Union Jack Stack-in-a-Box Overhaul
The original Plexi-Drive pedal from Wampler has been around in one form or another for many years now. It is somewhat of a JTM 45-ish boutique classic in the same way the Z. Vex Box of Rock or the Lovepedal COT is. I used to have all three at one time and while each had its specific strength, I ended up selling them when I switched from playing a Fender Vibro-King to—you guessed it—a vintage Marshall JMP stack. Well, here we are in 2015 and obsessive breadboarder Brian Wampler has fine-tuned and expanded what was already a killer vintage Plexi pedal. Enter: The Plexi-Drive Deluxe.
The new feature set provides a fully-inclusive and adaptive tone palette. There isn’t a rig on earth that this beast can’t sink into. Single coils, humbuckers, clean amps, dirty amps, solid-state amps, DAWs, desks, speaker-sims; you name it and the Plexi-Drive Deluxe will accommodate it with pure, amp-like kerrang. The new active tone stack allows for finite frequency boosting or shaving and the onboard bright and bass controls act as overall presence and resonance shifts. Les Pauls are lifted from the mud with thud intact. Strats are relieved of high spikes and endowed with extra thump; all the while, touch-sensitive emissions of woody brilliant overtones burst in the air.
Hot Rockin’ Monarch of the Pedalboard
Although I am not into Tube Screamer-type circuits most of the time, it can’t be denied that the creamy mid-boost and bottom end-attenuation they dole out flatters the slightly scooped-mid and loose-low nature of the JTM beast. Leaving no stone unturned, Mr. Wampler did us a solid and built the complementary overdrive right into the pedal in the form of a single-knob, foot-switchable pre gain boost. This enables one to enjoy the extra bass thump on bridge position rhythm rocking and then quickly switch to the neck pickup and hit the pre gain for smooth-yet-cutting leads, without the flab. Of course, all the Rio Grande Mud is there if you want it and I would love to stick a bass into this thing for some Lemmy-style Overkill action.
The amount of gain on tap can be dialed in for everything from Led Zeppelin, Bon Scott-era AC/DC, early Judas Priest, ZZ Top, Ramones or anything else that calls for the sound of a cranked-to-the-hilt vintage Marshall. What’s not to love?
What we like: The fabled Marshall-in-a-Box is a popular pursuit amongst boutique builders and there are quite a few options out there, but Brian Wampler has been refining and adding to this circuit for some time now. This new Plexi-Drive Deluxe sounds the vintage British business and has everything needed to make lesser distortions and overdrives walk the plank. Add to this top shelf components, rugged construction and those lovely soft-clicking true bypass switches that are all the rage nowadays and we have ourselves a balls-out rock ‘n’ roll machine. Need more headroom? Plug the PDD into your favorite power supply’s 18-volt output and blow the roof off.
Concerns: For those that are concerned about the redundancy of running a pedal like this into an actual Marshall, just think about all those gigs where the sound guy bullied you into turning your favorite non-master amp below the rock line. Ditch the expensive bulky tone-altering attenuator and get equipped with the new guv.