Price paid: $ 40
Purchased from: Guitar Center
Ease of Use: When I usually buy a product and choose to review it, I don't enjoy using fluff. I get to the point with my reviews, and they usually need no clarification. For once, however, I've made the inexplicable decision to really go out of my way to prove what this pedal means to me. Perhaps its because, unlike most pedals, there are no reviews out for it yet. In fact, I don't even know anyone else who has played through one of these, none the less owned one. I must state, however, that out of all the equipment I've owned and used, it's most often the simplest mechanisms which I utilize the most, and the Screaming Bird is one of those simple, yet essential pieces of gear.
The Screaming Bird is a simple Nano-line pedal produced by Electro-Harmonix in New York City, USA: it comes in a small, aluminum casing, measuring 4.25x2.25x1.125. Small enough to fit on your pedal board, but durable enough that it doesn't get beat up by larger pedals. It's light, however; it doesn't have the presence of something like a Crybaby, so it can't take as much pushing from the feet before it starts to slide. It's extremely easy to use: one button, one knob. The Switch turns the pedal on and off, which is indicated by a large 1/8 red LED in the middle of the pedal. The knob adjusts the treble boost. It's self explanatory and couldn't be any easier to use. // 10
Sound: The Screaming Bird offers a clear treble boost of up to +20DBs. It really does, in fact, scream like a bird (and if you, too, have ever owned birds, you know what I'm talking about). The adjustable boost can add a little punch and cut to a lead sound, or some twang to a rhythm player. When turned up all the way, the sound is reminiscent or a far-off recording or something coming through an old, filtered radio. Of course, good sound is subjective to criticism, so while not every player would appreciate a high boost, I can at least vouch that the boost is clean, noise-free, and really does make your sound cut through a mix.
I play with the Screaming Bird on an LTD EC-400AT and an Ibanez AF75T through a Vox AD50VT and a Fender '65 Twin Reverb. These are two totally different amps, and I actually did get quite a different response. This is the main reason the pedal can't get a perfect 10 for sound: not every player can utilize it the same way. On the Vox, a hybrid modeling amp, the treble seems VERY punchy, sharp, and twangy. When turned on high, it was almost a little too trebly for my tastes. On the Fender, the boost seemed smoother and the difference between having the pedal on and off was noticeable yet more pleasant to the ears. In my opinion, use of the pedal in combination with equalization is definitely going to depend on your amplifier; on the Vox, it would seem reasonable to use onboard EQ primarily and keep the pedal down low; with the Fender, the pedal added more pleasant color and could be used turned up.
The main reason I bought this pedal was for jazz. Of course it has useful application in all genres: a treble boost really can add some great color that makes an instrument stick out. For solos, snapping this pedal on can make you slice right through the mix. I however play in a small combo, consisting of a bassist, drummer, pianist, and two saxes, and because I have to Switch between soloing and comping chords (and turning up the volume on the amp is not an option) I needed something to be able to compete with the other instruments. Therefore, I looked for a boost, and adding treble was the best way to cut through drums, bass, piano, and two saxes. // 8
Reliability & Durability: The pedal is built pretty sturdily; the die-cast aluminum body has one of those non-brushed, rough looking finishes, so while the body is sort of dull and non-lustrous, at least you can't really tell if you've scratched it. The paint on the pedal has lived through my stomping on it for now; it's yet to begin chipping or wearing off like some of my Boss pedals. The rubber feet on the bottom of the pedal have kept it still on the stage floor when I did need to press it (I only use this and a Boss NS-2, so I rarely use an actual pedal board). While I've used it a mere one time live, it worked fine, and previous EHX products I've used never failed me either. I trust that this pedal will continue working for the rest of my playing lifetime; if not, it came with a one year warranty as well. // 10
Overall Impression: Now it's time for the long, drawn out explanation I promised. I think the pedal itself is great: built like a rock, it does what's promised, and true-bypass is now a phrase which I shall REQUIRE to be printed on my future gear. You can't go wrong with this pedal if you want it. The kicker I now propose is, Do you really want it?. The few complaints I have read on Harmony Central is that the sound is not transparent; the pedal adds too much color for some. My response to this: of course any frequency-range-specific boosters are going to do this: adding a radically boosted value in one specific frequency range is going to produce an unnatural sinusoidal wave that's not naturally produced by your instrument. And because it precedes the amplifier's equalization, you're going to get texture. If this is something you don't want, I would look more to an equalization pedal. With one of those, you can get a boosted treble range without the colorization. The color is not a bad thing; I bought the pedal for that reason. It does all it's asked of, you just can't expect the impossible. If you're looking for a treble booster, especially one with character, you can't go wrong with the Screaming Bird. It's now my favorite little pedal. // 9