Along with the Fuzz Face and perhaps the Crybaby, the Ibanez Tube Screamer is one of those pedals which is often found in every pedal junky’s collection. This little green monster famous for its midrange bump and smooth overdrive was made absolutely legendary by none other than Stevie Ray Vaughn. Its so popular that an original TS808 recently sold on ebay for ~$555 USD and Ibanez has reissued the series time and again, currently they offer the TS808 and TS9 (street prices of ~$179 and ~$99 respectively). As they say, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and many pedal builders from mass manufacturers to small boutique garage shops have put their own spin on the TS design with varying degrees of success. Affordable brand GFS (guitarfetish.com) recently threw their hat into the mix with the introduction of the Greenie Classic.
The Greenie (~$50 USD) is a member of GFS’s Classic pedal line built by Biyang, a Chinese company which offers a full line of effects and amps which supply a fair amount of OEM products to domestic importers. Though the Greenie seems to closely mimic the Biyang X-Drive Pedal, Jay Abend, owner of GFS, claims the line they carry has been modified from stock to tonal and design specifications set forth by him and his crew. Essentially, the Greenie is a hot roded tubescreamer with a three way switch offering Classic, Fat, and Tight modes. Additionally, the Greenie offers true bypass by a nice sturdy feeling switch (vs the buffered bypass on the original activated by an infamously fragile micro-switch prone to fail). Thumbs up! GFS advertises the Greenie’s usage of the JRC 4558 opamp which many believe to be a key ingredient in the original TS808 (and early TS9) tone. I’m a long time owner of a TS9 (which has been modded to TS808 specs and includes an original JRC 4558) and was very interested to see how the Greenie would compare.
Straight up, I can say from a design perspective I much prefer the Greenie’s toggle switching to my TS9. I’ve had issues over the years with my switch miss-triggering and have a feeling its just about dead. The Greenie just feels studier by comparison. I plugged up the pedal using a Tech 21 Trademark 60 and VHT Special 6 Ultra and auditioned using a modified SX SST57 and PRS SE Singlecut. First up, I set the Greenie to classic mode and proceeded to A/B compare the 2 pedals and honestly if I wasn’t looking down at the pedals I’m not sure I could tell them apart. My TS9 seemed to compress just a bit more at the higher end of the gain spectrum. Even more remarkable was the similarities were pretty consistent at similar control settings with the exception of the very highest end of the tone control where the TS9 sounded a bit smoother. If the Classic mode was all the pedal did I’d say it was a solid TS alternative, but you also get the two aforementioned additional operational modes. Fat delivers just like one would expect evening out the mid hump signature TS tone by adding a more robust and deliciously squishy low end. In fact, I thought some of the best tones in the pedal were in Fat mode with the gain cranked up. I didn’t like the Tight mode as well where the pedal seemed to struggle to hit unity gain and just sounded a bit lifeless.
The GFS Greenie Classic is certainly a viable Tubscreamer alternative effectively covering the most coveted traditional tones of the original. However, its Fat mode really kicks things up a notch allowing it in some ways to out scream the Tubescreamer. Its built solid and in my opinion its switch is a design upgrade over the more fragile design of the TS. Given the low cost of admission, those seeking a TS style pedal on a tight budget need look no farther.
Price: $49.95 USD
Pros: Classic TS tones and more, true bypass