Keeley Noble Screamer Review
Our Verdict and Review Summary
The Keeley Noble Screamer is advertised as an amp-like overdrive, which I found to be a very honest description. It's not exactly heavy, but it sounded like my Mesa Rectoverb combo with the gain at mid-level. With four overdrive sounds (two legacy and with two types of diode clipping), there's certainly enough versatility here to get your money's worth.
The most apt descriptor of the Noble Screamer is an "amp-style overdrive" which is a pretty clear element of the marketing copy. It's smooth but also on the aggressive side, like a metal-esque amp with the gain turned down to be less menacing. The four tones and dual analog circuits can give you that thin distortion sound before pushing into the full, boosted overdrive, like you might hear going from the verse of a song to the heavier chorus. What it really needs is two bypass switches that can move you back and forth between a couple of the Noble Screamer's sound. Right now you have to switch them by hand. But overall, it's another solid pedal from Keeley.
Read more: Best guitar pedals overall
Compare the Noble Screamer to Similar Pedals
Here you can compare the Keeley Noble Screamer to some other overdrive pedals in a similar style and price range.
Keeley Noble Screamer
We link to products on Sweetwater that help support our site and keep the lights on. If you click through our orange buttons, we might earn a commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you all for your generous support over the years! ~ Bobby and Danielle
For most of our product reviews we take our own photos, in-house. Thank goodness for portrait mode. For those interested in using these photos, that is completely fine with us as long as you give us credit and don't claim the work as your own. Simply linking to guitarchalk.com near the photo is totally fine.
Keeley Noble Screamer Review Card
BEST FOR: Tube amps and amp-style distortion, rock, blues, and non-metal-yet-heavy musical styles, definitely analog fans.
- Definitely lives up to the amp-style distortion descriptor
- Selectable types of diode clipping
- Four modes, all analog
- Silent switching
- Lots of control and versatility
- Smooth and warm but still punchy/aggressive
- With four modes, it would be great to be able to switch between two with a footswitch and not have to use your hands.
Keeley Noble Screamer Price Guide
Price updated Thu, February 29th, 2024.
Noble Screamer Tone Quality
You can definitely hear the analog circuitry in the Screamer, similar to the Ibanez Tube Screamer and Boss Waza Craft overdrive pedals. Bluesy overdrive is one of the few remaining types of effects that digital models have a tough time recreating. For overdrive and/or boost pedals, I'd still recommend going analog. And the Keeley Noble Screamer is a great example of a physical circuit's superiority, at least in this effects category. Again, it's warm, smooth, and very similar to a heavier tube amp distortion. My demo below didn't turn out great, so take it with a grain of salt, but you can definitely get a feel for the pedal's tone and distortion shape.
Two Styles of Diode Clipping
The difference between the more aggressive and smoother sounds in the Noble Screamer are from the diode switching between the two modes. Rather than try and reword it, I'm going to quote Keeley's description here.
Hard or Soft Clipping - The Noble Screamer gives you both styles of diode clipping. Diodes are used to create hard clipping distortions or smooth overdrive sounds. If the Clipping Switch is in the OD Position it features Hard Diode Clipping which is an edgier, more aggressive tone. When the Clipping Switch is in the TS Position that uses Soft Diode Clipping, like a tube amplifier softly overdriven.
Control and Versatility
Like all (almost all) overdrive pedals, you have a level, tone, and drive knob to work with. Strangely, the tone knob seems to push up volume a bit, depending on the mode you use. Maybe I'm missing something? Of course, the intensity of these controls depends on the diode clipping you've selected, a hard or soft clip via the switch on the right side of the pedal. Though I wouldn't worry about getting into the technical side of things. You can just set it up and tweak. All the settings seem very usable, without being too intense or impractical, so just find something you like. Note that you can also switch between true and buffered bypass by holding down the bypass switch for two seconds. For what it's worth, I usually prefer buffered bypass.
Price and value of the Noble Screamer Overdrive
Keeley has the Noble Screamer priced at the dead-clean center of the analog overdrive pedal market. When we published this review it was $199, which you see all over the pedal landscape for similar overdrives. So you're not really getting a deal, but this is a reasonable ask for an analog drive pedal with multiple circuits. Plus, Robert Keeley always makes good stuff.
Concluding our Noble Screamer Review
There's a ton of application for overdrive pedals, so there are a lot of good fits for the Keeley Noble Screamer.
In particular, we like it for non-metal rock styles, rhythm guitar players, and anybody running a tube amp. The versatility, and weather or not you're interested in the two diode clipping options, should also be considered. Overall, it's a great pedal and a solid value, exactly what we'd expect from Robert Keeley.
If you have questions about our review, feel free to drop them in the comments section below.
Related Articles About Overdrive Pedals
Gear and guitar lesson reviews by real guitar players
We buy, use, test, research, and rate the guitar programs and gear we recommend. Sign up for our mailing list and we'll keep you up to date.
By clicking the "sign up" button, you are consenting to receiving updates about Guitar Chalk and recaps of what we publish. You can unsubscribe at any time.