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The History of The Ibanez Tubescreamer

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The History of The Ibanez Tubescreamer 

The Pedal that was instrumental in the acceptance of guitar pedals as tone machines. Prior to the Tubescreamer really there was only Fuzz pedals. Yes MXR Distortion and the Boss DS1 appear at similiar times, the Tubescreamer was really a toneful guitar pedal that was very amp like in transparency. This is what guitar player's had been looking for something to push the amp to overdriven tones. 

The pedal was produced with many variants:

The tube screamer pedal was preceded by the orange "Overdrive" (OD) and green "Overdrive-II" (OD-II). These came in narrower boxes without battery covers. There was also a reddish "Overdrive-II" which had a housing very similar to the TS-808/TS808. The green OD-II had a circuit similar to the TS808; however, the OD and OD-II had a more distorted circuit.

  • TS-808/TS808: The first Tube Screamer, the TS808, was released in the late 1970s. It was equipped with the Japanese JRC-4558 chip. Some units however had the Malaysian Texas Instruments RC4558P chip.
  • TS9: From 1982 to 1985, Ibanez produced the "9-series" of effects pedals. The TS9 tube screamer is almost the same internally as the TS808. The significant change in the TS9 circuit was the output. This caused the tube screamer to sound brighter and not as smooth. In later years, TS9s were assembled with seemingly random operational amplifier chips, instead of the called-for JRC-4558.

After the 9 series was discontinued, the "Master" or "L" series was produced. This series was only made in 1985, and did not have a tube screamer in the lineup.

A rare and valuable version of the tube screamer was the ST9 Super Tube Screamer, which was sold only in Europe and Australia.

  • TS10: In 1986, Ibanez began production of the "Power Series", which included the TS10 tube screamer. The TS10 had about 3 times more changes to the circuit than the TS9 had. Some TS10 pedals were made in Taiwan, using a MC4558 chip. All TS10s (as well as other L and 10-series pedals) used floating jacks and pots, which were mounted to the boards instead of the cases. This is weak point in the design sometimes causing the jacks to break off.
  • TS5: The plastic TS5 "Soundtank" followed the TS10 and was available until 1999. The TS5 circuit is very similar to the TS9; however, it was made for Ibanez in Taiwan by Daphon. First year of production had a metal casing, afterwards the casing was made out of plastic (which resulted in more noise than a typical TS808/TS9 box made out of metal). However, these plastic versions still have a shielded and grounded metal bottom plate for a slight interference reduction plus the needed weight to keep the pedal from sliding because of its light weight.
  • TS7: 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. Most TS7 pedals came with the JRC4558D chip, like the TS808 and TS9.
  • TS808HW: In early 2016, Ibanez revealed the TS808HW. Marketed as a premium, limited edition pedal, TS808HW is hand-wired with select JRC4558D chips and uses high-end OFC cables from Japan. HW is encased in a dark green, heavy duty metal box. It also comes standard with True Bypass, a feature many had to mod into the circuits of previous Tube Screamers .

The TS9 and TS808 pedals have been reissued, and according to the company, 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. Also, Maxon, who produced the original Tube Screamer pedals for the Ibanez brand in the 1970's - 1980's, produce their own version of the Tube Screamer (called Overdrives: the OD-808 and OD-9 as oppose to Tube Screamer, TS).