Price paid: $ 199
Purchased from: Wampler website
Ease of Use — 8
This pedal was a bit tricky to get dialed in at first, because the output had to be set just right to push my amp hard enough to get the upper harmonics to open up. I wouldn't say I'm pushing my amp hard enough that it's breaking up on top of the pedal, just enough for it to compress a tad and fill out those upper frequencies. Once I got that down, the Dracarys has been a breeze to use - just adjust the TMB tone stack to best match the clean tone and I'm off. The controls have plenty of range, but are very even in their taper, so there aren't any picky "sweet spots" that you have to hit exactly to get a great sound.
Sound — 9
This quite simply is the best sounding distortion pedal I've ever owned. At first, in perfect honesty I didn't think I cared for it much at all. But I kept working with it, and after a week or two, discovered the secret with my setup was to make sure the pedal was pushing my clean channel hard enough to really get the harmonics going. If the pedal output was set too low, the upper frequencies wouldn't fill out and the sound was slightly dull. Once I got the output set, I was off to the races. The magic in this box is the EQ. This pedal is perfectly tuned in all registers to get a thick sound without sounding too bassy, too bright, too fizzy... too anything. Lows are trimmed just at the right spot to give a tight but punishing thump (especially in lower tunings), highs are shelved at just the right frequency to keep presence but avoid fizz, and the mids are MASSIVE in this box and fill out the tone more than most distortions. The result is a sound that's very rich, thick, and yet defined and cuts through a mix without sounding harsh.
It sounds perfect with the EQ settings at noon through my PRS Custom 50 w/V30's, but can also match with my Vibrolux with the treble turned down low. Remarkable what Brian Wampler has accomplished on this one, it's actually kicking some of his other pedals off my board, this pedal will make you realize that other distortions sound very "scooped" and don't hold up in a mix. It also has a very Plexi type tone with the gain turned down, and turned up just a bit past that is a convincing EVH rhythm sound, the mids give the impression of playing a Marshall through Greenbacks at those lower. I took my Wampler Plexi Drive off my board because I can hear how much more authentic the midrange bark is on the Dracarys. It also bested the Bogner Burnley and ubiquitous Friedman BE-OD, because of the proper mids, and the Wampler Sovereign and Truetone Jekyll and Hyde because of the less boomy bass and precise highs. The first time I gigged with this pedal, I got a lot of compliments on my sound, I also took it in the studio with my Custom 50 and the engineer said it was one of the best tones he's recorded in a long time.
One note, I almost always run this pedal in the "open" mode. The tight mode is a shade darker than I like, and more compressed, just doesn't roar like the open mode does, although some may like it.
Reliability & Durability — 9
As with all the Wampler gear I've owned, this pedal seems very durable. Sturdy enclosure, knobs and footswitch, which by the way is now one of the "soft touch" type, very easy to use. The top mounted jacks are also nice, although I would recommend a custom patch cable kit with low profile jacks like the one from Gear Supply Co., because the power supply jack and regular size right angle patch cables just don't fit well on that kind of setup. A nice satin paint job rounds out the package. I slapped some velcro on mine within the first couple weeks and it's been on my board since with zero problems.
Overall Impression — 9
Although Wampler has marketed this pedal as a fire breathing gain machine, I'm adopting it as a versatile solution for many tones. With the gain turned down to a minimum, it has a very convincing crunch. It's not a clone of a plexi, but it certainly puts that feeling in your head. It's also a solution when you just need a great sounding rock tone, not too over the top with gain, but that won't flub out on the bottom and has the midrange juice to cut through the band. I'm selling a few nice dirt boxes that were long time favorites because the Dracarys beats them in almost every situation. I would encourage players who don't consider themselves shredders or metal maniacs to still check this pedal out, there's more to it than what you may have heard. Although I give mostly positive reviews, I rarely say that gear is near perfection - this pedal is. The only players I would caution with this pedal are those that play a very bright amp, like a Fender DRRI or something similar with a bright cap, or a small combo or other amp that doesn't have much bass, as this pedal is tuned to play with big, thumping amps and could sound thin on a small combo.