First Impressions: Wampler Paisley Deluxe

I’ve actually had this pedal for almost a week. Normally, I try and post my First Impressions within a day or two of plugging in a pedal. In this case, though, I’ve really been struggling to get to grips with the Paisley Deluxe.

What Is It?

The Wampler Paisley Deluxe is a 2-in-1 drive pedal:

  • Channel 1 (on the right of the pedal) is v2 of Wampler’s Underdog Drive circuit, and
  • Channel 2 (on the left of the pedal) is a tweaked version of Brad Paisley’s signature drive pedal

According to Internet legend, the original Paisley Drive is based on the TubeScreamer circuit, and the original Underdog Drive is based on the discontinued Nobels ODR-S.

It’s important to note that this pedal isn’t quite the same as having a separate Paisley Drive pedal and a separate Underdog Drive pedal. I’ve never owned either, so I’m afraid I can’t compare them for you today.

Why Are You Struggling With It?

The usual trick with Wampler pedals – especially their older designs – is to grab a Telecaster and a Fender-style amp, at least to start with. Once I’ve got the hang of dialling it in, sometimes I can then switch over to a Les Paul and still get a great sound out of the pedal.

This pedal is one that (so far) is bucking the trend.

The thing I’m struggling with, is that this pedal sounds like someone has thrown a blanket over the amp. It’s not so noticeable with my Tele, but with my Les Paul, it’s unavoidable. This is through my Blackstar Studio 10 6L6. And yes, I’ve tried other pedals just to make sure it’s not a fault with the amp.

I can crank the mids and treble on the Underdog side to address it. Unfortunately, I’ve got noisy electrics, and any cranked treble EQ always ends up amplifying that noise 🙁

What Does Brad Use?

It’s a signature pedal, and even more than that, it’s the pedal that Brad Paisley actually uses on his board. It’s not just an endorsement deal. So, it’s probably voiced for his regular amps, right? What does he use?

As far as I can tell from research, he uses both Fender-style amps AND AC30-style amps. It’s not quite working out through my Blackstar. Maybe I’ll have more luck through my Vox amp?

How Does It Sound Through Your Vox Amp?

Unfortunately, it’s not an amp that I know very well at all. I’ve also just moved everything around in my home studio, and this is the very first time I’ve used my 1×12 cabs in their new position. I’m well outside what I’m used to hearing.

Take my experience here with a huge pinch of salt, please.

Through my Vox amp, the Underdog sounds really boxy. Even with the mids dialled all the way down, I can’t get a sound that I like from it with my Les Paul.

Even with my Tele, things aren’t that much better, to be honest. The mids are a bit better, but it still sounds like blanket has been thrown over amp; just that it’s a much thinner blanket, if that makes any sense to you.

Final Thoughts

There are two important points that I need to make:

  • Brian Wampler doesn’t make bad pedals. His track record as a pedal designer is right up there with the very best.
  • Brad Paisley (international music star) uses this exact pedal in his personal rig.

Just because I’m struggling with it, that doesn’t make it a bad pedal. And it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll struggle with it either, if you decide to get one. It obviously works for Brad Paisley, and he’s going to know a lot more about getting a great sound than I ever will.

When I’ve finished getting everything set up again, I’ll break out the big guns, and give the pedal another go through my Synergy rig and my CAB M. That’ll eliminate any potential problems caused by using affordable amps, and any differences in sound from having the cabs in a different place in the room.

I’ll report back again once I’ve done that.

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