The Ibanez Tube Screamer is a guitar overdrive pedal, made by Ibanez. The pedal has a characteristic mid-boosted tone popular with blues players. The “legendary” Tube Screamer has been used by guitarists such as Stevie Ray Vaughan to create their signature sound, and is one of the most popular and most copied overdrive pedals.
The Tube Screamer is a popular guitar effects pedal that’s used to boost the signal and add gain to the guitar. It was developed by an American musician, known as Bradshaw, in the 1970s. The Tube Screamer has been used by many famous musicians, including Stevie Ray Vaughan, Eric Clapton, and David Gilmour.
But how did it get its name? Let’s find out!
The Ibanez TS9 Pedal
A Brief History
The Ibanez TS9 pedal was the king of the road from 1982 to 1985. It was a revolutionary piece of equipment, with its on/off switch taking up a third of the effect. It was also known as the TS-808 internally.
The main difference between the TS-9 and its predecessors was the output section. This made it brighter and less “smooth” than its predecessors.
The Edge from U2 is one of the most famous users of the TS9, as are countless other guitarists.
The Inside Scoop
When the original TS9s were made, they were put together with other op-amp chips instead of the JRC-4558 which was called for in the schematics. Some of these chips, like the JRC 2043DD, sounded pretty bad. Most of the reissues used the Toshiba TA75558 chip.
If you’ve got an original TS9 with the 2043 chip, our 808 mods will make it sound like it’s brand new!
The Tube Screamer: A Pedal for All Genres
A Pedal for the Ages
The Tube Screamer is a pedal that has been around for decades and is beloved by guitarists of all genres. It’s been used by country, blues, and metal musicians alike, and has been popularized by the likes of Stevie Ray Vaughan, Lee Ritenour, and Gary Moore.
A Pedal for All Tastes
The Tube Screamer has been around for so long that it’s been modified and cloned in all sorts of ways. Robert Keeley of Keeley Electronics and Mike Piera of AnalogMan have both put their own spin on the pedal, and Joan Jett, Trey Anastasio, and Alex Turner have all used it in their rigs.
A Pedal for All Occasions
The Tube Screamer is a great pedal for all kinds of situations. Here’s a few of the ways it can be used:
- To make distortion more focused and cut the low end.
- To add a bit of extra crunch to your sound.
- To add some extra bite to your leads.
- To give your sound a bit of extra oomph.
So, whether you’re a bluesman, a metalhead, or something in between, the Tube Screamer is a great pedal to have in your arsenal.
Understanding the Tube Screamer Pedal
What is it?
The Tube Screamer is a classic guitar pedal that’s been around for decades. It’s got three knobs – drive, tone, and level – that let you adjust the gain, treble, and output volume of your sound. It’s also known for its ability to drive the preamp section of a tube amp, giving you more gain and a mid-range boost that helps cut bass frequencies and keep your sound from getting lost in the mix.
Why is it Popular?
The Tube Screamer is a great choice for a wide variety of styles and situations. Here’s why:
- It’s got a ton of versatility – you can use it for simple distortion or to drive your tube amp.
- It’s got three knobs that let you adjust the gain, treble, and output volume of your sound.
- It gives you a mid-range boost that helps cut bass frequencies and keep your sound from getting lost in the mix.
- It’s been around for decades, so it’s got a proven track record of success.
How to Use it?
Using the Tube Screamer is easy! Just plug it in, adjust the knobs to your desired settings, and you’re ready to rock. Here’s a quick rundown of what each knob does:
- Drive knob: adjusts gain (which affects the amount of distortion).
- Tone knob: adjusts treble.
- Level knob: adjusts the output volume of the pedal.
So there you have it – the Tube Screamer is a classic guitar pedal that’s easy to use and can give you a ton of versatility in your sound. Give it a try and see what it can do for you!
A Look at the Different Variations of the Tube Screamer Pedal
The Early Years
Back in the day, Ibanez had a few different versions of the Tube Screamer pedal. There was the orange “Overdrive” (OD), the green “Overdrive-II” (OD-II), and the reddish “Overdrive-II” which had a housing very similar to the TS-808/TS808.
The first Tube Screamer, the TS808, was released in the late 1970s. It was equipped with either the Japanese JRC-4558 chip or the Malaysian-manufactured Texas Instruments RC4558P chip.
From 1981 to 1985, Ibanez produced the “9-series” of overdrive pedals. The TS9 Tube Screamer was almost the same internally as the TS808, but it had a different output, making it sound brighter and less smooth. Later versions of the TS9 were assembled with a variety of op-amps, instead of the sought-after JRC-4558.
In 1986, Ibanez began production of the “Power Series”, which included the TS10 Tube Screamer. This one had three times as many changes to the circuit than the TS9 had had. Some TS10 pedals were made in Taiwan, using a MC4558 chip.
The plastic TS5 “Soundtank” followed the TS10 and was available until 1999. It was made in Taiwan by Daphon, although designed by Maxon. The first year of production had a metal casing; afterwards, the casing was made out of plastic.
The TS7 “Tone-Lok” pedal was released in 1999. It was made in Taiwan like the TS5, but in an aluminum case that was more durable. The circuit inside had a “hot” mode switch for extra distortion and volume.
In early 2016, Ibanez released the TS808HW. This limited edition pedal was hand-wired with select JRC4558D chips and uses high-end OFC cables from Japan. It also comes standard with True Bypass.
The TS-808DX is a combined TS808 equipped with the Japanese JRC-4558 chip with a 20db booster to be used separately or in conjunction with the overdrive.
Ibanez has reissued the TS9 and TS808 pedals, claiming they feature the same circuitry, electronics and design components that helped shape the famous Tube Screamer sound. Some musicians have a technician perform modifications to the unit to change the sound to their liking. Maxon also produces their own version of the Tube Screamer (called Overdrives: the OD-808 and OD-9).
Released around 2011, the TS9B was a bass overdrive pedal designed for bass players. It had five knobs: Drive, Mix, Bass, Treble and Level controls. The Mix and 2-band Eq. controls allowed bassists to produce the sound they wanted.
So, if you’re looking for a truly unique sound, you can’t go wrong with the Tube Screamer. With so many variations, you’re sure to find the perfect one for your needs. Whether you’re looking for a classic sound or something totally new, the Tube Screamer has you covered.
The Iconic TS-808 Tube Screamer Reissue
The TS-808 Tube Screamer is an iconic pedal that has been used by some of the world’s most renowned guitarists. After years of popular demand, Ibanez finally reissued the pedal in 2004.
The reissue looks pretty good, though some people have said that the color isn’t quite the same as the original.
The reissue uses the 2002+ TS9 reissue board made by Ibanez, not the older, higher quality MAXON board like the original TS808 and pre-2002 TS9. It does have the correct JRC4558D op amp and output resistors, so it sounds better than the TS9 reissue.
If you’re looking to take your TS-808 reissue to the next level, there are some cool mods available. These include:
- The Mojo Mod: Uses NOS parts to give your reissue a unique sound.
- The Silver Mod: Gives your reissue a classic, vintage sound.
What is a Tube Screamer?
The Tube Screamer is a classic guitar pedal that has been around since the 70s. It was designed to compete with other popular pedals like the BOSS OD-1 and MXR Distortion+. But what makes it unique is its innovative circuit, which uses a monolithic operational amplifier device. This creates a sound that is different from the “discrete” transistorized 60’s fuzzes.
Here’s how it works:
- Two silicon diodes are arranged in an anti-parallel arrangement into the negative feedback circuit of an operational amplifier (“op-amp”) circuit.
- This produces soft, symmetrical distortion of the input waveform.
- When the output exceeds the forward volt drop of the diodes, the amplifier gain is much lower, effectively limiting the output.
- A “drive” potentiomenter in the feedback path provides variable gain.
- The circuit also uses transistor buffers at both the input and the output, to improve impedance matching.
- It also has a post-distortion equalization circuit with a first-order high-pass shelving filter.
- This is followed by a simple low-pass filter and active tone control circuit and volume control.
- It also has a modern electronic field-effect transistor (FET) “noiseless” bypass switching to turn the effect on and off.
The Tube Screamer uses a variety of chips to create its sound. The most popular one is the JRC4558D chip. It’s a low priced, general purpose dual operational amplifier, introduced mid 70s by Texas Instruments.
Other chips used include the TL072 (a JFET input type, highly popular in 80s), “original” TI RC4558P, and OPA2134. There’s also the TA75558 (made by Toshiba), which is standard in the TS10 alongside the 4558.
But don’t get too caught up in the chips – the type of op-amp has little to do with the sound of the pedal, which is dominated by the diodes in the op-amp’s feedback path.
Everything You Need to Know About the TS9 Circuit Parts
The Early TS9
If you’re looking for an early TS9, you can tell it apart by the green coated resistors inside. But don’t be fooled if you have a 1980 TS808 with mostly tan coated resistors and a few green ones – they weren’t consistent. Some late originals used brown coated resistors too, so you’ll need to check the date codes on the electrolytic can capacitors.
The Reissue TS9 Board
In 2004, Ibanez finally reissued the TS-808 pedal due to popular demand. It looks good, but the color may be a bit off. The reissue TS-808 uses the new 2002+ TS9 reissue board, made by Ibanez, not the older, slightly better quality MAXON board like the original TS808 and pre-2002 TS9. It does have the correct JRC4558D op amp and output resistors, so it sounds better than the TS9 reissue.
In 1998, the TS9DX Turbo Tube Screamer was released for those who wanted more volume, distortion, and low end. It’s the same as the TS9 but has an added knob with four MODE positions. Each position adds low end, increases volume, and decreases distortion. Starting in 2002, MODE MODS were offered to make all four modes more useable.
TS7 Tone Lok
The TS7 TONE-LOK pedal was made available around 2000. It’s made in Taiwan like the TS5 but in a metal case that should be more durable. It has a HOT mode switch for extra oomph after the mod, which gives a similar improvement to the tone (less harsh, smoother, but still with lots of drive). Most TS7 pedals come with the correct JRC4558D chip, so usually no chip change is needed.
The TS808HW Hand-wired is the highest-end Tube Screamer ever made, to get part of the boutique market. It doesn’t use a circuit board, instead parts are hand soldered onto a strip board like some old fuzz pedals. It has true bypass and comes in a cool box. We can do our silver or TV mod on these but can’t change the chip.
We have worked on the Maxon OD-808 and now offer our 808/SILVER mod for it. The Maxon OD-808 is actually a TS-10 circuit (uses TS9/TS10 output section) so it takes some serious work. We also include TRUE BYPASS on these mods because Maxon uses a normal size stomp switch which we can easily change to a 3PDT switch for true bypass. So if you’re a stickler for true bypass, the Maxon OD-808/Silver may be the pedal for you.
Understanding the Difference Between TS9 Originals and Reissues
Black Label: The Easiest Way to Tell
If you’re trying to figure out whether you’ve got an original TS9 or a reissue, the easiest way is to look at the label. If it’s black, you’re looking at a 1981 original – the very first TS9! These usually have the JRC4558D chip inside.
Silver Label: A Bit Trickier
If the label is silver, it’s a bit trickier. The first digit of the serial number can give you a clue – if it’s a 3, it’s from 1983, and if it’s a 4, it’s from 1984. These can have the earlier chips, or sometimes the TA75558 chip used in the reissues. It’s almost impossible to tell the difference between the original and the first reissue TS9. But the reissue TS9 will usually not have a serial number starting with 3 or 4.
Dating the Capacitors
If the serial number doesn’t start with 3 or 4, and the resistors aren’t green coated, or it’s not an original JRC chip, it’s a reissue. Confusing, right? You can also try to find date codes on the metal can capacitors. You may find 8302, which means 1983, and so on.
The Latest Reissue
The latest reissue is from 2002+, and it has an IBANEZ board and IBANEZ parts. It’s easy to tell this one apart, as it has a CE symbol and a barcode on the box.
Green Coated Resistors: The Key to Originality
You can tell an early TS9 by the green coated resistors inside. But don’t be fooled – some late originals used brown coated resistors too, so check the date codes on the electrolytic can capacitors. A8350 = 1983, 50th week (original TS9).
The TS-808 Reissue
In 2004, Ibanez finally reissued the TS-808 pedal due to popular demand. It looks the part, but the color is a bit off. It uses the new 2002+ TS9 reissue board, made by Ibanez, not the older, slightly better quality MAXON board like the original TS808 and pre-2002 TS9. It does have the correct JRC4558D op amp and output resistors, so it sounds better than the TS9 reissue.
The TS9DX Turbo
In 1998, Ibanez released the TS9DX Turbo Tube Screamer. It’s the same as the TS9, but with an added knob that has four MODE positions. Each position adds low end, increases volume, and decreases distortion. Starting in late 2002, they offered MODE MODS to make all four modes more useable. This pedal is awesome on bass guitar as well as guitar.
The TS7 Tone Lok
The latest addition to the Tube Screamer family is the TS7 Tone Lok. It’s a mini version of the TS9, with the same classic sound but in a smaller package. It’s got a three-way toggle switch to choose between three modes – warm, hot, and turbo – and a drive knob to adjust the amount of distortion.
Conclusion: The Tube Screamer is an iconic pedal that has revolutionized the way guitarists create their sound. It’s a great tool for adding distortion and boosting mid-range frequencies, and it’s been used in countless genres and styles of music. So, if you’re looking to ROCK OUT with your guitar, the Tube Screamer is a MUST-HAVE! And don’t forget the golden rule: no matter what type of pedal you use, always remember to SHRED RESPONSIBLY!
I'm Joost Nusselder, the founder of Neaera and a content marketer, dad, and love trying out new equipment with guitar at the heart of my passion, and together with my team, I've been creating in-depth blog articles since 2020 to help loyal readers with recording and guitar tips.
Check me out on Youtube where I try out all of this gear:Subscribe