Vintage Guitar - October 2017 - open - 132

TONE TWEAKER'S
DELIGHT
Wampler Pedals' Bravado

W

hat's a pedal platform? Nope, it's not
a carbon-fiber Pinarello mountain
bike with Shimano shifters and derailleurs.
It's another term for the Bravado 40-watt
head designed by pedal impresario Brian
Wampler for any player who wants to hear
that floor-bound pedalboard climb high
like a Pinarello.
Behind the classy if understated exterior
details and logo lie 6L6 power tubes and
hand-wired circuitry. Power and standby
switches are to the left of the front panel,
with input to the right. And just one spot
over, in white, sits the all-important Volume
knob. There are also Treble, Middle, and Bass
controls, and 16-, 8-, and 4-ohm speaker
loads are selectable on the rear panel. No new
bells and... wait - is that a Fat mini-switch?
And a six-way Bright switch to give guitarists
a sweepable selection of tone coloration to
add a little sizzle to the high end?

Price: $1,899.97
Info: www.wamplerpedals.com

Indeed, the Bravado is for tone tweakers
who can hear pedals that attenuate higher
frequencies. Or fans of single-coils who
could use a little help in the mids.
Tested with Kent Armstrong single-coil
pickups through a 12" Celestion Greenback
in an extension cab, the pedalboard was
subdivided to take advantage of the effects
loop. Wampler Ego Compressor, Ibanez
Tube Screamer, and Duncan Palladium
went into the front input. Brian Wampler
worked with Dave Friedman to develop an
active effects loop that would deliver an
unfiltered sound, or a sound filtered only
by the effects, in this case an E-H Holy
Grail Reverb, Seymour Duncan Catalina

VINTAGE GUITAR

132

October 2017

Dynamic Chorus, a Wampler
Tape Echo, and a Crazy Tube
Circuits SPT for tremolo and
related craziness
"Clean." That generic term
sums up the unprocessed sound
of the Wampler Bravado head,
with no Master and no onboard
reverb. The stacked pickups liked
Bright switch settings 2, 3, and 4
for a natural sound. Position 1,
and a flick of the Fat switch, and
the solidbody began to behave like
a hollowbody.
It's all about the pedals, though,
and the Bravado truly came alive
when a Wampler Mini Ego compressor was activated with knobs straight
up. Adding tonal color effects, starting
with the Holy Grail reverb, the Bravado
accentuated the impact of each pedal so
that once "normal" settings seemed
extreme. The whacky "Fleurb" setting of the Grail became detailed
enough to cause mild vertigo. The
Catalina Chorus and SPT reacted
similarly, also with an apparent
magnification of the impact of
each pedal. Combining multi
pedals only became unmusical
when the effects were pushed to their
sonic limits. But with typical settings, the
characteristics of each individual pedal
remained identifiably individual. Reference
checks with a 60-year-old Ampeg Jet and a
newish Fender Blues Jr. confirmed that the
Bravado's effects loop's transparent sound
outperformed both amps.
The downside to this extraordinary clarity lies in the pedals themselves, especially
noisy overdrive, fuzz, and distortion units.
Extraneous hum and buzz are magnified,
through both the effects loop and the
front panel jack. Despite this, the Bravado
screamed behind that extra juice, with
rolling harmonics on chords and eternally
sustained notes. Swapping in an ancient
battery-powered DOD Overdrive/Preamp
250, dialing down the Bright switch and
Treble control, activating the Fat miniswitch and the compressor, the neck stacked
humbucker achieved a "Look, Ma. No
rolling off the tone control" "woman tone."
At 40 watts, the Bravado is certainly club
gig-worthy, but it could be the ultimate
home dream amp. If those pedals you just
couldn't throw away are in a box in the
studio, the Wampler Bravado demands
that you take them out and revisit them.
- Chip Wilson


http://www.wamplerpedals.com http://www.vintageguitar.com

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Vintage Guitar - October 2017 - open

Contents
Vintage Guitar - October 2017 - open - Cover
Vintage Guitar - October 2017 - open - IFC
Vintage Guitar - October 2017 - open - 3
Vintage Guitar - October 2017 - open - 4
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