When an overdrive pedal comes in some variation of a green finish and it has three knobs, we all know what it’s inspired by and there’s no point beating around the bush about it: the Ibanez Tube Screamer. The Tube Screamer is so ubiquitous and so iconic that every player feels they need some version of it on their pedalboard. But the relative simplicity of the circuit also means it’s easy to customise, so there are plenty of options on the market from other companies who know that you may want something in the Tube Screamer neighbourhood but with enough variation to set you apart from everyone using the same little green box. That’s where the Mad Professor Little Green Wonder Overdrive comes in.
All the expected features are there: the three-knob layout (Volume, Drive and Body), 9V battery power or external AC adaptor jack, big ‘ol footswitch, bright red status LED. Unlike many Tube Screamer-inspired pedals, this one doesn’t have any extra switches, knobs or modes. But there’s some stuff happening under the hood that sets it apart. Where the Tube Screamer has a distinctive midrange bump and a thinner low end, the Little Green Wonder evens out the frequency spread to give you a more natural midrange and fuller bass.
The idea is that the Little Green Wonder gives you a more natural overdrive that doesn’t colour your sound as much as a Tube Screamer, but does more than simply hit your preamp tubes with more input gain; it still has some personality of its own, even when you set the Drive control to zero and use the pedal as a clean boost. The Body control sets the frequency range of the sound: turn it counter-clockwise for more bass and low mids with a slight treble boost, or clockwise for just a slight treble increase which is great for helping a guitar to find a place within a busy mix without clouding the low end.
There’s also plenty of drive available, crossing that magical threshold from ‘overdrive’ to ‘distortion’ with a slight fuzzy edge. Think Richie Kotzen’s drive tone and you’re pretty much there, right down to the ‘roll back the guitar volume to clean it up’ vibe. It works great for blues-rock, country and alternative styles but also has a certain Josh Homme-esque charm.
This is a really easy-to-use, great-sounding all-rounder overdrive. It may not have the high degree of customisation of many other pedals in this market segment, but it doesn’t need it because it does what it does spectacularly well thanks to that carefully-voiced Body control and the scope of the Drive knob. Having said that, if you want a drive that does more, check out Mad Professor’s Bluebird Overdrive (with built-in delay), 1 Pedal (overdrive with reverb) or brilliant Simble overdrive, inspired by classic Dumble amps. Then there’s the Golden Cello, described as ‘Eric Johnson in a box’ and which Johnson himself uses, which replicates a fuzz into an overdriven amp with an Echoplex delay. The point is, Mad Professor covers a heck of a lot of ground with its overdrive offerings, and the Little Green Wonder is among some really impressive company and well worth your consideration.
Hits and Misses
Well-voiced Body control
More gain than you might expect
No extra controls like some Tube Screamer-inspired pedals