The Pinnacle Distortion is one of the more aggressive-sounding distortions in the Wampler line. The pedal was designed to cover light to heavier overdrive, but dishing out the famous Van Halen “brown sound” is where its heart really lies. The Pinnacle relies on two separate EQ controls, dubbed Tone and Contour, to shape its overall sound, coupled with separate volume and gain controls. In between the four knobs are two mini-switches, the first toggling the voicing between vintage and modern modes, and the second between normal and boosted gain amounts.
For testing out the Pinnacle, I used a 1978 Gibson Les Paul Custom with a Bareknuckle Warpig in the bridge and a Vox AC30 reissue combo. With both the Tone and Contour controls set at noon, I gradually increased the gain on the unboosted vintage mode, and let loose a flurry of Jake E. Lee-inspired rhythm work. The tone was extremely impressive, with smooth, pleasing highs and soft yet aggressive lows coupled with a really grinding midrange. I could really hear the brown sound influence here, and wow, was it close.
Knowing that a lot of the original tone was due to a low-output PAF in Eddie’s original guitar, I switched out my guitar to a 1978 Ibanez Iceman set neck with a Seymour Duncan ’59 humbucker in the bridge. The clarity of the tone after this change was certainly noticeable, with a great, spongy low end to boot. While this tone was fantastic, the resulting sounds that I was able to coax out of the Pinnacle with very small adjustments to the EQ were even more impressive. The Tone and Contour controls are extremely sensitive and powerful, almost to the point of going overboard. The Pinnacle is capable of some really over-the-top, biting distortion, so it’s best to be conservative when setting the EQ knobs. With the modern mode and boost engaged, the pedal can get into thrash metal territory if you raise the Contour control to higher levels. It almost turns the pedal into an entirely different beast, one that only moment before was singing some awfully inspiring, smooth vintage tones. Even at these extreme settings, the Pinnacle’s low end stayed tight and present, even after switching back to the Les Paul with the much hotter humbucker. Flipping back to the vintage mode and leaving the boost on let the low end loosen up a bit, gave me back that great vintage British amp sag that Billy Gibbons and Cream-era Eric Clapton helped make famous, especially on the neck pickup with the tone rolled off a little bit.
The Pinnacle certainly achieves its goal of giving very convincing early-‘80s hard rock tones, but what really blew me away was its ability to get so many other sounds. However, extreme settings can sometimes give off a harsh and unruly sound, so being careful with the EQ positions is advised. I don’t think this is a downfall of the pedal, though. Actually, I like the fact that Wampler designed the Pinnacle to have the ability to go into these other tonal territories, as it helps give it more range for whatever rig is being used. Some darker amps could benefit from the added brightness of the higher EQ settings, and some rigs with a brighter edge might be improved with the opposite. Either way, the Wampler Pinnacle is flat-out a great distortion device, one of those pedals that makes you want to keep doing what we all love: play guitar!
you’re looking for a pedal that can cover a lot of British-voiced
American-flavored distortion tones are your thing.