I’ve long been a champion of quality mini pedals - which are weirdly often derided and dismissed by the more cork-sniffer element of the guitar fraternity, while most now realise that in several scenarios the mini editions are often the right choice.
It’s been a while since I wrote my ’Rise in Near Equivalent Mini Guitar Effects Pedals’ article - which touched on how major brands were starting to put out highly quality reduced size formats of their flagship pedals. The Ibanez Mini Tube Screamer was of course included in that roundup and was one of 9 key pairs I featured then - alongside Keeley’s similarly Tube-Screamer-ish Red Dirt Overdrive.
The Mini Tube Screamer is in fact the only ’authentic’ Tube Screamer as such that I possess - even though I have at least a dozen Screamer variant pedals in that adjacent category, and would rotate the Mini Tube Screamer with my Keeley Red Dirt Mini and OneControl Persian Green Screamer.
So the Tube Screamer Mini was my first here and actually a really decent candidate for most players - while I still feel it’s a very near match rather than an exact match to its slightly larger predecessors. My second acquisition here was the 5-controls Super Metal - which features rather uniquely for a mini format - two dual-concentric control knobs - the first for Edge (Treble) and Punch (Bass), and the Second for Attack (Bite / Presence) and Level - with the main large knob being Drive of course.
I kind of stalled on the 850 Fuzz mini - as I could not decide which format to get this circuit in - the original 850 Overdrive compact size, this mini edition or the Maxon D&S OD-801 which are all the exact same circuit. I’m kind of leaning towards getting the Mini first - and then adding its larger sibling if I feel I really need that too.
I always get drawn in by the Drive/Dirt pedals first - as is the case here, while probably the most impressive thing about this range is its genuine Analog modulations and delay. The Chorus, Flanger and Tremolo are all really excellent and don’t have too much competition in these areas - there are relatively very few analog modulations in Mini format. Similar goes for the Analog Delay - which is actually a fantastic stand-in of sorts for Boss’s DM-2W.
The mini tuner here is decent, but would not be my first choice up against the TC Electronic PolyTune Mini or Sonic Research ST-300 Turbo Tuner Mini. The only notable missing part in the range currently is a phaser - but that’s kind of understandable considering how exceptional MXR’s Mini Phase 95 is - which of course I already have!
My own likeliest next acquisition here is the Mini 850 Fuzz, while I would love to have all the Analog pedals too as secondary backups for my pedal-chain - for when I’m rotating in a particularly large pedal for one of the adjacent slots - and need a smaller footprint understudy to substitute for some of my existing contingent. I run both analog and digital modulations - while my analog modulations consist of chorus, flanger, phaser and tremolo - and very occasionally Uni-VIbe. I already have the MXR Phase 95 for my mini setup - so these others would come in real handy for certain scenarios.
I currently don’t possess any analog delay pedals - so the Analog Delay Mini here would be a nice to have for me while not really an essential - as I always have a Delay Workstation or two or three in my chain!
Here follow the individual details :
Everything is present and correct here with those 3 classic controls - Tone, Level and Overdrive. As stated, this is my only 'authentic' Tube Screamer to-date - while I actually have 3 mini Tube Screamer style pedals - this one, the Keeley Red Dirt Mini and the OneControl Persian Green Screamer Mini. I feel this one is about 97% there compared to its larger siblings - I certainly get slightly richer / fuller-sounding Tube Screamer voicings with my other minis, and with my favourite 'full-size' tube-screamer-alikes - including the Jackson Audio Broken Arrow, JHS Bonsai, and Foxpedal The City V2. Many players prefer its slightly more neutral tone though - and for players just using this to boost the front-end of their amp - why not save some pedalboard space by making best use of this format!
This is Ibanez's celebrated refined take on the EHX Big Muff - with a significantly evolved circuit from the originals developed by Maxon as the Ibanez Overdrive OD 850 and simultaneously as its own D&S (Distortion & Sustainer) OD-801. As a Big Muff fan I had always intended to get one of these - but kind of got caught up in deciding whether I should go for the Ibanez Compact or Mini, or Maxon variety. I kind of decided that I wanted the 850 - and have decided now to go for the Mini first - which will most likely be my next acquisition here.
I'm ever a fan of high-gain / metal pedals and snap up interesting and intriguing variations on that theme when I come across them. What first drew me to this was actually it's highly rare dual-concentric knobs - which are seldom seen on larger pedals - and hardly ever on a mini. This obviously miniaturises Ibanez's former full-size Super Metal Distortion with all controls intact. You have Edge (Treble) + Punch (Bass), and the Second for Attack (Bite / Presence) + Level - and the third larger dial is of course 'Drive'. This pedal isn't quite as aggressive or loud as I would want necessarily - but it's a decent enough proposition with plenty of variety - the knobs don't have particularly extensive range to them, and for sure we could have done with a little more gain and output - while the tone it generates is still pleasant enough as far as that goes.
While I feel each of the other pedals in the range have a certain degree of first choice validity across the whole of the mini class, I kind of find that the Big Mini Chromatic Tuner is rather perfunctory - compared with something a little more clever like the TCE Electronic PolyTune Mini or Sonic Research ST-300 Turbo Tuner Mini - which would certainly be my preferences here. There are lots of half decent mini tuners - in fact dozens really, and I'm really not sure the Big Mini does enough to distinguish itself within the category. It does admittedly have quite a cool strobe mode which may elevate it for some - while I feel I feel many or most even would have other preferences over and above this particular tuner.
When I look at the Analog Delay I always immediately think mini DM-2W - as that is essentially what you're getting here - a proper BBD analog delay - with 3 classic controls - Repeat, Blend and Delay Time and 20-600ms of delay time. Most agree that this is a great sounding analog delay that genuinely punches well above its weight - this is just a great sounding analog delay pedal that most players should appreciate. I've mentioned that I don't really need it, but I'd really quite like it! I'm already down to get the Boss DM-2W really just as part of a larger task to assemble all the Waza Craft editions, and in many ways I'm collecting mini equivalents too of most of my key pedal choices - so this would not go amiss either - especially if I come across one at the right sort of price.
I've gained a new-found love for everything Chorus - with my new VS Audio Alchemy Analog BBD Chorus - I pretty much use it on most things these days - to add sparkle to cleans and texture and definition to overdrives and distortions in particular. There's something special about the watery fluid consistency of BBD choruses which so appeals. I actually don't have that many choruses to my name - so there is certainly room for more! This is a fantastic Mini Analog Chorus - and something I would definitely want to pick up at some stage - especially for when I'm rearranging my pedal-chain with some over-sized pedals.
Flanger is another of my favourite analog modulations - where I'm well served currently by my superb ThorpyFX Camoflange, I also have a Buffalo FX Reticon Flanger en-route, with the Chase Bliss Audio Spectre, Modded Boss BF-2 and A/DA PBF flangers as backups. I would love to have this Ibanez mini flanger too for emergencies! For when my current iteration of the pedal-chain features too many over-sized pedals and I need to cut real-estate in other areas. The Ibanez analog modulations would seem ideal for that purpose.
Another all-analog circuit for Ibanez's Mini Tremolo - which will be giving the Mooer Optical Trelicopter and JHS Tidewater some very heavy competition for mini Tremolo supremacy. Here you have 4 controls actually - with a Level trimpot on the left-hand side of the pedal, while the main controls are Wave (Triangle > Square), Speed and Depth. This is a great sounding amp-style tremolo with plenty of warmth and richness and a great pedal to have in your toolbox. I already have a number of tremolo pedals - including the Mooer Trelicopter - the Ibanez Tremolo Mini would be another welcome addition for sure.
You have 4 segments here really - drive pedals, analog modulation, analog delay, and tuner. I feel there are likely several better alternatives to the mini tuner, while all these others would be amongst my first choice if not the first choice in its category.
As I have two of the drive elements already - it kind of makes sense to round up that part before starting on the rest - so the 850 Fuzz Mini is very much the likeliest next acquisition. And then any and all of the Analog pedals here.
All of these are nice-to-have for my own pedal-chain really as I already have numerous preferred full-size choices with backups in all slots - but as mentioned - the sizing of slots can vary as different pedals come into rotation. So at some stage I may need to sacrifice some real-estate to a larger pedal - which means these Minis come more into play.
Those acquisitions will undoubtedly be opportunistic - and if I come across any significantly discounted they will be quickly snapped up - as they're already all under the magic £100 threshold! I would be aiming to get them as close to £60-£60 as possible.
If you were considering doing a mini-board - then there are some great candidates for you here - particularly in the analog contingent, and for more regularly sized boards - these are exceptional stand-ins when and where you are limited for space.
I can see myself owning all of these eventually - besides the tuner. Anything here take your fancy?