Premier Guitar features affiliate links to help support our content. We may earn a commission on any affiliated purchases.

Old Blood Noise Endeavors Fault Review

A cascading overdrive/distortion that moves from reserved to blistering.

Not long ago, I started to see a box called the Black Fountain Delay on the pedalboards of ambient and atmospherically oriented guitar players. I was impressed with its deep, warbling oil-can-style delay textures, and when I discovered the pedal was made by Old Blood Noise Endeavors, I half-expected the company to be dedicated to oddball delays, reverbs, and modulations. That turned out to be partly true: OBNE’s modest but substantial catalog to that point consisted of two delays, two reverbs, a chorus, and a fuzz. However, the release of the Fault overdrive/distortion demonstrates that OBNE also has a knack for the simple stuff—nice natural amp breakup from a two-channel cascading gain circuit.

Gentle fingerpicking generates nearly clean tones, while picking with gusto at the same settings creates classic grinding,
honking overdriven tones.

Measuring the Fault Line
Operating the dual overdrive/distortion layout is straightforward and simple thanks to several shared controls. The 3-band EQ uses a useful cut/boost configuration, employing a 100 Hz shelf filter on the low end, a 500 Hz bell curve in the mids, and a 3 kHz shelf filter for the high end. A single volume knob controls the master output. The gain 1 knob adjusts the first stage of gain, which ranges from mild breakup to low- to mid-gain distortion. The gain 2 knob has a higher gain range and is activated by pressing the gain 2 bypass. As we’ll see, the Fault’s wide range of drive tones make its wider footprint worth it. No dice if you’re interested in a 9V battery option, though. The Fault only works via the crown-mounted 9V jack.

 

Ratings

Pros:
Authentic breakup tone. Cool, compact design.

Cons:
The shared EQ for both gain stages may not work for everyone. No battery input.

Tones:

Ease of Use:

Build/Design:

Value:

Street:
$199

Old Blood Noise Endeavors Fault
oldbloodnoise.com

Breaking Ground
I explored the pedal’s potential with small amps, starting with a 5-watt Fender Champ 600 and a late-model Epiphone Casino with stock P-90s. Engaging the Fault with gain 1 completely counterclockwise yielded a discernible but very light crunch. It was dynamic though. Gentle fingerpicking generated nearly clean tones, while picking with gusto at the same settings generated classic grinding, honking overdriven tones. Scanning the gain 1’s arc of range clockwise adds progressively more body to the output, and by the time you reach 9 o’clock the output generates killer dirty blues-rock tones. The pedal feels very touch sensitive here, and it’s a great setting for moving from clean to dirty via picking intensity. Pushing further into the gain 1’s range delivers a very pleasant breakup—natural and very much akin to what the 5-watt amp actually sounds like when it’s really throttled, but without the speaker distortion. This set up is really great for coaxing big tones out of little amps without arousing the authorities.

I was a bit hesitant about hitting the Champ with the second gain stage, but I could get great tones at lower amp volume and surprisingly heavy gain 2 settings. At around 2 o’clock—and with a little extra low-end boost—sweet Clapton/Cream tones were well within reach. Better still, the Fault remained sensitive to dynamics, and rolling back my Les Paul’s volume yielded very nice sounding low-gain tones, while more fiery sounds remained just a touch away.

My tests on an Orange OR50 and 4x12 cabinet found the Fault even more at home, and I could crank up the volume of the amp without worrying about speaker decay. One aspect of the Fault’s cascading gain configuration that’s easy to hear coming from a big amp is a distinct volume jump when you engage gain 2. I actually really like this feature of the cascading gain, as it allows you to setup gain 1 as more of a baseline output and generate a much hotter, boosted lead tone when clicking into the 2nd stage. You can set up both channels for more-or-less-equal output, but you do sacrifice some of the cool quasi-fuzz distortion tones that lie in wait at higher gain 2 levels.

The Verdict
As far as dual-footswitch OD/distortions go, the OBNE Fault is an exceptional sounding one —readily able to move from mild crunch to full-blown breakup bliss. There’s no tone smothering going on. What you pick and how you play will shine through the Fault (warts and all, I might add), delivering natural feeling output that’s truly characteristic of an amplifier pushed to its limits. It’s great for small or large amplifiers and clean or dirty ones, and it is at home with single-coils or humbuckers. Fault is a true equal-opportunity rock ’n’ roll machine.

Watch the Review Demo:

On this season finale episode, the actor and musician leads a Prine-inspired songwriting session about how few tools we have in our collective toolbox.

Read MoreShow less

John Mayall in the late ’80s, in a promo shot for his Island Records years. During his carreer, he also recorded for the Decca (with the early Bluesbreakers lineups), Polydor, ABC, DJM, Silvertone, Eagle, and Forty Below labels.

He was dubbed “the father of British blues,” but Mayall’s influence was worldwide, and he nurtured some of the finest guitarists in the genre, including Eric Clapton, Peter Green, Mick Taylor, Harvey Mandel, Coco Montoya, and Walter Trout. Mayall died at his California home on Monday, at age 90.

John Mayall’s career spanned nearly 70 years, but it only took his first four albums to cement his legendary status. With his initial releases with his band the Bluesbreakers—1966’s Blues Breakers with Eric Clapton; ’67’s A Hard Road, with Peter Green on guitar; plus the same year’s Crusade, which showcased Mick Taylor—and his solo debut The Blues Alone, also from 1967, Mayall introduced an international audience of young white fans to the decidedly Black and decidedly American genre called blues. In the subsequent decades, he maintained an active touring and recording schedule until March 26, 2022, when he played his last gig at age 87. It was reported that he died peacefully, on Monday, in his California home, at 90.

Read MoreShow less

Featuring enhanced amp models, a built-in creative looper, AI-powered tone exploration, and smart jam features.

Read MoreShow less

Donner andThird Man Hardware’s $99, three-in-one analog distortion, phaser, and delay honors Jack White’s budget gear roots.

Compact. Light. Fun. Dirt cheap. Many cool sounds that make this pedal a viable option for traveling pros.

Phaser level control not much use below 1 o’clock. Repeats are bright for an analog delay. Greater range of low-gain sounds would be nice.

$99

Donner X Third Man Triple Threat
thirdmanrecords.com

3.5
4.5
4.5
5

A huge part of the early White Stripes mystique, sound, ethos, and identity was tied to guitars and amps that, at the time, you could luck into for cheap at a garage sale. These days, it’s harder to score a Crestwood Astral II, or Silvertone Twin Twelve with a part-time job in the ice cream shop. Back in the late ’90s, though, they were a source of raw, nasty sounds for less than a new, more generic guitar or amp.

Read MoreShow less