Power: 9v or 18v?

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Here is one of the most common questions we are asked at Wampler Pedals - "Can I run this pedal at 18v"?

As you may already know, I'm not one of the engineers in the company, I'm more on the marketing side so this post is not going to be full of nerd stuff, just the basics - I hope it will be everything you need to answer your questions about the amount of power you stick into your favourite Wampler to make it sound the best it can for you.

During the design stage of every Wampler, it is all done via a power adapter that is giving out a steady 9v. So, if you want to hear what Brian hears - take a telecaster, take a pedal, power it via a 9v supply and plug it into a Fender style amp (obviously, he uses other guitars and amps in the testing stage but these are the main reference point for him). To be honest, whenever I receive a new Wampler, that's what I always do. I try to hear it as he does, then I carry on to make it work for me with my preferred gear.

So, what is the actual benefit of running your pedal at a higher voltage? Firstly, you'll get an increase of overall volume - the output goes up (great when you are using your pedals to slam into the preamp of your amp to get more power and balls). Secondly, you'll get an increase of clean headroom. So, if you favourite dirt pedal is breaking up a little too quickly for you and you need the sweep to be a little more gradual, try putting the voltage up. As a reference point, when Tom Quayle is recording, he tends to run his Dual Fusion at 18v so he can have more control over the amount of gain.

There are certain types of pedal that don't like the voltage being increased from 9v. For example, the fuzz circuits in the Wampler range. So, the Velvet Fuzz and the Triple Wreck should be run at 9v (you can run the Triple Wreck at 18v but the boost control will sound absolutely awful). The Tumnus will be extremely unhappy if you try to put 18v into it as well. Part of that famous circuit is a thing called a charge pump that increases the voltage to 18v internally, it's one of the reasons the pedal has such a responsive sweep across the gain control. So, if you put 18v into the Tumnus, it will literally melt down!

  • a quick note on Tumnus and other circuits like it, although you should always separate and isolate your analogue pedals from your digital when using a power supply, this is all the more relevant with pedals like the Tumnus. If you put a pedal like the TimeLine daisy chained to the Tumnus you get some really interesting, and not in a good way, noises come from it. There have been countless forum posts about this over the years! As a reference point, when Max wires up the boards for trade shows, he uses the Voodoo Labs Pedal Power 2. Over here in the UK, I use the Carl Martin Pro Power 2. Each one performs perfectly and gives us consistent isolated power for the entire board.

Obviously, the benefits of running 18v is pointless one some pedals, for example, those with a digital element. Although most of our Faux range and the Latitudes have protections built in within them, you shouldn't run them any higher than the standard 9v. From the conversations I've had with Brian and Justin over the years, the actual circuits of these pedals run somewhere between 3.5v and 5v - the 9v input is brought down to the level they need to perform consistently. A lot of power supplies claim to be 9v but there is a small amount of difference in each one, so we bring them down to the level that will be perfect and completely regulated.

So, the list is this: The following are safe to run between 9v and 18v for an increase in clean headroom and increased output:

  • Paisley Drive, Hot Wired, Dual Fusion, Black '65, Tweed '57, Plexi Drive (including the Deluxe), Thirty Something, Euphoria, Low Blow, Sovereign, cataPulp, Pinnacle(s), SLOstortion, Clarksdale, Triple Wreck (although the boost will sound terrible if you do) - Also included in here are some discontinued models: Plextortion, Cranked AC and OD, SuperPlex etc.

Can run at 18v, but all your get is an increase in volume:

  • Ego Compressor and dB+

Please don't do it, nothing good will become of you doing it. Remember, 9v only unless you want to literally destroy the circuit within:

  • Velvet Fuzz and Tumnus

You can do it, but it's pointless because Brian and Justin are waaaay too clever:

  • Faux Tape Echo, Faux Spring Reverb, Faux Analog Echo, Latitude(s).

So, enjoy your pedals, enjoy tweaking them and enjoy seeing what the difference in power makes to them, but please, only do it to the ones that can take it!

*addition - if your pedal states "9-18v" on the casing (or manual), as a general rule this means that the pedal is OK to run between 9 and 18 volts, not either 9 or 18. You can count on every Wampler Pedals to follow this rule, but you should check with other manufacturers before doing so on their pedals. 

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