5 Best Tube screamer clone

The circuit of the Tubes creamer is so well established that it has become a universally known standard and has been swept down to the smallest detail. Today you can bring home a best and cheap tube screamer clone but as valid as the original.

Tube screamer clone: some considerations

The original Tube Screamer, the various modifications by Robert Keeley and company, the various boutique clones cost a lot. Certain prices, for a pedal that when it was put on the market was considered economic, are to be considered purely fruit and folly of the market. Today, fortunately, various low-cost brands have put their tube screamer clones on the market, so that we can equip ourselves with its timbre without spending a fortune. Said between us some of these low cost clones sound decent and often in a one-to-one comparison, the original tube screamer compared to the low-cost clone certainly do not make the difference of the euro more expensive than the original version of Ibanez.

Among the guitar overdrives, the Tubes creamer is probably among the most popular, used and… copied! Despite its thirty years played, our green friend remains a reference not only for musicians, but for almost all builders (craft or not) who try their hand at making a good overdrive. In short, those who have a little familiarity with the circuits and experience with overdrive can easily confirm that, after the aesthetic appearance of colored containers, under a thousand names, the basic electronic structure of the TS is omnipresent. We would not fail to say that our beloved green box represents for overdrives what Fender Bassman ’57 represents for valve amplifiers: an ancestor who, in spite of a thousand mutations, has transmitted its genes to later generations.

Perhaps it is imperative to reassure readers ready to flee at the thought of the umpteenth article on this pedal, perhaps aimed at tracing its history or delve into differences in terms of series, IC, resistive carriers, diodes for clipping or buffer vs true bypass : maybe some hints here and there and only if necessary. The purpose of these lines is to highlight what the current market offers in terms of low cost alternatives without fear of the quality and reliability of some clones. In this operation, rather than taking a look at the aesthetic appearance, we will observe from within the soul of the same project in different constructive aspects (assembly and components).

Obviously, here we do not intend to diminish the value of original historical pieces, of the standard production marked Ibanez or the value of craftsmanship (especially when they have an honest price for the quality they offer) and it is right to point out that this article is not addressed to the collector but to the constant user, to the large number of people who use this overdrive and who maybe do not want to take the risk of carrying around an original, without forgetting the mass of young guitarists who might not mind finding a pedal that sounds almost identical to one third of the price at which the original is proposed.

Maxon Reissue Series OD808 Overdrive

The Maxon OD808 Overdrive pedal is the reissue of the legendary tubes creamer TS808 which was the first overdrive tube amp simulator, using the same Maxon circuits used for the original, but with some tweaking to make it stand up to modern standards. Its warm, creamy and sweet crunch helped to launch a long series of imitators. Today, the design of the OD-808 is undoubtedly the most used and most imitated of all time. The OD-808 offers the natural and uniform overdrive of a tube amp without sacrificing the original grain of your guitar.

  • The overdrive pedal is good-looking: solid metal chassis, beautiful knobs and glossy varnishes, and is provided with a layer of neoprene-type adhesive rubber to attach to the bottom of the pedal to avoid annoying slips under your feet.
  • The Maxon OD808 is compact, but visible.
  • The circuitry seems solid and well done.
  • The power supply is the usual 9V with battery or power supply with socket type Boss, even if a 10V power supply is recommended on the chassis. The OD808 has a door for the battery compartment, while for the others the base of the pedal must be unscrewed. All of them are sufficiently silent.

Maxon is the company that built the Ibanez pedals in the 70s and 80s … so we cannot talk about “difference” with regards to the structure (both electronic and circuitry and mechanical) of the pedal. Between the ‘70s and ‘80s in his laboratories, pedals designed and built to mark the sound of those years. In fact, if the effects on the Japanese market came under the Maxon brand, in the rest of the world they were distributed under the name Ibanez. Notable pedals such as the TS808 (trademark of Stevie Ray Vaughan), the TS9 or the AD9 of Ibanez, in fact, are nothing more than circuits Maxon dressed by another designer.

Tip:Anyone who owns any Ibanez pedal from that era can easily verify that the board on which the components are welded bears the Maxon brand. It is strange but true. And today the Japanese house has decided to re-propose the faithful reissues, at least so it asserts, of its pedals of the time, maintaining the original design criteria and look. If there really is a difference it is in favor of Maxon, which produces the same pedal with better materials and circuit improvements.

Boss BD-2 Blues Driver Guitar Effects Pedal

The Boss BD2 Blues Driver is an all-round overdrive by Boss, dedicated explicitly to those who play the blues genre. This pedal, produced since 1995 and still in production, has been well thought out and can be considered an alternative version of the classic Boss OD3 Overdrive; the Blues Driver in fact turns out to be more aggressive but also clearer in the equalization, very versatile and able to interact well with other overdrive pedals or distortions.

It can be powered by internal 9v bar or by an external 9v power supply with 13mA absorption. If you think to buy this pedal used then be careful because those produced before 1997 require an external 12V power supply to work well.

Tip:Although at first glance may seem simple configuration because it has only 3 potentiometers, it often happens that the first use is not particularly affected by its sound. It takes time to find the right setting and get the most of the sound.

The Blues Driver can also be seen as an alternative version of the Boss SD1 Super Overdrive, another extremely versatile pedal, in fact, both behave pretty well as Clean Booster and, given their price, the relationship with the quality turns out to be great.

We recommend the Blues Driver if you are a lover of overdrive and you are looking for a versatile, if you need a cheap pedal to use as a booster and, of course, if the Blues is the kind that runs through your veins!

The Boss is a Japanese house specialized for years in the production of pedals for guitar and bass, some of which are very valid, very useful and also quite cheap.

Ibanez Tube Screamer Mini

In the common imagination of all guitarists there are some instruments and effects that have now become part of a small circle of irremovable elements. Within this mythological circle resides a pedal that among all has managed to carve out a place of honor in the heart, and on the pedalboard, of all guitarists. We are obviously talking about the Ibanez Tube Screamer, a pedal that, in some revisiting or close relative, has definitely passed in everyone’s pedalboard at least once.

  • It features a real analog tube screamer circuit;
  • The classic JRC4558 IC chip;
  • The same knob configuration as its larger siblings, TS-808/TS808HW.

The Tube Screamer Mini has three potentiometers: distortion, tone (regulates the amount of treble) and level (controls the output volume of the pedal).

Appearance of Tube Screamer on the market came in the late 1970s with the 808 series model. Considered by many as the definitive overdrive pedal, the TS-808 was popularized by names like Stevie Ray Vaughan and Eric Johnson. Its name comes from the sound it produces, much like a tube amplifier used at high volume. The sound of this pedal is distinguished from most by compressing the sound wave with very little loss of the original signal (creating a sound usually associated with certain types of blues). This pedal can be used with a transistor amplifier to mimic the sound typical of old tube amplifiers, although many guitarists prefer to use it on a tube amplifier to bring preamp valves to a state of saturation. The classic sound of a Tube Screamer accentuates the mid frequencies (between bass and treble) through a circuit. Many guitarists prefer this type of equalization as it helps to keep their sound from getting lost in the band mix.

Behringer Super Fuzz SF300

This effect pedal is ideal for electric guitars and recreates all the variety of famous Fuzz sounds of the 60s and 70s.

The fuzz is fantastic effects that give sounds that are impossible to replicate in any other way and today you can find on the market many models to choose from, both user friendly and those you must fight against. This Behringer version of fuzz has been designed to compete head to head with leading products on the market and have three sound modes: for classic fuzz, but good impact, very dynamic both as tones and for gain.

The fuzz category encompasses countless effects that are also very different from each other. They should not be treated as common overdrives or distortions, and you need to know how to insert them into your instrumentation to get the best out of it. To make the most of fuzz, use it first in the chain of pedals, immediately after the guitar. If we place some pedal before it, even if kept off, these will negatively affect its sound, in many cases cutting its dynamics and flattening the timbre.

Tip:Behringer is a German company based in Willich. It was founded by sound engineer Uli Behringer in 1989. Behringer produces, mostly in China, guitars and electric basses, pedals, amplifiers, mixers, microphones, recording studio equipment and DJs, among other products.

Behringer TO800 Vintage Tube Overdrive

Its function as the name suggests is that of Overdrive, it can be used for different purposes.  It is sold as a pedal that simulates the natural saturation of the tube amplifiers. This is a very intuitive pedal that has three simple potentiometers: Level that allows us to adjust the volume of the signal, Drive that allows us to adjust the degree of saturation of the effect and Tone that controls the equalization.

The pedal can be powered by an internal 9-volt battery or by the BEHRINGER PSU-SB DC power supply. The overdrive it generates is very warm and faithful; the drive potentiometer is quite dynamic and allows you to get different overdrive tones.

Tip:The best overdrive pedal for guitar is the one that is more similar to your way of playing and your taste, so the criterion to decide what it may be is strictly personal, so we suggest you try as many as possible and always use your guitar during the rehearsals, and not that of a friend or a shopkeeper, otherwise you risk that what could become your favorite distortion instead go unnoticed.

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1 Response

  1. Actually SD-1 from the Boss is a little better for the work and cheaper as well, not saying about improved quality. In the overall they all give like a “grit”, mostly due to the extra clipping diode.

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