Premier Guitar features affiliate links to help support our content. We may earn a commission on any affiliated purchases.

WMD Arcane Preamp Pedal Review

WMD Arcane Preamp Pedal Review

A two-channel boost/fuzz that ranges from fuller cleans to nasty fuzz

Download Example 1
Channel 1 dirty rhythm tone, bridge P-90
Download Example 2
Channel 2 fuzz lead tone, neck humbucker
Download Example 3
Channel 2 extreme fuzz lead, bridge humbucker
Clips recorded with Godin Icon Type 2 with Seymour Duncan P-Rails. Custom Mini-Wreck head (EL-84) into Krank 1x12 cab with Eminence Governor speaker. SM57 off axis into Chandler LTD-1 Mic Pre, no EQ. Pro Tools HD3.
The Arcane Preamp is a two-channel boost/fuzz pedal. Housed in a painted blue “bud box” style pedal flipped horizontally, it offers a simple low-gain boost that cascades into the fuzz channel offering up a wealth of tonal 1-2 punches from fuller cleans to nasty fuzzes.

In Design
For such a small pedal the Arcane Preamp fits seven controls on the front panel as well as two stomp switches, Bypass and Channel Select. The Bypass switch is true-bypass. Standard 1/4'” jacks are found on the left and right side of the pedal (left-output, right-input). Above the output jack is a Boss-style 9VDC adapter. The back of the pedal comes off with four machine screws to access the 9-volt battery compartment. The low gain boost channel offers Gain and Level controls, while the fuzz channel adds a full amp EQ of Bass, Mids, and Treble to its Gain and Level controls.

In Play
I tested the Arcane Preamp through a Krank Rev Jr. Pro halfstack and a Godin Icon Type 2 with Seymour Duncan P-Rail SHPR-1s. The first set of tones I checked out were from the example settings in the manual. With the Krank set to clean and Godin set to the bridge single-coil sound I got a nice boosted sparkle out of the low-gain channel. In this setting, the Gain was on full and the level was at noon. The volume bump was audible but the overall tone was thickened yet chimey. This gave me a “confidence boost” for playing in the cleaner arena, which was welcoming. Kicking over to the fuzz channel, the Gain was set very low since it works in conjunction with channel one’s Gain. This is where the two channels can really be dialed in for massive differences in tone and volume. With the Treble turned off, the sound was a lower gain grit/dirt that sat in the classic rock territory and was great for riffing. Working with the EQ I found that it was very wide and the controls worked together to offer a huge variety of useable fuzz tones. Cranking the Gain pumped out harmonics, spit and gurgle that sounded like the amp was gonna blow up with sustain for days—totally cool.

I switched the Godin to humbucker mode and played with the Level on the low gain channel. It was nice to hit the front end of the amp harder to get a gritty clean tone that spanked and broke up without sounding thin. Throwing caution to the wind, I dimed the Gain on the fuzz channel, switched over and nearly knocked myself off my chair from the volume blast. Because of the interactivity of the controls, you really have to be careful, there is a lot of volume that can come out of the Arcane even if your amp is set to whisper quiet. Overall, I found the fuzz tones to be gritty, fuzzy, and a tad bit on the thinner side, but that could be altered with EQ adjustments.

There were a few nits I had with the pedal. First off were the controls. Because the second channel has four controls positioned in a very tight space, it was difficult to grab the knobs and make changes easily. The blue LEDs were so bright that along with the white lettering is was very difficult to read the settings without going blind. I found myself aiming the pedal away from me slightly to be able to read it with the channel engaged. Finally, the 9-volt battery compartment is such a tight fit that I had to crank down hard to get it to squeeze down enough to get the back panel secured.

The Verdict
Aside from a few tight squeezes and blinding lights, the Arcane Preamp offers up yet another combination of flavors ranging from mean-clean to psychedelic.

Buy if...
you want a wide range of tones from bold cleans to fuzz box
Skip if...
you need something in between

Street $219 - WMD -

Tone Games 2010, Bonus Levels: 10 More Stompboxes Reviewed