It’s quite possibly the most cloned pedal of all time: the Ibanez Tubescreamer. With a heritage that stretches as far back as the late 1970s and a legacy of countless versions, that simple green box has become synonymous with iconic Ibanez tone.
This week on TPS, Dan & Mick returned to one of the earliest topics ever covered on the show by rounding up a series of Tubescreamers in a cage match with some recent contenders. Of the pedals on the board, the three that stole the show were recent entries in the mid-scooped gain game from JHS, Walrus, and Ryra.
The All-In-One Masterpiece of the JHS Bonsai
Through some blend of wizardry and circuitry, Josh Scott and the crew distilled a total of nine different Tubescreamer and inspired sounds into one stompbox. As you’d expect, these are not modelled sounds. Rather, by spinning a rotary knob you’re clicking through individual circuits of rare, vintage, and unforgettable green box sounds.
So what did Dan & Mick think? The faceoff between the original Tubescreamer 808 and the variation in the JHS Bonsai was, in the words of Mick, “pretty close.” With the shades of variation only in that “the mid-range is in a slightly different place and it feels like the JHS has a hair more bottom end.” When put in A/B with the Tubescreamer TS9 and TS10 the verdict was similar: a bit of boost on the lower-end and a tad more gain on tap if you wanted it. In the end, Mick concluded that “I was gonna put that [TS10] on my board, but that [Bonsai] is going on there. It just does the whole job and there’s settings in there that I prefer.”
Walrus Audio Rethinks Tubescreamer Contours with the Warhorn
What won the Warhorn the most points in the episode, was how it offered another take on mid-range gain but did so without the compression that often comes with Tubescreamer-type pedals. With the flick of a toggle, the compression disappeared for an open and organic overdriven sound. One of the real assets of this sound was that the transient attack was front and centre: you hit the note and you heard it with overdrive tucked around your tone.
In a broader perspective, Dan & Mick both noted that this type of simplicity and innovation is what keeps them coming back to Walrus gear. Mick commented, “We’ve said it before about Walrus and we’ll say it again, they bloomin’ know what they’re doing.” Dan responded, “I haven’t played anything of theirs yet that has not been spectacular.”
Cloning the Classic: They RYRA 808
Returning customers of TPS will know that the RYRA Klone Overdrive won both the Klon-Clone battle of an earlier episode and the title of Dan & Mick’s favorite take on the classic transparent drive tone. The 808, then, is RYRA’s take on the original Ibanez Tubescreamer. So how did this next clone fair? Both Dan & Mick agreed, it was one of the closest sounds to the original green machine they’ve heard in a while. So if you’re in the market for and 808 that’s not an 808, but nails that 808 sound, check out the RYRA 808!
As Dan & Mick drew things to a close, Mick commented that the world is overflowing with Tubescreamer clones and alike pedals. But the point of the episode was not to sort out “who does it best.” Rather, the lesson learned was that Tubescreamer-type pedals are not only for the SRV or Mayer fans in the room. As Mick noted, by pairing with a few different types of pickups and amps, the pedals offered up “just some really great rock sounds.”
If your board is in need of a little more green to take on your mid-range frequencies, head over to see us in store or online and we’ll help find your best Tubescreamer solution!
TPS Rig Rundown:
Guitars: Fender Custom Shop 1963 Telecaster, Fender John Mayer Signature Stratocaster, Collings I-30LC, Gibson Custom 1958 Les Paul Standard.
Pedals: D’Addario Pedal Tuner, Ibanez TS808, Ibanez TS9, Ibanez TS10, Hudson Sidecar, JHS Bonsai, Walrus Audio Warhorn, RYRA The 808, Boss SD-1w Super Overdrive, JHS Panther Cub V2 Delay, Empress Reverb.
Amps: Audio Kitchen Big Chopper & 2×12 cabinet, Fender Super Reverb.