[review] Mad Professor "1" - Reverb/Distortion (by Bieke)

Mad Professor is a Finnish amplifier company  that teamed up with Bjorn Juhl from BJFE pedals, who designs effects and amplifiers that are manufactured and distributed under the Mad Professor Amplification brand.

The latest addition to the Mad Professor boutique effect line is a "Brown sound" distortion pedal reminiscent of late ’70s/early ’80s guitar with onboard plate style reverb.

Now for those unfamiliar with the term "Brown sound", it is nothing to be scared of. The "Brown sound" is a typically nasty, midrange, biting distortion sound. Think early Eddie Van Halen.

The Looks.

Of course the pedal has a deep brown shiny finish, in- and outputs on the side, Boss adapter plug next to the input. The distinct Mad Professor logo and white labeling, a red status LED, a true bypass switch and four controls for Level, Presence, Brown, and Reverb. Cream knobs with black markers.

Inside, there is the familiar 9V battery snap, but also two factory tuned trimpots to adjust the reverb time and tone.

Mad Professor "1" - Reverb/DistortionThe Sounds.

So you turn on your amp and hit the footswitch and Kaboom  - instant distortion overdose.

Probably why Mad Professor recommends to run the 1 into a clean amp. The 1 is supposed to clean up when rolling back the volume on your guitar, also the  "Brown sound"  typically has that dynamic response, but I could not really get a dynamic picking attack, or a cleaner sound for that matter.

Hmmm, I stuck to the full blown distortion sound as the volume trick on guitar sounded a bit crappy to my ears, I could not find a use for it straight away, whereas the 1 distortion simply invites to play those meedly meedly riffs and chugga chugga chords.

I really loved the harmonics , the endless sustain and beautiful feedback tones I got from the pedal, for chord work, I thought it was a bit over the top, not your average Marshall in a Box pedal, it has a really oversaturated sound that shifts into classic metal territory, definitely not for everyone. But for instance, anyone looking for that singing Gilmourish solo sound, should check out this pedal as well.

It’s dead quiet too.

For the knob tweakers, the Brown and Presence controls will provide plenty of useful settings, the Brown control adds distortion and treble, the Presence enhances the tone. Level adds volume (it is an extremely  loud pedal) and then there’s the Reverb control.

The Reverb is not your usual boingy spring reverb sound, it is a digital plate reverb effect, known to be used to mellowing and thickening studio recordings. The reverb effect is preset (decay and tone can be altered with the inner trimpots), the reverb control functions as a dry/wet control. A very nice feature of the built in reverb on the 1 is that there is absolutely no volume drop when you dial in more reverb.

The Verdict

Maybe a niche pedal, but this reverb/distortion combo definitely has a certain appeal. It most certainly delivers that signature EVH brown sound.  Anyone looking for a soaring lead tone could also find this pedal extremely useful.

I especially loved the natural sounding feedback capabilities, the rich lead sound, and the thickening reverb effect. I struggled to tame the distortion to get a more classic rock tone, I think the pedal is not really designed to do that. Full blown distortion it does best. It is designed to rawk.

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