028 | Mad Professor Little Green Wonder: A Closer Look at this Hand-wired Overdrive | Transcript

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Scott Schwertly:
Hello, and welcome to episode 28 of the Sonic Renegades Podcast where we're exploring Renegade pedals that have changed the music landscape. On that note, obviously you talked about pedals, it's appropriate to talk about two screamers and today we're going to be talking about the Mad Professor Little Green Wonder the hand wired version. It's a fun one and we can't wait to unpack it in this episode. Hello and welcome to another episode of the Sonic Renegades Podcast, Scott Schwertly and Eric Wilson of Siren Pedals with you guys today. Again, broadcasting from quarantine, hopefully we're nearing the end of this whole COVID situation. Hope you guys are safe and healthy out there. Well, today we've got a fun one. Today, we're going to be talking about the Mad Professor Little Green Wonder, specifically the hand wired version so there's actually two versions you can get, you can get the PCB version or the hand wired and for today's discussion, we're talking about the more expensive of the two, that being the hand wired. Eric, I know you've had this thing on your board for a while and in fact, I think you've had it for a few years. What are your initial thoughts about this one?

Eric Wilson:
Yeah, so I started out, I didn't really like tube screamers and I had tried a TS9, I tried a traditional TS808 and I also had... I was playing humbuckers a lot and I had a Les Paul that had just super dark pickups in it so no matter what, any tube screamer I played, it just sounded weird and then I picked one of these up in a trade and I just really liked the way it reacted with my guitar and with my tone and so, I hung on to it for awhile and then sold it and then missed it and then traded the guy that I got from originally. Somehow he ended up with it again and then I traded him again to get it back.

Scott Schwertly:
Wow. That's crazy. That's definitely one of the things that this pedal gets praised for is that it does really play nice with humbuckers. So no, that's just a testament to that reality, which is cool.

Eric Wilson:
Yeah, I've always loved the way it reacted with humbuckers and then as well, I really like the way it plays with my tele so I use it with that pretty often, too.

Scott Schwertly:
Awesome. Well, I know on this podcast, we've covered two tube screamer clones/inspired pedals. I think in the early part of this podcast, we covered one, the Ibanez Tube Screamer Mini and then actually just a few weeks ago, we covered Earthquaker Devices Plumes, which again, both of those, obviously having tube screamer roots or in the case of Ibanez actually been a tube screamer, I'd be curious to get your opinion since you've had a lot of time with this Mad Professor Little Green Wonder, how does that kind of compare to those?

Eric Wilson:
So, as far as being the true tube screamer, it's kind of not just because the way it reacts is, it's pretty modified, but of the three we've tried so far, it's my favorite. I mean, selfishly I own this one, the Plumes was yours and then obviously the traditional 808 just jammed into a smaller package. So it's one of those things where it's like, I like them all, but they all kind of have their place and so, for my application, what I use it for most of the time, I tend to prefer this guy.

Scott Schwertly:
Nice. Well, I know that everything I've sort of heard about it and seen about it. I know it definitely has more headroom, probably better treble response, really great sensitivity. Would you say those statements are probably pretty true about it then?

Eric Wilson:
Yeah, for sure. The headroom's really nice on it and then the way the tone control reacts, it's really natural because every setting is usable in some way and so, it almost serves as a little bit of a low pass filter kind of thing just the way it reacts, so I find that it really helps me shape my tone. It really helped when I had those dark humbuckers on my guitar to get the treble up high enough to where it could still cut through enough while still maintaining the body of the guitar.

Scott Schwertly:
Nice, awesome. Well, for those that are sort of new to this territory, I'm assuming if you're obviously listening to this podcast, you're probably obviously familiar with tube screamers, but if you're not familiar with Mad Professor, that brand, they're based out of Finland, they've been around since the early 2000s I believe. They came out or actually launched in 2002 and this specific pedal that we're talking about today, again, the Little Green Wonder, trying to kind of do the math on it and just based on our research, it looks like this pedal came out roughly about a decade ago so some rough numbers, maybe 2010, maybe 2011, maybe even 2009, so it's been on the market for quite some time. And as we noted earlier, there's really sort of two versions that you can get. You can get the PCB version or you can get the hand wired version.

Again, for this conversation and for today's demo, we're going to walk you through the hand wired version. Cost-wise there is a difference. For hand wired brand new it's roughly going to be in that 200, 300 range. I saw it brand new on reverb for about 312. You can get sort of like a good or excellent condition one for about 235. And then if you compare that to the PCB version, generally, that's going to be in the high 100s for used, maybe even lower than that, maybe like 125, 130, 140, so just a little bit of a price difference. And because of that, again, a PCB version versus a hand wide version, there are some tonal differences and Eric, I don't know if you've been able to actually play with the PCB version ever, but I mean, have you noticed any of the subtle differences that justify the higher price point?

Eric Wilson:
So the biggest justifier for the hand wired one is, obviously to say you have the hand wired one. In my opinion, they sound a little bit different. I haven't gotten to sit there in ABM, so this is all me watching videos, just kind of what I've heard over the years and also opinions from friends. But for the most part, they sound very similar. I've heard that the hand wired one is a little bit a warmer sounding. It's a little bit more natural sounding, has a little bit more headroom, but I think in the grand scheme of things, if you're going to play this with a band and play it at a bar or a club or at your church or whatever, you're definitely not going to notice the difference, so it's one of those things where it's like, if you have the means, and you want to buy the hand wired one, I say, go for it but if you don't, you're not missing the world buying the PCB version.

Scott Schwertly:
Yeah. I know pedal enthusiasts like ourselves, we'll probably go for the hand wired version, but based on everything I read and researched online, kind of the same result, I didn't notice a huge difference or at least wasn't reading about a huge difference between them. Subtle, it's there, but again, does it justify the price tag? I think it just comes down to whether you're sort of in that collector's mindset or if you're just really an enthusiastic about pedals and that's a thing on your checklist. So, let's go ahead and talk about artists that are using this. So again, if you're new to Mad Professor, if you're new to this pedal, the Little Green Wonder, there's actually several artists that use it. I know one is Matt Schofield, he's famous for being in the British Blues Hall of Fame. Definitely notable in that end. Jeffrey Kunde, Mike Kinsella. Obviously Eric, you own this pedal, you're also fans of these guys and their music, so I'll let you talk about them a little bit.

Eric Wilson:
I will say full disclosure. The reason why I actually picked this up is because I saw Jeffrey Kunde using it back in like, I don't know, 2013, 2014 or something and I was just starting to get into pedals. I had sold, I had like a line six, the pad, HD 500 or whatever it was called and I sold that when friends were teaching me the way to tone and I saw that he had it, I had a way to trade for it and I picked it up. So he is actually the reason why I own this pedal probably now, but I actually had no idea Mike Kinsella used it, but I love American football, love their music and...

Scott Schwertly:
Yeah, and for those that are not familiar with Jeffrey Kunde, he's the lead guitars in Jesus Culture, correct?

Eric Wilson:
Yeah, so he's the lead guitarist for them and then he also does session work, producing work out in Redding, Sacramento area.

Scott Schwertly:
Yeah, and hasn't he done stuff for Bethel as well? I believe.

Eric Wilson:
Yeah. That's where Jesus Culture came out of so, they were there the early part of the 2000s or up until four or five years ago or something.

Scott Schwertly:
Okay, nice. So for those, if that may sound foreign to you, obviously that's big in the worship scene, so big inspiration on that front for him and then obviously for you Eric because I know you play in the church band and all that, so it definitely fits that vibe and that tone for sure. Awesome. Well, those are just a few artists that are using it amongst many others. It's interesting. If you try to find information on Mad Professor, even this pedal, it's not quite as abundant as you would find with other pedals, but there's definitely a culture and a group out there that love this pedal and what it's all about and we're right there in that mix. It's really, really cool. So let's go ahead and talk about what you can actually get on this pedal. There's really three knobs, you've got a volume knob, a drive knob and a body knob. The body knob really is kind of just replacing the tone knob and Eric, I'll let you go through the specifics since I know you use this pedal quite a bit, if you just want to walk everybody through what they can kind of expect.

Eric Wilson:
Yeah. So I mean, volume knob, self-explanatory, has a lot of headroom, which helps. The body knob is really interesting because in the mid you get kind of your typical tube screamer mid push, but it's not as pronounced because it doesn't cut as much of the lows as a typical tube screamer. And then as you turn the body knob to the right, you end up getting more top end, the mids become a little more pronounced. And then as you sweep that body knob all the way to the left, it's almost as if it scoops it a little bit and you still end up getting more high end. It just sounds a little bit different, so I'm not sure like technically how it's supposed to work, but that's kind of the general gist that I get from using it and then the drive knob, it can take you from a light to a medium. I mean, you're going to have more gain on tap than you would with a typical tube screamer so you can definitely take it further, but you'll typically live in the light to medium gain range with it.

Scott Schwertly:
Nice, and have you noticed that everything is really kind of touch sensitive?

Eric Wilson:
Yeah, definitely. So that's another big thing that you see when you're looking at these, as people say they're pretty touch sensitive and when I started playing, again, going back to that Les Paul that had super dark pickups in it, I also couldn't get a clean tone out of an amp so I had to lean into the dynamics of the amp and whatever pedals I was using with the amp and this one was always really great because I could kind of clean it up if I just strum later or whatever but then when I really dug in, it gave that nice grit.

Scott Schwertly:
Perfect, and one thing I saw in line too as I was learning just more about Mad Professor, is that I know at least this might be just one person's opinion that I saw online. I know that some people really praise Mad Professor for having pedals that really don't generate a lot of noise, that they're just kind of low noise pedals. Are you kind of noticing that as well when you're using this one?

Eric Wilson:
Oh yeah, for sure. It's really well built. They did a really good job cutting down any noise that would have been there, but I haven't had any issues with noise.

Scott Schwertly:
Perfect, it makes me want to add one to my collection. Well, good deal. We're going to go ahead and take this thing for a spin and Eric what have got up for us today as far as guitars?

Eric Wilson:
I'm going to play the tele again.

Scott Schwertly:
Awesome. Good deal. Do you plan to pair it with anything or just go straight tele? You're going to go through the Iridium again.

Eric Wilson:
Yeah, I'll go through the Iridium might throw on a little bit of verb, maybe a compressor, who knows.

Scott Schwertly:
Awesome. Well, we're going to get that all set up for you guys. We'll plug it in and we'll see you guys on the other side.

Eric Wilson:
All right, that was the Mad Professor Little Green Wonder, it is my favorite tube screamer.

Scott Schwertly:
Yeah, it's definitely a nice one. So, I'm kind of like you Eric, I've tried several tube screamers on my board. None of them really ever stick or stay, so I'm actually kind of curious about this one. It seems like it may pass the test and I may think about getting one of these myself. It's very tempting.

Eric Wilson:
Yeah, it's really nice.

Scott Schwertly:
Nice. Well, that's what we wanted to cover for you guys today. Again, that is the hand wired version of the Mad Professor Little Green Wonder, join us next time. We're going to be covering the Wampler Pantheon, so another overdrive to add to the mix and if you're not familiar with the Wampler Pantheon, basically it was inspired by the classic Marshall Bluesbreaker, Just like our very own Juno, which will be coming out in the weeks ahead, so excited to be talking about that one. I love Wampler, love their pedals, so it's going to be a fun one to tackle.

Eric Wilson:
Yeah, I'm excited to get to look at that one.

Scott Schwertly:
Awesome. Well, that's our show for today, guys. We will see you next time. Have a great day, have a great week and we'll catch you in the next episode.

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