Video: The Nobels ODR-1 and the Pedals It's Inspired

Sometimes called "the other green overdrive," the Nobels ODR-1 was once a secret weapon of Nashville guitarists. The pedal will push an amp into wonderfully rich breakup without sapping any of its natural tone, gifting players the type of fat, lively drive perfect for chicken-pickin' licks. But what's good for the goose and is good for the gander, and many guitarists outside of country have picked up on the ODR-1's particular charms.

The Nobels ODR-1

According to a 2010 Guitar World article, the pedal's designer, Kai Tachibana, wanted a natural-sounding overdrive that did away with the Tube Screamer's mid-heavy tone: "Instead, he wanted a drive pedal that did what his bluesy sounding 40-watt black-panel Fender Bassman did, reacting to the volume pot on his guitar, where the overdrive increased slowly and evenly without changing the basic tonal character."

Originally released in the 1990s, the first run of ODR-1s can go for high prices on the newly vintage market, while others from the early 2000s also command a little extra cash. Nobels has since released a full-sized reissue and the ODR-1 Mini, which shrinks the chassis but takes no fat away from the tone.

Andy Martin's 2011 demo of a Nobels ODR-1

Nobels-Inspired Effects

Like any beloved circuit, the ODR-1 has inspired the creation of many other pedals, some that stay true to the original and others that take the concept into different directions.

Boutique builder Brian Wampler is a self-confessed lover of the ODR-1. In a video for his Wampler Belle, which is itself a close tribute to the ODR-1, he explains that the circuit's DNA appears across his line. The Underdog Overdrive is "loosely based on the three-band version of [the ODR-1]. Then that became part of the Paisley Drive Deluxe, after Brad Paisley loved that particular pedal."

For the Belle, Wampler adds a bass control that lets you roll off low-end frequencies and a Clipping switch that offers a slightly more open form of compression.

Tachibana, the original designer of the ODR-1, now makes the ODR-C through his own company, Nordland Electronics.

In a 2020 interview with Var Guitar, Tachibana says that it was important to him to keep the characteristics of the ODR-1 while adding other tonal options: "I knew that the sound was too bassy for some guitars. So a lo-cut was needed. For an assertive solo sound, there should also be a good-sounding mid-control. I also wanted the overdrive to sound less compressed. For this I developed the O.D.C. (Overdrive De-Compress) control. The most important task was that if the three additional sound options were not used, the original ODR-1 sound had to be retained."

The latest take on the famous Nobels circuit is the Jeorge Tripps' Way Huge STO. The STO swaps in a FET op-amp instead of a discrete input transistor and uses a different op-amp internally (a 4741 quad op-amp vs. the ODR-1's 4558).

Follow the links above to find each of these pedals for sale on Reverb.

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