In this Wampler Sovereign Distortion Pedal Review, I’ll tell you why this is one of the best stompboxes of its type that you can buy. It has incredible versatility and sounds great with any guitar or amp.
It’s an excellent choice, whether you are looking for a new sound or want to fill that empty spot on your pedalboard with something that will take your playing to the next level.
Once you try this pedal, you will be hooked! Don’t be surprised it quickly becomes your next go-to distortion box.
To learn all about it, read on! If you are in a hurry, click here to go directly to the Sovereign Distortion specs.
What Is Wampler Sovereign Distortion Pedal?
The Sovereign Distortion Pedal was created by Brian Wampler, “The King Of Dirt,” to capture the broadest range of classic distortion sounds and to allow you to create new sounds that are in your head as well as some you could have never even imagined. It is one of the most versatile stompboxes available today!
This pedal is designed to work with the sound of your amp, not replace it. It can enhance the natural chime of a clean amp with excellent transparency for a fat rhythm sound and give you harmonics that just pop off your strings.
The Sovereign Distortion pedal works with high-gain amps give it a whole new personality, essentially adding another overdrive or distortion channel to your rig.
Who Is The Sovereign Distortion Pedal For?
This pedal is for anyone who wants to add some overdrive or distortion to their regular or high-gain amp. The Sovereign Distortion unit can be virtually transparent to your sound or transform it to create the amount of dirt and sustain that you desire.
The more genres of music you play, the more use you will find for this pedal. It sounds excellent with country, blues, rock, metal, and everything in-between.
How The Sovereign Distortion Pedal Works
This information refers to the newer version 2 of the Sovereign Distortion pedal. To learn about the differences between versions 1 and 2, see the FAQ section below. However, from a functional point of view, they are virtually the same.
Sovereign Distortion Pedal Specifications
|Control Knobs||Volume, Mid Contour, Tone, and Gain|
|Control Switches||Vintage/Modern and Gain/Boost|
|Components||High grade, picked for superior sound and response|
|Bypass||True Bypass with a Soft Switch|
|Input & Output Jacks||“Top-Mounted” for more compact installation on a pedalboard|
|Power||9 Volt Battery or Power Adaptor|
|Power Adaptor Draw||Between 9mA (9v adaptor) and 17mA (18v adaptor)|
|On/Off LED Indicator||LED Will Flash 3 Times For Low Battery|
|Dimensions||2.5″ x 4.5″ x 1.5″ (63.5mm x 114.3mm x 38.1mm)|
(Height excludes knobs and switches)
|Place Of Manufacture||USA|
|Warranty||Limited 5 Year Warranty|
What The Pedal Controls Do
This table will give you a basic idea of what the knobs and switches do. For more specific information, see the section below.
|Volume Knob||Output Volume|
|Gain Knob||Gain Structure|
|Tone Knob||Signal Tone|
|Mid Contour Knob||Midrange Presence|
|Vintage/Modern Switch||Brightness Level|
|Gain/Boost Switch||Gain Level|
According to Brain Wampler, the Sovereign Distortion’s double gain design is based on “Moo Amps.”
The pedal is designed to be used by adjusting two separate sets of controls (“sections”) to allow you to dial in the best possible sound.
The Basic Control Section
The Sovereign Distortion Pedal’s basic controls are the Volume, Mid Countour, and Tone knobs.
These controls adjust the volume and tone of the pedal’s audio signal. As a result, they have a smaller role in shaping the type and amount of distortion the pedal creates.
Brian recommends first setting the Mid Contour and Tone knobs to noon, and the Volume Knob to the desired loudness before dialing in the Advanced Gain Structure controls for the best results.
After you set your Advanced Gain Structure controls to the desired amount of overdrive or distortion, then you can go back and tweak the basic controls to taste.
The volume knob adjusts the overall output of the audio signal. A good starting volume is with the knob set to noon and then readjust to compensate for other settings on the pedal, your guitar, and the amp.
Mid Contour Knob
The Mid Contour knob allows you to adjust the amount of midrange in your signal. It works in tandem with the Vintage/Modern switch. This makes it a powerful control and can have a profound effect on the overall sound of your guitar.
Turning it fully counter-close will scoop the mids to give you more of a “metal” sound with the switch in the Modern position. Turning it clockwise with the switch in the Vintage position will add mids to give a “tweed” or “60s classic” sound.
The Tone Knob allows you to adjust the overall tonality of your sound. It is especially useful in conjunction with the Vintage/Modern switch for dialing in a wide variety of distortion.
The “Advanced Gain Structure” Section
The controls in this section are the Gain knob, the Vintage/Modern switch, and the Gain/Boost switch.
These are the controls that allow you to make the biggest and most relevant changes to the amount of distortion and overall dynamics of your sound.
This knob adjusts the amount of gain the unit provides. More gain means more overdrive or distortion, along with more sustain. It works in conjunction with the Gain/Boost switch. Selecting “Boost” and cranking the Gain knob will take you into the ultimate distortion zone.
The Vintage/Modern switch allows you to control the ratio of midrange to high frequencies in your sound.
Vintage mode accentuates the midrange in relation to the bass and treble, giving you more of a “tweed” profile. Modern mode brings out the high frequencies typical of modern amps and is useful to brighten the sound of a “dark” setup.
The Vintage/Modern switch works in tandem with the Mid Contour Knob to accentuate the versatility of the pedal’s EQ.
The Gain/Boost switch changes the gain and distortion characteristics of the pedal. The Gain setting gives you will take you from overdrive to crunch to distortion.
If you want to catapult your distortion to the next level of aggression, then the Boost setting will pick up where the Gain setting leaves off.
Typical Rhythm And Lead Settings
The Sovereign Distortion pedal settings that work best will depend on a number of factors, including:
- The guitar you are using, and if it has single coil or humbucking pickups
- Where the Sovereign Distortion pedal in placed in your signal chain
- What other pedals you have on with the Sovereign Distortion unit
- Your amplifier make & model and amp settings
- The number and type of speakers you are playing through
- Your playing environment (indoors, room size and configuration, outdoors, etc)
- If you are playing rhythm or lead guitar
Here are some general settings for rhythm and lead tones played using single-coil and humbucking pickups. Give them a go and adjust to taste (taken from the Sovereign Distortion Manual).
Single Coil -Chunky Rhythm (both switches off)
Single Coil – Big Lead (left switch off, right on)
Humbucker -Chunky Rhythm (both switches off)
Humbucker – Big Lead (both switches on)
Features And Benefits
This pedal has many great features, but some of the benefits will ultimately depend on the other equipment you use and your playing style.
- Built in the U.S.A
- High grade components for superior sound and response
- Power draw: Between 9mA (9v) and 17mA (18v)
- Extremely versatile EQ
- Advanced Gain Structure gives an amazing array of sounds.
- 5 Year limited warranty
Two Gain Stages
The Sovereign Distortion pedal has two gain stages, which allow you to go from transparent boost to creamy overdrive to full-on distortion. Note definition remains crisp in most settings, even when playing chords.
The advanced gain structure gives you a fantastic array of tweakable sounds.
A Versatile Power Connector
The Sovereign Distortion pedal can be connected to any power adaptor from 9 to 18-volts DC. Feeding the pedal with a higher voltage can increase your headroom.
This Pedal Can Save You Money
If you use distortion in your playing, this unit can eliminate the need for an overdrive pedal and vice-versa. It can handle transparent clean boost, overdrive, crunch, distortion, and everything in between.
What I like About The Sovereign Distortion Pedal
In addition to the features and benefits mentioned above, here are some things I like most about this distortion pedal.
This pedal is not a one-trick pony. Unlike your typical distortion box, it has a highly versatile EQ section that can create almost any type of clean boost, overdrive, and distortion.
All Wampler pedals have “true bypass,” which removes the pedal’s electronics from the guitar’s signal chain. This keeps your pedal-bypassed signal from becoming noisy and weak so that it remains true to your guitar’s sound.
Top-Mounted In/Out Jacks
The input and output jacks are mounted at the top (front-end) of the unit to make the pedal easier to fit on a pedalboard.
All pedals should incorporate this basic design configuration!
What I Don’t Like About The Sovereign Distortion Pedal
This pedal has a minimal downside. On the contrary, it’s a wonderful unit, and the high ratings on practically every e-commerce website prove it.
However, there are a few things you should consider before taking the plunge with this stompbox.
No Power Adaptor
A power adaptor is not included with the stompbox. This is not unusual for an effects pedal. However, for the price of this unit, it would be nice to get one in the box. Of course, you can operate the pedal on a 9 Volt battery.
Can Be Noisy
This pedal has the potential to be noisy, which is common in high-gain distortion units. If you are a distortion connoisseur, then you most likely have a noise gate pedal. If not, consider getting one; you’ll love it.
May Not Play Nice With Other Pedals
Be aware that pedals placed before it in the signal chain can affect its overall performance, especially with other overdrive and distortion units. It seems to work best with a lower-level input signal.
Over-Compressed Low Frequency Sounds
At extreme volume and gain settings, the pedal can start to break up in a “non-musical” way, especially when playing on the low-E string in the “Modern” switch position and with the Mid Contour knob set too low.
It can sound like putting a compressor pedal that is set too high after your distortion box, if you know what I mean. However, this is certainly not a deal-breaker, and you can clean it up by backing off the volume knob on your guitar a little.
Is The Sovereign Distortion Pedal Legit?
This pedal is totally legit. It is unlike any other distortion pedal available because it is not modeled after any particular classic stompbox.
It sets itself apart from other “me too” pedals because it was designed from the ground up to fill most any distortion need and provide guitarists with a unique playing experience.
The Sovereign Distortion pedal is likely to occupy a permanent spot on your pedalboard.
Frequently Asked Questions
Wampler Sovereign V1 Vs V2?
The pedal controls are arranged and labeled differently in versions 1 and 2.
In version 1, the Advanced Gain Structure controls are at the top of the unit. They are labeled as the Gain knob, Even/Bright switch, and Standard/ Boost switch. In addition, the version 1 midrange adjustment knob is labeled “Mid Behavior.”
In version 2, the Advanced Gain Structure controls are below the basic controls. They are labeled as the Gain knob, Vintage/Modern switch, and Gain/Boost switch. The midrange adjustment knob in version 2 is labeled “Mid Contour.”
The version 2 pedal has a “soft switch,” and the input/output jacks are on “top” (in front) instead of on the sides to allow the unit to fit more compactly on a pedalboard.
Tonally speaking, both versions of this pedal are essentially the same.
What Is Wampler Sovereign Based On?
The Wampler Sovereign Distortion pedal is not based on any particular stompbox. Instead, it is Brian Wampler’s vision of a pedal that can easily handle any particular playing style involving overdrive and distortion.
Are Wampler Pedals True Bypass?
Yes, these pedals use “true bypass,” which preserves your audio signal strength and keeps it uncolored when the unit is in bypass mode.
Can you use two distortion pedals at once?
Yes, but the Sovereign Distortion pedal may not work well when simultaneously operated (stacked) with another overdrive, distortion, or fuzz pedal before or after it in the signal chain. You will have to experiment a little to find the settings that sound best.
What is the difference between a fuzz pedal and a distortion pedal?
Fuzz and distortion pedals both “clip” the audio signal in the preamp section of your guitar amplifier. A fuzz pedal can create a particular type of distortion that tends to be more aggressive in the midrange to upper frequencies and can typically enhance the harmonic overtones of your playing more effectively.
Should fuzz go in the effects loop?
Fuzz, distortion, and overdrive pedals should not be placed in the effects loop. Instead, they typically belong “in front” of the amp, between your guitar and the amp’s instrument input jack.
The “send” output from your guitar amplifier’s preamp section going into a fuzz pedal creates too high-level a signal to “return” via the effects loop into the amp without quality degradation.
Use the effects loop of your amp for time-based and modulated effects, like a digital reverb or delay and a phaser, flanger, or chorus pedal.
Where Should A Distortion Pedal Go In The Signal Chain?
It’s usually best to put distortion, fuzz, and overdrive pedals at the beginning of your signal chain. This placement allows you to distort a cleaner signal directly out of your guitar to give you a “purer” sound.
Final Thoughts About The Wampler Sovereign Distortion Pedal Review
If you’re looking for a highly versatile distortion pedal that will also cover transparent boost, overdrive, and crunch, then you should give this unit a serious look.
It has a control setup that is pretty straightforward and intuitive. In essence, the Volume, Tone, and Gain knobs behave precisely the way you would expect.
The Mid Contour knob can dramatically scoop or enhance the midrange frequencies. It works together with the Vintage/Modern switch to vary your sound from tweed to metal tones.
Lowering the gain and increasing the volume can give you a great overdrive or crunch sound, especially when switching the unit into “Boost” mode.
All in all, this is a “top-rated” distortion pedal, and it proves why Brian Wampler is the “King Of Dirt!”
For more info about guitar effects, see What Is A Guitar Stomp Box – Attractive, Little, Tantalizing.
Tell Me What You Think
Please leave a comment below if you enjoyed this Wampler Sovereign Distortion Pedal review, have any questions about this product, or want to leave your own review. I will be happy to help you.
- Are you currently using a distortion pedal? Which one?
- Have you tried this pedal or any other Wampler product? What did you think? What guitar and amp did you use it with?
- After reading this article would you consider buying this distortion pedal?