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At UpFront Guitars we have always kept a rather tight focus when it comes to pedals. The market is intensely saturated with good and bad stuff, so we only indulge ourselves with products that truly standout. At winter NAMM, JAM Pedals caught and maintained our full attention. The artwork alone drew us to the booth, but the tones sealed the deal. Their artist roster is also incredible with some of our all-time favorites: John Scofield, Julian Lage, Bill Frisell, Nels Cline, Kirk Fletcher, Steve Lukathor, Greg Koch, Al Di Meola, Leslie West, Dweezil Zappa, Jim Campilongo, Andy Timmons and many more. Now let's get down to the Dreaming.
The TubeDreamer 88 is a simple concept: Take both flavors of the famous TubeDreamer and stick them in a box. Easy enough right? Level, Gain and Tone controls on each Dreamer and a high gain switch for the spicy 58 circuit make this pedal easy to dial in. Here's the breakdown:
Right side - TD72
The TubeDreamer 72 is their most transparent overdrive and while we think of it as the "boost" circuit it really adds a lot of wonderful vintage color to your sound. JAM is a company that is proud of their NOS obsession and often tells you exactly what chip or component is making the magic, but the 72 contains their proclaimed "secret chip" so you'll have to settle for our word on this one. We do know that it uses carbon comp resistors and an asymmetrical clipping circuit to produce hot tube tone with an unparalleled level of clarity and dynamic response. Like an old amp you hear your signal get a little of that organic compression in the midrange while your low end blooms and the highs sing with sweet sustain.
Left Side - TD58
The 58 is the pride and joy (Stevie pun intended) of the TubeDreamer series. Every pedal features components used in the original 808's like carbon-comp resistors and even the legendary JRC4558D chip. With that kind of head start, it only took a couple tweaks to create the best sounding TS-style pedal we've ever heard. They specifically tuned the midrange frequency register to have a thicker overall profile which adds a depth to your tone that is hard to find in other overdrive pedals, especially those of TS influence. Combined with a set of asymmetrical clipping diodes, the 58 is an extraordinary example of dynamic, amp-like overdrive. It's rich and clear like the 72 but with a beautiful crunch that can be worked into absolutely searing sustain. Flip the mini-toggle on the for a high-gain boost for that adds a noticeably volume/harmonic bump for when things get heavy.
In the mad world of pedals it's a known fact that pretty much everybody makes a tubescreamer. However not everybody has perfected it, which in a physical and auditory sense, seems to be the feat that JAM has pulled off with the TubeDreamer 88. Both circuits work seamlessly with any style guitar and most importantly, any amp so it can cover serious ground in the studio, at home or on the road. If you think you like tubescreamers and especially if you think you don't like tubescreamers, you need to try the TubeDreamer.