Today, I’m going through my guitar pedals, making sure there’s no old batteries forgotten in them. Along the way, I ran into a bit of a surprise regarding my Mad Professor Silver Spring Reverb pedal. Let me explain …
Checking Out An Old Neunaber Slate
I have a grab-and-go pedal board. It hasn’t been used for a while, so I thought I’d take all the pedals off, check that they still work, check for old batteries, and pack them away for now.
One of the pedals on there is an old Neunaber Slate. It’s a programmable digital pedal. You can download different reverbs, delays, and modulations onto it. You can also plug an add-on ExP controller into it to give you 4 banks of effects.
The Slate used to be Neunaber’s flagship product. At some point in time, it got renamed to be the Expanse. Sadly, it looks like it’s been dropped from the lineup recently. UK resellers don’t list it any more. The desktop app hasn’t been updated in 18 months.
Anyway, dropped or not, it should still sound great. And it’s true stereo, which means it’ll be a great option in the f/x loop of my dual-Synergy rig. So I decided to chuck it into the f/x loop of my Marshall Origin 20H to make sure it works.
Swapping Out The Pedals
Normally, I have the Mosky Blue Delay and Mad Professor Silver Spring Reverb in the f/x loop. They’re both always-on, set-and-forget pedals. And I’ve been very very happy with the sound of both.
I swapped out the Mosky for the Neunaber. It worked, which is what I cared about. I noodled through it for a bit. I really enjoy its tape emulation delay mode. When I’m recording, the Universal Audio Echoplex is my go-to delay f/x. The Neunaber’s is every bit as enjoyable.
Then I took the MP Silver Spring out, so I could try some of the Slate’s reverbs out. Good job I did.
Oh my. All of sudden, the tone is much richer. A lot more bottom end, fatter mids, clearer highs. There’s a volume increase – the signal’s now at unity. I hadn’t even realised that there’d been a volume drop until now.
What’s going on? Is my Mad Professor Silver Spring Reverb dropping the volume and sucking the life out of my tone? How can I troubleshoot it to find out?
Whenever I’m troubleshooting, I follow a guiding principle: isolate to eliminate. The idea is to remove possible causes one by one, and see what happens.
First step – let’s make sure that the Origin 20H’s f/x loop isn’t somehow responsible. I took out of the f/x loop, and ran it in front of the amp. No improvement.
Next step – let’s pop the back off. Any internal trim pots that might be responsible? No, but there was an old battery in there from when I bought it. I removed the battery, and ran it entirely from my external power supply. No improvement either.
Could my external pedal power unit be responsible? Odd as it may seem, incompatibilities do crop up from time to time, even when the power supply is rated for the voltage and current a pedal wants. I popped a fresh battery in … and still no improvement.
At this point, as far as I can figure, the only common remaining factor is the pedal itself.
The Mad Professor Silver Spring Reverb is a respected pedal. People who know what they’re on about recommend it. Retailers who can’t afford to sell gear with a high return rate stock it.
If the volume drop and tone-loss was a fundamental design flaw, I’d expect to find complaints about it on YouTube, and/or on the usual forums. So far, I’ve drawn a blank.
I did get this pedal second-hand. There’s the possibility that it has been damaged at some point in its life. Maybe it’s from a bad manufacturing batch, or an old revision of the circuit. Maybe key components have simply failed with age.
I’m going to email the folks at Mad Professor to get their advice. Maybe it’s possible to send it in for a check and a repair? I’m going to find out.
Remember, it’s a 2nd hand unit, so if Mad Professor comes back and says there’s nothing they can do to help, that’s the risk you take when you buy 2nd hand gear. If you want guarantees, always buy new.
I’ve had the Mad Professor Silver Spring Reverb as an always-on pedal since I got the Marshall Origin 20H at launch in April 2018. I can’t say whether it’s been affecting tone and volume since day one, or whether this is a problem that’s happened at some point since I got it.
Either way, I need to go back and revisit everything I’ve tested through my Marshall Origin 20H. Starting with my Fender American Performer Strat and the new pickups I ordered for it yesterday …