A tribute to classic pedal designs, but with a unique twist. Wampler dives into the world of germanium diodes, which has often been called the "key" to the original Klon circuitry's distinctive sound.
The allure of that original overdrive had a lot to do with a very specific “secret” germanium diode, dubbed “unobtanium” by the original creator, Bill Finnegan. It was said that these diodes were the heartbeat of the coveted tone, but they had run out long ago. Despite this Wampler fans have been asking Brian to create a Tumnus using the exact vintage diode from the original.
After a massive hunt, Brian found a small stash of these elusive diodes and used them to create a limited-edition run of pedals - the Germanium Tumnus. This pedal will satisfy both the pedal connoisseur and those seeking a new workhorse on their board. The Germanium Tumnus retains all the usability of its golden sibling but introduces an extra level of aggression, an “Alien Silver” finish, and premium red anodized knobs.
The Germanium Tumnus’s streamlined 3 control knobs (Volume, Gain, and Treble) are designed to allow you to quickly dial in your tones. Set the gain around 9 o’clock for a beautiful smooth overdriven boost and at noon for a fuller-voiced, meaty drive. Turn the gain all the way up for a brutal, yet creamy overdriven tone.
Stack it with another pedal to help push or shape the total amount of gain, use it as a standalone overdrive, or as a slightly dirty boost to push the front end of your amp over the edge. Just like the original Klon, this pedal is not a “true bypass”.
This edition is steeped in a level of exclusivity with a tone that’s set to become legendary. This stash of “secret diodes” is limited, giving you a rare opportunity to own a piece of tone-shaping history. But once they’re gone, they’re gone and this pedal will be discontinued.
- Built-in USA
- High-grade components selected for superior sound and response
- Special edition of Wampler’s best-selling Tumnus Overdrive
- Volume, Gain, Treble controls
- Premium textured “Alien Silver” finish and anodized controls
- Vintage-specification clipping diodes for extra bite and sizzle
- Dimensions: 1.3” x 3.6” x 2” in size (38mm x 63.5mm x 50mm)
- Power draw: 19mA at 9V
- 9V power jack – DC supply only, no battery connection within
- Includes a limited 5-year warranty
- Wampler-quality construction
The Germanium TUMNUS from Wampler - Limited Edition
Design economy doesn’t stand in the way of delicious, wide-ranging tones on this straight-ahead rock machine.
A sweet-to-savage range of tones from a relatively noise-free P-90. Comfortable.
Some minor intonation issues.
Gibson Lukas Nelson '56 Les Paul Junior
In a guitar universe awash in sound-creation options, it's easy to forget the joy of simplicity. So if you awoke this morning with a digital hangover from a night of auditioning too many virtual mics and impulse response models, the Gibson Lukas Nelson '56 Les Paul Junior might be the greasy cheeseburger fix you crave.
Wood, Wire, and a Wallop of Old School
Electric guitars don't get much more elemental than the Les Paul Junior. Not coincidentally, perhaps, its ranks of admirers and adopters tend to be straight-ahead rockers and punky troublemakers that dig the absolute lack of fuss and frills. Lukas Nelson's signature Junior takes the back-to-basics concept to the extreme. It's based on Nelson's 1956 model, which is more-or-less identical to the very first Les Paul Junior that debuted two years earlier. In these early years of the Les Paul Junior's production, Gibson hadn't yet bothered to add a neck pickup, double cutaway, or TV yellow or cherry color options. This is electric guitar making at its most straightforward, and the musical outcomes can be thrilling.
Just as on vintage specimens of the Les Paul Junior, Gibson did not make “student guitar" status an excuse to skimp on quality. It's very well put together, though, admittedly, the spartan appointments leave little room to mess things up. The compact body feels downright small but incredibly comfortable. And while the finish reads more as modern satin than vintage, the patina is still lovely, suggests a life well lived, and works well with details like the aged Kluson-style, three-on-a-side tuners. The similarly aged compensated wraparound vintage-style bridge is a nice update of the impossible-to-intonate original. I still noticed minor intonation irregularities—particularly on the third string—but that doesn't really keep chords from ringing true once you're in tune.
Wild Sounds on the Range
The alnico 3 P-90 is notably quiet at idle—no small thing given how many P-90s buzz like a busted liquor store fridge. And even if you're familiar with the typical P-90 profile, the relative quiet can leave you unprepared for the way sounds seems to explode from the guitar. Typical of any P-90, the pickup in the Lukas Nelson has a toothy attack, substantial output from the first and second strings, and a strong midrange presence. But it's not all ice pick tones. There's a pretty, almost dusty, roundness in the harmonic make-up—even with tone and volume wide open—that Fenderphiles and Telecaster players in particular will know and recognize. Build those tones into a chord composite, and the whole becomes a throaty growl that sheds much light on why punk and rock players adore this model.
At low-gain amp settings—say 3-to-4 on a low- to medium-powered Fender combo—the Lukas Nelson growls resplendently. In fact, there's something almost hi-fi about the detail that the P-90 communicates in these settings. Clarity is not typically the first quality you associate with the mythically rough-and-tumble P-90, but it's an audible facet of this pickup's performance. There's a lot of detail to find in these tones, and the responsive pots with their relatively gentle tapers mean you can explore that detail in surprisingly clean and strong volume-attenuated settings or mellower tone-attenuated settings. You might also be more compelled to use these controls in expressive ways, given their thoughtful placement: just aft of the bridge, but close enough for easy and gentle simultaneous volume and tone control swells.
Match the wide-open Lukas Nelson to an amp deeper into its natural saturation state, and the Gibson takes on the personality of a well-read and worldly roughneck. There's plenty of room to clean up the tone and loads of overtone detail. But it's also the sound of rowdy rock 'n' roll incarnate.
My time with the Lukas Nelson '56 Les Paul Junior is as much fun as I've had with an electric guitar in a long time. It's incredibly light and comfortable to hold and handle over extended sessions, it feels smooth and fast under the fingers, and the lovely alnico 3 P-90 is both quiet and full of range—from mellow and clean volume- and tone-attenuated sounds to full-throttle garage punk barbarianism. And at every setting, the guitar reveals a capacity for complex tone pictures that belie its proletarian simplicity.
Power to the pinky—the variety of sounds in this homage to the 1960s Colorsound Fuzz is damn near astounding. The PG Vick Audio Lucky 13 review.
Clip 1: Eastwood Sidejack Baritone DLX with Curtis Novak Widerange Jazzmaster pickups into a Goodsell Valpreaux 21. Neck pickup, first with pedal bypassed, then engaged with Lucky 13 level at max and neck pickup selected, then middle position, then bridge, then back and forth between positions, adjusting guitar volume to various levels throughout.
Clip 2: Curtis Novak Tele-V Telecaster bridge pickup into the Lucky 13 (bypassed first, then engaged with level at 3 o’clock and guitar volume at max) then into the boost side of a SoundBrut DrVa MkII and a Ground Control Tsukuyomi mid boost, then into a 1976 Vibrolux Reverb with a Celestion G10 and a WGS G10C/S.
Myriad fuzz tones—from thick and gnarly to reedy and sqwonky—via guitar-volume tweaks. Cleans up really well with humbuckers. Pretty decent price.
Somewhat unpredictable sounds, guitar to guitar/rig to rig. Can be quite noisy with single-coils.
Vick Audio Lucky 13
Ease of Use:
Inspired by the 1960s Colorsound Fuzz designed by Dick Denney (also of Vox AC30 fame), Vick Audio’s new Lucky 13 is one of those stomps whose full potential can only be accessed via guitar-volume tweaks.
Silicon fuzzes sometimes have the reputation of being jagged, harsh, or trashy, but at full guitar volume, the Lucky 13 has a warm, thick, germanium-like sound. Its single level control (which governs a simple, two-transistor circuit) goes from nada to woolly-bear beef at its extremes, but for my money there’s no reason to set it below 3 o’clock. The higher you set it, the more tonal variety, dynamics, and clean headroom you can conjure with your instrument’s volume knob—though different rigs can have surprisingly different results.
For instance, with my Tele’s single-coils, lowered-volume sounds were more lo-fi, less varied, and considerably noisier. Meanwhile, driven by a baritone with Curtis Novak Widerange Jazzmaster humbuckers, the 13 churned out a deliciously smooth chocolate-destruction milkshake with the neck pickup at max, a chunky, slightly sweeter explosion with both pickups at max, and a velvet-fisted bruising with the bridge dimed. But these doom-friendly sounds were just occasional stopping points, as the ’buckers yielded a plethora of in-between tones that didn’t just vary in cleanness but also in EQ profile. With baritone volume near minimum, the tones were surprisingly clean, though also scooped and thin—but not quite Mosrite Fuzzrite-thin—yet more mids crept in as I increased guitar dBs. At mid volume, the ’buckers brought out wonderfully sensitive, even, and amp-like overdrive/crunch, and as I nudged volume further, the tones bloomed beautifully … until bursting into a filthy mushroom cloud at full throttle.
Test Gear: Eastwood Sidejack Baritone DLX and Squier Tele Custom with Curtis Novak pickups, silver-panel Fender Vibrolux Reverb and Vibro Champ, Goodsell Valpreaux 21, Jaguar HC50