The Ibanez TS808 (TS stands for Tube Screamer) is one of the most sought after overdrive pedals in the world. Original TS808s sell for several hundreds of dollars used. The circuitry used to make the original model of this pedal in the late seventies was so groundbreaking that it inspired many pedal makers to attempt to “clone” it. In fact, a lot of popular overdrive pedals today use very similar circuits in their makeup, and some guitar buffs modify existing pedals with the intent of making them sound like a Tube Screamer. But the sound of an Ibanez TS808 has yet to be truly duplicated.
- Tone – This knob adjusts the treble frequencies of the wet signal. It starts to get a little piercing when cranked, so dialing in carefully on this control is necessary.
- Overdrive – If you have a tube amp but don’t really like the sound of its natural overdrive levels, then this knob is your best friend. Set the amp to a relatively clean volume level, crank the overdrive on the pedal, and presto! Crunchy, gorgeous overdrive.
- Level – The output control. This setting will give you a clean boost at the beginning of your chain, or will send your wet signal with some force to the amp. Perfect for lead boosts or simply to get the natural grit out of your amp tubes.
Analog circuitry – There is a good reason this pedal gets talked about, copied, and even modded, and it’s all because of the circuitry. There are better places than here to look for details of how the circuits work, but suffice it to say: this piece of silicon and metal is what makes the Ibanez TS808 one-of-a-kind.
Square footswitch – This switch stands out from most other pointy knob-switches in that it won’t stab your foot. It also stands out in that it may take a few attempts to get the switch actually to engage. If it’s on a pedalboard, it’s a good idea to give it a little headspace on either side so you can stomp it firmly without worrying about accidentally engaging other pedals.
Power – Uses AC power or a 9V battery for power. If you have this pedal in your chain, it will most likely be on for a good portion of a gig, so external power is recommended.
Quality – Really, the sound alone is worth the money. Some gearheads swear by the original model (and somehow can shell out the cash for it), but Ibanez states that it uses the same circuit in their reissues, and honestly, the tone difference to my ears is negligible, if not nonexistent. This overdrive pedal may only do one thing, but it does that one thing to perfection.
Lacks True Bypass – If you’re a tone junkie, this pedal may drive you a little crazy when it’s not engaged, because it will affect your dry signal ever so slightly. True bypass is one of the primary modifications most people make to it – but the fact that people are willing to mod it rather than get a different pedal should tell you something about just how good it sounds.
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