Cost: $99.99 new
This pedal was purchased to be my main overdrive pedal and it hasn’t left my board since.
How It Works and Final Score: 9.2
Maybe the most well known overdrive of all time, the Tube Screamer has stood the test of time due to its reliability and straight-up-great tone. It’s hard to even really criticize this pedal, as even this reissue version is truly fantastic. It features a simple 3 control knob format, with Drive, Tone, and Level and even the original sea sick green color scheme. Drive controls the level of gain, tone controls the amount of treble, and output simply controls the volume of the pedal. Nothing crazy to see here.
The sound is just dead on original, maybe because it is made in the same factory and with the same parts as the original TS9. This is one of the rare cases where a reissue is made exactly the same as the predecessor, but doesn’t cost hundreds of dollars or come from a boutique maker. The pedal board friendly dimensions make it a must have for blues, classic rock, or even country guitarists. Through a tube amp, it pushes the tubes to output that warm, full, sizzling overdrive tone that hundreds of guitarists have used.
When you crank the drive, you begin to move towards distortion territory, while still retaining great clarity and touch sensitivity. One of the best parts of the design, is that it is built to always retain a small amount of your original signal, which creates a more textured, dynamic tone. Even on a solid state amp’s clean channel, the TS9 still retains that tube amp feel and tone, especially that “sizzle” drive. It works great as a boost for already distorted amps too, which makes it a great option for players who switch between two or more amp channels.
I have owned this pedal for years without any issues what so ever, and so much of that is because of the original design. When they began building these, they just got it right from the start. They’ve lasted for decades and I have no doubt this one will too, pedals with this track record should really raise no concerns in the durability department.
While the tones are superb, and the $99.99 isn’t outlandish, it takes a few knocks because of the sheer volume of great drive and distortion pedals on the market for less. You will not regret spending money on this pedal whatsoever, but if unless you’re going for that vintage TS9 tone, there are likely cheaper, and still impressive drives available like the Boss SD-1, or pedals with extra features such as the Dr. J Emerald Drive and it’s built in boost feature.