I sit down at my desk to a small black box about the size of a pedal. It has a picture of the pedal on top of the box. What is this strange “Simble” with it's wood grain looking finish? Jesse from Rogue Guitar Shop here, and in my hands I have the Mad Professor Simble Overdrive. Mad Professor and later Bearfoot FX (with help from Donner) were created to help get Bjorn Juhl designs out to the masses. Who is Bjorn? He owns and hand builds the coveted BJFE line of effects. His designs are loved worldwide for their tone, responsiveness, dynamics, and clarity. As stated, Mad Professor and Bearfoot bring his pedal designs to the masses, at a much cheaper price. Though not built by Bjorn, they are assembled with care, heavily scrutinized by Bjorn while using his exacting specifications to build them. Needless to say, Bjorn won't put his name on anything that doesn't live up to his standard.
So here we have the Simble, with it's eccentric woodgrain-like matte finish. I actually knew previously that this was a Mad Professor pedal, but it doesn't say so anywhere on the package. Only on a sticker included on the inside of the box. This is an eccentric design choice, though I suppose anyone buying the thing will know they're getting a Mad Professor pedal. The Simble was designed to capture that famous “starts with a D” amp tone in a transparent overdrive platform. Bjorn is known for his very amp-like effects, so I was interested to see how this stacks up with everything else he's helped create.
Controls and features:
Level, Intensity, Contour, and Accent. To be honest, outside of Level, I had no clue exactly what these controls would do! Does the pedal perhaps have a British accent hidden in there? Not quite! Consulting the manual I soon discovered what everything was. Sensitivity is essentially the drive control, but also has influence over the amount of compression provided. Accent is control over the overall pick attack and brightness. I believe this has influence over the input impedance in some way. Contour would be similar to a tone control, making the pedal brighter clockwise and darker counter-clockwise.
Trying the Jazz setting, which the Level nearly full, Sensitivity at 9:00, Contour and Accent all the way down. On my neck pickup with the guitar tone control rolled back a bit I get a very full bodied Jazzy tone. A very quintessentially jazz tone, actually. Being a Strat enthusiast, I was immediately drawn to the “Texas Strat” setting. Before I even dialed it in, I knew exactly what this setting would be going for, I'm sure you do too. I'll come right out and say that it hit the nail right on the head. Warm rhythm tones to be found on neck, middle, or neck and middle pickup selections. Twangy sustaining mid gain lead sounds to be found on the bridge. No need to tweak the guitar volume here, all the sounds you'd need on tap with just the pickup selector. After that I tweak the heck out of the Simble! What we have here folks is an overdrive with a very wide range, from clean boost to crunchy rock tones. With a voicing that just digs itself into your amp and becomes part of it. I like it, I like it a lot.
Transparent, but with the ability to color your tone if desired. VERY amp-like, beyond amp-like. You may have these sounds already available in your amp, so that's it's only failing. But you may use an amp that only has clean or light to mid-overdrive tones available, this would be perfect for you.