Wampler designs pedals from the ground-up to be what guitar players want; plug them into any guitar and amp combination and get the killer tones you're expecting to hear. On top of that, all of the range and controls of the pedals are useful and they're solidly built in every aspect. As expected, the Velvet Fuzz delivered all of this and more.
Aptly named, the Velvet Fuzz is both smooth and woolly. It's designed to be that classic, fuzz-through-a-cranked-stack sound through any amp, big or small, clean or dirty. Achieving that, it also has a wide variety of sounds available in the lower range of the gain spectrum. With my trusty PRS 513 and Fender Deluxe Reverb, instant fuzz gratification was mine when I introduced the Velvet Fuzz into the signal chain. I set the Fuzz and Brightness controls at 12 o'clock, found unity gain with the Volume control and had the toggle switch in the Tight setting. I started with the guitar's volume knob all the way down and as I slowly rolled it up, the Velvet Fuzz responded like a tube amp; clean and lower in volume at the lowest settings but never muffled or unusable. The more I turned the volume up, the fuller and dirtier the sound got. I found great sounds throughout the spectrum and with the guitar's volume full-up, the tone was still focused with great note clarity and touch response. Higher gain settings gave the same result only bigger and dirtier.
Crank It Up
Switching to the Big setting on the toggle switch changed the character in a predictable manner; more everything but especially fuzz. The bottom end became fuller and the gain ramped-up substantially. The entire feel and sound of the pedal got looser and fuzzier. In the extreme settings, it's downright wild and out-of-control in a good way, slathering gobs of fuzz and coaxing controlled feedback at manageable volumes. Even then, the Velvet Fuzz was never messy or inarticulate and cleaned up with a twist of the volume knob, totally responsive to whatever dynamics I threw at it-- big fun, to say the least. The other thing that I noticed was how little noise the pedal was making at this extreme setting. The Volume on the pedal was still at unity gain with the amp but the fuzz was all the way up and when I turned my guitar down with the pedal engaged, all I heard was a slight hiss. I would expect to hear a sound comparable to a tsunami coming through my amp but the Velvet Fuzz surprised me completely. Nicely done, Wampler.
The Rest Of The Story
The Brightness control, for me was of the set-it-and-forget-it variety. I found the spot that sounded best with my guitar and amp and left it there. Experimenting with it informed me that it's function is to dial-back harsh highs or brighten-up muddy lows. The Volume control had plenty of range to drive an amp as hard as I could ever need. With the pedal engaged and the Volume set at roughly 10 o'clock, the perceived level was the same with the pedal disengaged. That's not even halfway through the range of the volume knob. The switches, knobs and general build quality are robust; the red, status indicator light is bright and the design looks cool. The design scheme is black background with white lettering and the word "Velvet" in swirling, red cursive. The word "Velvet" is also in larger print horizontally along the face of the pedal in a subtle gray, lurking underneath everything else.
A wide, useful range of huge, responsive fuzz and distortion tones in a well-designed, sturdy, sleek-looking package; that's the description that sums up the Wampler Velvet Fuzz for me. That's also why the test model came right off of my personal pedalboard.