I was using my Digitech Distortion Factory, and realized that I really only used the Tube Screamer setting. So, I thought I would sell it and look for a tube screamer instead.
I did a lot a research on it, and decided on the JHS Bonsai. It has 9 classic tube screamers in it. At first, I thought it was going to be a waste, but, although they are similar, it is nice to have your choice of different Tube Screamers, all with their own sound.
I put it in the FX Loop of the Synergy, and wasn’t too impressed. But, when I put it in front of the Synergy (the preferred way), it made a world of difference. It is great on a just breaking up amp setting, to bring it to another level. But I was really thrilled to find that it also works great on an high gain sound of the Plexi. It brings out every note and actually seems to add some clarity to the signal, which sounds like an oxymoron, but it’s true.
I’m 100% sure this is the case with other Tube Screamers, but with this pedal I have 9 different voicings to choose from.
The included Tube Screamers:
- OD1 (1977)** A brighter and somewhat higher gain mode that doesn’t utilize the Tone knob
- TS808 (1979)** The classic low-gain grind with the signature mid-bump
- TS9 (1982)** Similar to the TS808, but with a brighter, SRV-style sound
- MSL (1985)** The “metal” version produces a higher-gain sound with more low end
- TS10 (1986)** Replicates the bluesy low-gain sound popularized by John Mayer
- XR (1989)** Duplicates the Polish-made EXAR OD1, known for its unique drive character and slightly higher gain
- TS7 (1999)** The late-'90s overdrive with a “hot mode” that yields more gain and low-end dirt
- Keeley (2002)** Robert Keeley’s classic Mod+ that tightens up your tone and gives you less noise, along with smoother mids and highs and increased bass
- JHS (2008)** JHS’s “Strong Mod” that gives you a cleaner sound with a serious power boost
I find myself using the EXAR, Keeley, and JHS Strong Mod the most, but usually check them all out before settling on the sound I’m looking for.
Here is a fun video of the pedal, where the Captain fools Chappers into thinking he’s testing 9 tube screamers. Worth a watch. It’s a fun video, even if your not interested in the pedal.