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EarthQuaker Devices certainly makes some very extreme and over the top stomp boxes, and when we heard about their Plumes pedal, we were prepared for the same insanity. But what we found was an overdrive that refined the sea of green TS style pedals, and their variants, into a very practical and versatile pedal.
With a pretty familiar control layout of Level, Tone and Gain, it’s very easy to navigate. To dig further under the hood, it’s driven with JFET opamps, and the additional three-way toggle switch covers a symmetrical LED clipping, an opamp boost, and an asymmetrical silicon diode version. A lot of drive pedals benefit from higher voltage input but do require 18V at the source. The Plumes does run on a standard 9-volt, but internally it doubles, allowing for greater and cleaner headroom, without a special power supply. Nice. The footswitch is a flexi- switch, allowing the unit to work like a traditional on/off switch, or as a momentary switch to just kick on for something like a bigger note sustain.▼ Article continues below ▼
TS pedals have that signature mid frequency hump that in some applications isn’t desirable. The Tone control on the Plumes has a full range, giving the player the ability to dial in what they want and not have external EQ as a workaround.
Working through the modes, the first one is quite crunchy — we ran it into a Fender Blues Jr, and it sounded more British than James Bond at afternoon tea! Seriously, we like the Blues Jr as a pedal platform amp, but this combined the warmth of tubes with a much tighter response overall.
Moving onto mode two, it’s a clean boost, and if you want to hit the front end of an amp hard, this does the trick. Our Blues Jr really interacted with it well when set clean, but when set a bit dirty it really opened up nicely. It’s that “more” you’re looking for. It also worked very well after a few of our fave drive pedals, for some very nice gain stacking.
Mode 3 works a bit like a traditional TS pedal, but with a much more noticeable fuller bass response. It also dabbles a bit in that transparent area where it feels like a layer of cleans still sits in the mix. It’s got an overall sweet character that sings easily. There are some very noticeable volume jumps between the modes, so keep that in mind if you plan on changing them between tunes. Going between humbuckers and single coils, we really liked what the Plumes added to the mix. Rolling back the volume cleaned it up in an amp-like fashion as well.
Overall, it’s a low to mid gain level of drive, with plenty of sustain for classic tones. It might not go into the realm of having an umlaut, but it’s probably the best in its range of drive. Our reviewer really dug modes 1 & 3 on their own, especially into a clean amp, as well as using mode 2 with an additional drive pedal.
It’s the drive that you imagine a TS should sound like, with options that cover what guitar players actually want. If you like your rig but want “more,” this is the pedal that will deliver.
three great modes that work fantastically in many applications!