30 June 2012

Pedals: Wampler SLOstortion


None of my 3 amps is a high gain one. Well, maybe the Marshall 1923C can cover tones beyond a JMC800 but, this is not a kind of high-gain monster like the Soldano SLO-100 is.

Even that this is not my usual vibe, from time to time I missed some sound on the style of Soldano's, Diezel's or Boogie's way. I am not thinking on to spend money on such an ampl that will use really few times so, some kind of Soldano-in-a-box, Diezel-in-a-box or Mesa-in-a-box pedal interested me a lot.

For sure, I know that for the real thing, you must have the real thing but, at the end it doesn't matter really to me if I achieve the exact tone of those amps, I just want a high gain pedal that can have same gain characteristics, even if the tone isn't 100% accurate. I will never enter in discussions about if this is or not the best Soldano-in-a-box pedal ever made, because this is sterile for me. I just want to check if this pedal has an use in my pedalboard, if it has a nice tone and if it is compatible with my rest of pedals. And, that's what is in the background when I face a review or test like this one.


Wampler's way. Once more the pedal unit comes wrapped in bubble plastic inside a fabric bag. The box is that kind of white annonymous type that boutiquers use but, with a nice decal in the front that sets it a bit appart.
As ever, the user's manual is just a single sheet of paper, with a very generic description of the unit.
There are no recommended settings this time.
At the bottom of the box, a sticker with Wampler's logo, as usual.



This one sets the overall output volume of the pedal. Very easy to find the Unitary Volume Level. Not a big range over Unitary Level (but, we have the boost switcher for this).


Sets up the range of amplification and distortion of the unit. Very easy to tweak.


Sets the amount of boosted volume, when the Boost is switched on.


This is a treble's roll off control type. Is the control that less impacts in the final tone but, helps a lot to define and clarify the sound.


This helps to conform the body of the signal. Has more impact than Treble but way less than Middles.


This is the most important control in this unit. You can imagine it as a kind of that Contour knobs that you can find in Mesa-Boogie amps. This sets up some kind of pre-ecualization that changes the overall response of the unit. It also has a big impact in gain and volume.

Boost pedal switch

This switches on a boost section after the amplification stage that increases the volume of the unit in a real high range controlled by the Boost knob. This is a clean volume increase, not a gain increase.

Mode Toggle Switch

Two modes are available: crunch and overdrive.
Crunch mode provides a hard overdrive-like tone, not so British as a Marshall's crunch but, crunchy anyway.
Overdrive mode provides those solo singing tones that we are mostly expecting from a pedal of this kind.

Playing it

I've integrated this pedal within my pedal chain, between the Wampler Pinnacle and the ProCo RAT, just to check if there is any kind of incompatibility, as some impedance issue or whatever else anomaly. Everything seems to work flawless and the pedal smoothly integrates in the rest of pedal board.

This time, I challenged myself. I wanted to check this pedal to evaluate how it works with different types of pickups so, I've choosed the PRS 513 to test this pedal. The 513 has the hability of do its job with whatever pickups' configuration so, I can easily swap from single coil to half-humbucker (medium-output humbucker) to full-humbucker (high-output humbucker). In that way, I can compare how this pedal deals with each type of pickups.

Yesterday, I did a short test so, this is my second try on this pedal. During that test, I've realized that the most important knob in this unit is Middles. I leaved all controls at noon and started to tweak Middles knob, since this control creates the overall voice and gain range of this pedal.

When moving Middles to the left (rolling them off), there is some kind of mids scoop behaviour but, the sound seems to have more presence of mid-high frequencies range, more on the way of a British amp, if you want.
When moving Middles to the right (rolling them on), ther is some kind of mids bump but, way darker, as if mids-lows were increased. Also, gain goes harder and the voice of this distortion unit remembers me to an small high-gain combo, as the Mesa-Boogie 5:25, by example. The sound becomes darker and a bit boxy, as if we were playing in a closed-back combo.
So, I prefer Middles knob to be a point before noon, more or less at 11:00h.

After setting Middles, Bass control is the following one to tweak. This helps to finish the body of the sound, avoiding to go muddy or confussing. I prefer Bass knob just a bit before noon, let say 11:58h.
Last tone control to tweak is Trebles. This one helps a lot to clarify the sound and, its amount will depend on the other two controls. I prefer this one past noon, more or less between 1:00 and 2:00h.

Once the foundational tone is selected, with Tone knobs, to find the right amount of gain is just a kid's game.  One of the things you should take into account is that all controls are highly interdependent so, changes on tone controls modify the range of gain available and, therefore, the output volume, as well.
So, after every tweak, remember to re-check your volume, if you wanted Unitary Volume Level.

As with the rest of Wampler's pedals I've tested, this unit seems to love to be recorded. When I was mounting the video, I realized that the SLOstortions sounds even better recorded than in front the amp (and, it sounds good enough). Some of the boxyness that I can feel "live" seems to disapear while hearing the video.

As with the rest of Wampler's pedals, is quite easy to achieve an Unitary Volume Level, even after every tweak, you only need to move a bit the knob right or left. There is not that big jump that I find in Mad Professor's gain units.

From all high-gain amps, the SLO-100 isn't the darkest one or the one with the highest saturation or the one with the bigger lows. It's some way more refinated and clearing sounding, as the Peavy 5150 is.
So, don't expect total doom on this pedal. Is producing just a liquid distortion that makes soloing really easy.

I wanted to check the amount of floor noise that this pedal adds to the signal (or raises from the original signal) so, I didn't use the ISP Decimator G-String (Noise Gate) to remove the noise.
Even being a high gain pedal, the floor noise was really comfortable and reasonable, even with single coil pickups, what says a lot about its design.

Well, I wasn't excited with the Crunch mode of this pedal, since I have other units to do that job but, I recognize that is a very usable mode. But, in my case, I prefer British crunch and, this unit is not exactly providing that, is giving Soldano's crunch. Fully usable but, not my beer.

The Overdrive mode is was had the most interest in my case and, I loved it. As I said, this will be not my number 1 distortion pedal, because my style is more classic but, I am happy to have this pedal for other stuff that I like to play from time to time and, it's very welcome for certain themes.

If you are expecting a deeper sound, as Diezel or Boogie deliver, this is not your pedal. Please, check Wampler's Triple Wreck (some kind of Recto-in-a-box), instead.

Enough writting. Better to see/hear the videos.


Alright!. I split the take into a pair of videos. First one is describing controls and testing in deep how every control affects to the Sound, always in Crunch mode. Second video is all about the Overdrive channel, not going so deep with controls but, checking several different settings with all kind of pickups: single coil, medium-output humbucker and high-output humbucker.

Each video is about half hour long so, go for a beer, some pop corns, sit down comfortablely, roll up your volume's control and push over those videos!. Or, leave it for a better time.


It seems that my ears are in sync with Wampler's ears, at least when discussing about gain boxes.
Once more one outstanding Wampler pedal that delivers interesting tones.
I am not in the aim of discussing if this is the best SLO-100 in-a-box pedal ever made. This lacks interest to me. What really interest me if this pedal gives me high-gain tones that I can use in my own themes and, it does it with ease.

The pedal seems to have no issues with impedances and smoothly integrates with the rest of pedals of my pedal board. The floor noise is surpresively low for a high-gain unit as this one, comfortable even with single pickups and without Noise Gate switched on.

If you are expecting some deep and creamy high-gain sounds, with excesive lows as the Diezel's or Mesa's deliver then, this is not your pedal. Please, check the Triple Wreck, instead.
The sound is more close to the clean and defined high-gain that a Peavy 5150 can deliver, by example.

Definitively a good weapon to have ready for those high gain solos.

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