Second Bite: Wampler Paisley Deluxe

This photo shows two pedals on my pedalboard.

On the left is the Paisley Drive Deluxe, made by Wampler Pedals. It has two foot switches, one to activate each side of the pedal.

On the right is the Forest Green Compressor, by Mad Professor. This just has the one foot switch.
The Wampler Paisley Drive Deluxe and Mad Professor Forest Green Compressor

Back in March 2020, I picked up a second hand Paisley Deluxe (Paisley Drive Deluxe? Even Wampler’s own marketing uses both terms …), and really struggled with it. And that has bugged me ever since.

A lot has changed since then. Will that make any difference, or will it still be a pedal that just isn’t for me? Details below 🙂

What Is Your Signal Chain This Time Around?

Today, I’m using:

  • Hedgehog (my Squier Esquire w/ a Seymour Duncan Antiquity II pickup in the bridge) and Deadnote (my PRS McCarty 594)
  • into a Mad Professor Forest Green Compressor
  • into the Wampler Paisley Deluxe
  • into a pair of Neunaber Slates for digital tape delay and digital spring reverb
  • out to my Marshall DSL20HR
  • out to a pair of Victory 1×12 open-backed cabs, fitted with 16 ohm Celestion Blue and A-Type speakers

All the pedals are in separate loops on my Gigrig G2. That allows me to take any pedal completely out of the signal chain when I’m not using it.

What Has Changed Since Last Time?

In the intro to this blog post, I said that “a lot has changed” since the last time I tried this pedal. What are those changes?

  1. We’ve had some electrical work done on the house, which has greatly reduced problems with electrical noise (so far, anyways!)
  2. I’ve swapped out my Blackstar Studio 10 6L6 1×12 combo amp for the Marshall DSL20HR and the pair of 1×12 speaker cabs.
  3. I’ve stuck the Forest Green Compressor in front of the Paisley Deluxe.

First time around, I found that turning up the treble control on the pedal wasn’t an option for me, because of the amount of electrical noise that ended up being amplified. Just before Christmas, we had some rewiring work done (new distribution box, kitchen moved onto a separate ring main), and that seems to have eliminated the vast majority of the electrical noise. I can now crank that treble control up without issues.

These particular Marshalls have six controls that shape the EQ on the clean channel. Using the Marshall, I can dial in the amp to suit the pedal. In contrast, the Studio 10 6L6 had just the one set-and-forget tone control. The advantage of the Studio 10 6L6 is that it keeps pedals honest. They have to do all the work. But, sometimes, everyone could do with a little extra help, and the Paisley Deluxe certainly benefits from it.

The Forest Green Compressor is the oldest pedal that I own, and the one I originally used for tone-shaping before I got the Klon KTR. It’s not sonically transparent. It does colour the signal quite a bit (more than I remember! That’s a topic for another blog post). That extra tone-shaping turned out to be a huge help to me.

It’s All About The Underdog Drive

The Paisley Deluxe is a dual-drive pedal.

  • On the left hand side is the Paisley Drive, based on the standalone Wampler Paisley Drive pedal.
  • On the right hand side is the Underdog Drive, based on the incredibly rare made-for-charity Wampler Underdog Drive pedal.

IIRC, the two circuits in the Paisley Deluxe aren’t 100% the same as the ones found in the standalone pedal. I believe that they’ve been tweaked to work better together.

The Paisley Deluxe is very flexible. You can use either side on its own, or you can use both sides together. If you do decide to use both sides together, there’s a toggle switch to control whether it’s Paisley Drive into Underdog Drive, or Underdog Drive into Paisley Drive.

For the rest of this blog post, whenever I’m talking about the Paisley Deluxe, I’m only talking about the right hand side of the pedal (the Underdog Drive side).

On Its Own, A Very Round Top-End

Now that I can get away with cranking the treble control on the Paisley Deluxe, I can finally hear why it seems to be necessary. To my ears, there’s a huge roll-off on the top-end of the signal coming out of this pedal.

To compensate, I’ve turned up the Presence control on my Marshall a bit. I’ve turned it up to about 10 o’clock, which is about the highest that I like to go. Any higher, and I don’t like what the Marshall does to any pedal.

To my ears, the top-end roll-off really suits a Telecaster bridge pickup that’s chasing the 60s tone. If I grab Hedgehog (my Squier Esquire fitted with a Seymour Duncan Antiquity II) and set the pedal’s controls at 12 noon, then they seem to go pretty well together. That’s a pickup that’s really bright, and much brighter than any other Telecaster bridge pickup I’ve ever played myself.

Moving to (dare I say) more common Telecaster pickups and tones, I still think that the high-end roll-off can end up sounding somewhat dull. It does seem voiced for the brightest of Telecaster pickups. Or maybe there’s just something that I’m not getting here?

It’s not all bad news, though. With a little bit of extra help in front of the Paisley Deluxe, that rounded top-end turns into something that I’m deeply enjoying.

A Lovely Soft Growl, With A Great Rasp When I Dig In

I’ve got the Paisley Deluxe’s bass control at around 10:30, the mid control down to just above 9 o’clock, and the treble control up around the 1:30 mark. On its own, it’s a little too dull for humbuckers for my taste, but stick the Forest Green Compressor in front of it, and it sounds lush.

I’ve set the Forest Green Compressor to act as a mild boost, by setting its Volume control to 9 o’clock. The compression mode is set to Sustain, and the Tone control is down at around 8 o’clock. I’m playing my PRS 594 in the middle position, with neck volume at 4, neck pickup split, and bridge pickup rolled back just a little.

The result is a tone that’s got a lot of emphasis on the mid-range, without sounding too vintage. While it doesn’t sound like plexi-tone, it isn’t tweed-tone either. I’m not sure how to characterise it. I guess it’s that Nobels heritage of the Underdog drive circuit shining through?

The rolled-off top end gives it a softness that I’m really loving. It’s making single note passages sound smooth, and double-stops and chords growl in a really pleasing way. The really nice thing is that it doesn’t sound dull at all, just … rounded.

I can get nice a bit of raspy bite to the attack by digging in with my picking, but it doesn’t have the sharp attack that I associated with a plexi pedal. Any time I want bite on every note, I can just flip the pickup selector from the middle position down to the bridge pickup.

I’m also enjoying how the bridge humbucker’s tone control interacts with the pedals. I can roll it back a bit to soften the overdrive even more. There’s a nice interactivity going on here between the bridge humbucker volume control, bridge humbucker tone control and the two pedals.

My description isn’t doing this tone justice. On first listen, it doesn’t have that ‘wow’ factor. It’s just an easy tone to listen to … and to keep listening to for hours on end. It doesn’t have the most dynamics, and yet I’ve just found it really satisfying to play through.

What About The Paisley Drive Side?

I’ve barely touched it, to be honest. I bought this pedal because it was the only practical way to get Wampler’s almost-mythical Underdog circuit.

I might try out the Paisley Drive side at some point, but I don’t feel the need to do so today, sorry.

Final Thoughts

Maybe it’s just caught me at the right moment, I don’t know, but I’ve found the tone I’ve achieved with this pedal to be very inspiring.

I’ve had it on the board for about a week now, and I just haven’t felt any desire at all to swap it out for something else. After a bit of an early-January funk, this pedal’s really brought me out of that. I’m a real sucker for growly, raspy guitar tones, and this combination (Forest Green Compressor into Paisley Deluxe) is giving me that in abundance.

I think part of it is that I wasn’t expecting to get anywhere with this pedal. I almost sold it after my first time with it. I’m still not sure why I didn’t. It turned out for the best though 🙂

I do need to put my experience into context. If I hadn’t had the inspiration to try it with the Forest Green Compressor in front, this blog post would have had a very different conclusion. On its own, my conclusions from my original blog post still stand.

But hey – stacking pedals is what being a pedal-head is all about, right?

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