Finnish pedal gurus Mad Professor produce a selection of fantastic sounding if very expensive pedals which every guitarist I know – including myself – raves about. The Forest Green Compressor came overall top in my compressor pedal shoot-out last month so it’s time to put the Mad Professor overdrives on the DV Magazine test bed. Not many small pedal manufacturers make more than one overdrive pedal, but Mad Professor offer no less than three, the Little Green Wonder, The Sky Blue and the Sweet Honey. All the pedals can be powered with either battery or standard 9-volt power supply.
Little Green Wonder Overdrive
Although inviting obvious comparisons with another well-known green overdrive pedal, the Little Green Wonder proves itself to be a tad more sophisticated in the tone-shaping department. There’s the usual Volume and Drive controls – the amount of gain available on the LGW is simply astonishing, and it put all the other OD pedals I compared it with to shame – but instead of the ubiquitous tone control, we get a knob called Body. Mad Professor say that this control boosts the treble if turned clockwise and the low mids if turned counter clock wise. This it does, but without losing any low end, so the overdrive is smooth sounding wherever the control is set. The Body control will tone-shape your guitar too; humbuckers will enjoy the extra depth of the mid-boost while single-coils really sparkle with the added treble. There’s a distinct lack of any background fizziness or unpleasant peaks which a lot of overdrives suffer from, but the Drive control needs to be used with care as dialling too much in will cause the sound to mush out and lose clarity, which is the best feature of the Little Green Wonder. Every note and every chord has a ’rounded’ tone that sounds tight and focused. Very impressive.
Sky Blue Overdrive
Featuring two unusually named controls – Z and Texture – the Sky Blue has been designed to overdrive an already overdriven amp. This is no easy task as most overdrives will not add any useable gain to an already dirty sound, just over-saturation - if anything thinning out the sound - which is the opposite of what’s really required when attempting to lift a solo out of the mix. As with the LGW, there’s plenty of gain available courtesy of the Volume knob and no shortage of drive from the Distortion control. The Z control is described by Mad professor as creating an adjustable load to the input signal, varying the upper resonant peak of the pickups and also affecting the taper of the guitar’s volume control. Texture determines how and when the circuit distorts as well as adjusting overall EQ. Turning the knob counter clock wise gives a more saturated effect that is easily distorted while turning it clockwise gives a slight treble boost with less compression. With both humbucker or single-coil equipped guitars, the Sky Blue is a stunning sounding pedal; perfect for just leaving permanently engaged while utilizing the guitar’s volume to control dynamics and level. Once again, best results are achieved by being judicious with the Distort knob, after all, this is overdrive not flat-out distortion or fuzz. The Z and Texture controls allow you to almost ‘tune’ your guitar to your amp. Your Strat will never sound better. Totally recommended.
Sweet Honey Overdrive
Designed for medium gain, the Sweet Honey responds well to picking dynamics and once again, is ideal for the player who likes to use the guitar volume control rather than stomping on a pedal for a solo. As well as Volume and Drive, there’s a Focus knob which when turned counter clockwise decreases the distortion while increasing the sensitivity to pick attack. Turned clockwise the Focus knob decreases sensitivity and boost the top end. The Sweet Honey is useful in situations where an amp isn’t quite ‘there’ in the break-up department, and will add that extra bit of gain required to ensure smooth, vintage sounding overdrive.
There’s no getting away from the fact that the Mad Professor pedals are eye-wateringly expensive. However, they are hand wired in a European factory rather than manufactured in the far-east although there is news that more affordable PCB versions are on the way, so watch this space.