Known as one of the top 4KDPs (4 knob Dumble Pedals), The Mad Professor Simble has a long and involved history concerning it’s development that is well documented. Whether it was the side by side testing with a real Dumble, painstaking circuit research and some pretty savvy marketing or just the overall amazingly smooth tone, SOMETHING has got people buzzed about this pedal. With it’s simulated woodgrain Finnish and unique control knobs the Simble definitely looks high-end and boutique. Let’s see if that holds true for it’s sound.
As usual, it is quite popular not only to have a Dumble pedal in your line-up, but to use the often seen 4-knob format. In this array, the usual gain (or Sensitivity, in this case) and Output controls are alongside TWO Tone controls. While there have been many names given to them, they are usually attributed to being an “Input” tone and “Output” tone. In use, though subtle, they can be quite effective if used judiciously…but more on this later. Let’s get to that Finnish!
Hard as it may be to believe, it looks like the manufacturer has pulled of a quite convincing woodgrain-style enclosure. It has a soft haze encompassing the covering that gives it an interesting touch as well as look. It is a small detail that helps it standout with a look of its own in a sea full of pedals. Four tightly-spaced potentiometers with colour matching knobs sit well with the look of the design. The design incorporates the small enclosure that (thankfully) is used by many manufactures these days. An extremely bright L.E.D. rounds out the package.
Inside, the usual quality associated with the Mad Professor is evident throughout and only strengthens what they are known for: high class builds with amazing tone.
On to the tone: there are many things that can (and can’t) be said about the Simble’s tone, but one of the main things would be smooth. It can be thick, spikey, warm, fruity and even fuzzy but somehow it always remains smooth. You can go from a barely perceptible grain warming up your tone to a buzzy crunch of a curiously polite Fuzz Face.
As is par for the course with this style of pedal, it works MUCH better going into a clean amp. It can boost, overdrive and distort your everyday wound up Marshall, but plugged into something like a HiWatt or black panel Fender is how the Simble really offers up its possibilities. Throw in its clean-up capabilities and you could ostensibly leave this pedal on and choose your tones by only working your guitar volume and tone knobs…and many do this very thing. It is very much an amp simulator.
The versatility of this pedal is generally quite a bit above most of the offerings from other manufacturers. The Tone controls on the Input and Output just seem to have a wider range than similar pedals. They are subtle but are still useable at their extreme settings. That isn’t to say the other pedals don’t have the same quality of tone, but it is hard to match the sheer amount of tones with the amount of gain combined with the range of the of the E.Q. (which again, while subtle, can be balanced with each other to give many more options.)
An interesting potential anomaly of this design is its tone with chords and rhythm playing. It isn’t flabby per se but it certainly is not as tight as the compressed tone of a Fender Super Reverb. Within a band context it isn’t as noticeable, but on it’s own it does announce itself.
When word of this initially came out about the amplifier, it was rather amusing to say the least. How much for an amplifier (relatively speaking,) and it doesn’t work well with chords?!? To be honest, if you are slugging away at Root/fifth Power Chords in a Punk setting, it isn’t really going to be as aggressive as you like and most likely quite muddy. If, however, you play displaced octaves, interesting inversions and chord melody to keep your progressions interesting, you will be hard pressed to find many pedals that can reward skill playing with such refined tone…it really is an indication of just how accurate this circuit really is.
Further fiddling with the knobs gives variations on the basic Hi-Fi tones that this pedal is voiced for, but careful use of the E.Q. can bark out hints of vintage Marshalls and dirty baritone-voiced Supros tones.
With it’s huge gain range and dual E.Q. the Mad Professor has come up with a successful take on an already great recipe. Considering how many variations on the basic tone you have access to the Simble holds an extremely high cost to performance ratio pedal. Disappointments? Only if you are looking for one distortion pedal to do EVERYTHING…and this one comes pretty close. From Blues to Rock to Fusion, much like the amp it emulates the Simble offers many tones in a well polished classy voice. Well done!