The Wampler Tumnus is based on the legendary vintage Klon Centaur pedals. The original Klon are guitar overdrive pedals developed by Bill Finnegan between 1990 and 1994. The pedals were made handmade. The Centaur is characterized as a “transparent” overdrive, meaning it adds gain to the signal without significantly altering the tone of the guitar.
Only about 8,000 units were built between 1994 and 2000. Guitar players praised the clear, uncolored tone of the boosted signal. The circuit had unique characteristics, most noticeably the use of an IC MAX1044 voltage converter. These original units cost upwards of $1500 – $2500 and are considered collector’s items. The Klon Centaur is often used as a standard to compare new distortion pedal designs.
These original Klons are mythical and have a cult following mostly due to have been used by players like Jeff Beck, Nels Cline, Warren Haynes, John Mayer, Joe Perry, Keith Urban, Andy Summers, Jason Isbell, Peter Frampton and many others. These originals were re-introduced by the original maker, Bill Finnegan in 2014 sold under the name “KTR.” The KTR features the same circuit, but uses surface-mount technology to make the pedal smaller than the original, and to make it compatible with mass production. Screen printed on the front of the KTR are the words “kindly remember that the ridiculous hype that offends so many is not of my making”, in response to the cult following garnered by the original Centaur.
Nels Cline of Wilco once said, describing his Klon “…It’s an amp in a box. No more worries in the world of ‘amp du jour’ about overdrive tone. It will be OK. The Centaur will take care of it…” Thaddeus Hogarth, a guitar professor at Berklee College of Music, describes the tone of the Klon as “dynamic…[it] works in combination with your guitar sound…”
Since the original Klon is not a pedal that is available and if found fetches crazy collector prices, many pedal makes have come out with their take on the Klon as the sound is wonderful. There are many great Klon-like pedals available and many of them are great. Recently, I saw a shootout of some of the many Klon clones (see video below). I liked the Wampler Tumnus as it did a great job as compared to the original sliver and gold Klon pedals, but also had a bit more bottom end. I especially loved the small size as it takes up a lot less room on a pedalboard.
I think the Wampler Tumnus sounds awesome into most amps. By looking at the Tumnus gold paint job it appears that Brian Wampler was shooting for the gold colored Klon sound, which he nailed.
From Wampler site:
The Tumnus, the most mythical and legendary overdrive/boost bought to you in a small, affordable and most importantly…. available!
There is one overdrive circuit to this day has been the most talked about, the most sought after, and the most mythical of them all. It’s big, it’s expensive, and it has certainly earned its place at the table. Wampler has painstakingly and faithfully reproduced that magical tone in all its glory in an unbelievably small package, and its name is Tumnus.
Tumnus is a versatile addition to any setup, any style. Stack it with another pedal to help push or shape the total amount of gain, use it as a stand alone overdrive, or use it as a slightly dirty boost to push the front end of your amp over the edge. You can even use it as a buffer, because just like the original this pedal is not true bypass. Instead, faithful to the original, this pedal contains a buffered bypass tone legendary in its own right.
The Tumnus’ streamlined 3 control knobs (Volume, Gain, and Tone) allow you to quickly dial in your tones no matter what the gig calls for. We aren’t going to sit here and claim it has magical parts, or we sourced out 60 year old diodes that make it perfect, but we are going to say that during our research we looked at everything available and then only used the parts that Brian chose to replicate that amazing tone.
Let’s face it, not everyone has room for a four-legged beast on their board. This slender biped slips in and out of a myriad of tight situations. Now you can have the tone. Now you can have history. Now you can have it all without having to sell your prized gear possessions. The Wampler Tumnus, standing up for that amazing tone, but without the outrageous claims often associated with it.
Shootout for some great Klon Clone pedals