Aclam recreates Pete Townshend’s “clear fuzz dirge” tone with the Windmiller Preamp

Aclam has introduced the Pete Townshend-inspired Windmiller
(Image credit: Aclam Guitars)

NAMM 2021 isn't taking place in the physical realm this year, but you'll find all the hottest January gear launches in our guide to the biggest guitar, amp and pedal releases of 2021 so far.

Aclam has announced the new Windmiller Preamp pedal, designed to mimic the Grampian 636 Spring Reverb units Pete Townshend used with the Who in ‘66 and ’67 to help crank and saturate the tone from his Marshall amps.

While the Grampian was intended as a studio reverb unit, Townshend used the built-in preamp of the 636 to fatten his tone and boost the guitar signal, bypassing the reverb altogether. He claimed in a Guitar Player interview that it gave his tone a “clear fuzz dirge.”

After getting its hands on an original Grampian, Aclam set out to recreate that “dirge” – and more. Finding the combination of the Grampian, an old Marshall stack and single coils to be “magic,” the company noted that the vintage unit was less impressive when paired with other amps and pickups, specifically humbuckers.

And so Aclam has imbued the Windmiller with an extended frequency range as well as EQ controls. They’ve also refined the treble response by adding a Hi-Cut control, allowing players to add a “sweet sparkle to muddy humbuckers or tame brighter single coils,” as well as a Lo-Cut knob to control bass content.

Additionally, Aclam has eliminated the original’s ever-present “hiss,” crafting a quieter circuit with true bypass switching.

The result, the company says, is a versatile pedal that can be used as an “always on” preamp with a beautiful color, a booster for solo parts or a tool to saturate and enhance an amp's natural overdrive.

Aclam plans to launch a Kickstarter for the Windmiller, but in the meantime, head to Aclam Guitars for more information.

This isn't the first time Aclam has recreated a sought-after '60s tone – the Barcelona-based company also aped The Beatles' Vox UL 730 sounds with the Dr. Robert Overdrive.

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Richard Bienstock

Rich is the co-author of the best-selling Nöthin' But a Good Time: The Uncensored History of the '80s Hard Rock Explosion. He is also a recording and performing musician, and a former editor of Guitar World magazine and executive editor of Guitar Aficionado magazine. He has authored several additional books, among them Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck, the companion to the documentary of the same name.