’.  I’m a big fan of plate reverb, which emulates the sound of an audio signal reflecting off a metal plate (hence the name).  The Beach Boys, Beatles, and My Morning Jacket have all used plate reverb to create very nice reverb washes in their music.  ‘Ambience’ reverb is described by MAK as ‘deep reverberation with NO ATTACK’.  To me this sounds sort of like a reverse reverb.  Lastly, ‘shimmer’ mode seems to differ from others by the way the company describes it, as a ‘unique technology named Dark Krystal [that] will grant your guitar [tones] from space-atmospheric-cosmic to otherworldy – underground sounding.’  That’s deep.  Check back soon for a more in-depth article about this one.  More info at:  MAK Crazy Sound Technology

Mojo Hand FX –
Speakeasy Preamp

mojo-hand-fx-speakeasy

Note: the Speakeasy demo comes in around 2:00 mins

I’m not that into preamps/boosts because they’re usually kinda boring.  Shaping and crafting tone is a relevant art and a skill, but ‘tone-shaping pedals’ are pretty straightforward.  This new preamp by Mojo Hand FX caught my eye because it’s based on the Echoplex preamp circuit.  I’ve seen other Echoplex preamp pedals out there, which seem like great tools for adding warmth, depth, and character to your signal.  The idea came about this one time when some guitarists realized that simply running a signal through an Echoplex with very short or no delay time made shit sound better – like an aurally administered analog beef injection.  The only problem is that an Echoplex is easily like $700 used and who has the money to justify that?  Well now you can afford to have better tone with this preamp, especially if you use a solid state amp and are lacking in tube warmth/compression.  The Speakeasy boasts an added tone control for tweaking your high end.  Good idea.  The toggle acts as a boost selection, from clean to fat and gritty.  More info at:  Mojo Hand FX

Wampler –
Deluxe Tremolo Prototype

Note: The Tremolo demo starts around 3:30, after the ‘Thirty Something’ (also a cool pedal).

I’m a big fan of Wampler pedals.  They’re sturdy and sound great, and they have enough distortion/overdrive/fuzz pedals to keep me occupied for a long time or at least a few weeks.  Wampler hasn’t strayed too far into the realm of modulation (their line only has one chorus, reverb, and delay pedal – all are worth checking out) so of course I’m intrigued by a new modulation offering from them.  The video is all I have to go by, so it’s hard to talk about the tweakables without making guesses.  I can see controls for speed (to set the rate), space (if it’s anything like the Tremulus Lune, for adjusting the loud/quiet balance of the waveshape… or maybe it adjusts the size of the wave from the highest-lowest points?), depth (controls the amount of effect), wave form (all the classic wave forms – sine, sawtooth, square, etc.), attack (probably to make it go ‘chop’ or be on the smooth, pulsating side), volume (duh), and also a time division indicator of some kind.  I have to say this pedal excites me, which means I’ll probably post an update once it’s officially released.  More info at: Wampler Pedals

Pigtronix –
Rototron Rotary Speaker Emulator

Top-Best-Guitar-Effects-Pedals-Winter-NAMM-2014-06

I’m a fan of Pigtronix. They definitely have come a long way over the last few years, releasing innovative idea after idea.  Their line includes everything from a one-knob boost pedal to an amazing synth pedal to envelope filters and distortions.  This latest pedal is an expansion to their modulation line, the most recent of which, the Quantum Time Modulator, made big waves in the pedal community for conjuring chorus, vibe, and flange tones reminiscent of the great Frank Zappa’s DynaFlanger.  I’m a sucker for chorus, and the Rototron seems like it can do some really tasty leslie-style chorus/vibe effects.  Nice.

Tweakables include stereo ins/outs, ramp, depth, slow, and fast knobs.  The ramp knob allows you to speed up and/or slow down the ‘rotation’.  By setting the fast and slow knobs you can change or ‘ramp’ between the two speeds by stomping on the Slow/Fast button.  Depth of course changes the amount of effect.  These features come together to make a simple, yet great and versatile effect.  More info at:  Pigtronix

That should be enough to keep you pedal junkies calm for a little while.

Thanks for reading.

Love,

Nick
The Pedal File

Welcome to The Pedal File’s New Home!!

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My current pedalboard set up

Hey there, how’s it going?  You’re looking nice today.

I’d like to welcome you to the new official home of The Pedal File.  This will now be the place where I can talk about pedals and whatever the hell else I feel like…mostly pedals though.  New features of my blog include a gallery where I’ll post photos of my pedalboard(s), new pedal acquistions, trips to cool guitar shops, and other pedal-related antics.  I also added a video/sound gallery for my pedal demos and where you can listen to my music.

This site is a work in progress so please comment and let me know what you think.  Please also let me know if there’s a pedal you’d like to see demonstrated in a future post.

Oh, and if you’re here because you think this is a page about bicycles, get a real hobby, like playing with effects pedals!!!

I’m just kidding, bikes are cool too.  Pedals are cooler though.  Just sayin’.

Pedal Power!

Love,

Nick
The Pedal File