Hands-On Review:Ampeg Scrambler SCP-OD Pedal
Ampeg Scrambler SCP-OD PedalBy Paul Riario
The typical gear junkie is obsessed with finding the Excalibur of effect pedals— the unit that, once engaged, lets loose a magical sound that sets it apart from every other effect. For some guitarists, the Ampeg Scrambler has been such a pedal. Introduced in 1969, the Scrambler created glorious, fuzzy overtones, making it the perfect weapon for guitarists who wished to venture “outside the box.”
Apparently, not many guitarists did. The Scrambler wasn’t a big seller for Ampeg, which estimates that only 2,500 copies of the pedal were produced, making it a rarity within the pantheon of collectible vintage effects. Although demand has pushed its value into the four-digit range on eBay, thankfully Ampeg has reissued the Scrambler for those of us who fondly recall when effects sounded far-out and looked like miniature tanks.
With respect to the latter, the new Scrambler SCP-OD is a remarkable sight. Its substantial weight (two pounds) and militarylike die-cast steel housing are true to its austere, Cold War–era origins. Like the original, the SCP-OD has just two controls, for Texture and Balance, but they provide all the flexibility you’ll need. In fact, the only modernizations are the true-bypass circuitry and nine-volt power-supply jack (battery access is still underneath the pedal).
In essence, the Scrambler sounds similar to an Octavia but can also create soft fuzz without the upper-octave effect. The Texture control determines the amount of the octave-up effect, and turning this knob to its extreme counterclockwise position produces smooth, organic fuzz. Gradually turning the knob clockwise creates the slightly metallic upper-harmonic distortion typical of the Octavia. The Balance control lets you blend your original signal with the effected signal, from pure guitar tone to extreme distortion.
Using both a Fender Strat and Gibson Les Paul, I plugged the Scrambler into a Fender Deluxe amp and fired away. Setting both controls halfway created a cushy distortion with a hint of ring modulation. Pushing both knobs to the max produced crushing fuzz with obnoxious upper-octave overtones. If you’ve ever heard the clipping rhythm guitar on U2’s “Elevation,” you’ll understand why the Edge uses this one-of-kind pedal.
The Bottom Line
For a reissue of a vintage effect, the Scrambler sounds surprisingly fresh; its unique fuzz lets your guitar sound wonderfully bizarre or quietly mysterious. This one’s a keeper.
Street Price: $249.00
Manufacturer: Ampeg c/o St. Louis Music, Inc.; ampeg.com