Honey, I shrunk the Screamer (and it sounds just as freakin’ good).
It’s hard to imagine an age B.T.S. (Before Tube Screamer.) True, there were fuzzes and distortions, many of which could reasonably function as overdrives. But the Ibanez TS family changed the very meaning of the term overdrive, spawning legions of low- to mid-gain imitators. Both boutique builders and large manufacturers (including Ibanez) based an industry on alleged TS improvements. But to many in the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” camp, the classic Tube Screamer is still “the one.” For these purists, Ibanez’s latest creation, the Tube Screamer Mini, may be the only Tube Screamer that represents an actual improvement—not in sound or functionality, but in size. It’s a mere is 3.5" long and less than 1.5" wide.
Made in Japan, the Tube Screamer Mini is driven in part by the JRC4558 IC chip found in original TS-9s. The Mini’s controls are crammed into a green enclosure decked out with TS-808-style graphics. There’s a button-style footswitch, one big knob for drive, and two smaller knobs for tone and level. The small format means there’s no room for a 9V battery—you must us an AC adapter. (Given how many players rig their pedalboards with daisy-chained power supplies, this shouldn’t be a problem, unless you have an Eric Johnson-like fixation with battery types.)
Test Tube Twins
I tested the Tube Screamer Mini with an Ernie Ball/Music Man Axis Sport and a Mexican Fender Strat, both played through a Fender ’63 Vibroverb reissue. I also pulled out a vintage Tube Screamer to compare, setting the knobs on both pedals to the same spots: tone and overdrive around 1 o’clock, and level around 11 o’clock. At first it seemed as though the Mini had a bit more gain than the original, but when I advanced the bigger box’s drive knob a hair, I got near-identical sounds.
Authenticity tests out of the way, I enjoyed putting the little TS to work in real-world jamming situations. With overdrive set to 3 o’clock, tone at noon, and volume around 1 o’clock, I got a rich, creamy sound perfect for flashy blues licks and double-stop rhythm figures. Even with the gain up high, the Mini was incredibly responsive to dynamics. I could get a relatively clean sound on harmonically dense chords by using a gentle thumbpicking approach, while strong pick attack and power chords generated heavy crunch.
Keeping the same tone and volume settings but setting the drive to nearly nil, I got a thick boost that added body and just a hint of grit, lending my “clean” tone an exciting, multidimensional feel. The signature midrange emphasis of the Tube Screamer circuitry remained in this near-clean setting, adding presence and sustain. And what’s better than one TS? Try using the Mini as a clean boost to overdrive another Tube Screamer. If you like lively, midrange-heavy lead tones that can rise above a noisy band, you’ll love this setup.
There’s a reason the Tube Screamer is among the most popular pedals of all time—it’s a sort of tonal Swiss Army knife. It can function as an overdrive/boost, or add presence to an already hot signal. While the Mini is small enough to fit into a shirt pocket, don't be fooled—it’s 100-percent Tube Screamer. Even if you already own a Tube Screamer or TS-variant, there’s no reason not to pick up a Mini. With its broad range of great sounds, portable size, and attractive price, it can expand your tone palette in myriad ways—on the cheap, and without taking up much room.
Looking for more great gear for the guitar player in your life (yourself included!)? Check out this year's Holiday Gear Finds!
D'Addario XPND Pedalboard
DR-05X Stereo Handheld Recorder
Wampler Pedals Ratsbane
Outlaw Effects introduces their next generation of NOMAD rechargeable battery-powered pedal boards.
Available in two sizes, NOMAD ISO is a compact, versatile tool that offers the convenience of a fully powered board plus the additional freedom of not having to plug into an outlet. NOMAD ISO is ideal for stages with limited outlet availability, quick changeovers, busking outdoors, temporary rehearsal locations, and more!
NOMAD ISO builds upon the legacy of the ultra-convenient and reliable NOMAD rechargeable pedalboard line originally launched in 2018. The brand new NOMAD ISO editions feature eight isolated outputs (1 x 9V DC, and 1 switchable 9V/12V DC) for even more versatility and clean, quiet power. With an integrated lithium-ion battery pack boasting 12800mAh capacity, NOMAD ISO can fuel a wide array of pedals, and will last over 10 hours* on a single charge.
Each NOMAD ISO pedal board includes adhesive hook & loop pedal-mounting tape, eight (8) standard DC connector cables, and one (1) reverse polarity DC cable, giving you everything you need to build your ultimate "off-the-grid" rig. A rugged, road-ready padded gig bag with shoulder strap is also included, to safely protect your gear while you're on the move.
NOMAD ISO S: MSRP $309 / MAP: $249
Dimensions: 19 ¼" x 5 ¼"
NOMAD ISO M: MSRP $349 / MAP $279
Dimensions: 19 ¼" x 11"
More info: https://www.outlawguitareffects.com.
Dunable announce new Minotaur model featuring Grover Rotomatic Keystone tuners.
The Minotaur's DNA is rooted in their classic Moonflower model, which Dunable discontinued in 2017. However, they have long since wanted to create a fresh take on a carved top guitar design, and various attempts to rework the Moonflower led them to a brand new concept with the Minotuar.
Dunable's goal is to give the player a guitar that plays fast and smooth, sounds amazing, and gives maximum physical ergonomic comfort. The Minotaur's soft and meticulous contours, simple and effective control layout, and 25.5" scale length are designed to easily meet this criteria.
- 25.5" scale length
- Dual Humbucker
- one volume, one tone, push pull for coil splitting
- Grover Rotomatic Keystone tuners
- Grover Tune O Matic bridge with brass Kluson top-mount tailpiece
- jumbo nickel frets
- 12" fretboard radius
This full-amp-stack-in-a-box pedal brings a new flavor to the Guitar Legend Tone Series of pedals, Missing Link Audio’s flagship product line.
Adding to the company’s line of premium-quality effects pedals, Missing Link Audio has unleashed the new AC/Overdrive pedal. This full-amp-stack-in-a-box pedal – the only Angus & Malcom all-in-one stompbox on the market – brings a new flavor to the Guitar Legend Tone Series of pedals, Missing Link Audio’s flagship product line.
The AC/OD layout has three knobs to control Volume, Gain and Tone. That user-friendly format is perfect for quickly getting your ideal tone, and it also offers a ton of versatility. MLA’s new AC/OD absolutely nails the Angus tone from the days of “High Voltage” to "Back in Black”. You can also easily dial inMalcom with the turn of a knob. The pedal covers a broad range of sonic terrain, from boost to hot overdrive to complete tube-like saturation. The pedal is designed to leave on all the time and is very touch responsive. You can get everything from fat rhythm tones to a perfect lead tone just by using your guitar’s volume knob and your right-hand attack.
- Three knobs to control Volume, Gain and Tone
- Die-cast aluminum cases for gig-worthy durability
- Limited lifetime warranty
- True bypass on/off switch
- 9-volt DC input
- Made in the USA