The 6 Best Tube Screamer Pedals (2018 Reviews)
Posted in Gear | Last Updated on September 27, 2018
When it comes to getting the desired sound of your guitar, a good starting point is to choose from clean and a good saturated or distorted sound.
To get to this, distortion and overdrive pedals are your perfect ally to achieve a very "crunchy and compressed" sound output.
The overdrive pedals produce a natural and crunchy sound. Overdriving your valve amplifier is adding sustain and harmony, even when feedback occurs. And, by combining the overdrive with a boost pedal, you get a very powerful rock tone.
Due to this, and the limitless possibilities that it carries, the combination of different overdrive and distortion pedals in the effects chain has become an essential tool in the language of electric guitar players.
In this article, we are going to talk about what you need to look for when searching for a tube screamer clone pedal, and, in the end, round up some of the best options in the market.
For the impatient
After making comparisons, denoting the prices, pros and cons of these overdrive pedals, we can define the best pedal based on its quality, use of energy, compatibility in a chain of sound effects and resistance. In this case, we chose to highlight JHS Bonsai as best choice.
Although it more expensive than the other models in our list, it is a pedal highly designed to take you in a sequence of sounds from the 70s to the type of popular music today.
It has old variations, which rare or hard to find in many Screamer allowing you to experiment and try various effects while you search for that unique style we all look for.
If you like the overdrive, this is a great pedal for you. Most of the time the special settings OD-1, TS808, TS7, Keeley and JHS provide the crisp tone at some point you might need for rock, hard rock, and even some metal effects.
The Bonsai includes nine old versions and often difficult to find in the overdrive, and since it is a purely analog design, this pedal is a replica, not a sound emulation of other products.
However, it has a rougher but lighter sound than a regular Tube Screamer. And in the comparison of modes, Bonsai has a more granular emphasis in the upper middle range.
Besides, it generates a cleaner impulse, smooth overdrive, and improved sound clarity. Thus, making the JHS Bonsai 9 Way Screamer Overdrive your best choice overall.
The Budget Option
On the other hand, although there are several good models, when considering the best product for the amount of money it costs, it is the Joyo JF-01 Vintage Overdrive.
While its sold on laughable price, it works wonders with the sound of the guitar, being essentially a clone of the dinacomp MXR and the classic recreation of the Tube Screamer effect that provides a warm separation driven by a tube.
This model responds very well to the individual touch and the sense of dynamics. Allowing you to both use it as a great component of your effects chain or as a sole effect pedal for both clean and overdrive effects.
Since the departure of Ibanez T9 several decades ago, the overdrive has become a constant war market. The pedal that you choose must go according to your budget, but keep in mind that this equipment tends to last for years and you will surely want to choose according to the variety, adaptability and sound quality before any other feature.
Reviews of the Top 6 Best Tube Screamer Pedal
Danelectro Billionaire BP-1 Pride of Texas Effect Pedal
Danelectro has been manufacturing some of the most beloved pedals in the guitar world for decades. This pedal recreates those incredible Texas Blues overdrive tones.
Also, this pedal has a fantastic red and cream aesthetic and includes a padded bag as a case.
When unpacking these pedals, it becomes apparent that they took great pains in the presentation. Each pedal comes in a soft bag to protect the high-quality finish and with foam to protect the knobs in the shipment.
The box includes an instruction sheet of 10 basic sounds that go from a simple, clean impulse to a very good emulation of Tube Screamer of the 90's era.
The stompbox is the Danelectro version of one of the best Lone Star State guitarists. It offers signals of single-coil or humbucker without generating a loss of clarity, the sound above all is reminiscent of a Tube Screamer but with a much softer and creamier sound.
This "Pride of Texas" is an emulation of a Fender Quad Reverb, so the highs and lows have a wide range but are not harsh. These pedal do not have batteries and need a power supply.
Finally, each unit has a bright purple LED to show when it is turned on, and soft-twist plastic knobs in tones that match the 'custom car colors' on the chassis.
- Made in sturdy metal boxes
- True bypass
- Finish sprayed by hand
- Its design is easy to use
- A wide range of treble and bass
- It has a clean sound and deep bass tones
- The manufacturer's warranties may not apply in all cases.
The Pride of Texas focuses on sound, allowing the user to adjust the bottom and achieve a very eloquent and inspiring experience.
Even outside the world of blues, it proves to be a very capable pedal in almost any context in which it would benefit from a medium-quality gain unit.
JHS Bonsai 9 Way Screamer Overdrive Pedal
This is probably one of the most produced and sold pedals in history. Bonsai uses a rotary knob to switch through nine classic variations, old, rare or hard to find in any Screamer.
It should be noted that this pedal is not emulation in different ways. They are exact replicas of these nine units, all housed in a single box.
When you choose a mode on the Bonsai, you are activating specific components for each mode and playing the unit you have chosen along with all the peculiarities, drift, vintage style and individuality that a vintage pedal has.
The Bonsai overdrive has these nine modes:
- OD-1: A brighter and slightly higher mode that does not use the Tone knob. This mode also reverses the signal like the original and has an asymmetric cutout.
- TS-808: Has that firm mid-range signature.
- TS-9: Almost identical to the TS-808, but with a slightly lower mid-range range.
- MSL, Power or L Series: This sound does not represent the modern metallic disc. However, it has a higher gain sound with a lower touch and a stickier general feel.
- TS-10: Used at the end of the 80's. It generates a crunchier sound, initially popularized by John Mayer.
- Exar OD-1: It has a subtly different driving character with a slightly more transparent feel.
- TS-7 (mode +): Gives you the highest gain sound in the Bonsai. Lower and dirty sounds fill the tone.
- Keeley Mod Plus Provides smoother mid and high frequencies and improved bass response.
- JHS Strong Mod: A mode that has been used since 2008 and is cleaner and, in general, more powerful.
- Classic sounds sets of nine Tube screamer styles in one pedal
- Old, rare or hard-to-find variations in many Screamer
- Each pedal is replicated individually using the Precision Audio Analyzer
- Exact replication, it is not emulation
- This pedal classifies as an expensive product
With the JHS Pedals Bonsai, you can get the classic sounds of nine Tube screamers on a single pedal. No doubt it is a very complete pedal that will help you to relive the sounds worked from the 70s to the present.
Joyo JF-01 Vintage Overdrive Guitar Effect Pedal
This is an excellent pedal, and its controls allow you to create easy adjustments when needed with no problem, especially useful if you are in concert mode and do not have time to adjust your sound.
You can have a significant change of sound, from something subtle to something more intrepid and energetic. The pedal turns out to be very silent, without any noticeable background noise.
The Joyo JF-01 Overdrive pedal is proof that you do not need to spend as much to get exactly the same type of sound and effect as the originals or other clones and the quality of construction is surprisingly strong if you relate it to its price. It is made of metal and feels solid.
The battery is easy to replace and does not run out quickly as you would expect from an economical pedal.
The Joyo Overdrive uses the same JRC4558 chip found in the more expensive models, and you can get a nice blues sound, and the overdrive sounds excellent on its own without using the amplifier distortion.
The pedal offers warm connotations when used as a clean volume boost and when shortened to 11, it has a tone that resembles a classic over-powered valve amplifier.
Without making sacrifices in the sound output quality, this pedal accurately clones the original spirit and grunt of the classic overdrive 'screamer' pedal series, but at a fraction of the price.
Whether you play classic rock, modern rock or hard, country, blues or rock-a-billy, then this pedal will quickly become a must on your board.
The Joyo Vintage Overdrive JF-01 is a clone of Ibanez Classic Tube Screamer with soft overdrive and sustain.
The Tube Screamer of the Joyo version has a cloudy midrange, which allows you to hear more clarity in the interpretation of your guitar. It also has a higher gain range than the standard TS.
- 9V battery included and 9V DC power connection
- Quality switch, tone, volume, and drive knobs
- Stompbox-style DPDT switch for clean and quiet switching
- Special offers and product promotions
- The tone knob has a limited usable range.
If you are looking for a good pedal tube screamer or cheap overdrive, this TS clone can fit almost any budget as it offers the overdrive of soft and classic sound you want at a meager price.
Caline USA Digital Overdrive Guitar Effect Pedal
This is one of the best sound pedals, its tone is warm, and everything is very versatile. It has 4 settings: gain, volume, bass and treble, and can go from really clean to really dirty very fast.
In addition to its pleasant sound, this pedal is economical compared to other models. This overdrive saturates the amplifier precisely as it should, but the noise level that it makes possible would not be useful in a studio.
When using the pedal, the dynamics are there, and it is not overly compressed as with other overdrive pedals. It is very transparent because it does not color the tone of your guitar and the bass and treble control work well.
The quality of construction is unique and excellent. It is very dynamic and performs massive sweeps and changes of tone, much more dramatic in each round.
The pedal is sensitive, but it is not difficult to dial the way you want, and you can adapt the treble or bass, in general, more efficient than most native equalizer controls on an amplifier.
It can also be used as a clean impulse by reducing the gain and increasing the volume, which offers a significant boost.
- Small appearance, it is convenient to carry.
- True bypass, it gives you a variety of sounds.
- A wide range of harmonic content that can help you capture your ideal voice.
- It is easy to operate, suitable for electric guitar.
- Very effective EQ that allows you to adapt the overdrive sound settings
- Generates noise
- The LED is too bright
- Weak body materials
The sound quality is incredible for a pedal of this price. It's terrific, better than pedals with prices 3-5 times more expensive.
TC Electronic MojoMojo Overdrive Pedal
This is the right pedal for you if you like to be able to have real control of the sound vibration of your overdrive pedal and adjust its tonal attack until it suits your needs.
It has excellent features if you take into account the price and it is very good emulating the tone of the natural overdrive pedals.
MojoMojo Overdrive works with a true bypass pedal, with one single plug input and an output jack, along with a LED light for the pedal status and its standard on/off switch.
What makes it unique are the extended controls. Four commands and a Voicing switch are not typical for this budget. The controls are handy, and that makes a difference in the final tone mix.
It has four knobs and a switch: Drive, level, bass, treble, and a voice switch.
The Drive knob allows you to adjust the gain level determining if the pedal will traduce the sound with a light pulse or a crushing roar and distortion. While the "Level" is a knob that works as in all pedals: determining the amount of effect given to a sonic mixture.
The bass and treble knobs are used respectively to control the overdrive effect of these tones.
And finally, the voice switch will work for you when you are looking for a strong mid-range boost.
While its controls can give you a wider range of control, the key is to know how to control it, get to know the product and adapt.
- Total control of overdrive sounds
- True Bypass - zero loss of tone
- Voice switch
- Easy access to the battery
- Without power cable included
- Sacrifices sound quality over control leaving it behind others at this price range
The MojoMojo Overdrive has a good sound output, and great versatility accompanied with construction quality above its level. Ideal for intermediate players but not a good fit for a professional pedal board.
Mugig Distortion Guitar Effect Pedal
This pedal offers a classic British distortion style, it has a very compressed sound in both clean and OD modes, although it can be used with an amplifier because the gain tones are good.
As a budget chaser item, the Mugig counts with a low price, but also sacrifices some important variations of the pedal versatility, working with only 3 knobs to adjust the sound effects.
Unlike other options in our list, this pedal goes for bright and normal sound only, offering no overdrive distortion through its true bypass and counting with less power output.
Besides, it has a very hollow tone, like when a wah-wah pedal is turned on approximately halfway. Absorbs all the tone of the guitar and it is difficult to get a usable, stable tone.
It counts with solid construction and its substantial change. But the sound output is quite soft, and it has a high noise factor.
Besides, is not recommended for you to use the pedal in environments of high temperature, high humidity or below zero, nor use the pedal where it has contact with direct sunlight.
- Very low price
- High durability
- Good construction quality
- Low sound quality and strength
- Low versatility
Buyer's Guide: What to take into account in a tube screamer?
Before buying a tube screamer, you must take into account the power, the number of channels or modes and effects and the sound that emits every time it is connected.
While there are some who have an infinity of modes, if you do not plan to use them much, it is best to opt for a pedal overdrive for guitar with less or no effect, since they have a lower cost.
The overdrive pedals make up the sound by saturating it, thus achieving a soft, sweet and deep distortion.
Although the vast majority of pedals operate at 9V DC, which is the current supplied by a PP3 battery, some pedals require more voltage.
Therefore, if you want to build your own effects pedalboard, it is best to use an isolated power supply, which will also avoid any kind of unwanted noise.
Another aspect you must take into account is the amperage, especially if you use digital pedalboards such as Line 6 or Strymon, in which you must determine with certainty the amount of amperage they need to operate.
Channels: Buffer or True bypass?
Actually, you should not obsess over the issue of whether it is a buffer or true bypass in the effects, while the loss of tone is not considerable.
The true bypass came as a "solution" to the slight loss of tone when the buffer is turned off. However, the effectiveness of the True bypass is affected by the distance: the longer the cord is, the more probably the sound is going to be affected.
There are great pedals that work with good buffer and that do not really suffer any problem in the aspect of "sucking tone" or loss of tone.
A well-implemented buffer does not affect the signal almost at all, and it is practically impossible to notice it. The problem comes when you chain several buffers in a row or when the quality of the buffers is not good.
Now, the loss of tone that happens in the True bypass is by distance. What distance? Approximately 20 meters. This will also depend on the quality or resistance of the cable.
The resistance of a cable and the capacity of a cable generates a filter for bass that in any circumstance causes the highest frequencies to be attenuated.
If the cable is too long or is of poor quality, the value of the resistance or capacity will increase making the filter for lowers lower its cutoff frequency and directly influence the signal of your guitar.
What about pedalboards?
As for the pedalboards, there are these loose pedals that can carry a very high amount of effects, and with an input cable, another output and a power supply is more than enough.
They also have their advantage regarding portability and how compact many of these pedalboards can be, in addition to the weight.
They can even function as sound cards. However, if one button is damaged, it may affect the other settings of the other effects, and the effects most of the time will be pretty basic.
As you noticed, choosing your tube screaming pedal is quite simple. In the list below, we picked some great models for you to review.
We hope this guide is useful for you, remember to share with your friends and tell us about your experience buying the best tube screaming clone pedals in the comments.