Cusack’s Screamer V2 makes no bones about being inspired by Ibanez’s famous green stomp, but its 3-position clipping toggle—which selects between standard, “crushed,” and asymmetrical LED clipping—adds a welcome wrinkle to the three-knob formula. V2 has a good deal more saturation than classic Tube Screamers, and it’s a rich, toothy distortion that never feels thin or piercing, even with tone maxed. Further, its EQ response also lacks the TS’s characteristic midrange hump, so it sounds much more transparent whether you’re using it to get dirty or as a clean boost—though the amount of oomph on tap at minimal drive settings is somewhat modest.

But clipping modes are obviously the star attraction here. Their sonic differences are virtually indistinguishable with level and drive below noon, but past that more traditional players will love that standard mode yields a bristling, harmonically rich and very versatile distortion, while asymmetrical mode has a smoother, rounder, more amp-like response. (Think cranked, possibly modded vintage Fender.) Meanwhile, subversives will love that the V2 can get into gnarly, RAT-like territory in crushed mode.

 

Test gear: Squier Classic Vibe ’50s Tele with Nordstrand NVT A3 pickups, Goodsell Valpreaux 21 and 1x12 with Weber Blue Dog and Silver Bell speakers.

Clip 1 — Tele Bridge; off, then all 3 clipping modes with level and tone at noon and drive at max
Clip 2 — Tele Bridge and Neck; off then all 3 clipping modes with level and tone at noon and drive at 3 o'clock

Ratings

Pros:
Intriguingly flexible tone possibilities. No midrange hump. Solid build.

Cons:
Clipping-mode nuances disappear at lower drive settings. Distracting “clip-o-meter” and confusing dual-color status LED.

Street:
$185

Cusack Screamer V2
cusackmusic.com

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