Ramble FX Kismet Distortion Review
Verdict and Summary
A fantastic combination of analog tone and digital flexibility, the Kismet is one of the best analog distortion pedals we've ever tested, especially if you're looking for a delicate balance between vintage and modern fuzz tones.
For this review we tested, photographed, and recorded the Ramble FX Kismet. It's a first-hand account of the product. To support our site, you can shop via the orange Ramble FX button above at no extra cost to you.
This is one of the few pedals I know of that runs an analog circuit while also giving you the ability to store and recall presets. It's also MIDI-controllable via an adapter (must be purchased separately).
And besides all the control features, it just sounds really good.
The range of intensity from the bottom to the top of the gain control is remarkable, allowing you to go from a really heavy, chaotic saturation to the slightest breakup, similar to the low settings of the drive channel on Fender tube amps.
It's a vintage distortion with plenty of warmth and smoothness, though still has a nice sustain level that makes it palatable to the modern ear.
Here's my settings demo:
Our Review Scoring
Point Value (%)
1. Overall Tone Grade
3. EQ Comprehension
5. Noise Control
6. Additional Filtering
7. Build Quality
8. Tone Quality Bump
On every setting the Kismet's distortion projects tube-like warmth.
Even played through a digitized Garageband amp model, it maintained a smoothness and was never the least bit harsh.
Whether I was playing melody or rhythm, it felt full and distinct, keeping a vintage vibe while also being "big" enough to satisfy fans of modern distortion tones.
I especially liked rolling back the gain level and pushing up the bass, which give me a percussive, rhythmic distortion that was great for fast strumming and string muting.
To be honest, it was hard to find settings I disliked.
Best Fit and Context
A major part of the Kismet's appeal is its ability to store and recall presets. Otherwise, its functionality is essentially just a preamp or really thorough distortion pedal.
I think for the buyer to get value out of the Kismet, they need to have intent to use this banking system. For most, that means live performing where you need to switch between different EQs or levels of distortion.
For that player, the Kismet is a fantastic investment.
Fans of analog pedals will likely also be quite happy with the investment, perhaps from a tonal perspective, alone.
On the other hand:
If you just want a distortion pedal to tinker around with, the Kismet is probably more than you need.
How do I power the Kismet?
The Kismet can run off a 9V battery or a 9V DC current from a power supply. I used one of the 9V DC electrical outs from my Voodoo Lab ISO 5 to power mine and had no problems.
Does it include a power supply?
When we unboxed the Kismet it did not include a power supply.
How does MIDI control work on the Kismet?
The Kismet uses a 3.5 mm to MIDI adapter cable (which is sold separately here) to hook up your MIDI controller. From there, your available presets expand to 100 and even allow you to store certain expression pedal settings. You'll need the adapter to setup, but once you have that, just plug in your MIDI controller of choice to the adapter and you can start banking settings.
Can I connect the Kismet to a computer?
Through a MIDI connection, yes. You'll need a MIDI enabled interface, which most USB audio interfaces support.
Is the Kismet true bypass?
Yes, and your clean signal runs through an analog circuit, thus further preserving the integrity of your tone.
Is it a good fit for bass guitar rigs?
While I liked the Twin Bender for bass setups, the Kismet seems like too much pedal for sporadic use on a bass rig. Look for a simpler distortion to subsidize you bass gain.
Is it compatible with an expression pedal?
Yes, the Kismet supports an external compression pedal.
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Your Questions and Comments
The Kismet is an absolute game-changer for guitar players that perform regularly and need to work with different gain levels and distortion styles during shows.
It's one of the only distortion pedals I've seen with that kind of control on top of an analog circuit.
At the same time, those that wouldn't use the digital side might be over-paying.
While the tone quality alone might be worth the price of admission, you'll need to look at it from the perspective of what the additional functionality would be worth to you, in your particular situation.
If you have questions about the Kismet, leave them in the comments section below and I'll do my best to help.