A reissue of one of the best-kept secrets in overdrive effects, the new Nobels ODR-1 has been one of my personal favorite OD pedals for a few months now. While this little green pedal might not be well known by a huge segment of players, it's actually a very popular overdrive in the Nashville music scene -- and for good reason. Boasting a unique combination of natural smooth overdrive, rich sustain, and gritty distortion when pushed, the Nobels ODR-1 is definitely not your typical tube-style pedal.
At first sight, the Nobels ODR-1 looks a lot like a standard Tubescreamer style OD -- three knobs, big footswitch, green paint job -- but you can think of it as more of a close cousin than a clone, unique enough to stand on its own but still a part of the extended family. Settings are pretty straightforward, too. Drive handles the amount of grit and gain, Spectrum is a catch-all EQ that allows you to fine-tune the overall sound while Level is essentially the volume control.
As far as the build goes, this is one solid pedal. While it does feel a little on the light side, the metal chassis and firm construction give it all the hallmarks of a well-built pedal. During my own use, I've accidentally dropped the ODR-1 no less than five times (a couple of them on concrete) and it has easily survived each fall with nothing more than a few scratches. With normal use, this pedal should easily last you years.
Nashville studio guitarists rated the Nobels ODR-1 the best overdrive and players like Jerry Donahue of the Hellecasters says "The best overdrive on the market". This pedal and a Telecaster is just pure magic. With singing sustain, nice midrange and sounds from light grit to massive crunch. The ODR-1 reissue is a versatile natural tube-amp style overdrive that makes this a no-brainer for adding classic sound and character to your tone.
Overall, the ODR-1 falls somewhere between a typical Tubescreamer clone (and its signature scooped mids) and a clean booster, featuring a natural and smooth overdrive that works great on everything from classic rock to blues, indie and more. And while it might not seem like it, there's actually a ton of versatility inside this little green pedal.
At lower levels, it can be used as a natural boost, pushing your signal with just a hint of color (which works exceptionally well when paired with a tube amp). Pushing the Drive further sends it into OD territory, delivering a smooth tube-like overdrive that features a nice amount of sustain and rich harmonics (great on country and blues licks). Pushed further still and you're into full-on distortion, thick and aggressive but maybe a bit too boomy for most players.
While its natural overdrive sounds great on just about any guitar, it pairs especially well with single-coil equipped instruments in particular (which is no doubt why it has been a favorite of Nashville studio guitarists for years). Furthermore, the ODR-1 truly shines when paired with a clean booster as it is able to fully coax the smooth character and warm harmonics of the OD without getting too muddy. Overall, it's a great sounding pedal especially when you consider it can be had for only $100.
With rich sustain, a nice midrange boost and the wide range of overdrive tones, the ODR-1 is easily one of our favorite affordable overdrives around. Sure, it's not going to run laps around a hand-crafted boutique overdrive pedal but for $100 you'll be hard pressed to find a better deal! All in all, it's a pedal I can easily recommend.