The Maxon APEX 808 Tubescreamer Pedal Review

Maxon Apex 808 Review

The Maxon APEX 808 Tubescreamer Pedal Review

This article will cover my experience testing and reviewing the Maxon Apex 808 Tubescreamer pedal.  I had the pleasure of testing out the Maxon APEX 808 overdrive pedal recently.  I currently own several Maxon overdrive pedals, and I was very interested in testing the APEX 808.

For the sake of transparency, Maxon sent this out for the review on my YouTube channel. They have not paid me in addition to letting me keep the effects pedal. No pedal companies or manufacturers have any say in my reviews and opinions presented online.

Maxon Apex 808 Pedal
Buy it on Sweetwater | Thomann | Amazon UK | Amazon Canada
About the Maxon APEX 808

On the 40th anniversary of the original Tubescreamer, Maxon teamed up with Tubescreamer creator Susumu Tamura to create the APEX 808.  Susumu Tamura tested and compared over 100 current and vintage Tube screamer pedals and found that one pedal form the 1980s was by far the most dynamic.

This standout pedal invoked a deep-dive study on what made this pedal shine in terms of tone, headroom, and note clarity.  Mr. Tamura found that this one pedal used a specific brand of IC from a particular company at one particular point in time.  This discovery led Susumu Tamura to source as many new old stock parts as possible, and then the Maxon APEX 808 was born.

 

Sound Quality

This pedal sounds like a premium Tubescreamer.  The difference between a premium Tubescreamer and a regular release is very little.  This difference means that if you don’t have a finely tuned ear, you might not even hear a difference.  I can confirm from my testing, that the APEX 808 is different from the regular OD808.  There’s a slightly enhanced high-end and low-end frequency response.  Interestingly, even with this added EQ, the mid-hump is still prominent.  The result is that the APEX 808 ends up giving you the impression that the pedal sounds fatter overall, which it does.

The Maxon APEX808 will appeal to blues and classic rock players first and foremost.  Additionally, Metal players will love the added mid-frequency boost to their higher gain amplifiers. I was surprised to find out several years ago that these pedals just aren’t for dad-rockers and blues players.

 

Build Quality
Maxon has a solid track record for making quality effects pedals, and the APEX 808 is no exception. Maxon makes their effects pedals to last. The Maxon APEX 808 is gig-worthy and will stand the test of time.
 
Each of the input jacks and potentiometers is all very solid and reliable. The metal enclosure and switch on the APEX 808 will also stand up to years of foot tapping.
 
Maxon APEX 808
Maxon builds the APEX 808 pedal in Japan, like all Maxon pedals.
 
First impressions

My first impression of the Maxon APEX 808 was that it sounds like a Tubescreamer! No kidding, right? Initially, I thought it sounds precisely like the regular Maxon 808, but it is different.  After a few moments, I started to realize that the pedal had a thicker tonality about it as well as an extended high-frequency response. I’ll talk about that more in a moment.

I am a massive fan of the Maxon Overdrive pedals and have been using them live and on recordings for years. If you have ever picked up a regular Maxon OD808, the APEX feels like a slightly more premium pedal in hand. While the build quality won’t be too different, the APEX 808 features a fancy faceplate to separate it from the OD808.

 

How different is the Maxon APEX 808 to the OD808?

The APEX 808 will appeal to fans of Vintage Tubescreamers and will appeal to buyers at the higher end of the market. The reason why is because the APEX 808 has new old stock parts initially found in the 1980s.

With this in mind, how different does it sound? While any guitar one is hard to quantify in terms of numbers, you’ll hear about a 10% difference in terms of treble. The APEX 808 also has a slight boost in the low-end frequencies than the regular OD808.

There’s not a lot of difference overall. When it comes to what works for you, these slight differences can mean a world of difference. To other players, these small differences do not justify the price.

Not everyone will need a Tubescreamer with a more extensive EQ range. If you already own a Tubescreamer and you love it, you might want to give the APEX 808 a miss. If you have some cash to splurge on a boutique overdrive that will provide you with a unique tone signature, this is worth a look.

 

Maxon APEX 808 and Maxon OD808
Maxon APEX 808 and Maxon OD808 – They look very similar!

 

Is the APEX 808 different from the Maxon Overdrive Pro?

Yes! The Maxon Overdrive Pro OD-820 and APEX 808 are very different. Sure, they both do the classic overdrive tone, but the OD-820 is quite different.  The first thing that makes the OD-820 different is the fact it also doubles as a clean boost.  With the gain control on the Overdrive Pro down under 3, the pedal changes from overdrive into a pure, clean boost.  This feature allows a level of flexibility that isn’t possible on the Overdrive Pro OD-820.

An advantage to the APEX, though, is it has more high-frequencies, and it’s also far smaller.  This compact size will appeal to players where room on a pedalboard is at a minimum.  The Overdrive Pro is one of the most massive pedals ever, and some players will find the size a turn off.

 

Below is my video review of the Maxon APEX 808 Overdrive Pedal. 

 

Is the Maxon Apex 808 worth it?

While Maxon mentioned that the APEX 808 is not a limited run, it won’t be around forever either. With Susumu Tamura back on board for this effect will appeal to collectors and fans of the original circuits.

For guitarists who already own a Maxon or Ibanez Tubescreamer, it’s a hard sale. The difference is noticeable, but it’s not a night and day type difference. Unsurprisingly, if you are on a budget, you will want to give this pedal a miss. The APEX 808 pedal sells for quite a lot more than the regular Maxon OD808.

The Maxon APEX 808 isn’t breaking any new ground sonically. What it does do, though, is taking the classic tones of the OD808 and enhancing them ever so slightly.  If you never loved the classic Tubescreamer sound or found them too rolled out in the hight and low frequencies, this might be the go-to!

 

Maxon APEX 808 Price

The Maxon APEX 808 sells for $300 at the time of this article. For the best deals shop using the links below:

Sweetwater | Thomann | Amazon UK | Amazon Canada

 

The Final Verdict

Would I add this to my list of best Tubescreamer pedals? Yes, but only just.  I wouldn’t add it in terms of value, but the tone and build quality speak for themselves.  While I understand that the price will only appeal to a selective crowd, the quality of Maxon pedals is some of the best in the Word. If you always wished your Tubescreamer had a little more highs and lows, then give this a look.   

Coming up in the near future I will be posting a massive comparison video between all of the Tubescreamer pedals that I own.  This should really help guitarists know how each of them compares and which one is clearly the best.

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