I currently use this tube guitar preamp pedal with a number of guitars: a custom made Strat with a WD birdseye maple neck w/ an ebony fingerboard, gold Gotoh tuners and Floyd Rose locking nut( gold), alder body (black), a lawsuit gold finish Kahler Steeler 2760 bridge (similiar to Floyd Rose bridge, better design, Kahler was sued by Fender & Floyd Rose for its design), and an EMG 85(neck), an SA (middle) and an 81 (bridge) pickups with a custom Warmoth H-S-H blue pearl pickguard with gold screws. There is a Roland GK-2A guitar synth pickup mounted on it as well. I also use it with a 1991 Ibanez RG-570 with EMG pickups (same pickup setup as above)and a number of other guitars. It suits my musical style as a Top 40 musician who plays disco, funk, R&B, rock & blues. What's great about is that there are no effects!! I can jam onstage with guys who use a Line 6 POD( or other digital modeling preamps) and slice right through their mix. Effects can dilute a cool guitar sound sometimes. The Tubeman 2 can get noisy sometimes, particularly on channel 3. That's to be expected with a high gain sound. The sounds this guitar tube preamp pedal can make depends on your playing style. Players of all styles of music can find a lot of good uses for the Tubeman 2. It's not only a tube preamp pedal made for high gain. Players of all styles should give this pedal an audition. You can dial it in for clean (channel 1) or lower gain tones on channels 2 & 3. If you play through a solid state amp and you don't like its tone, just plug this into the effects return of your solid state amp. This allows you to control the amp from the Tubeman 2. Set your channels according to how you want the tone and use the master volume knob to control the overall volume from the Tubeman 2. It will give you a nice, warm clean tones, good slightly dirty tones or full on, high gain crunch depending on where you set the gain knobs and eq. I wouldn't recommend plugging the Tubeman 2 into the front of an amp as the amp's eq controls tends to color the guitar tube preamp pedal in a way that's not pleasing to me. Does the clean channel distort at high volumes ? Yes, it does get gritty set past the halfway mark. If I want that sort of sound, I would rather set channel 2 gain knob for very low gain with the channel 2 volume knob halfway up. Is the distortion brutal? If you're a blues, fusion or rock player, there are lot of things to like about the Tubeman 2 overdriven tones. If you're into the extreme forms of heavy metal playing with tremendous bass, scooped mids and some amount of treble in their tone, you may want to use something like a Bogner, Mesa Boogie, Marshall or Diezel amps for those kind of sounds. I liked the sound of my Tubeman 2 so much that I sold off my Boss MT-2 Metal Zone pedal.
Can I depend on the Tubeman 2? Yes, I can. Would I use it on a gig without a backup? Yes, but I would have to be sure to carry a spare 12ax7 preamp tube and an extra AC adaptor for the Tubeman 2, just in case. Has the Tubeman 2 ever broke down? Not yet. In the 10 months I've owned this, after being used on numerous gigs, jam nights, rehearsals and studio work, I find the Tubeman 2 guitar tube preamp pedal to be as solid as a tank. The design of this pedal with a steel panel top, knobs that are countersunk into the chassis on top to avoid being sheared off, with a black plastic chassis all around is well designed for abuse. I transport the Tubeman 2 in a nylon bag with a 15' power strip, the AC adaptor and 2 20' guitar cables. It's my travel rig when I don't want to use effects.
I have been playing professionally now for about 12 years. I own a lot of other gear. You can check out some of my other reviews on Harmony Central.com. If my Tubeman 2 was lost or stolen, I would replace it. What I love about it? Just about everything. What I don't like? Channel 3 can be slightly noisy at times. I have compared this to the Mesa V-Twin pedal which I was thinking of buying. I went to a store tried out the Tubeman 2 and preferred the sound and its 3 channel capabilities. I wish it had a serperate EQ for the clean & crunch channel because I like the way channel 3 works with the voicing knob. I do wish that the sides & bottom of the Tubeman 2 were all metal instead of the black plasic chassis it's housed in. I do like the bottom with padded, rubber foam. If you buy this used, be sure not to pay no more than $200.00 for it used. I would also recommend purchasing a spare 12ax7 preamp tube and an AC adaptor for a backup, if anything should happen to the Tubeman 2.