Screaming Bird Treble Boost

OK. I’ve decided guitars are too big and too expensive to collect willy-nilly. Any more and I’ll be hanging them in my bathroom. This is the next focus of my OCD…

So, a while ago I was annoying Geordie at Tym Guitars as it is the the nexus of my guitarnerd universe. I often look at what new pedals are in… not that I’m a huge pedal fanatic, but slowly the more Tym pedals I design, the more I appreciate the absolute nerdom that they entail. For $300 you’ll buy an ok guitar or a pretty awesome pedal. So it’s natural (and cost effective) to direct my fanaticism towards weird pedals. So what that all I play is my trusty Rat?

Anyway, on this particular day there was a tiny looking silver box amongst all the Boss DS1′s and Ibanez PHAZORS…

This thing was about the size of a business card and made by Electro Harmonix. I’d never seen one before… it looked hell cool. The little knoeb was like a miniature Big Muff knob. It was $90… so I thought, what the hell… I don’t care what it sounds like, I want it.

The back was covered in an awesome faux-leather pattern, like an original EHX pedal.

The circuitry? Hardly there. I think the 9V battery was more complicated than the actual effect.

When I got home I did some research and found that these little boxes were instrumental in the beginning of Electro Harmonix. In fact, Mike Matthews first ever product was a similar looking product called the LPB-1, or “Linear Power Boost 1.”

This was a very simple circuit that MM’s collaborator Bob Myer designed to boost a guitar’s signal for testing. MM could see the marketing potential in this little circuit and designed the LPB-1, which was designed to be plugged directly into the amp with a jack installed into the amplifier side. The graphics changed through the years… the example above was very indicative of EHX’s early pedals.The above looks similar to the triangle Big Muff. The next LPB-1 followed the look of the Ram’s Head Big Muff’s.

Next in line followed the look of the new Small Stone and Doctor Q pedals…

The LPB-1 wasn’t the only one is EHX’s line of mini effects. The original Muff circuit wasn’t contained in a guitar pedal… it was this little monster.

Obviously it wasn’t a full blown Big Muff… from what I’ve read about it, it’s definitely related but a much tamer animal. As with the LPB-1, the Muff Fuzz came in a few different incarnations. Here’s the violet Ram’s Head era…

And then there was the Small Stone / Doctor Q era..

And even a Reverse Muff version!

The Screaming Bird also went through a few versions before the one I bought… here’s the first. Pretty boring looking, eh?

Next up was this funky green version…

And then mine… again, from the Small Stone / Doctor Q era.

Oh, and not the forget the Mole Bass Boost… which was probably just the LPB-1 with minor tweaks in a different case.

OK… back to my Screaming Bird. It’s certainly a treble boost. It’s great at keeping the character of guitar, but adding a lot of ‘snap’ to the sound. There is a bit of bass reduction but all in all… it’s a very usable effect. For this sound example, I used my Coronado Strat with Brierley single coils.This little effect works VERY well in conjunction with a fuzz pedal. Here, I used the infamous Tym Fuzz Munchkin. Check the notations on the track to see what the settings are.

Next up is a quick track I threw together with a clean guitar track that has the Screaming Bird on it, along with the Fuzz Munchkin’d lead guitar. The rest is a regular Fuzz Munchkin along with a bass track. The guitar & bass I used was my G&L SC3 and black Gibson Triumph Bass.

So yeah, this little box is pretty effective. As a live effect, it’s a bit fiddly as it’s not a regular guitar pedal per se. To activate it, you have to click the switch by hand as there’s no footswitch.

Are there are pedals out there that do the same thing but in a proper pedal format? Well, yes. EHX have actually reissued this pedal in their Nano series…

Am I going to collect the whole of the EHX vintage mini effect series. Hell yes…

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