It seems almost inevitable now that when JHS founder Josh Scott does a video on a long-forgotten pedal, the market reacts. Within hours of the video being released, DigiTech’s Bad Monkey - widely regarded as a merely average Tube Screamer clone - suddenly became the hottest property on the second-hand market. Thanks to its alleged ability to sound like a near-perfect Klon clone, its price has shot up from an RRP of just $59 to an eye-watering amount that's north of $600 in some instances.
We could have made an article commenting on the speculative nature of the 2nd hand gear market and lamented at how it’s become a place for ‘investments’ rather than musicians offloading gear to buy new pedals. But instead, we decided to look at some great alternatives to the DigiTech Bad Monkey that won’t set you back the cost of a mid-level electric guitar or decent tube amp.
So you can't get yourself an actual Bad Monkey, but thankfully you can still get a pedal based on the original circuit with the Wampler Triumph. The three EQ knobs have a huge sweep, making them incredibly versatile for painstakingly dialing in your sound. The smooth/punch switch does exactly what it says on the tin, smoothing out your sound to help you blend in a mix more, or lifting your tone to enable you to stand out during a solo. It also does a mean impression of another famous drive pedal in the SD-1.
One of Way Huge’s best-selling pedals, the Green Rhino takes the Tube Screamer blueprint and adds some amazingly useful features that make it one of the most versatile drive pedals going. Along with the regular control set you get on a TS clone, the Smalls Green Rhino is also equipped with ‘Freq’ and ‘Curve’ dials which offer some interesting options for experimentation. You can either utilize a 100Hz or 500Hz cut or a high-end roll-off to help shape your sound.
Another pedal that takes the classic lineup of a Tube Screamer and rearranges things is Seymour Duncan’s 805, an overdrive pedal that can deliver pretty much any tone you can think of. The addition of three EQ controls provides an impressive amount of range and you can also utilize it as a clean boost pedal. The sweep of the drive knob gives you plenty of room to move from tasty crunch to saturated gain, making this a straightforward, no-nonsense stompbox.
Read the full Seymour Duncan 805 review
Okay so it doesn’t have a bass control, but it’s still a brilliant TS clone. EarthQuaker Devices’ Plumes is available for less than a hundred bucks in many places, making it a must-have for any kind of guitarist. The three-way mode switch takes it from a simple drive pedal to something much more versatile, allowing it to do much more than just recreate the tone of that famous green stompbox. Mode one gives you a nice, Marshall-type crunch, mode two a clean boost, and mode three the famous mid-heavy ‘drive of a Tube Screamer.
Read the full Earthquaker Devices Plumes review
If you really need to save some money and you're not fussed about additional bells and whistles, you can't go wrong with the Electro-Harmonix East River Drive for all your Tube Screamer needs. This bargain buy from EHX offers the trademark simple setup with a fantastic drive tone. Like the pedal it’s based on it features three simple controls that give you great flexibility in dialing in your dream ‘drive sound. It doesn’t do anything more than that, but if you’re looking for an affordable, great-sounding TS clone we don’t really see why you’d need anything else.