Another pedal that caught our attention at NAMM 2015 was Wampler‘s new Plexi Drive Deluxe, which will be released on February 27, 2014. We at Delicious Audio are huge fans of the Plexi era of Marshall amps, but the truth is, they’re massive and hard to find – and hard to duplicate tonally.
Wampler are also fans of this classic, and have one-upped their standard 3-knob Plexi Drive – already a fine stompbox – with this aptly-named Deluxe version. In addition to the Wampler Plexi Drive circuit, the Deluxe has an active EQ section – bass, mid & treble. The big addition is what Wampler calls “Pre-gain” – essentially, it’s a mid-focused TS-9-style overdrive, independent of the Plexi Drive circuit. In addition to the standard bass boost switch (to simulate open versus closed back 4 x12 cabinets), an added touch we like is a new bright switch – how fun! Both switches are very practical to adjust the pedal to whatever amp you may be using, as well as tonal shaping. The active EQ is a nice touch, too, with tones ranging from raging Angus Young to pure Pete Townshend.
It’s voiced very well and accurately. At their NAMM booth, a demonstration of the standard Plexi channel indeed sounded like a sweet old Marshall, and adding the extra gain stage didn’t rob its flavor – it sounded sweet and singing, with a rough, dirty edge and the tightness we associate with a good Plexi.
We really like the way Wampler and other companies are working to create all-in-one stomp boxes that sound tonally distinct – and keep their tone profile steady regardless of what amp you use. The Plexi Drive’s added bonus of a built-in overdrive and all the other features, especially that fantastic EQ, is a must-try for the guitarist looking to simplify their rig. Like all Wampler pedals, it’s handmade in the US by genuine human beings, and at $239.97 MSRP, it’s a good deal for what is basically a vintage Marshall-in-a-box plus a great overdrive/boost in one. We’re excited and hope you are too! – Mya Byrne