Out the several new pedals BBE has released this year, I was admittedly most excited for the G Screamer Overdrive. Seeing as how this jet black pedal is essentially a tweaked version of the Green Screamer – one of my favorite overdrive pedals on the market today – I was very interested in seeing exactly what changed over the original. Famed stompbox creator Paul Gagon joined forces with the Firewind guitarist Gus G with the task of making an already great pedal even better, but does the G Screamer fail to hit the mark over its predecessor?
As most of you interested in this pedal already probably know by now, Gus G is a well known shredder who first hit it big in the mainstream when he scored the coveted spot as the guitarist for Ozzy Osbourne, although he had already been carving out his own place on the bleeding edge of metal since 1998 with Firewind – originally formed as a project to showcase his demo, Nocturnal Symphony. He is also well known for his love of the BBE Green Screamer as it had been his overdrive pedal of choice -- until the G Screamer, that is! Paul Gagon meanwhile started off designing pickups and amps for Grover Jackson (of Jackson Guitar fame) but later became better known as a stompbox mastermind. He has worked with plenty of A-list artists from Jeff Beck to Steve Vai helping them meticulously carve out their own tonal needs.
The Features and Sound
The original Green Screamer was renowned for having an excellent combination of thick gain and warm harmonics that mixed amazingly well with tube amps, creating a signature, overdrive tone that has been described as both complex and sophisticated. Even when plugged into a solid state, the Green Screamer could produce a nice dynamic range of smooth and warm overdrive tones associated with vintage tube amps not unlike the very popular Ibanez Tubescreamer. With the G Screamer, the most significant change – besides the all black paint job – is the enhanced input driver and modified classic sequential-diode distortion circuit which creates a more focused tone, especially in the lower mid harmonics. This in turn produces a cleaner, tighter distortion that fits perfectly with the high attack modern metal and screaming lead tone that Gus G is known for.
Just like the Green Screamer, the G Screamer comes with three controls – Gain, Level and Tone knobs – meaning that those familiar with the original should feel right at home here, although even new users will find this set up remarkably easy to use. You can honestly plug it in and have the entire pedal figured out in just a few minutes. The included manual also makes this pedal very easy to understand. As soon loaded this baby up and set everything to its mid, 12 o'clock position, it sounded great! I’m wouldn’t consider myself a metal guitarist but this pedal definitely made me want to shred! While the Green Screamer comes with a root overdrive tone that sounds like it was made to perfectly fit in a blues/classic rock song, the G Screamer has a bit more bite right out of the gate, excellent for classic ‘80s and modern metal when combined with some good distortion. The Gain knob is where you’ll be dialing in just the right amount of overdrive. Just a touch for some a small amount of fuzz or full-on for some nice harmonic growl – although nowhere near as much as a dedicated distortion pedal in case you’re wondering. Compared to the Green Screamer, the attack is much more precise, giving it a much more apparent punch which works perfectly with solos or slightly dirty arpeggios, especially when the Tone knob is at full blast, giving the overall sound a nice amount of presence and sparkle. Cutting the Tone down a bit will scoop out the higher frequencies for a bassier, slightly muddy sound that gives a nice, subtle feel to full chords or power chords. The Level knob is especially enticing as not only does it control the dynamic level of your signal, it can also work great as a booster if you need a little bit of extra drive.
I used this pedal on an American Strat with a George Benson combo but I’m very confident that plugged into a dedicated metal guitar – such as anything from Schecter of Jackson – it would definitely melt some faces! The G Screamer is not at all noisy and with a bit of fiddling with the knobs, it can surprisingly dial in a lot of classic tones – albeit with a slight punch. I was recreating the sound of Eric Clapton, Stevie Ray Vaughan, BB King and the like without much trouble at all. I then added a Boss DS-1 into the mix while using the G Screamer as a booster which opened up beefier metal tones similar to something from Coheed and Cambria, Metallica and Megadeth. It also worked surprisingly well with Flanger and Phaser effects – in case you feel a little experimental.
If you’re familiar with modern BBE pedals, you already know what you’re in for as far as build goes – but that’s not to say that it’s a bad thing. The chassis feels solid and so far has shown no signs of strain on the circuitry sound-wise when taken to its maximum level, much like the Green Screamer. I’ve personally had my Green for seven years running now and it’s still working solid, save for a few scratches in the paint job, and expect the G to last just as long. The knobs feel solid and there’s enough weight on the pedal with or without the 9Volt battery to keep it from getting knocked about easily. The pedal offers true bypass, 1% metal-film resistors for consistency, high-voltage poly caps for better tone, a military-spec circuit board for reliability and of course, a blue status LED for high visibility on top of those dimly lit stages.
All in all, the Gus G Signature G Screamer takes everything we love about the Green Screamer, from its nice dynamic range to its smooth and warm overdrive tones, and adds a concentrated amount of kick! With its upgraded circuitry and heavier focus on the lower mid harmonics, this pedal can really scream when you need it. Remember – this is an overdrive pedal, not distortion. You can even make the argument that it’s more of a booster, although it still falls within the same category, effects-wise. With that said, it’s one hell of an OD pedal!