MXR Sugar Drive VS Tube Screamer: Which is Better?

I know choosing between the Ibanez tube screamer and the excellent MXR Sugar Drive is a tough call. Which one should you choose between MXR Sugar Drive VS Tube Screamer?

This guide will help you out. Let us get into it, as I will get into the details as much as possible.

MXR Sugar Drive

Let’s start by taking a closer look at the MXR Sugar Drive. The MXR Sugar Drive is a simple yet effective overdrive pedal that’s perfect for adding a touch of grit to your sound. It’s a classic pedal that’s been around for a while, and for good reason. It’s incredibly easy to use and sounds great.

The pedal has three simple controls: Volume, Tone, and Drive. Volume controls the overall volume of the pedal, Tone adjusts the tone from dark to bright, and Drive controls the amount of overdrive.

But what does it actually sound like? Well, it’s a bit like adding a sprinkle of sugar to your tone. It’s not a heavy overdrive that’s going to turn your sound into a molten lava of distortion. Instead, it’s a subtle overdrive that adds a bit of sweetness and warmth to your sound.

It’s perfect for bluesy leads, crunchy rhythm parts, and even as a clean boost. The tone control is particularly useful, as it can help you dial in the perfect amount of sweetness for your sound.

But what about the downsides? Well, there aren’t many. The MXR Sugar Drive is a pretty straightforward pedal, and if you’re looking for something with a lot of bells and whistles, this might not be the pedal for you. But if you’re looking for a simple and effective overdrive pedal that sounds great, the MXR Sugar Drive is definitely worth checking out.

Ibanez Tube Screamer

Ibanez’s Tube Screamer series of distortion/overdrive boxes has a reputation that has turned them into musical folklore.

The TS series as a whole has a comparable technical design, with the commonalities considerably outnumbering the differences.

Ibanez released the TS9 as the first version of the original TS808.

The TS9 was first produced in 1981, and despite all of the Tube Screamer modifications, it is still one of the most popular.

The Ibanez Tube Screamer is a pretty simple design with three knobs:

  • Drive: Controls the amount of gain.
  • Tone: Adjusts the tonal character.
  • Level: Controls the output signal.

The TS9 and the TS808 are the two most popular full-size pedals, but the Mini TS is a great alternative at a lesser price. I will be going into the details of each of these tube screamer pedals for better comparison


In every way, the Ibanez TS9 Tube Screamer exudes simplicity. The look, functionality, and dependability leave little to be desired.

It’s really easy to operate, making it one of the best pedals to add to your pedalboard regardless of your skill level.

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The Tube Screamer also produces a pleasant and direct tone. It’s not a hazy tone, nor is it a whiny, sobbing tone.

Instead, it produces a sound that is silky smooth, beautiful, and reliant on the tone of your guitar and amplifier.

One of those guitar effects that have nearly mythological status is the Ibanez TS9 Tube Screamer overdrive pedal.

It’s a simple green stompbox with three little knobs, but it delivers a punch in the right hands.

The pedal gives a little muddy approximation of the natural sound coming from the amp on a clean setting when the drive knob is dialled down.

It is, nevertheless, smooth and evocative of the guitar’s inherent tones.

The tone stays smooth and complementary as you turn up the volume knob, without going too far in the wrong direction and generating too much string and pickup noise.

Working with the tone knob, from the lowest to the maximum setting, keeps it well within acceptable and enjoyable limits.

You might wonder how the TS9 is used for metal and hard rock. Well, let’s look at the following options;

The initial concept is to combine the gain from the pedal with the gain from your amplifier.

This increases the amount of overdrive in your amp, but it also colours the signal with the tone from the pedal.

The idea is to find a pedal and amp distortion combination that you like.

The TS9 can also be used as a boost in the second option.

For guitarists using amps that already produce high-gain distortion, this may be the best option.

The objective of the pedal in this arrangement is not to create distortion directly but to tighten up and compress the sound by pushing the amp harder (indirectly causing a little more distortion).

This pedal has everything you need, whether you’re a lead or rhythm musician.

It helps you to be heard without being too strident when you want to break through the mix and show off your fretboard talents.

It will allow you to blend in and feel comfortable and stoic when you want to hang back and keep down the back rhythm.

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The Ibanez TS9 is one of the most desired pedals in electric guitar history.


Its primary applications are as a mellow overdrive for pushing clean tones into hotter regions and as a signal booster before a strong amp distortion. This last use case is highly popular among metal players because it alters the amp’s character.

The signal is boosted to the point of being compressed in a very specific way when the pedal’s volume is set to the maximum level.

The pedal is sturdy and long-lasting in terms of construction. The die-cast chassis is impenetrable to denting and damage. It includes an LED indicator that shows the battery and effect status.

On the surface, the classic version appears to be identical to the original TS808. A brilliant green frame with a vintage-looking footswitch is available.

The TS808 classic is identical to the original model in every way. Overall, the product is lightweight, compact, and easy to transport, and store.

Everything about the Tube Screamer TS808 in terms of performance is fantastic. The pedal may be found in practically any guitarist’s arsenal. The pedal can help you create beautiful, smooth tones without sacrificing quality.

Within minutes after setting up the pedal and turning the volume knob, all of your sound’s flaws will be gone.


The three controls of the TS10 are the same: Drive, Tone, and Level.

This type in particular is incredibly sensitive to your playing dynamics, making it a perfect pedal to crank up and then regulate via your guitar’s volume knob for complete overdrive control.

The TS10 also works well with other pedals, particularly a strong boost, which can force the overdriven sound to drive your amp nicely, just beyond break-up but still clean and clear.

TS Mini

Ibanez released the tube screamer mini as a current version for musicians looking for a more compact overdrive solution.

It has a lovely overdrive sound that really brings out the midrange. When you need to pop through the mix for your next solo in a live environment, this mid-range peak is fantastic. If you don’t want as much of a middle peak, simply reduce the tone control for a smoother rhythm overdrive tone.

Tube Screamer Comparison

In comparing these three versions of the Ibanez Tube Screamer, I will be looking at sound, control, and power.


Despite Mini’s size, the full-size Tube Screamer TS808 and the Tube Screamer Mini sound identical. Because the Mini is based on the original TS808, it has everything of the TS808’s mid-boosted overdriven tone and power, but in a smaller package.

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Some will argue that the TS Mini sounds less smooth than the TS808, but it’s nearly impossible to discern the difference if there is one at all. So, if the mini fits the bill for you, don’t pass it up simply because you’re scared it won’t sound as good as the full-size TS808, as this isn’t the case.

The TS9, on the other hand, sounds nothing like the TS808 or the Mini. The Tube Screamer TS9 is a newer version of the Tube Screamer with a brighter, grittier tone than the original TS808, which sounds smoother. In comparison to the more classic TS808, the TS9 is designed to give a more current tone.


The drive, tone, and level controls are the same on both full-size Tube Screamers (TS9 and TS808) and the Mini version.

The controls are;

  • Overdrive: controls the amount of overdrive.
  • Tone: it controls the tonal quality. Moving it anti-clockwise emphasizes the bass and produces a warm tone while turning it clockwise emphasizes the treble and produces a crisp and incisive tone.
  • Level: it controls the output.

These three controls let you utilize the pedal in a variety of ways to generate various effects.

Power Source

The power supply is one of the most noticeable changes between the full-size TS9 and TS808 Tube Screamer and the mini version.

Tube Screamers in full size are powered by either an internal 9V battery or an external power supply (usually in your pedal board). The Tube Screamer Mini, on the other hand, requires an external power supply to operate and does not have room for an internal battery.

This can be a hassle because you’ll need to buy an additional power supply if you don’t already have one, which raises the price, making the tiny version less affordable than it appears if it’s your first pedal.

However, connecting the power source is simple; simply plug in a DC 9V power supply or use a pedal board power supply to connect the pedal directly to the mains. 

MXR Sugar Drive VS Tube Screamer: Our Choice

It is really a tough call for me to even choose between this set of two wonderful pedals. But I need you to consider what you want to choose between the two pedals. Both pedals are great and will do well any time. So, you will be good with any of the two. Just go for one that suits your guitar-playing needs.

MXR Sugar Drive VS Tube Screamer – A Recap

I think this article has done enough justice to these two pedals – MXR Sugar Drive VS Tube Screamer, and you can base your decisions on these. 

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Victor Loore
Victor Loore
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