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9 of the Best Mad Professor Pedals

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I will start by reiterating once more how big a fan I am of Swedish circuit designer Björn Juhl / BJFE and his many associated brands - which use variations of his celebrated circuits - Mad Professor in Finland, Bearfoot FX in the USA and OneControl in Japan. I have several varieties from each of those brands - 15 or so all told, but my first connection with Björn was via Mad Professor.

 

Ironically the very first Mad Professor pedal I acquired was not derived from Björn Juhl, but rather Finnish Guitar and Amp Tech Lassi Ukkonen who created the Simble (Dumble Simulator > Simulator Dumble > Simble) to replicate his favourite Dumble ODS amp at the time. Mad Professor originally made the pedal under licence from Lassi, while I believe they now fully own the rights to the Simble - but the different [Simble] branding is still retained. For the longest time this was my favourite Dumble style drive, even after it had been supplanted by the Wampler Euphoria, while now it’s alas been pegged by the Demon Pedals Kondo Shifuku - but I still really rate the Simble and return to that from time to time.

 

After the Simble I acquired 2 pretty unique Mad Professor pedals - the smooth fuzzy-drive and really well-monikered Golden Cello - possibly that sparked off my ongoing love for fuzzy-drive pedals. The Golden Cello is essentially a 3-knob drive circuit with a single-knob Delay. While my next pedals the #1 Distortion + Reverb is an excellent replica of the EVH Brown Sound - including a one-knob Plate Reverb - to give you just the right sort of texture. A little more so than the Simble - this has been pipped several times by slightly more dynamic distortions, including my still favourite MI Effects Super Crunch Box V2. But I still return to the #1 on occasion just for fun.

 

This year then I doubled my tally of Mad Professor pedals with the addition of an already discontinued Little Tweedy Drive, Amber Overdrive and Sweet Honey Overdrive Deluxe. All 3 are excellent mid-gain drives with really interesting tonal profiles. Until the Supreme was announced just recently I long considered the Sweet Honey Overdrive Deluxe the sort of Mad Professor flagship pedal, but I think that honour now goes to the ’Supreme’.

 

Where Mad Professor really stands out is in the area of characterful mid-gain overdrives - having a number of stellar performers in that category - including the aforementioned pedals, the Royal Blue Overdrive and the Little Green Wonder (TS808). In latter years Mad Professor has also found success with it Deep Blue Delay and Snow White Auto Wah in particular - while other notable players are fans of its Fiery Red Fuzz and Tiny Orange Phaser.

 

My selection of 9 though I felt was in the end fairly straight forward - and features pretty much all my favourite pedals - in particular a number of new ones which are on my wishlist. I’ve featured most of the key Mad Professor pedals on this site before, some have been featured several times.

So the selection includes 4 that I own - Amber Overdrive, Golden Cello, Simble and Sweet Honey Overdrive Deluxe. And 5 new soon to be classics! - the Double Moon BBD Modulator Chorus/Flanger/Vibrato, Dual Blue Delay, Loud’n Proud Marshall in a box + Fuzz/Boost, Snow White Auto Wah GB, and the Supreme Dual Drive. Of those wishlist items I’m likely to acquire the Loud’n Proud and Supreme some day in the future - albeit not a particular pressing priority for me right now - so definitely not this year.

 

My Own 6

  • #1 Distortion + Reverb (EVH / Brown Sound)
  • Amber Overdrive Fuzzy-Drive
  • Golden Cello Smooth Fuzzy-Drive + Delay (discontinued)
  • Little Tweedy Drive (Fender Tweed Deluxe)
  • Simble Overdrive (Dumble ODS)
  • Sweet Honey Overdrive Deluxe

Pedals are listed alphabetically by model:


Amber Overdrive Fuzzy-Drive - €189

This was one of my more recent acquisitions and was in fact a Mad Professor pedal I was somewhat oblivious to - which is strange as this is so much the kind of tone I chase after - a lovely warm fuzzy-drive right in the intersection of overdrive and fuzz. Where Simble is very much an overdrive with a fuzzy edge, the Amber Overdrive is sort of a mid-gain blending of the two with each element really well in balance - but creating a really elegant tone and texture. This pedal frequently falls under the radar - but I encourage those interested in fuzzy-drive to seek and check it out.


Double Moon 11-mode Analogue BBD Modulator - Chorus/Flanger/Vibrato - £249

This was released in the really fantastic window what was this year's Winter NAMM, and sort of got overshadowed by some rather impressively innovative pedals launched at the same time. I was in two minds here as to whether to go for this Analogue BBD Modulator or the Digital Kosmos 11-mode Reverb, and decided that the Double Moon was overall a more impressive engineering achievement. Of the 11 fully analogue modes you get 3 Choruses, 3 Dual Choruses, 2 Flangers, 1 Dual Flanger, a Flanger+Chorus, and a Vibrato. So 5 control dials - Speed | Mode | Depth | Tone | Control - the last of which controls waveshape, regen etc. depending on mode selected. I mostly view this as a really cool next level chorus pedal - which was somewhat unlucky to have been launched at Winter NAMM because of the incredible degree of innovation on display which kind of took focus away from what is an exceptionally capable pedal on its own merits.


Dual Blue Delay Matt Schofield Signature Delay - €346

Matt Schofield's now signature Dual Delay pedal came about as he used to use two Deep Blue Delay pedals - one for a short delay and one for long. Now you get 2-in-1 with less cables and less overall real-estate. The delay is a super clean analogue-voice digital delay designed to not interfere with or add colouration to the core tone, and be as elegant and unobtrusive as possible even with quite extreme distortion going through the pedals. The Dual Blue Delay has slightly extended range with the short site offering 315ms with a fatter tone, while the long-side has up to 810ms with more of a modern voicing. You get Level | Tone | Repeat | Delay per each of the two sides alongside a second Mode/Tap footswitch. There are so many players that largely just play with a short and long delay - and having something this compact and perfectly formed makes it the ideal delay for a lot of those players.


Golden Cello Smooth Fuzzy-Drive + Delay (discontinued) - €227 when new

I believe this was my second ever Mad Professor pedal - a beautifully tuned smooth violin / cello - ish fuzzy-drive with the bias slightly more over in the fuzz-side vs overdrive. It sounds almost exactly as you would expect it to - and has that lovely singing sustain which further enhanced by the one-knob delay element on the pedal. Otherwise it's just the standard Volume | Drive | Tone - which is really all you need. I used to play this a whole lot back in the day - time I got it back into the rotation again!


Loud'n Proud Vintage Marshall in a box with Boost/Fuzz - €279

This awesome 'Marshall in a box' with Boost/Fuzz is based on the vintage 4-input amps which helped define the sound of bands like AC/DC, Cream, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, Free, Yngwie Malmsteen and others. You get a rather splendid 10 controls here - Bass | Middle | Treble | Gain | Volume | Presence | Fuzz Volume | Boost/Fuzz | Character - Compressed/Open | Fuzz/Boost Mode. You also of course get a second Boost/Fuzz footswitch for ramping things up to the next level - covering all varieties of Marshall through JTM, JPM, Plexi and pushing onto JCM even. This is most likely my next acquisition from the range - probably early next year though - it's not like I don't already have a score or more Marshal style pedals in my collection all ready - but this one is pretty special too.


Simble / Twimble Dumble ODS style Drive - €199 / €247

I've listed both the Simble here and Twimble - which is the dual footswitch version with the PreAmp - more suitable for single-coil pickup guitars. For my maninly humbucker style guitars the Simble on its own is just near perfect for that Dumble ODS sound. It may not have as much variety to it as the Wampler Euphoria or Demon Pedals Kondo Shifuku, but it pretty well holds its own. This Lassi Ukkonen -designed circuit has just 4 controls - Level | Sensitifity | Contour | Accent - and it produces such a beautifully dynamic and even timbered Dumble-style overdrive - it was my favourite Dumble drive for the longest time - until the Kondo Shifuku rolled around. Still worth a look-in today.


Snow White Autowah GB Edition - €211

Strangely or not - the Snow White Auto Wah has always been one of the best celebrated of the Mad Professor range - and in it's newest GB or GTR/BASS edition with central toggle-switch it is more potent than ever. It has 4 controls besides the mode switch - Sensitivity | Bias | Resonance | Decay. And I was on the cusp of buying of this one's predecessor's before the Mu-Tron Micro-Tron III captured my attention. There are a number of pretty great Auto Wah pedals out there, and the Snow White is definitely one of that number.


Supreme Matt Schofield Signature Dual Drive - €279

Where I believe the Sweet Honey Overdrive / Sweet Honey Deluxe used to be the flagship pedal for Mad Professor, I now feel that this brand new Matt Schofield special surely takes that crown. It combines 2 super-high headroom overdrives - with the Left-side based on a tweaked version of the Royal Blue Overdrive, and the Right-side a sort of evolved Simble/Twimble with much more headroom and very slightly different tonal character. There are 9 controls, two sets of Volume | Drive | Bass | Treble, then a A/B | A+B toggle-switch which allows you to play back either side or both stacked together. The dual footswitches either have the left footswitch on A/B mode duty or allow you to apply both switches independently per Channel. This pedal has already found tonnes of fans, and would be on my wishlist just slightly behind the Loud'n Proud - it's a fantastic sounding multi-drive pedal any which way you choose to use it in any case.


Sweet Honey Overdrive Deluxe - €199

My final selection in the 9 is the former flagship - a derivative of the source classic BJFE Honey Bee Overdrive with a very slightly different tonality. In its 'Deluxe' version it sports more touch-sensitivity and control with 5-knobs - Volume | Drive | Bass | Treble | Focus (Feel & Dynamics). It's the most recent of my Mad Professor acquisitions and really well worth it. This is the perfect mid-gain overdrive - properly sweet and smooth with just the right degree of tonality and texture. This very much typifies the kind of overdrives that Mad Professor / Björn Juhl so excel at.


Final Thoughts

With 31 pedals currently in the range - including some recently discontinued, I had plenty of different options to focus on, and could also have included I here the Big Tweedy Drive (Fender Tweed Twin), Evolution Orange Underdrive, Fiery Red Fuzz, Kosmos 11-mode Reverb, Royal Blue Overdrive, and Tiny Orange Phaser - amongst others. On balance though I am satisfied that my selection features the best of Mad Professor - I deliberated the Double Moon vs Kosmos for the longest time before settling on the former.

 

I personally would look to add the Loud'n Proud and Supreme Dual Drive to my collection - not that I'm in major need of either genre variety as I have scores of alternatives in those areas already - but both those mentioned are exception drive pedals.

 

As for newcomers to the range - I still think pretty much one from the 9 I've elevated is probably the right choice in dipping your toes into the range. Björn Juhl definitely has a sort of signature tone profile which you need to buy into to like these pedals - and if you do - then you will near enough like most of these, while if you don't like the way he accentuates his circuits, then chances are you may not like any of these. Mid-Gain Overdrives are certainly a key strength here, but Delay, Reverb and Modulations are all strong too. As always I would love to know which are your own personal favourites from the range.

 

Happy ToneQuesting as always!

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Stefan Karlsson
Stefan Karlsson
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