Price paid: $ 50
Purchased from: Lazer Music Store
Ease of Use — 8
Many musicians tend to say that Tubescreamers are easy to use. Well I say it is not. Even other pedals are not. As a gigging/recording musician, I always play to different amps, so I always need to find a good natural tone coming from the amplifier by setting the green mile right. Getting to know the amp well and how pedals behave are the best approach to lessen your effort and maximize your stage set up. Regarding manual, it's nothing but a description of each individual knobs. But I guess you don't need it coz' it's easy to figure out.
Sound — 9
I will describe the sounds of each modes...
The Warm Mode's sound is like a typical tubescreamer sound (TS9), honky and bright that can sit in the mix nicely in the band context. Warm mode is a great tool if you play live on stage with a loud volume because it can focuses the sound of a crank amp's booming bass therefore be heard in a mix without bashing to the sound of the bass guitar. I think tubescreamers are great for that application, use it in the bedroom, it will sound boxy and just good, use it in live and the magic will happen.
In Hot Mode, it changes your tone dramatically by adding more output signal and bass response. Hot mode will not give you more gain but more of your guitar's signal to thicken up your tone. Good for bedroom use because of its less compressed sound. In live situations, the mode gives you a booming bass just like a crank amplifier when you turn the gain up, thus can be problem to the band context if you set it wrong. I think it can be a good stand alone drive to emulate a cracked tube amp (drive turned clockwise and slightly match the level of the amp) or to use it volume and tone up and drive down to drive the amp and use your guitar's volume knob to clean up. I also found out that if you crank the drive in this mode and back out your guitar volume, it will clean up nicely.
Reliability & Durability — 8
The seasick green metal enclosure feels solid and beautiful. The pedal switch has a sturdy click feel. The switch between two modes are nice and professional. Only the two small knobs are the ones I don't like because I always have the feeling that it will loose sometime. But that's just me. I will depend on it for sure and use it on gig without a backup. Live playing with this pedal is good because it's not heavy, thus be a gig friendly stompbox! For durability, I think for me it will stand the test of time. Just be nice to it and we'll see.
Overall Impression — 9
Overall, it is a great match for all genres, a versatile Tubescreamer variant and a useful tool to create a singing guitar sound. It may not have a gigantic amp like tone, but still gives you a sound of the classic. Just do some research on how to setup tubescreamers, and it will do its job nicely. I love how it sounds! This small tubescreamer will let you enhance your tone and inspire you live on stage. On bedroom use, it's meh, but in live use, a must and a magic. I compared it to my overdrive with an uncompressed sound, sort of Blues Driver-ish sound. And I say they we're designed for each other. Both have a different sound and when they combined, the sound is endless.