Tube Screamer pedals are iconic and revered tools in the world of guitar effects, known for their distinctive sound and profound impact on shaping the tones of countless musicians across various genres. Originally introduced by Ibanez in the late 1970s, the Tube Screamer has become synonymous with warm overdrive, smooth saturation, and a signature midrange boost that cuts through the mix.
At its core, the Tube Screamer is a type of overdrive pedal designed to push a guitar amplifier into natural tube distortion, emulating the warm and dynamic tones of vintage tube amplifiers. The pedal owes much of its popularity to its ability to enhance a player’s tone rather than overshadow it, making it a favorite among guitarists seeking to add character and sustain to their sound.
The classic Tube Screamer circuitry, often imitated but seldom duplicated, features a unique combination of components that contribute to its distinctive sonic fingerprint. The emphasis on the midrange frequencies, in particular, gives the Tube Screamer its characteristic “mid hump,” which not only adds clarity to solos but also helps the guitar cut through the mix in a band setting.
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Ibanez TS808 Overdrive Pedal
- Overdrive, Tone and Level controls
- Delivers that warm, natural tube overdrive sound previously unattainable by conventional units.
- Zine die cast construction and rugged rubber stopper assures durability.
The original Tube Screamer pedal is the Ibanez TS808. The pedal soon gained popularity because to its characteristic mid-hump, which was introduced in the late 1970s. The TS808, like many other overdrive pedals, enhances your guitar’s signal. However, it does not raise all frequencies equally; it disproportionately amplifies your signal’s mid-range frequencies.
This allows you to cut through the mix, and it works particularly effectively with Fender amps and Stratocasters, which have a lack of mid-range. This is why Stevie Ray Vaughan’s version worked so brilliantly. The pedal added warmth and brawn to his tone by bringing back all of the mids.
Legendary guitarists in a variety of genres have used the TS808, including Stevie Ray Vaughan, Gary Moore, Noel Gallagher, Andy Timmons, and Mick Thomson of Slipknot. With just three parameters (overdrive, tone, and level), you can quickly transition from a warm and lovely crunch to an all-out death metal shredding tone.
The Ibanez TS808 Pro is a vintage reissue of the original pedal. This is the standard by which all other Tube Screamers are judged. While it lacks some of the more current capabilities of other pedals (such as true-bypass), it sounds amazing and has a great vintage vibe. The sound has been described as having a pleasant and creamy quality by certain listeners. But it’s all a matter of opinion. This is the Best Tube Screamer Pedal in 2023.
Ibanez Tube Screamer Mini
The Ibanez Tube Screamer Mini is the most popular Tube Screamer pedal on the market. With a few adjustments, this pedal is based on the original Ibanez TS808 from back in the day. The addition of True Bypass ensures that your tone is unaffected when the pedal is turned off.
It’s really well-made, and the controls have a premium feel to them and the tone is excellent. It’s an excellent alternative for guitarists who want a traditional overdrive tone but don’t have a lot of room on their pedal board because of its small size.
If you’re searching for a terrific deal, the Tube Screamer Mini, which was just released, is a fantastic option. The TS808 is modelled by this, however it comes in a considerably smaller package. So, if you’re looking for a way to conserve room on your pedalboard while also saving money, the Tube Screamer Mini could be a great option.
Maxon Reissue Series OD808 Overdrive
- A favorite overdrive pedal among many popular artists, such as Adam D of Killswitch Engage, Nick Hipa from As I Lay Dying, Metal Mike from Halford and...
- Offers the smooth, natural overdrive of a full-up tube amplifier in a compact pedal
- Incredibly dynamic, the Maxon OD808 pedal responds precisely to playing nuances and allows your instrument's natural tone to shine through
The original Tube Screamer has been reissued as the Maxon OD808. In reality, Maxon was the first to develop the TS808 circuit in 1979. It was rebranded and marketed as an Ibanez guitar. It does, however, differ from the original in a few ways. The noise floor, for example, was reduced, and the switch was replaced with one found on modern pedals.
Because the primary parts and sounds are identical, the Maxon OD808 is the counterpart to the Ibanez TS808 or TS9. After all, Maxon was Ibanez’s manufacturer from 1994 until 2002, and this pedal has a lot in common with the TS808.
The Maxon OD808 is even better for single coil guitars because to its enhanced noise floor. We’ve got the standard overdrive, tone, and level settings (called balance). The pedal is powered by a 9v power supply or a 9v battery.
The OD808 features three simple settings, similar to the TS808, for overdrive, balance, and tone, but the possibilities for diverse guitar sounds are unlimited. This iconic pedal may be used as a clean boost, boosting the mids and making the guitar tone stand out without adding any visible distortion.
You may also use it to create warm overdrive tones, which are ideal for blues and rock. Another way to use this sparkle drive is to turn it all the way up for a truly distorted metal sound! It yells without turning everything to mush. The original JRC4558D chip, which was also found in the original Ibanez 808s, is included in the OD808’s design. It costs roughly $150, and you’ve probably heard several guitarists use it, including Joe Satriani, Misha Mansoor, Devin Townsend, and others.
JHS Bonsai 9-Way Screamer Overdrive Guitar Effects Pedal
- The Bonsai is our tribute to one of the greatest pedals ever created, the Tube Screamer
- A Simple rotary knob switches through nine classic, vintage, rare, or hard to find variations of the Screamer
- The Bonsai Does Not emulate these pedals, it is exact replications of these nine units all housed in one box
The Bonsai is a single pedal that has nine vintage and often hard-to-find variations of the classic green overdrive. JHS creator Josh Scott studied hundreds of variations of the legendary stompbox and faithfully replicated their circuits while designing the Bonsai. He was thorough, utilising an Audio Precision analyzer to capture every peculiarity of the original components. He also factored in drift, given that the original pedals were decades old and their components had deviated from their original specifications.
The JHS Bonsai does for screaming green overdrives what the Muffuletta accomplished for massive fuzzes. Put the Bonsai on your pedalboard and you’ll have unrestricted access to four decades of pedals. You can choose from nine distinct audio textures. Do you want to do a classic mid-bump grind? It’s in there somewhere. Dirty boost like SRV? Yep. Low-gain grit like John Mayer? You’ve got it, plus a lot more.
The Bonsai isn’t a modeller; its components are identical to those found in the source units. When you use the Bonsai’s rotary control to pick a mode, your guitar signal is routed via a circuitry duplicate of the original pedal. With the Bonsai, you get nine overdrive pedals in one compact package.
The end output is a copy, not an emulation. You’re playing through the same circuitry as the original pedals when you plug into the Bonsai. There’s no computer modelling involved – it’s purely analogue. This is the Best Tube Screamer Clone Pedal in 2023.
Ibanez TS9 Tube Screamer Original
- Classic tone Tone, drive, and level controls
- Tone, drive, and level controls give you access to warm, amp-like overdrive that's touch sensitive and ready to rip
- The Ibanez TS9 Tube Screamer is a reissue that's just like the original in so many ways
The Ibanez TS9 is one of the most popular overdrive pedals of all time. It has a particular tone that may be heard on a variety of records. The TS9 Tube Screamers are a later version of the TS808. They first appeared in 1981. Despite being quite similar to the original Tube Screamers, the TS9’s circuitry are slightly different from the TS808.
The TS808 offers a smooth, vintage sound, but the TS9 has a more current and edgy tone. In addition, the TS9 is $50 less expensive than the TS808. Both are excellent overdrive pedals, but the only way to know which you prefer is to try them both out.
The TS9 has three simple controls, similar to many other pedals on this list: drive, tone, and level. The sound is aggressive, sophisticated, and controlled at the same time. It’s a must-have for any guitarist’s pedalboard, and it’ll help you cut through the mix with both lead and rhythm guitar sounds.
The TS9 is ideal for a wide range of genres, including rock, metal, blues, and country. The pedal has a low learning curve, and the subtle differences make it a highly flexible pedal. John Mayer, James Hetfield, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Ray Toro, and Buddy Guy have all utilised this pedal.
EarthQuaker Devices Plumes
- Fine-tuned Tone Control
- All-analog approach to a classic tube-like overdrive circuit
- Loads of headroom and almost three-dimensional clarity that will push your amp over the edge
The EarthQuaker Devices Plumes has pushed things to a new level of usability and tone, picking up where the Tube Screamer left off. A 3-way toggle switch controls the type of clipping employed in the circuit, in addition to the normal level/gain/tone parameters.
The first option provides symmetrical LED cutting. If you’re looking for compression and crunch, this is the product for you. Option 2 is best utilised as a clean boost because it completely eliminates clipping. Finally, with option 3, the Plumes adds asymmetrical clipping to the mix. This provides a more transparent tone and a looser feel, according to EarthQuaker Devices. This is a fantastic addition to the pedal.
While EarthQuaker Devices is known for their higher-end pedals, the Plumes is one of their more budget-friendly options. And it’s a terrific addition to any pedal board.
Electro-Harmonix East River Drive
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The Electro Harmonix East River Drive might become your new go-to drive pedal if you’re craving the classic Tube Screamer sound but are having trouble justifying the high price tag associated with some TS-style pedals. The East River Drive is a straightforward but tonally striking endeavour, like other Tube Screamer knockoffs. This pedal feels like it should have cost much more given the way the volume, tone, and drive knobs are arranged on the sturdy metal box. Given that there are only three tweakable parameters, the potential for tone variation is enormous, which is one of the many reasons why we highly recommend the East River Drive.
You’ll understand why once you’ve adjusted the gain to sear since this pedal really channels its inner TS808 with considerable energy. It has a heavy metal enclosure with a classic overdrive tone, so it was clearly built to last. It can handle almost every gigging situation you can think of. Although it’s not nearly as sophisticated as some of the more expensive options on this list, a Tube Screamer undoubtedly won’t provide you the sophisticated overdrive you’re looking for.
Mooer Green Mile
- Low-profile drive pedal with two working modes: warm and hot
- Warm: reconstruct a warm tube drive tone and nice dynamic response of classic tube amplifier; it provides a natural, smooth, creamy overdrive sound
- Hot: more powerful output than warm mode, mighty crunch tone
With their remarkable multi-effects pedals, electric guitars, and guitar amps, Mooer is swiftly becoming a household brand in the world of guitar effects and accessories, but their reputation first rose due to their small pedals, one of which is the Green Mile.
Its inspiration is quite evident, just like any other green overdrive pedal available today, but as a result, the tones you can obtain from this device are seriously excellent. The Green Mile has two operating modes—”warm” and “hot,” both of which offer soil that is smooth and tube-like. As expected, the “warm” setting gives a touch-sensitive, natural-sounding drive, while the “hot” mode raises the gain levels for additional crunch.
The Green Mile’s layout is impressive given its compact size, and the huge “overdrive” control makes creating tone changes on the fly a breeze. However, if you don’t have very good footwork, you can find yourself nudge this dial when activating or deactivating the footswitch. This pedal requires an additional power supply, which is not included with the pedal because there isn’t a battery compartment. However, it’s not the end of the world, and we shouldn’t anticipate too many features at this affordable price.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a Tube Screamer pedal?
Tube Screamer pedal is a type of overdrive pedal designed to simulate the warm, natural distortion produced by vintage tube amplifiers. It is widely used by guitarists to add character, sustain, and a signature midrange boost to their tones.
What sets the Tube Screamer apart from other overdrive pedals?
Tube Screamer is known for its distinctive midrange emphasis, often referred to as the “mid hump.” This characteristic helps the guitar cut through the mix and provides a smooth, creamy overdrive that enhances the player’s tone rather than overshadowing it.
Which Tube Screamer model is the most popular?
The original TS808 Tube Screamer is considered a classic and is highly sought after for its vintage tone. The TS9 is also widely popular and has been used by countless musicians. Both models, along with various reissues and modifications, have their own unique appeal.
How does the Tube Screamer work in a signal chain?
Tube Screamer is typically placed in the signal chain before the amplifier. It can be used to boost the signal, add overdrive to a clean amp, or push an already overdriven amp into higher gain territory. Experimenting with its placement can yield different tonal results.
What is the difference between the TS808 and TS9 models?
TS808 is the original Tube Screamer model, known for its slightly warmer and smoother tone. The TS9, a later model, has a slightly brighter and more aggressive sound. Both have their enthusiasts, and the choice between them often comes down to personal preference.