034 | Cusack Music Screamer V2: A Closer Look at this Overdrive Pedal | Transcript


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Scott Schwertly:
Hello, and welcome to episode 34 of the Sonic Renegades podcast. We're exploring Renegade pedals that have changed the music landscape.
Up for today, we're going to be talking about Cusacks' Screamer Overdrive, specifically Version 2 of this lovely stomp box. We can't wait to unpack it on the other side.

Hey everybody, Scott Schwertly, and Eric Wilson of Siren Pedals with you guys today. Hope you're having a great one. We are continuing to broadcast from quarantine. I'm actually broadcasting from a home office. Eric, you are as well. How's everything going over there?

Eric Wilson:
It's going good. Starting to get settled at the new place. Getting back to work and glad to be doing this.

Scott Schwertly:
Yeah, definitely. I know we both have had big moves here recently. I guess, just that time of life. That time of the year. It's nice to be able to make time for this and in join you guys, as we talk about another pedal today.
So, up on the schedule today, we've got a Cusack Musics' Screamer Overdrive Version 2. Another pedal inspired by the great Tube Screamer. Except on this one, I really feel like they've done a great job.

This thing gets a lot of praise. It is at its core, yes, it's a Tube Screamer clone, but it has so many other little bells and whistles. It's really just nailed that tone just perfectly. It's a solid one. I know on the Worship scene, people love having their two Screamers and other genres as well.

This one's a... it's a hot item with a lot of folks because it does capture that Tube Screamer sound really well. But again, it fixes all those little nuances that people tend to get annoyed with, with Tube Screamers.

Eric Wilson:
Yeah. One of my favorite things about it is, where the base is sat in the pedal. I know with a typical Tube Screamer, there's no base. It's all mids kind of thing. But, some of the problems you can run into is with other Tube Screamer variances of getting a little bit muddy at times.

I really liked with this pedal it's very clear. Your chords are still really strong. Everything has a lot of body to it still. I actually... I plugged this one back in this morning and was playing around with it a little bit, and I really liked the way it plays, the way it reacts with my amp and with my guitar. It's all around a great pedal.

Scott Schwertly:
Yeah. I mean, definitely lots of clarity. It's really not thin or piercing by any means. Like you said, it's not muddy like most of the Tube Screamers are known for. So yeah, I think clarity is definitely a key theme, if you want to associate it with this pedal.

And you know, not a shocker. This was a pedal that's put out by Cusack Music. If you're not familiar with Cusack music, John Cusack is really a revolutionary force within the pedal space. He's done a lot of great things for guitar pedals in general. Specifically, the boutique market and pedals in general.

Just a little bit of history on Cusack and specifically John Cusack, he's been doing this now for, I believe about 17 years, maybe a little bit longer than that. Based in Holland, Michigan, which is just a small town. I think probably one of the most notable things associated to John and his reputation is a lot of people credit him with developing the tap tempo and true bypass. He doesn't take full credit for doing either of those, but he does take credit for at least introducing tap tempo into the boutique market. As far as true bypass, there were certain improvements that he made to that whole concept within the pedal space.
So, a really, really intriguing and interesting history. I've never met the guy. Seems like a really great person. Really down to earth and again, no surprise that he's pumping out really, really great pedals, and this being one of their flagship models.

Eric Wilson:
Yeah. I think you meant that he mostly introduced tap tempo to a tap tremolo, right?

Scott Schwertly:
Yeah. That's correct. So, no, I appreciate you clarifying on that.
Really at the end of the day, you really can't go wrong with any Cusack pedal. The fact that all of them are hand stamped by John Cusack. This is a guy that has a great reputation doing this for a long time. In fact, I think he's been doing it since he was 12. Just so much wisdom. So much knowledge. Just a lot of good stuff surrounds any pedal put out by Cusack Music. This one definitely fits that mold.

On that note, since we're talking about the Cusack Screamer, as usual it's great to cover, "Well, who's actually using this pedal?" I know when I was looking up artists, I think a few names that stand out to me, Seth Morrison from Skillet. Again, kind of fits that Worship scene there, given that Tube Screamer inspired pedals are so popular. The lead guitars from Thrice.
Eric, did you find any others out there that are using the Screamer?

Eric Wilson:
I've seen them here and there. I know Michael Guy Chislett, who's a guitarist for Hillsong, but he's also a producer and stuff. He uses the never off version. The one that you put into a looper and it doesn't have a foot switch on it. I've seen those floating around different spaces. Nigel Hendroffs' had one on his board before. But yeah, I've just seen them random places. People have them. Put them on the board and take it off. But it's a fairly popular peddle.

Scott Schwertly:
For sure, I see it all the time. Various different YouTube videos. Anybody that's looking for a quality Tube Screamer. This one is definitely a name that continuously pops up.

Now, as far as this pedal is concerned, there's definitely a lot of likes that we covered already. The whole idea of clarity, not being muddy, lots of saturation, not thin. Really a lot of pros to this pedal.

If there are of flaws, I didn't find a whole lot. But, if there's one that stands out, it may be the dual color led. I know some people complained about it. [inaudible 00:06:43] can be confusing.

I believe you bought yours used right Eric? I think that was probably a confusing item for you as well until you figured it out. Maybe you want to explain that whole experience?

Eric Wilson:
Yeah. You can actually control like whether the led is green when it's bypassed or whether it's often it's bypass. You have to hold down the foot switch when you're powering it up.

When I got mine, it was already set like that. I didn't even know it could do that until I was reading through the manual today.

Scott Schwertly:
Gotcha. Yeah. I know that's one thing that trips folks up. But other than that though, again, I haven't really seen any major complaints about it. People seem to love this pedal. It's a good one.

Eric Wilson:
Yeah, for sure. I know it's a great Tube Screamer. The sounds you get out of it are great. A good choice for anybody looking in that general market.

Scott Schwertly:
Have you noticed through your usage of it, I know a couple of people have loved and praise that you can even get some of those RAT like tones from it, if you crank it up a little bit. Have you had that same experience?

Eric Wilson:
It gets a really versatile because, you have three different clipping modes. I guess this is a good time to dive straight into the controls.

You do have your three controls and a clipping mode switch. You have level, tone and drive. The level obviously controls level. Tone controls your tone.
Honestly, with the tone on this, I feel like every position is usable for something. It's almost like when you're turning the tone down too, it's like you're making it sound like further away. It's not sounding muddy per se. I don't know if that makes any sense. Then you really have that clipping selection, which is where a lot of the magic happens. You have three diode options. You have the Silicon, a Shocky Diode, and then Asymmetrical led clipping mode.

In the led clipping mode, the led will actually light up as it's reacting to your playing and things like that. But, I do find... long way of answering your question, when you turn the clipping mode all the way to the right and you turn the gain up quite a bit, it's a little more compressed and it sounds really good. It sounds like you were saying, more of those RAT style tones. Obviously can't get into all of that gain territory, but it can really get into the beginnings of that, and it sounds really great doing that as well.

Scott Schwertly:
Yeah. I know this pedal gets a lot of praise, particularly with those clipping modes and being indistinguishable, that it's so smooth. Again, lots of variety that you get with it. Really at the end of the day, what you're getting is a really beautiful, clean overdrive pedal that does a lot. Easy to use and put together by someone that is super well respected in the space. It's a good one to have for sure.

Eric Wilson:
Yeah. And like you were saying, as a clean drive, you can actually use this pedal as a clean boost, because when the drive is all the way down, there's no drive at all.

You can use it as a clean boost or a tone shaper as well. I don't know why you'd buy a Tube Screamer to just do that, but if that's what you want to do, you can. But yeah, it goes from there all the way up to... in the manual, it says twice the gain of a typical overdrive pedal. So, just more gain on tap, and like we were saying, it gets into that RAT space a little bit. Overall, it sounds great and it's super versatile.

Scott Schwertly:
Yeah, for sure. Definitely a good one.

Well, if you're looking to get your hands on one, I think street price for one of these is about 185. Not too bad. It's definitely in that boutique category or price range.

What we're going to do now is if you're curious to actually hear what this one sounds like and how it is different than other Tube Screamers out there, we're going to go ahead and plug it in, and take it for spin.
Eric, any choice in guitars today? Are you going to combine this with anything or what's on your mind on that front?

Eric Wilson:
I'll probably use the Tele and I might combine it with a little bit of delay, a little bit of verb. See what happens.

Scott Schwertly:
Nice. Awesome. We're going to get everything plugged in, and we'll see you guys on the other side.

Eric Wilson:
All right, that was Cusack Music Screamer. It's a great Tube Screamer variant. Honestly, you can pick these up pretty cheap used. I think you can get them for around like 120 or 115 or something like that. Definitely a good option if you're looking for a Tube Screamer.

Scott Schwertly:
Yeah, for sure. I recommend checking it out as well. It's a nice one to add to the board if that's your thing. Well, good deal. That's what we wanted to cover today with the Cusack Music Screamer Overdrive V2.

Join us next time, we're going to get into a favorite of most stuff for those that love Fuzz, then you're going to love this one. It's the Jim Dunlop Fuzz Face. Specifically, it's the FFM3 model. That one that looks kind of like a light color blue, teal'ish color. I'm sure I'm probably butchering the color description. I like to look at as sort of the light blue version. The Mini one specifically, that's what we're going to cover in the next episode. So, if you love Hendricks, if you love Fuzz, you're going to love that next episode. Looking forward to that one.

Eric Wilson:
Yeah. I'm excited to actually cover a Fuzz pedal. I don't think we've covered one in a while or if at all, since I started.

Scott Schwertly:
Yeah, no, we've definitely in the early days, I think there was maybe one or two Fuzz pedals that were covered, but not a whole lot of it on this podcast, which is shocking, because I love Fuzz. I know Eric, you're not necessarily a huge Fuzz person, but I love Fuzz. We'll add more into the mix if anybody is in my camp of loving Fuzz. Looking forward to that one.

Awesome. We will see you guys next time. Have a great day. Have a great week, and we will see you in the next episode.

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