Unless you’ve been off-planet for a while, you’ll know Tube Screamer derivatives are popular stuff. T-Rex’s Diva, though, is a Screamer with enough twists to make you forget it’s TS-inspired. It’s dynamic, multi-voiced, and twitchingly alive, and one of the more satisfying TS-style stomps we’ve played in a while.
The Diva’s guts are built around the 4558 op-amp that drives most TS-style designs. It sits prominently on the PC board, though the board itself could be a bit tidier. I saw several traces of errantly applied solder sealer—not what you expect from an overdrive pedal just under 200 bucks. In general, though the Diva feels sturdy and sound.
The control set differs from a simple TS circuit in two important respects: There’s a voicing switch incorporating low- and mid-boost settings, and there’s a mix control that blends clean and overdriven signals. Together, they considerably expand the Diva’s tone potential.
The Diva doesn’t add much color at low-gain settings, but you do hear a deliciously rich, almost silky growl. Leaving the mix knob at 50/50 gave my blackface Tremolux heft, presence, and a hot harmonic glow in EQ regions that sometimes sound scooped and lifeless. The Diva is addictive in these near-clean boost applications—a sort of musical roux that thickens and unites disparate sonic flavors. The complex, biting qualities of the Diva at low-gain settings also make it a natural partner for fuzz. Put in on either side of a squishy, scooped fuzz like a Big Muff or Shin-Ei FY2, it adds definition, punch, presence, and pick sensitivity that is transformative.
The Diva is just as thrilling at higher gain settings. With the gain at noon (and enhanced with liberally applied doses of volume boost), the Diva makes a guitar feel alive and explosive under the fingers. TS-style circuits can feel less dynamic, but the compression from the Diva tends to sound and feel just right. Note-to-note definition and picking response is excellent—particularly when you dial in the very effective tone knob just right. It’s a very rangy control, and at high levels it can even be a little too hot and sizzly for bright Fender amps or Marshalls.
The voicing switch adds even more flexibility. The fat switch was a perfect match for my Fender-based tone equation. And the extra mass it lent to single-coils mated to a Marshall made the amp feel wrecking-ball dangerous. The mid-boost voice could get spiky, but it sounded fantastic with squishy tweed-style circuits.
At it’s best, the Diva is a sort of sonic secret sauce and a splash of Tabasco all in one—adding sass, spice, and a delicious harmonic fattiness to dull tones.—Charles Saufley
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