022 | EarthQuaker Devices Plumes: A Closer Look at this Small Signal Shredder Overdrive | Transcript

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Scott Schwertly:
Hello, and welcome to episode 22 of the Sonic Renegades podcast, where we're exploring renegade pedals that have changed the music landscape. Up for today, we're talking about another one of those renegade pedals. It hasn't changed the world yet, but it's making its way. That is EarthQuaker Devices Plumes Overdrive Pedal. It's a beauty, and we can't wait to unpack it in this episode.

Hello, and welcome to episode 22 of the Sonic Renegades podcast. So glad to have you guys here with us. I'm Scott Schwertly. I've got my colleague, Eric Wilson. We're both from Siren Pedals. Today, we're excited to be talking about one of our favorite companies that's EarthQuaker Devices, and more specifically their plumes overdrive pedal. So this is basically in the Tube Screamer land territory. I know Eric, you've really been on the hunt for that perfect Tube Screamer equivalent. So I know you're specifically really passionate about this topic. But I'll let you talk about that for a bit.

Eric Wilson:
Yeah. I mean, ever since I've tried out an original TS9 and it sent me down the rabbit trail of trying to find one that fixes the things that I would want different about it, which ... I mean, there's nothing wrong with the TS9 at all. But I've tried everything from a Cusack Screamer to Hand Wired Little Green Wonder, TS808 to TS-9. There are some other ones like Mojo Hand FX the Rook, Mojo Hand before Cusack bought Mojo Hand. I've always been looking for the right Tube Screamer for me. This one really seems to hold up well, and especially the price is not bad at all. It's literally the same price as a TS-9. So, I think it's a great value. So far, it's been a great pedal for me.

Scott Schwertly:
Yeah. I mean, only, I think like $99. I mean, it's, as you said, super affordable, easy to get your hands on one. Obviously, as you mentioned, there's so many different Tube Screamer equivalent variants options out there. All of them are great in their own, but they also have their imperfections. I think this plumes pedals really gets closer to perfecting some of those imperfections. We're going to be talking about that here in just a bit. Yeah, it really makes a lot of headway, makes up a lot of ground that's been lost in previous other iterations. Yeah, definitely excited to be talking about that with you guys today.

The really cool thing about this pedal is, it's relatively young. I mean, it only came out fall of last year, believe this, I think around September 17th, 2019. The interesting storyline behind this pedal is Jamie Stillman, who's actually the founder of EarthQuaker, this pedal actually resided just as a prototype on his board for about two to three years with him using it in band practices, performances, et cetera, until he decided to finally unleash it to the world. It's getting rave reviews right now, people love it. I mean, again, that affordability, ease of use. It's just sounds so great for such an affordable price.

Eric Wilson:
Well, I know compared to the Dunes and the Palisades, which are very similar, they're also looked at as Tube Screamer variants in ways, but they deviate quite a bit more than this does. So the plumes is a lot closer to a traditional TS-9 or TS808 in what you're looking for when you look for your typical Tube Screamer.

Scott Schwertly:
Exactly. I mean, it's definitely more like your [stock808 00:03:55]. Really where I feel like they've taken advantage of the opportunity to step it up is particularly with their tone knob, where you're going to get a lot more mid-range. It's now really super useful. I know a lot of people will complain with those that have owned more traditional Tube Screamers that you really can't do so much with it. But pretty much in any position, you're going to hear it depending on what kind of tone that you're wanting to capture. Just little subtle things like that, I think are really big leaps ahead. And then their whole modes toggle, which we'll be talking about as well, that definitely opens up your sonic horizons a little bit as far as just having a lot more options for you. Again, just some really cool features that they've added to set it apart from, as you mentioned, Eric, the Palisades, the Dunes and various others that exist out there.

Eric Wilson:
Yeah. On that tone control too, I was reading that it leaves the mid-range no matter what. Typically, that tone control is just going to control your top end and then your bottom end of your signal just so you can tailor that, but then you're still getting that mid-range that you're going to want because that's why you buy a Tube Screamer. So, that was one thing I found that I really liked about it and that's been really useful for me. Another thing they did is, one of the primary changes they made is they switched out a couple of components to just increase the presence, the headroom and then the note definition of the pedal. So, it's been really great. You can definitely hear it and ... Yeah.

Scott Schwertly:
Yeah. They've got the JFET op amp, which are the things that you just mentioned there. You get a lot more just chime headroom, punchiness, it's more articulate. Again, it's just a lot of those little subtle upgrades or additions that, again, really make it to standout. Well, these pedals we mentioned is obviously very young. Again, they only came out September last year. So there's not a ton of, I guess, quote unquote, famous musicians that they're using it presently. Probably the closest person to that would be, it's actually been, the plumes has actually been cited on Mick Thomson's board. If you're not familiar with Mick Thompson, he's a guitarist in Slipknot.

Then there's a number of other just, I guess, maybe you want to call them C range, B range artists. But again, this thing is really just starting to get headway now and be interested to see in the next year or two which board it actually makes it in the years ahead.

Eric Wilson:
Yeah. Well, and I know for such an affordable price for $99, it opens it up to whoever wants it. It's not one of those where it's like a Hand Wired Little Green Wonder is like $250 and you got to sell an organ to go buy it kind of thing just for a Tube Screamer. So, having it be that affordable, it just opens up the doors to plenty of people being able to get their hands on it. I'm really interested to see what happens with the used market with this pedal because at $99 new, you should probably be able to pick these up for probably like 75 bucks or something like that within like a year or year and a half.

Scott Schwertly:
For sure. I mean, it's great to be able to actually own an EarthQuaker Device for such an affordable price tag. I mean, I'll be singing their praises all day long. I love EarthQuaker, I love the stuff they put out. Again, this is just another great one to have on the board. If it doesn't make it on your board, it's a great one just to play with. Again, it just gives so much variety.

We'll of build on that conversation and talk about the variety. I know we've briefly here touched on the tone knob and that being a big differentiator for it. But I think a lot of the differentiation also comes from the mode options. So there's actually a toggle switch in the middle of the pedal where you actually have three different modes and ... Yeah, there's so much variety that comes from it. Quick highlight, we'll just explain what those three modes are, and then we'll unpack for you in detail what that actually means.

In mode one, what you get here is symmetrical LED clipping. So basically you're going to get more crunch and compression. Number two, if you stay in the middle, there's no clipping that happens. So what you're going to get there is basically clean boost. Number three is asymmetrical silicon diode clipping. I know that sounds like a mouthful, but basically you're just going to get more transparency.

Eric Wilson:
Yeah. I know that third mode, I was reading that, that's actually going to be the closest tone to a traditional TS808 or TS-9 that you're going to get out of this pedal. The first two modes are really like, they're variants on just what they think a Tube Screamer should be. And then that third mode is more of the traditional Tube Screamer tone.

Scott Schwertly:
Yeah. That's the brief highlight of them. We'll just maybe take another minute or two here real quick and actually just get more practical with those three modes. If you're thinking about mode one, we talked about that being symmetrical LED clipping, as we mentioned, more crunch, more compression, really what you get there is just that raunchiness, it's just got that mid-

Eric Wilson:
Yeah, that one-

Scott Schwertly:
... which is great.

Eric Wilson:
Yeah, it's really great. If you're looking for getting your overdrive tone straight from the pedal, it's really great because it gives you that nice crunch that'll hold up well in the mix. And then if you go to that second mode, it really helps, you can do the opposite where if you have an amp that you really like the tone of you can push the amp into more overdrive as you use the plumes more as a clean boost, but it also helps boost a little bit of that mid-range so that your signal stays clear through a mix or whatever you're putting it to.

Scott Schwertly:
As you mentioned, number three, again, that's the most Tube Screamer like out of the three modes that are presented. You basically capture that more traditional sound.

Eric Wilson:
Yeah. Another small thing dimension is, that I read that I was actually pretty surprised by is the Flexi-Switch on it.

Scott Schwertly:
Yeah, definitely.

Eric Wilson:
Yeah. This caught me off guard because I'm like, what? Wait, what? It's actually where you can have a standard latching operation for the foot switch, but you can also use it as just a momentary foot switch, which I think is really interesting because you can almost use it as like a kill switch kind of thing. (silence). Yeah, I've been really enjoying it. I think it's actually one that I may want to go pick up now. But, it's been great.

Scott Schwertly:
Yeah. I think if we had to give you a headline statement for this pedal, it's one of those that people would say that it's loud, but it's not noisy. If you wanted to walk away with one headline about this episode or what this pedal is all about, that's probably it. And then some keywords obviously, it's plenty of headroom, as you mentioned earlier, lots of chime, lots of punchiness, very articulate, lots of just great perks all in one small box. Awesome. What we'll do now, if you guys are curious to see what this thing actually sounds like, we are going to plug it in and take it out for a spin. Eric, what's your choice of acts for this one.

Eric Wilson:
I'm going to use my tele for this.

Scott Schwertly:
Nice, nice. Awesome. Well, we will get that plugged in and we'll see you guys on the other side.

Eric Wilson:
All right, that's the EarthQuaker Plumes. It's a great Tube Screamer variant, and it's really affordable. So, I highly recommend that if you can, pick one up.

Scott Schwertly:
Yeah. I mean, it's definitely worth checking out at a bare minimum. Yeah, definitely worth the affordable price tag. All right. Well, there you guys have it. That is the EarthQuaker Device's Plumes Overdrive Pedal, fantastic device. Join us next time as we're going to be talking about the Way Huge Aqua-Puss, specifically MKII Analog Delay Guitar Pedal. This one's great, it's used by famous people, obviously like Noel Gallagher, Jeff Beck, Brad Paisley. So if you're just looking for another delay option, you're going to love learning about the Aqua-Puss by Way Huge.

Eric Wilson:
Yeah. As always, feel free to send over any recommendations for pedals we should check out. You can either email hello@sirenpedals.com or just go ahead and drop us a DM on our Instagram account and we'll be sure to try and check those out.

Scott Schwertly:
Most definitely, yes. Send them our way. I mean, we love discussing everything related to pedal, so we're always open for those recommendations. Well, I think that's it guys. That about covers it. Thank you again for joining us on this episode. We will see you in the next one.

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