04 June 2012
Pedals: Wampler Pinaccle
Yes, I know it. Every guitarist has a bag full of gain pedals and, usually we are happier with the distortion that comes directly from the amp. And, yes, that is true but, when you cannot crack your amp, a pedal effect that can bring to you something close at way lower levels is always welcome.
Also, from time to time, you want some distortion radically different from that one that your amp is giving.
The amp design limits en some way the kind of distortion that the amp itself can generate. If we want a Recto distortion type in a Fender Blues Junior, for sure that we will never achieve it directly from the amp and, it doesn't matter how many tube and speaker swaps we do.
I think that most of guitarists are always trying any distortion pedal that can offer to them just a different sonic weapon to play. But, usually, the most of distortion units sound so artificial that the initial excitement turns quickly to try to forget that pedal.
I have also tested a bunch of gain pedals, including several distortion pedals and, up to now, the only distortion unit that always comes back to my pedal board is the ProCo RAT.
RAT is the distortion pedal that I have always found more tube alike, very organic and alive, it seems to help the amp itself to deliver a summed amount of tube magic.
The RAT is an awesome classic Distortion pedal but... I am still looking for something more modern, to complement the RAT and cover more ground.
Lately, what called all my attention, related to gain pedals, has been Wampler pedals. When I heard some demos of the Pinnacle, I wanted to try in my rig if that pedal was really delivering the sound I was hearing in Youtube videos.
So, that's the history behind this test. Is the Wampler Pinnacle any good?.
Well, another boutique pedal maker so, here we are that boring white carton box, this time with a big sticker in one face, with the picture of the pedal.
Inside, the pedal is wrapped in a bubble plastic but... inside a fabric bag! (wow, that's new).
A single sheet of paper, with a very simple description of the controls wants to be the user's manual.
Luckily, on Wampler site, the user's manual is way more interesting and, it includes even some example settings to test different flavors of this pedal.
Pedal comes with a battery inside so, it's ready to go.
Controls the overall output level.
Controls the strength of the input signal, forcing the internal amplifiers to clip.
This one works in the same way of a Contour control in a Mesa Boogie. It delivers different EQ shapes that can be fine tuned with Tone Control.
To the right side, it scoops midrange frequencies.
To the left side, it bumps midrange frequencies.
Fine tunes the high content of the equalization profile selected with Contour.
Vintage/Modern Toggle Switch
Well, I think this is not a good name. This toggle works in fact as a bright switch.
When Up, a lot of high-end content is present in the signal and will help a lot to amps dark by nature (as Mesa Boogies, etc).
When Down, some high-end is being removed and will help a lot to amps bright in excess (Vox, by example).
Boost Toggle Switch
This toggle switch is substituted with a pedal switch in Pinnacle Deluxe edition (nothing else changes) and, gives an extra bump to pedal's gain. The amount of gain isn't specified in user's manual but, this is usually a +3dB gain that will help with solos.
In my opinion, the range of foundational equalizations that you can achieve with Contour and fine tune with Tone are so broad that, independently of the mode you are (vintage or modern) you can achieve same sounds, just moving a bit the contour / tone controls to restore what was missed or to remove what was added while changing the mode.
I wanted to check this unit integrated in my pedal board, because I was really interested in to check that it has no impedance issues and that is compatible with my current rig.
Man, I would say it very clear: this is the awesomest distortion pedal I have ever tested.
I have tested a lot of distortion units, beginning with the old Boss SD-1, AMT California Sound, ProCo RAT, ISP Fetish Distortion, MXR Distortion III, Xotic BB pre-amp, Hermida's Audio Tiki Drive, among others that I am not able to remember just now.
From all those, RAT is always the distortion I come back every time, because it has a voice really close to amp distortion, fluid, full of harmonics and outstanding for classic hard rock.
This is the very first time I am really exciting with a new distortion unit. This Pinnacle is the best distortion unit I ever checked. Pure fun, from the very beginning and, has an incredible range of sounds. It's absolutely versatile and a pleasure to play. For solos is just incredible.
Thanks, Wampler for this outstanding design!.
I am feeling that Wampler taste is in sync with my own "gain" tastes so, I am planning to check other Wampler interesting gain units.
Just a comment, if you really need that boost feature to be ready to push in fly, please get the Deluxe edition. If you have a separated boost pedal (after your gains) for that work, you can go with this version.
Interaction with other pedals
It has no impedance issues, apparently. Even that this pedal delivers enough gain and sustain by itself, is able to work together with light overdrives that can push it a bit more and, even with compressors and modulation effects. In fact, you can try it with any pedal, even if the amount of gain is Over The Top.
What I want to highlight is that even not needed the help of other pedals, it can handle any stacked pedal before or after. No issues (what is good new).
Well, time to shut up and hear.
Even a bad guitarist as myself can have some fun with so exciting pedal.
Don't expect tapping and other advanced technics, since I am not skilled for that.
If you like what you hear in that video, don't doubt it. It's an outstanding distortion pedal.
But, maybe you are after other kind of distortion. Anyway, check Wampler's pedals, they sound to me really good.
I will not evaluate if this has an accurate "brown" sound or not. I am not a fan to dead of Eddie Van Hallen so, I am not taking into account if I will be able to do covers of their songs (for sure, I am not able, I haven't his skills), I just like how this pedal sounds and, anything else is just welcome.
I've been testing this pedal with a Telecsater, an LP and, a Charvel. Also, in two amps, Marshall and Fender. To see who it works with different gear.
The Pinnacle seems to handle with ease any kind of guitar and amp but, pickups with too much output will need to lower the gain of your amp to "clarify" a bit the sound.
In my opinion, it works better with low (vintage) ot medium output pickups but there is no other issue than to adjust gain controls on amp and pedal, when it is being pushed with high output pickups.
I also wanted to check how it cuts the mix so, I recorded a couple of improvisations over backing tracks, with a Charvel SoCal Type1 USA Production Series Batch #6, loading a couple of Bareknuckle's Nailbombs (high output), driving the Classic/Clean channel of the Marshall 1923C 85th Anniversary Combo.
Even that this is not the best cutting setting for this pedal, I didn't wanted to modify the setup I left in my previous video, just to compare the sound of the Charvel against the LP.
For sure, the versatility of Contour together with Tone controls can help to find the right spot in the mix so, don't worry about it.