Two-in-one overdrive pedals based on classic units are regular occurrences in the pedal market (recent releases from Finding That Tone and Cornerstone testify to that) but what are decidedly less common are four-in-one drive pedals that combine classic effects with all-new sounds.
It’s this precise gap in the market that Keeley Electronics has sought to address with its not-so-subtly named Noble Screamer – a bumper-pack overdrive and boost pedal that pairs two iconic analog drive circuits with “two brand new amp-like distortion tones that no-one has used before”.
As for the preexisting pedals that Keeley has aimed to replicate, the clue is in the name: the Noble Screamer offers both the circuits of an Ibanez Tube Screamer and Nobels’ Nashville favorite, the ODR-1.
Now, Tube Screamer clones are absolutely everywhere, and you might be questioning whether the pedal market really needs yet another TS copy when there are countless examples currently available.
Well, we’re inclined to agree, but this isn’t just a standard TS clone. Instead, it brings to the table that ODR-1 sound (which is still cloned with the likes of the Way Huge Super Terrific Overdrive and Browne Amplification Atom, but notably less so than the TS) as well as some tasty original drive tones.
For our two cents, it's these additional tonal options that make this Keeley stompbox stand out from its closest competitors. As per Keeley’s own words, the Noble Screamer is “almost like pedal modeling, except these are 100% analog circuits, and you decide which tone-control or clipping-section you want to play through”.
Despite the abundance of drive tones on tap, the Noble Screamer has a foolproof control layout comprising two toggle switches, three control knobs and a sole footswitch that notably offers both true and buffered bypass.
The standard Level control (which, obviously, dictates the output) is joined by a multi-functional Tone parameter, which serves different purposes depending on whether the OD or TS voice is selected on the left-hand toggle.
When in OD, the Tone acts as a ‘Spectrum’ control that moves from a flat EQ to one with a treble and bass boost, while the TS mode serves up a lowpass filter that tapers in the high frequencies.
On the right-hand side of the pedal, the Drive knob is used to dial in or ramp up secondary OD or TS modes, which access Hard and Soft Diode Clipping modes.
The result is a hybrid, four-in-one pedal quite unlike any other twofer clone stompbox out there. Sure, the claim that it delivers “sounds no-one has ever played through before” might seem slightly exaggerrated, but kudos must go to Keeley for trying to break the mold and bring something fresh to the table.
Head over to Keeley for more information.