People, and by people I mean non-guitarists, wonder about the amount of overdrive pedals on the market, seemingly growing like mushrooms after a wet winter. Ah, but like mushrooms, each type has a distinctive flavor and effect. Earthquaker Devices new Special Cranker sounds like no other, so if you feel like there is a particular piquancy missing from your tone palette, this might be the answer. For specs, click on the ad to the right.
Weird spitty fuzz pedals are not the only dirt devices employed by modern guitarists, and Stevie Ray Vaughn imitators are not the only guitarists who use that trusty lime-green overdrive and its clones—that sound has been an industry staple since its inception.
Plumes is EarthQuaker’s take on the type of low to medium gain overdrive that works best in conjunction with a good valve amp. Of course it being the good folks from Akron, this version has a few twists and turns of its own.
For the technically inclined, Plumes does away with the usual JRC4558 OpAmp and the BJT buffers, replacing them with low noise JFET OpAmps for a more robust and precise signal with a significantly lower noise floor. The 9v power input is internally converted to +/- 9v for more headroom. The input impedance has been raised to 10 megaohms for a stronger signal with more clarity and chime. They’ve also adjusted the cutoff of the tone control to deliver a more useful range of travel with more bass on the low end without sacrificing the midrange and top end.
Plumes offers three different clipping modes. Mode 1 is symmetrical clipping utilizing a pair of light emitting diodes. When played through a clean amp, this setting delivers a facsimile of classic crunchy valve amp tone. Mode 2 is clean boost mode, eliminating the soft clipping diodes altogether for straight OpAmp drive. This mode can come in handy for pushing your clean tone to the fore or driving the preamp of an already overdriven amp into further breakup. Mode 3 is an asymmetrical silicon diode arrangement similar to the typical screamer but with more output and clarity; a tone some describe as “transparent.”
Plumes features EarthQuaker Devices relay-based “soft touch” Flexi-Switch Technology for both momentary and latching footswitch operation as well as a very low 25 mA current draw. Since the switching is relay based, it requires power to pass signal.
Plumes is available to pre-order through authorized EarthQuaker Devices dealers, and will be in stores on August 3, 2019.
List Price: $99.00
Measures: 4.75″ x 2.50″ x 2.25″ with knobs
Current Draw: 25 mA
Input Impedance: 10 MOhm
Output Impedance: 100 Ohm
This device takes a standard 9 volt DC power supply with a 2.1mm negative center barrel. EarthQuaker recommends pedal-specific, transformer-isolated wall-wart power supplies or multiple isolated-output supplies. Pedals will make extra noise if there is ripple or unclean power. Switching-type power supplies, daisy chains and non-pedal specific power supplies do not filter dirty power as well and let through unwanted noise. DO NOT RUN AT HIGHER VOLTAGES!
The Knowledge is the training course that every cab driver in London town needs to complete before getting their license. It involves learning the 25,000 streets of that major capital.
This will be where I share knowledge I have, or find on the Web, that every modern guitarist needs to navigate the world of guitar playing and tone.
For the first one, I want to introduce The Pedal Show, a great series from Mick Taylor, former writer and editor of British guitar mags, and Daniel Steinhardt from GigRig, who makes great switching systems and consults to the stars about all things tone.
In this episode they discuss overdrive, fuzz, and reveal how discussions of “the best” anything are exercises in futility due to the variables in gear combinations.
Guitar Moderne presents the ultimate in small pedalboards. Internet searches love this kind of pompous statement. I’m actually talking about my personal go-to board for jam sessions and quick recording work. Its three, extremely versatile, effects pedals cover many of the sounds I need, for a variety of genres. They are packed on a small, sturdy pedalboard, powered without batteries (in the pedals) or needing to plug into a wall. Whether the gig is blues, roots, country, Americana, rock, pop, jazz, improv, experimental, African, Latin, or virtually any other style of music, this pedalboard lets me create appropriate tones. Check out the video and “read more” for full pedal descriptions.
The world is full of overdrive pedals. Ibanez Tube Screamer clones abound. All claim to offer amp-like distortion; some claim to offer amp-like feel; some even come close to both. The H.A.L.O. in the name of the Alairex H.A.L.O. pedal ($399 street) stands for Harmonic Amp-Like Overdrive, and this one actually delivers both sound and feel to the maximum.