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Best of Mini, Compact, Medium and Large Tube Screamer Style Pedals

Boost and OverdriveEarthQuaker DevicesFoxpedalKHDKPLBR EffectsTubescreamer Style Overdrive+-
2018GPX4SizeTubeScreamers700-min.jpg

I have featured most of these usual suspects before - with the exception of the PLBR Effects Floral Green which I’ve only briefly just touched on in ’Glance’. In my opinion these are the most formidable Tube Screamer Pedals for each of their given enclosure sizes. None of these are your typical classic TS808 or TS9 replicas, but all offer significant additional voicing and tone-sculpting controls.

 

Even though I have a number of Tube Screamer type pedals, I currently only have one of the above in my collection - the very versatile Foxpedal The City V2 - which gives you voicing and EQ options along with separate independent boost! I had debated long whether to feature this or the equally exceptional JHS Bonsai which I also use a lot - in the end I decided that the extended tonal and gain range of The City was the more ’tweakable’ choice overall - while the Bonsai does offer a similar sort of thing from a different angle, but with just single tone control pot throughout - and no way to flatten the typical mid-hump frequency profile.

 

On the mini side, the KHDK Ghoul Jr gives you additional Voice (Gain) and Style (EQ Shift) toggles to give your screamer a considerably larger range. While PLBR’s Floral Green loads up just about as much as it can within a medium enclosure - with 8 different clipping modes across dual channels, and with Brightness and Fat/Gain toggle switches.

 

Finally the Palisades from Earthquaker Devices is the Mac Daddy of all Tube Screamer types with an unprecedented range of features across two channels with additional separate boost footswitch, 6 Voicing options and 5 Bandwidth (EQ shift) options. In some ways I view the PLBR Floral Green as a sort of Jr version of the Palisades as there is a significant degree of similarity if you look close enough.

 

If you want to set up your pedalboard around the Tube Screamer style as your core sound - then the Palisades is the one for you, if it’s rather one of many flavours, then possibly it is more advantages to use one of the more compact enclosure versions here. Each of these is my preferred choice for its size, and most players should be happy with any of these - providing they are of course in the market for that signature mid-hump overdrive tone. Of course there are differences in core frequency profiles here - but the more fully-featured ones here can help you smooth out those differences.

 

Pedals listed per enclosure size from small to large.


KHDK Ghoul Jr - £99

I have several mini Tube Screamer types - including versions from Ibanez, Keeley and OneControl. The Ghoul Jr though gives you a little more versatility with its two 3-way toggle switches - Voice and Style. The former is your EQ shift really with options to boost bass and mid-range, while the Style switch gives you three different levels of gain / headroom. I've had this one on my wishlist for a while and will acquire eventually - it's a really handy pedal to have for a versatile boost or mid-enhanced overdrive - especially when space is tight.


Foxpedal The City V2 - $239

Foxpedal is / was one of my favourite pedal brands, I thought they had disappeared for good, but reappeared again around spring time I think it was. In any case they've not re-established their distribution network really - so you need to go direct if you want this really capable pedal. Its 5 dials - Drive, Tone, Level, Boost, Body plus 3 switches - Clip, Flat, Presence and separate Boost footswitch give you a superbly versatile Tube Screamer in such a compact form factor. This was for a long time my favourite of this type before I replaced it temporarily with the JHS Bonsai - for alternating rotation. I really like both those pedals, but selected The City for its great live-playback flexibility. Right now I am experimenting somewhat with my pedal-chain and there is no Tube Screamer type deployed momentarily - while I think I will probably revert back to The City when I decide to include such again - and use the Bonsai on more occasional rotation.


PLBR Effects Floral Green - $160

This is another fantastic Croatian pedal-maker alongside Dawner Prince and DryBell - of which to date I have acquired his Narwhal Fuzz. He has just 3 pedals to the range - including this exceptional Tube Screamer type and another great medium-sized fuzz - the Maritimus, which I will likely acquire too eventually. As mentioned in the intro, I see this very much as a more compact version of EQD's Pallisades with a number of sort of similarities in having dual gain channels, 8 different clipping modes here, alongside 3 different Fat / Gain modes. I think this is an excellent combination of form and function and because of its more compact size I personally sort of prefer it to the still more versatile EQD Pallisades.


Earthquaker Devices Palisades - £245

Just as you see many players base their pedalboard around a key overdrive sound - where the Analog.Man King of Tone is frequently the popular choice, you do also see a smattering of players for whom the Palisades is the core to their overdriven sounds. There is no doubt that the Palisades is the reigning king of the kitchen sink approach to Tube Screamer - with its larger enclosure size needed to accommodate the triple footswitches, 7 dials and 2 toggle switches. The key dials here are the larger Voice (x6) and Bandwidth (x5) controls - the former of which engages a range of different clippings for different degrees of compression, gain and headroom, while the Bandwitch is a sort of EQ shift dial which gives you different emphasis on the frequency profile - more / less mids, bass and treble. You finally have a Brightness switch and 3-way Buffer selector. So if you are in love with the Tube Screamer sound and want the maximum range of possibilities available for this genre, then this is your pedal. For a lot of players though it's a little on the large size - there's no doubting its high fidelity credentials though.


Final Thoughts

I am quite a fan of the Tube Screamer even though that currently none are employed in my pedal-chain, while that is probably just a temporary measure. I used to use The City in all manner of ways - and of course as an essential boost and overdrive - I really liked its versatility and range, and am not convinced I really need much more.

 

If I did need a little more though, I would likely pick up a Floral Green rather than a Pallisades as it does much the same thing but in a more compact enclosure. In truth there is nothing out there still that fully approaches the comprehensiveness of the Palisades so it really does depend on how much of a feature you want to make the Tube Screamer within your pedalboard or pedal-chain. There are of course a number of players who deploy the Palisades, but significantly more who rely rather on a Marshall -style say Blues-Breaker or Plexi type.

 

In any case I feel these are the best candidates for the task for the different enclosure sizes, and has reported I could see myself getting both the Ghoul Jr and Floral Green at some stage, even though I would still probably have a preference to deploy The City - which is really versatile with its independent Boost footswitch.

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