The Top 13 Tubescreamer Pedals and Clones
Today, I am going to cover what I believe to be the top 13 Tube Screamer pedals and Tube Screamer clones I have tried. I have owned and tested the pedals in this list. If you search my YouTube channel, you’ll see many comparison videos of the pedals below. While I haven’t filmed every single one on the list, I have tried them.
1. Maxon OD-820 Overdrive Pro
The Maxon OD-820 Overdrive pedal is by far the best Tube Screamer I have ever played. It takes everything you love about the Maxon OD808 and makes it sound better.
Maxon changed up the design with the OD-820. They made the physical size of the pedal larger and the controls are way easier to see and use.
In terms of sound, the Maxon Overdrive OD-820 Overdrive Pro has a very transparent sound and also has more headroom in terms of volume and the overall body of sound.
The OD-820 is built with the “Klon” in mind. It doesn’t sound like a Klon, but it does have more headroom and a much lower noise floor. This gives you a much richer and fuller sound than any of the other Tube Screamer on this list. This is made for pushing a Tube amplifier over the edge but it can be also used as a great rhythm pedal.
Another interesting feature of this pedal is it has a “clean blend” gain control. If you have the gain control under 10 O’clock, it won’t add any gain into the circuit. This is a great thing because you can also run it as a straight up clean boost as well.
Overall, the Maxon OD-820 wins the category for best Tube Screamer overdrive pedal by a country mile.
2. Maxon OD-808
The Maxon OD-808 is what started it all. This is still a very nice pedal covering the tones needed for sticking out in a mix. If you’re into ripping blues guitar or if you want to turn your very clean amp into an off-clean amp, the OD-820 is the way to go.
This does sound different to the Maxon Overdrive Pro listed above, but it’s not a bad thing. To my ear, this pedal sounds best with the gain under 12 O’clock and the volume up at around 1 O’clock. This will allow the Maxon OD-808 to really sound great and open sounding. A lot of people make the mistake of cranking up the gain way too far. This is fine, but it also lends itself to lose a bit of clarity.
Before you crank up the gain, turn up the volume control and see what you think of how it sounds. The Maxon OD808 might be the most copied pedal of all time. There’s a number of reasons why this is copied so much. They sound great without getting too bright or nasty on the top end.
Buy it on | Thomann
3. Ibanez Tube Screamer
Yep! The Tubescreamer does not get the #1 spot. Do you know why? The Ibanez Tube Screamer is a clone! Most people think the TS9 is the original, but it is not. Maxon allowed Ibanez to repackage their OD808 in a different enclosure. This was perhaps one of the most brilliant ideas of its time because the “Tube Screamer” branding is now a household name.
I don’t blame people for thinking that the Tube Screamer was the original. Before I looked into it, I thought the same thing. The only main design changes are the enclosure and footswitch design. The internals in the early days was identical. Now to be fair, Ibanez made various Tube Screamer but because it’s a clone, I am only mentioning this one once on the list.
The Two most popular Tube Screamers are the TS9 and the TS808. Ibanez also makes a mini pedal called the Ibanez Tube Screamer Mini.
Buy it on Thomann
4. Voodoo Lab Sparkle Drive
I got a tip from John Mayer about this one. No, I don’t know him personally but he mentioned it as being a great Tube Screamer clone so I had to buy it. I used the Sparkle Drive for a number of years in a dual overdrive pedal setup. The main unique thing about the Voodoo Lab Sparkle Drive is the clean mix control. This allowed you to bring back note definition and clarity thanks to this extra pot.
You could wind the clean mix pot down all the way and you’ll be back to your stock Tube Screamer-style tone. Overall this is another great pedal to get for that sound. I really regret selling it and the original model as since been discontinued.
Their newest Sparkle Drive is called the Sparkle Drive Mod which allows for additional tones and clipping types. I may have to pull the trigger on this one soon and give it a run.
5. Visual Sound Double Trouble
About 10 or so years ago I purchased a Visual Sound Double Trouble pedals. Visual Sound changed their name a few years ago to True Tone and production ceased on this beauty. The Double Trouble was a Stevie Ray Vaughan inspired dual Tubescreamer pedal that allowed you to stack or use two Tube Screamer in one box.
There was one problem with this pedal that didn’t affect 100% of them but it affected mine. Visual sound decided it was a smart idea to include a noise gate into the circuit. The noise gate was very noticeable especially if you let a note ring out it would clamp down in a slow robotic way that was a bit weird.
Disabling the noise gate was something you could adjust on the inside of the pedal thanks to a potentiometer. I could never get it to turn off and this might become a distraction if you’re playing on your own at home. In the live mix, it’s really handy having a noise gate as it will cut out the noise of the guitar at idle.
One of the advantages of the Double Trouble was it had a bass boost switch on each side making it slightly different to a straight-up clone. This bass boost switch was a very welcomed addition.
While my experience with the Visual Sound Double Trouble wasn’t perfect, it was an awesome pedal to use live and if you’re looking for a dual Tubescreamer setup it’s a monster.
6. Wampler Clarksdale
The Wampler Clarksdale is a great sounding Tube Screamer influenced pedal that is made in the USA. One clear advantage of the Wampler Clarksdale over the original Tube Screamer is it features a three-band EQ. We get a bass, mids, and treble control as well as a two-way toggle switch.
The toggle switch changes the top end bite. The two settings are “smooth” and “big”. In true Wampler fashion, they’ve added a lot of extra functionality so you can tweak your sound as much as you like. This will easily do the regular vintage overdrive tones we’ve all come to love, but it will also do a whole lot more.
Delta Lab TO1 Tube Overdrive Pedal
I was actually the first in the World to put a video review up of the Delta Lab TO1 overdrive pedal. This pedal was sold at Guitar Center in the USA and I took a chance on it when I was in San Francisco in 2010. This is a budget-friendly overdrive pedal that is built like an absolute tank. The enclosure is made of thick metal and the pots and switches are very high quality.
I used the Delta Lab TO1 for 3 gigs a week for 8 weeks while I was in San Francisco and it held up to real-world use no problems at all. I still have it in my collection 9 years later and it is working amazingly.
The only small flaw in the design is the battery cover. The entire pedal is bulletproof minus the cheap plastic battery cover. That aside, it’s a really great budget choice.
The Delta Lab TO1 has been discontinued but if you keep a look out online you should be able to find one for a bargain.
Joyo Vintage Overdrive
If you’re looking for a bargain the Joyo Vintage Overdrive is a cheap Tube Screamer clone. Joyo pedals don’t have the “weight” in their design like the Delta Lab, Maxon, or Ibanez, but they quite reliable. These sound indistinguishable to their Maxon or Ibanez counterparts.
Joyo also uses metal enclosures on their pedals but they are a lot lighter in weight and the paint job is not as nice. Another clear cost-saving design is their “cheap” looking control knobs. There’s nothing to stop you changing them to something else if you want the pedal to look cool, but it works and sounds great.
The Caline Midlander is a straight up budget Tube Screamer clone. Caline makes a great range of affordable pedals and I would take the Midlander as perhaps the best budget pedal on this list. The paint job and control knobs are a slight step above the Joyo and it looks a bit cooler as well.
I wrote a full article about Caline pedals and why I think they are worth checking out. If you’re on the fence about which budget pedal to buy, check out my Caline article. In terms of the Caline pedals, the Midlander is essential for blues and classic rock players looking for that iconic sound.
I’ve spoken about Chelle effects pedals a number of times in the past on videos. I really believe they make the best and most affordable handmade pedals you will find. Chellee pedals are made in Orange City, Florida in the United States and are built to last. Peter the engineer does drop tests from drones to ensure the designs will stand the test of time.
The Tube Screamer design from Chellee is called the Odie Modified Overdrive. While this is a Tube Screamer pedal is also is “more than a Tube Screamer” thanks to the toggle switches. The Chellee Odie has three different clipping modes and also three different EQ voicings thanks to the second toggle switch. You can get this to sound the same as a Tube Screamer or vastly different.
Overall, this might be the most versatile pedal on this list. The Odie can also be run on either 9v or 18v power supplies giving you more headroom and tone. I am a huge fan of the Chellee pedals and I suggest giving them a look if you’re into the USA made effects that are built to last.
Electro-Harmonix East River Drive
The EHX East River drive is a straight up Tube Screamer clone with one difference: The build quality is not as good. Electro-Harmonix is very hit and miss with the quality of their pedals. The main culprit is their potentiometers. They can break really, really, easily.
It might sound shallow but I love the East River graphic design on this pedal. It really stands out and looks fantastic. If you’re a huge fan of EHX then you will love the East River Drive. If you throw your gear around a bit or if you are a bit clumsy, then I would suggest going for another brand. The plastic potentiometers are really quite easy to break. Pair this pedal with the EHX Soul Food and you’ll have a fantastic sounding dual overdrive pedal setup.
Back in the early days of YouTube, I posted the first video of the Behringer TO800 and the rest was history. To this day, the Behringer TO800 is still in production and is a really great Tube Screamer clone for a number of reasons. The first reason why it’s a great pedal is the price. The Behringer TO800 is nice and cheap. The second reason it’s great is that it sounds awesome.
One negative (for some people) might be the plastic enclosure. Some people don’t think a molded plastic pedal will last very long. If a plastic coke bottle can last 90 years then a hardened plastic pedal will be fine. The Behringer might not be the prettiest pedal on the list but if you can find them for a good price it’s a good deal.
If you are brand new to using effects I would suggest buying Behringer pedals to find out what it is you like first so you don’t waste a lot of money. All of the Behringer effects pedals in this range are based on other iconic pedals. I gigged exclusively with a Behringer TO800 and a Voodoo Lab Sparkle drive for over 2 years!
Harley Benton Vintage Overdrive
This is the same exact pedal as the Joyo Vintage Overdrive pedal. Harley Benton pedals are all Joyo pedals. Just get whichever is cheapest for you in your area. The only difference is the brand name.
Buy it on Thomann
TC Electronic El Mocambo Overdrive
TC Electronic is another company who has basically made a vintage overdrive pedal with that classic “mid hump”. The El Mocambo is named in tribute to the great SRV. Stevie Ray Vaughan played a live show at the El Mocambo that has become one of his classic DVDs. If you haven’t seen this iconic show grab a copy here on Amazon.
This is another pedal that does nothing out of the ordinary but I love the design of the enclosure. There is literally nothing to say about it other than its one of TC Electronic’s most affordable overdrive pedals to date. If you love their stuff and want a Tube Screamer it’s a great choice.
Buy it on | Thomann
JHS Bonsai 9 Way Overdrive
One of the most unique things about this Tube Screamer clone from JHS is the 9-way selection pot. This pedal replicates all 9 unique Tube Screamer tones found throughout the years. If you wanted the most tonal versatility while remaining true to the vintage overdrive sound, this is a really great choice.
If you’re into Klon Pedals then check out my similar article located on my website.