The Tumnus is probably one of the most requested pedals that Brian has ever been asked to build. It’s designed be an accurate recreation of a famous mythical boost and overdrive, but without the unbelievably high price tag (it rhymes with Schmlon). Those big box behemoths of tone were known for adding a certain low-mid character and sweetness to your tone, which works perfectly to boost the front of an already cooking amp to get into overdrive territory.
Our favorite part of the Tumnus is the sweetness it adds to your tone. Even if it’s not set as a boost or an overdrive, it works really well to add just a bit of sweetness as an always-on pedal. It makes the notes bloom a little fuller and with added depth, along with adding a touch of clarity with the treble knob. It’s a very simple setup with the knob:, Volume, Treble and Gain, and just loads of great tone. The other thing we like is the fact that it sounds great whether going through a cooking amp that’s already overdriving a bit, or into a clean amp to add a touch of grit for the boost. The Tumnus works well with both single coils and humbucker equipped guitars. With single coils it helps fatten up the attack and the notes to add sweetness, where with humbuckers it adds a great depth and clarity for lead lines.
Level: This knob dictates the overall output of the pedal. The primary two things it’s know for are boost and overdrive but often the boost is what people love about those legendary pedals it’s modeled after. There’s loads of volume on tap, so you can nail the front end of your amp and push your amp to sweet breakup. Counter-clockwise there’s no output from the pedal. Unity depends on where the gain knob is set, so unity with the gain at 3pm would be 10am, where unity with the gain at 9am would be around 11am on the volume knob. Fully clockwise this thing gets LOUD. It works really well run into another pedal to boost the gain and clipping on your favorite overdrive too.
Gain: This knob dictates how much clipping is happening on the circuit. As with those legendary boosts, this isn’t an excessively high gain pedal. It’s capable of getting some great overdrive tones, but it’s used more to boost and add some depth and cut to your tone more so than a searing, face-melting distortion would be. Fully counter-clockwise, there is no gain happening and it’s just a transparent boost. At 9am, it’s starting to add a bit of sweetness and bloom to the notes. At Noon, the notes are fatter and have more sustain and punch. At 3pm, there’s grit on the notes and great rock and roll overdrive tones. Fully clockwise it’s sustain city with a considerable amount of grit. The great part about it is that no matter where the gain is set, the guitars character and tone still shines through. When using the boost on those older pedals, many people would set the gain just above off, then boost with a touch of clarity to punch the amp in the face in the sweetest way possible.
Treble: This knob dictates how much high end content is coming through the circuit. The big thing that many people want in a boost pedal is the ability to cut through in a band situation. The treble knob lets you do that by adding the high end harmonic content to the overdrive signal, so you still get the same fat, sustaining overdrive and boost, but you also get the punch and clarity to get out front for solos. Fully counter-clockwise to 9am works really well for jazzy passages with the gain low. Around Noon the high end is matching your original tone. At 3pm, there’s added clarity and bite, and fully clockwise will let it jump to the front of the mix. I often like it around 1-2pm with my neck pickup to get a little extra clarity to it.
- Power Draw: 20mA~ (9v ONLY)
- 9v Negative Center Tip barrel plug only. Being a mini, a battery will not fit in the enclosure. There is a voltage doubler on the inside to boost it to 18v, and powering it with anything more than 9v might well set it on fire. Please don’t do that, haha.
- Size: 3.5” x 1.5” (88.9mm x 38.1mm)
The other day on Chasing Tone – Brian and I had a customer write in and ask what tips we could offer a beginner guitar player. Expanding on that concept – I thought I could go over the 6 things I do to improve my practicing. These 6 steps are super easy and can be applied towards a beginner or a seasoned guitar player.
Standing up: So this one, I’ll admit, is hard for me sometimes. I often sit to practice – but when I get to the rehearsal space or the stage – I’ll sometimes mess up – “it just didn’t feel right/ natural.” Standing up and practicing - can often help put you in a certain mind set for live performance and will get your hands/ body used to being a different position.
Don’t beat a dead horse: If you aren’t getting it right away – don’t get frustrated – walk away and come back – patience is the name of the game. Remember – NOBODY got good at guitar over night.
Set a time limit: Let’s face it – we’re musicians. Not all of us have a huge attention span. There is a reason TV shows are only 30 minutes long – anything longer than that – and your attention will wander. If you are anything like me – 30 minutes can be a stretch sometimes. I always like to tell players just starting out – pros as well – play a concentrated/ focused practice for 20 minutes at a time. You can do that a couple times a day – it all adds up. Remember – it’s the long game. Too much focused practice – and you can burn out. Find the magic time slot for you – and roll with it. It could be less than 20 minutes or it could be more. Remember, just because Steve Vai used to practice for 8 hours per day, you don't have to... he's not from this planet!
Low volume tones: When you have good tone – you are inspired – plain and simple. It’s why we are all in this crazy tone-chasing world. Find a good “bedroom” volume and tone and roll with it. The number one tool in your guitar-playing arsenal is your ears – and you don’t want to wear them out prematurely. Find a comfortable volume to play at (switch to a smaller amp maybe)– set up some of your favorite pedals – and enjoy your practice!
Practice with others: Get out and practice with other musicians! Find an open jam night at your favorite watering hole and rock out! If you want to play live – or want to polish up your skills – nothing beats playing with other musicians. Bonus if you have never played with them before. Getting out of your comfort level is good. If you don’t have an open stage jam nearby or you can’t find another person to play with – Loopers (like the TC Ditto) or jam tracks on Youtube - can be great tools to use!
Get out of your comfort zone: The last bit of knowledge I can offer – is get out of your comfort zone. Find a genre of music you don’t typically listen to. Actively listen to what the guitar/ other instruments are playing. Trust me – you’ll take something away from it. You will then be able to use those lick, chops, tones – and incorporate them in your style of music. Always be a student of music – not just guitar – and your skills will continue to improve.
So what steps do you take to improve your guitar playing skills? Do you have a set practice routine?
There's nothing worse than when you are trying to shred on camera and your cat decides it wants to sit on your lap... especially when the cat won't take no for an answer!
Wampler Artist Toni Martinez (Spain) can't help by laugh as his persistent cat refuses to move from his lap despite his best efforts to keep shredding!
Personally I don't blame the cat. I've seen Toni play many times on a number of his beautiful Suhr's and it's hard not to get up close to stare, although I'm not sure if the cat is looking to absorb some of his skills like I usually am...
Disclaimer. No Suhr, guitar players, cats, notes or any related equipment were harmed during the making of this film. Well, apart from the small chunk that was taken out of Toni's right knuckle!
The Tweed ’57 was created because Brian loves the tones of those old tweed amps from the late 50’s. The main problem with those old amps are the fact that they cost an inexplicable amount, and you have to blast them (which is often deafening at close range) to get those great old overdrive tones. The solution was to create a pedal that could get those cranked tweed tones from any amp without having to spend thousands of dollars, while also allowing flexibility to tailor the tone exactly how the player wanted it.
Our favorite part of the Tweed '57 is the channel switch and how it reacts with the EQ knobs. This opens up the spectrum of tonal frequencies while retaining the original tweed characteristics. These things combined allow the player to use any amp and still get those cranked tweed tones at manageable volumes.
Volume: This controls the overall output of the pedal. It's interactive with the gain control, so as the gain is lowered the volume can be brought up to match unity (or boost an amp). This allows you to use it as an always on pedal, or to add a tweed feel to your lead lines. Fully counter-clockwise the pedal will have no output. Where unity is achieved is based on where the gain knob is set. With the gain at 9am, unity will be closer to 11-11:30am on the volume. With the gain above noon, unity can be achieved earlier in the knob range. There’s lots of volume on tap, so with it fully clockwise it will be slamming the front end of the amp and producing amp breakup.
Bass: This affects how prominent the lower frequencies are in the gain range. The big thing that Brian wanted to do was make the whole knob range useable. Fully counter-clockwise makes the lows much less pronounced, which is great paired with an already bassy amp. At Noon it's at unity with your original signal, so there's very little harmonic content being changed, more so just adding the gain and tweed clipping characteristics. Around 3pm there’s added bass, which is great for pairing with inherently brighter amps. At the max level it’s quite bassy, but still retains that great tweed clipping characteristic.
Middle: This controls the mid frequencies that are present in the output signal. Counter-clockwise will lessen the mids and have a more modern take on that sound. At Noon the mids are a similar frequency to your original signal, and around 3pm will give an added bit of mids to cut through the mix. Tweed amps were typically not scooped in the mids department, so the lower the mid output still retains that fatness that’s inherent in those old tweed amps.
Treble: This control affects the amount of high end frequency is present in the signal. Tweed amps are often known for their significant low end, and this allows the player to adjust the high end to match the amp. Fully counter-clockwise will have a much more bassy, mellow sound (works really well for jazzy stuff actually). At noon the highs are consistent with your original signal. At 3pm the highs have much more snap and the overdrive has more clarity to it. Completely maxed out it’s still useable, but with added punch and edge to all of the notes.
Drive: This knob dictates the level of gain that’s applied to the signal. It has a considerable amount of gain on tap, so it’s highly tweakable to get any level of tweed tones you’d want from any era. Fully counter-clockwise there will still be a slight bit of breakup on the notes. Not a lot, but similar to the sound of digging in harder on an edge-of-breakup amp. At 9am, there’s a bit more grit happening, but the signal still stays articulate to where you can hear the overtones of the notes blooming very well. At noon, it’s similar to having an amp cooking pretty good. Lots of breakup and sustain, and it’s even more into that great tweed grind. It sounds great for covering early Joe Walsh. At 3pm, (at which point a real tweed amp would be deafeningly loud), it’s sustaining and saturated in full on rock and roll glory (sounds great for some Black Crowes jamming). Despite having that much gain, it’s still very touch sensitive and reacts really well to adjusting the volume knob on your guitar.
Normal/Bright/Linked Switch: This switch is used to similar to how players used tweed amps years ago, where the inputs would change the EQ characteristics and their relationship with the gain. On normal mode, the tone is very even across the board, no particular frequencies emphasized (like plugging into the normal channel of the amp. The bright mode adds presence and high-end frequencies, which are great for bassy amps to have some extra cut and reduce any *flub*. The Linked mode is similar to how people would use a jumper to run into both the Normal and Bright channels on the amp. This gives the great tweed growl from the normal channel, but with an added presence and upper-frequency harmonic content.
- 5″ x 4.5″ x 1.5″ in size (63.5mm x 114.3mm x 38.1mm) – height excludes knobs and switches
- Power draw: 3mA – Runs off of negative center barrel tip power supplies (Boss style) or on an internal 9v battery connection). Note: Make sure to unplug the input if you’re using batteries when you are done to keep from draining the battery.
- Only one version of the Tweed ’57 has been released to date.
So how many pedals on your board are too many? Is there really such a thing? While opinions are widely varied – here are my own personal thoughts on the matter – doesn’t make it right or wrong – just how I view it.
First off – I don’t have just one pedal board. I play in a Blues/Rock band (my main gig), I have a 90’s rock cover band, and I also have a small practice board for home practice. The pedals on each board are pretty different. Multiple boards allow me to basically grab and go, cut down on weight, less space in the car, and it keeps my pedal board footprint down at shows/ rehearsals. (Being a bigger guy and having a 5 piece 90s rock band on a small stage – space is sometimes a premium.)
So on each of my boards – I kind of keep the mantra – if I don’t use in 5 gigs and/or 5 practices – I take it off the board. For me – and totally speaking for myself here – I use just enough pedals to help me achieve what I want to achieve. Sometimes that takes 10+ plus pedals – sometimes it only requires 4 pedals.
Now – should you limit your pedals in your collection?
My thoughts – ABSOLUTELY NOT! Speaking from a pedal-holic perspective – options are good – and different pedals will help you to achieve the big picture. Bands change, songs/ set list change, and tastes change – it’s good to be able to draw from your collection when you want/ need to. Do I need every model of tubescreamer – probably not – if you ask my wife, she would say no. But - they are nice to have just in case. ;) So – what are your thoughts on the matter tone chasers - Lots of pedals on one huge board or less pedals on multiple boards?
We are delighted to release the 2015 Charity Auction!
As always, we have taken a pedal from the range in put them in a special pink limited edition pink casing - this year it's the turn of the Tumnus, the pedal is fully functioning and you can check it out on the special charity page here!
As I'm certain you can relate too, all of us here have been devistated by cancer at some point in our lives. We've either lost friends, family... we even have a three time survivor among us. This is why every year, we put out limited edition pedals for charity and simply delight in the generosity of the people who buy them. The auction, for the benefit for Susan G Komen, is now live - please make your bid here. Your generosity is much, much, much appreciated by us all at Wampler Pedals and the charity this will benefit.
I've been thinking again and as usual that means I'm getting philosophical and a little grumpy... all this thinking has led me to the question - "Once digital modelling has won and there a no longer any amps/effects to model, what happens then?"
So, right now you are probably thinking "Another blog from a guy who works in the analogue pedals markets slamming digital modelling... *yawn*... here we go again" but hopefully after reading this you'll see that I'm not here to whinge and moan, just to maybe shed a little light on to what could happen, once SkyNet goes live.
Before I get going I need to tell that I absolutely love modelling gear. I've spent countless hours playing with them and always had a truly majestic time. I owned what was possibly the first full featured modelling unit, the Roland GP-100 (check out this old video manual from Nick Cooper, the guy who demo'd it to me back in the '90's, which lead to me instantly buying it) and it was without a doubt absolutely perfect for what I needed at the time. I don't expect it will sound as good as I remember, but in my head it was, and still is, awesome. At the time I was playing in a "The Police" tribute plan and that unit, powered by a Marshall 9100 all valve power amp into a Marshall 1960 4x12" was devastatingly effective. Some of my happiest memories of playing live were with that band... Moving forward 20 years I'm lucky enough to be able to play with some of the more contemporary units as well, everything from the Boss GT-100 to the Kemper Profiler (or as I like to call it, the Haunted Toaster) and have a passing knowledge of the Fractual AxeFx. I think they are all amazing units and if I was a richer man, I'd have and use them all with pride. And yes, if anyone from Yamaha is reading this, please send me a Line 6 Helix, that thing is amazing - if I had a hat on right now I'd tip it in your general direction.
However, as much as I love them, I have to also admit that the whole modelling thing really really annoys me. It's not so much that they exist, it's when they are called "the future of guitar tone" I start to see red. How many times have you heard "Man, I bought an AxeFX, I sold everything I had, I don't need anything else, everything else is pointless". If you are anything like me, you'd have heard that hundreds of times. But, you see, the thing is and the question I always ask is this, if the modelling devices become so cheap and so good that they then force the analogue guys out of business, who the hell are the modellers going to model?
The 'conventional' musical instrument industry is currently amazing... I'm going to avoid the obvious route to talk about effects, but instead I'm going to bring amps into the conversation. There are companies out there that are slaying the market with new and exciting products... From Mike Fortin who not only makes amps under his own name but also at Randall; to Daniel Klein at Port City and everyone in between (I could list them here but I'm certain you get the idea). New and exciting definitions in tone are being forged everyday, new standards of hi gain, medium gain, rock amps, clean amps and every other kind are here, right now in 2015 and it's really exciting... Imagine what it will be like in 2, 5 or 10 years time. I literally cannot wait to hear them.
Bringing it back to the subject matter, from what I can see the modellers are not creating anything new, their entire sales pitch is to recreate everything and put it in one place. For the touring/gigging musician this is fantastic, but what about in terms of the future of tone, where does it leave it? In an ideal world people will see that the modelling stuff has purpose, real purpose and has an extremely valuable place in our industry but; should it be classed as the future? Yes it should, and rightly so BUT ONLY PART OF IT! Everything has a purpose and everything has a job, let's not get things confused here. If you like, you can look at it this way - If modelling had existed in the 70's and all future instrumentation development had stopped, we'd not have the JCM800. We'd not have the modd'd JCM800 and so on... It's all very well having an app of ten different 70's Marshall's in it, but personally I'd take the modd'd JCM800 one! Now, apply that to amps of today and what they will lead to in the future.
I guess what I am saying is that modelling stuff is fantastic, buy it, love it and use it. But please, if you have any sense of excitement for what may be happening in 5, 10 or 20 years time, also keep buying amps and pedals from your favourite builders. Because if you do, they can then produce new and exciting instruments, new aspects of tone that you'd not yet thought of that can then go into the future modelling units... Modelling is a tool, not a total solution and we should work really hard to keep it in check a little. They aren't the future, they are a convenient stroll down memory lane with zero concept of the future. As you may have guessed, I really don't want to see the day that instrument SkyNet goes live.
The Velvet Fuzz was designed to to make it possible for a player to get great, cleassic fuzz tones into a clean amp. Many fuzzes excel when run into an already cooking amp, but they can fall short when running into a clean platform. Not to mention that some can be very temperamental depending on temperature changes and what signal it’s receiving.
Our favorite part of the Velvet is the Big/Tight setting, and the adaptability it provides. It really makes it so you can take only the Velvet and have it fulfill any fuzz needs you’d run into in most situations. The Big position will give a great old school saggy fuzz tones that are fat and wooly, where the Tight setting will give smoother, singing fuzz that borders on distortion that works great for covering Johnson, Gilmour, and even Bonamassa. It also cleans up exceptionally well with the guitars volume knob as well.
Volume: Though it’s pretty self-explanatory, this knob controls the volume of the output of the pedal. And this fuzz unit is no slouch, it gets LOUD. Loads of level on tap to add a slight bit of fuzz and boost to an already cooking amp. The level has to be compensated depending on where the Fuzz knob is set. When the fuzz is low, the level knob will have to be run a little higher to achieve unity. With the fuzz set low, the level can be backed off of to match unit output. This works well with a dirty amp, but it really excels into a clean format as as well.
Fuzz: This knob dictates how much fuzz and clipping starts happening on your signal, and I can promise you there's plenty of it. It can go from just a hint of fuzzy grit, all the way to full-bore cranked aggressive clipping (almost sputtery on the Big setting). Fully counterclockwise, it will give you a touch of fuzz, but allows the original tone of your guitar to shine through. The big thing to remember is that the level must be set really high to achieve unity when the fuzz is all the way down. It works great for having a boost and rolling the guitar volume knob back for rhythm, then turning the guitars volume back up to add that fuzzy sustain. At 9am on the knob, the clipping becomes more apparent, adding a depth to it with added sustain and grit. At noon, there’s loads of Fuzz on tap for early Hendrix stuff, and the sustain can hold for a considerable amount of time. Noon would likely be plenty of fuzz for a lot of people, but Brian likes to go all out. At 3pm, it’s into full on fuzz mode, with loads of sustain and clipping going on. You can hit a note and it will sustain for what seems like forever. This knob changes how it reacts based on what switch position is selected. In Big mode, it acts much more in a warmer, wilder feel with the fuzz getting woollier as the knob is turned up, all the way to the point of being a saggy, completely fuzz-laden wall of sound with very minimal original signal coming out. On the Tight setting, it acts more as a fuzzy distortion of sorts (works great for Gilmour riffs). As the gain goes up, it adds loads of sustain, but retains the character of the original signal much more than the Big setting.
Brightness: This knob controls the overall high-end content that’s happening on the fuzz signal. Fully counter-clockwise is much more subdued and woollier (less high-end content coming through). It can get quite bassy. Clockwise will introduce more highs in and add some cut and depth into the signal. I will say that this circuit is very dark, so rarely do I run the Brightness less than Noon unless I’m playing on an inherently bright amp.
Big/Tight Switch: This switch is what dictates the flavor of fuzz is being produced. On the Big setting, it’s much darker and saturated, indicative of those classic fuzz tones from the 60’s and 70’s going into a hot amp. It can go very over the top and crazy wooly at the top of the gain range. On the Tight setting, it’s not as wooly and retains a clarity and note definition, even with the fuzz all of the way up. The Tight setting is often thought of as distortion-ish, and that’s definitely right. It takes the parts of fuzz that people love and refines them to retain note definition and smooth out the whole tone of the fuzz.
- The Velvet works with both Single Coil and Humbucker guitars. It’s a bit fatter and warmer when using humbuckers, and the fuzz can get a little heavier because of the higher output of the humbuckers.
- The Velvet is suggested to go first in the chain, but it’s not nearly as touchy when it comes to buffers like many fuzzes are. The best practice is to try it first in your chain, then try it in your dirt chain and see what sounds best to you.
- As stated above, the Velvet is very reactive to the guitars volume knob. Rolled back it’s more tame with less fuzz on the note, and then for solos roll the volume back up and you've got a plethora of fuzz glory at your disposal.
- Be sure to check out the video at the very bottom for a cover of a very popular EJ song using the Velvet and a guitar and amp combo that are nothing like what the original artist used.
- 5″ x 4.5″ x 1.5″ (63.5mm x 114.3mm x 38.1mm) – height excludes knobs and switches
- Power draw: 23mA – Requires negative center tip barrel plug or 9v battery internally
- There’s only been one version of the Velvet. Quite happy with how it turned out to begin with ;-)
One great thing about the Velvet is it’s adaptability (as mentioned earlier). Eric Johnson has one of the most identifiable fuzz tones on the planet, and it can be tough nailing those tones without considerable expense. We wanted to see if we could get his live sound with a completely different amp and guitar. What do you think?
When our guitar strings wear out – we change them. Old strings need changed for a ton of reasons – they won’t stay in tune because they are overly stretched – they break – they lose their sparkle – and for you non-coated string players – they rust! Bad/ old strings can affect your performance and your tone – big time!
But many of us – myself included – are not as diligent with changing the tubes in our amps. Now, I’m not saying that you need to change your amp’s tubes as much as often as you change your guitar strings – but they shouldn’t be neglected and should be changed for similar reasons.
Older tubes can cause your “sparkle” and crunch to go away. If you are anything like me – you crank up your amp to louder volumes and really give your tubes a work out. Doing this over time, combined with turning your amp on and off frequently will simply stretch those tubes thin - so to speak– and slowly but surely your tone starts to go away. Honestly, I am often surprised how much tone I have lost in my amp until I change my tubes.
I was blown away this weekend when I changed out the Tubes in my Blues Jr. My tubes were starting to crackle and pop and my tone was darker and muddier than I like. So – I swapped out the old JJ’s for a new set of JJ’s and BOOM – blown away. MY TONE was back. Sparkle was intact and drive was sounding better than ever!
I shied away from changing my tubes – for probably longer than I should have – because I thought it might cost a lot. We are lucky to currently live in an almost renaissance of guitar gear (a plethora of great products and great prices all the time) – and tubes are more affordable than ever. For my Blues Jr. – I got a complete set of JJ’s (power tubes and pre-amp tubes) for just under $60 before shipping. If you change your tubes once every 2 years – that’s only a $30 dollar investment towards your tone every year. Now – My Super Reverb costs much more to re-Tube than my Blues Jr. – but when break down the costs over a couple years – it’s definitely worth it in the quest for maintaining your tone. (That’s what I tell the wife anyway.) Until next time tone chasers!