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An Ibanez Tube Screamer is an overdrive/distortion pedal thatis mild compared to many, but allows the true sound of the guitarand player's technique to come through. The most popular use of atube screamer is to push a tube amp to make it overdrive more,but they sound good through almost anything.
Is there any way to tell exactly what model i have by the serial number? Like a website etc. For late 70s and 80s models you can use the 4 digit datecode which is printed on the capacitors inside the pedal, type the datecode into my IC datecode decoder. For details of my Ibanez database click here. Please note this does not use the serial number, just the Ibanez model number.
If you are a geek like we are, check out this awesomearticle Tube Screamer®’s Secret for some cool info about whythe tube screamer circuit sounds so good.
The first Tube Screamer was the green TS-808overdrive pro in the late '70s. It was preceded by the Orange'Overdrive' and green 'Overdrive-II' whichcame in narrower boxes without the battery cover, and the reddish'Overdrive-II' which had a box very similar to theTS-808. The lighter green OD-855 Overdrive-II is also in theTS-808 style box and has a circuit which is similar to the 808 -the board part numbers only differ by one digit. The overdriveand OD-II had a different, much more distorted, fuzzy circuit closeto a Big Muff.
The TS-808 and its generation have small square metal on/offtouch-buttons. Almost all TS-808's sound great. There were someTS-808s made in the 1979 period, mostly for other than USAmarkets, that came in a narrower box. These have a bottom platethat unscrews to change the battery like an MXR pedal, no plasticbattery cover. This narrow TS-808 had a different circuit. It uses two 1458 chips which are the 1st versionof the low-tech dual op-amp. Also the LEVEL knob on these islabeled BALANCE and the external 9V power jack is on the side next to theinput jack. It used the same case as the earlier OVERDRIVE andOVERDRIVE-II pedals which used stomp switches. These had a circuit boardlabeled OD-801. This board can also be found in some old Maxon OD-808 OVERDRIVE pedals which had a TS808 style switch and a power jackon the side (not to be confused with the 2000-era Maxon OD808).Ibanez reissued the narrow TS-808 as the '35th Anniversary TS-808'in 2014. It is a very accurate reissue except they used JRC4558D chipsinstead of the 1458 chips. We have a mod to make these the same as the originals.
Early TS-808's have the Ibanez (R) 'trademark' logowhich some people seek. There is really no difference, althoughsome of these have a Malaysian Texas InstrumentsRC4558P chip instead of the normal Japanese JRC4558 chip. A rare chip usedwas the TL4558P chip, as used in some early 8-pin IC chip Boss OD-1 pedals.This is also Jim Weider's favorite chip in the King Of Tone pedal.Some of the early TS-808s also have a nut holding the power adaptor jack on, whilelater ones have no nut and a flush adaptor jack. It is notunusual for a TS-808 to have an undercoat of a different color(which can be seen in the ever-present corner chips).
Tube Screamer Family PhotoHere are some Ibanez pedals. The TS808s are seen in the middle. You can see one of the Narrow Euro TS-808 pedals, it's the leftmostof the TS-808s. Thetop row center 4 knob pedals are the ST9 Super Tube Screamers.At the top left are a pair of TS-10 pedals. The bottom left are SD9 Sonic Distortions. The bottom right is the original orangeIbanez Overdrive, with the slightly later OVERDRIVE-II on it'sleft, with the last version OVERDRIVE-II one more to the left.
Click here for some more pictures ofour batch of TS-808s and other rare Ibanez pedals from thetube screamer family. Also a new TS9 that we made into a RELIC.
Original TS-808 dataThe following list are some of the serial numbers and features of TS-808 pedals I have had in the shop or friends' pedals. (R) means the trademark after Ibanez on thetop of the pedal.
- 104322?(R) JRC4558D 1980, 80/15th week caps, nut on power jack
- 107140 (R) JRC4558D from 1980, 1980/24th week on caps, nut on power jack
- 111179 (R) jRC4558D 1980, from SRV/Cesar Diaz, nut on power jack
- 111642 (R) JRC4558D 1980 nut on power jack
- 112198 (R) JRC4558D 1980, nut on power jack 2SK121 FETS
- 112862 (R) RC4558P Malaysia 1980/31st week, nut on power jack
- 116118 (R) RC4558P Malaysia, nut on power jack
- 116198 (R) RC4558P Malay '80/31, nut on dc jack, SK121 FETS, Meaty tone, Phil Caivano's
- 120229 (R)
- 120274 (R) RC4558P 1980/35th week, power jack nut
- 120407 (R)
- 122540 9r) JRC4558D 0378, power jack nut
- 122858 (R)
- 126469 (R) RC4558P
- 126648 (R)
- 127460 (R) JRC4558D 1980 chip
- 131544 (R) RC4558P Malaysia 1980/40th week, no power jack nut
- 131542 (?) no power jack nut, 2SK44
- 131630 (R) RC4558P malaysia chip 1980/35th week, 2SK44
- 131661 (R)
- 139080 (R) no nut on the power jack 4558D JRC 1150
- 139290 (R) no nut on power jack, JRC4558D 0727 chip made in 1980
- 139329 (R)
- 139659 no nut on jack, Texas inst Malaysia chip
- 139767 TI RC4558P
- 144650 TL4558P 1981?
- 144990 no (R)
- 145??? (R) 'NEC C4558C P0918E' chip, uncommon chip
- 145570 (R) TL4558P chip by Texas Instruments, 1981
- 146264 (R) is OD-855 in TS808 shell
- 151870 (R) (orig#?) 1981 JRC4558D
- 152048 (R)
- 153125 no (R)
- 154114 no (R) JRC4558D
- 157788 no (R)
- 158135 (R)'81 JRC4558D
- 162972 JRC4558D killer tone
- 163311 no (R) JRC4558D, 1981 chip
- 164337 no (R) JRC4558D, no power jack nut, 1981 chip and caps
- 170002 no (R) '81 JRC4558D chip, no power jack nut
- 175729 no (R) JRC4558D chip, no power jack nut
- 177390 no (R) '81 JRC4558D, no power jack nut
- 178490 no (R)
- 181298 no (R) or nut, 1981 JRC4558D 1444 2SK44 FETS
- 149111 - late 1981 TS9, with JRC2043DD chip.
- 197833 - Early TS9 from 1981.
As you can see, the JRC chip was used throughout thelife of the TS-808 and the TL4558P wasused sometimes. In AB tests, there is VERY little difference betweenthe three chips, although the JRC gives the strongest CLASSIC tube screamersound- the sweet vocal midrange. The Malaysian RC4558P chip was probably used to save some money as they were cheaper than aJapanese made JRC chip. We would be glad to use the RC chip in yourmod if you would like. They have a little bit more grit which some people might like. The early TS808 used a circuit board marked MP-D01201A,then in late 1980 or so they changed to the MP-D01201B board.
SRV usedthe TS-808 for his trademark juicy strat tone. When he usedsmaller Fender amps that had natural overdrive, he used the TSset clean (low drive setting) with the level up high to push theamp for more distortion (see my CLEAN BOOST info below). When heplayed through big clean amps he turned the drive up more, about1/2 way, with tone on about 3 and level about 7 to get thedistortion from the TS.
Around 1982 until 1985 the Ibanezpedals were repackaged and the 9-series of effects were made. Themost popular was the TS-9 tube screamer, which is almost the sameas the TS-808 internally. Externally the on/off switch grew tofill about 1/3 of the effect. The main change in the TS-9 circuitis in the output section. This caused the tube screamer to be abit brighter and less 'smooth'. The Edge fromU2 uses a TS9 for most of his overdrive tones, as do countlessother famous rock and blues players. In later years theTS-9s were put together with other op-amp chips,instead of the JRC-4558 which is called for in the schematics.Some of these sound BAD, especially the JRC 2043DD chips. Many usedthe Toshiba TA75558 which was continued on the reissue. Ifyou have an original TS9 with the 2043 chip, our 808 mods will makea huge difference in tone.
STL and TS10
After the 9 series was discontinued, the MASTER or L seriespedals were made, without a tube screamer in the lineup.This series was only made in about 1985.They did include the SUPER TUBE model STL, which is like a 4 knobtube screamer. It is similar to the rare and valuable ST-9Super Tube Screamer which seems to have been sold only in Europe.These are like a Tube Screamer with an added MIDS control, which isbefore clipping on the ST-9 and after the clipping stage in the STL. Then in about 1986 the similarly made POWER SERIES or 10 seriesappeared, including the TS-10 tube screamer. Compared to a TS-808, a TS-10 has about 3 times more circuitchanges than the TS-9 had.From about 1988 through 89 when the 10 series ended, some TS-10 pedals were made in Taiwan, using an MC4558 chip. All TS-10s (and other L and 10 series pedals) used cheap jacks and pots whichwere mounted to the boards instead of the cases, so theyoften break or fall apart and cannot be fixed like a hand-made pedal (ts9 and ts808are all handmade, hand wired parts). There is also a ribbon cable insidewhich attaches the pot board to the main board.
The plastic TS-5 'Soundtank'followed the TS-10 and was available until about 1999 when theTS7 'TONE LOK' series came out. The TS-5 circuit isvery similar to the TS-9 but made in Taiwan by DAPHON with cheaper, smallercomponents. Also, the box is plastic so there may be more noisethan a shielded metal TS-808 or TS-9 box. Some people are happywith these but most prefer the older ones.
In about 1993, Ibanez started to make the TS-9 again due to popular demand.This 'reissue' is just about identical to the last'original' TS-9s in sound, circuitry, and appearance.They even used the old manual dated 1981 to confuse us more!The IC chip they use in the reissue is the same as some lateroriginal TS-9s, the Toshiba TA75558. They are a higher tech chipthat will work good in higher tech equipment (where you want alow noise op amp) but are not the best for a tube screamer. Ifyou want some of these chips I have several thousand slightly used ones! ;-)
In about June of '96 the reissue TS-9 was changed slightly,and finally can be told from an 'original' TS-9 easily.There is a 'CE' symbol on the back, which is requiredfor selling electronics in Europe. Also a capacitor was added tothe back of the board (the only component ever used on the backof a tube screamer board). This is to help with the switchingcircuit and should not affect the sound. The extra capacitor isno longer used, now they changed the value of C113 from 102 to103 (10,000pF). C113 is between the wires labeled 3 and 4 on theback of the board. If you have a 102 you can change it to 103 toimprove switching (switching is the one thing about TS-9s that sucks!). I think the new TS-9 sounds the same as the earlier reissues and last originals.
In late 2002 the largest change to the TS9 ever took place.Maxon (actually Nisshin Onpa, the manufacturer or Maxon pedals)is no longer making the TS9 and TS9DX pedals for Ibanez.Ibanez is now having another company make them.The new TS9s are now easy to distinguish. The new circuitboard is of slightly cheaper construction, and no longer says MAXON, now it says Ibanez. You will also see IBANEZ cast into the case if you pull back the foam a bit near the battery, the older ones said MAXON there. The battery covers also have IBANEZ on theminstead of Maxon. The battery covers had never been changedsince the original TS-808.
The input jacks on the late 2002 models were terribleand tended to jam, with the plug stuck in tight. In 2003 theymade them a little better.Otherwise they are about the same as the Maxon madeTS9 pedals and seem to sound the same.But the boards are more fragile, so extreme care needs to be takenwhen modifying them. But they should be fine, we have nothad many problems with these, and the switches seem better than before.
In Europe, they brought back the JRC4558D chip sometime later, possiblydue to RoHS laws (leaded parts or solder are not legal in Europe) but as of2011 they are not using the JRC chip consistently in the TS9 pedals sent to the USA.They did seem to start using them in the USA more recently.
TS9 originals VS reissues
Here are the bottoms of the four different TS9s. On the right is an originalwith black label, easy to tell and date, if 1st digit is a 1, that would mean1981 (a VERY early TS9!). These usually have the JRC4558D chip, or sometimes the lousy JRC2043D chip.
Second on the right is an original silver label TS9. The 1st digit is a 3 meaning 1983, you will see a lot of these with a 4 for 1984. These can have the earlier chips or sometimesthe TA75558 chip as used in the reissues. These are almost impossible to tell from the 1st reissue TS9. But the Reissue TS9 willusually not have a serial # starting with 3 or 4. I have reissueswith a 206XXX and 207XXX number here with a capacitor made in 1990, maybe a very early reissue from 1992. These have silver labels, an originalfrom 1982 would probably have had a black label. I also see a lotof TS9s with serial # starting with 1 with a silver label. These areall reissues as a 1981 would be a TS808 or a very early TS9 with ablack label. However I have seen a 1983 TS9 with serial number299866 with a silver label. It has the JRC4558D chip and capacitorswith 1983 date codes and resistors coated in green. So if the first digit is2 and the label is silver you will have to open it up to date it.I have also seen a 1982 Ts9 (chip, caps dated 1982 and green resistors) with the serial number 288379 and a silver label. Also a late 1982 (8250 caps, 2474 chip) serial # 205442 with silver labeland green resistors.
If it's a silver label, it's hard to figure out if it's original unless the serialnumber starts with 3 or 4. if not, and the resistors are not green coated, or it's not an original JRC chip (see below and the TS808 TV mod for pictures of the chips) then it's probably no more valuable than a reissue (if it is in factan original). Yes this is confusing.. you can also try to find date codeson the metal can capacitors. You may find 8302 which means 1983, etc. See below for more on dating the capacitors.
Third from the rightis a 2nd version reissue, with the CE symbol. All TS9s with the CE are reissues.It still uses the original MAXON circuit board and MAXON on thebattery cover. The reissues all have the TA75558 chip. Note the boxhas bar code info, this will not be found on the original boxes.
On the left is the latest 2002+ reissue, with the IBANEZ board and IBANEZon the battery cover.
Ts9 circuit parts
You can tell an early TS9 by the green coated resistors inside.But I have a 1980 TS808 that has mostly tan coated resistors and a few green ones so theywere not consistent. Some late originals used thebrown coated resistors also, so check the date codes on the electrolytic can capacitors.Usually the first two digits are the year, as in the pictures below : A8350 = 1983, 50th week (original TS9, with the TA75558P chip which was used insome later originals and all reissues, with green resistors which were only found on originals). The other picture is a reissue TS9 with date codes A9625 = 1996, 25th weekand brown resistors as used on very late originals and all reissue TS9 pedals. Also you can tell the original JRC chips as they are shiny and dark, while thenew chips are dull and a bit grey looking.
Reissue TS9 board below:
In early 2004 Ibanez finally reissued the TS-808 pedal due topopular demand. It looks fine except the color seems 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 originalTS808 and pre-2002 TS9. It does have the correct JRC4558D op amp and outputresistors, so it sounds better than the TS9 reissue,similar to our CLASSIC TS9/808 mod.We have a cool mojo mod using NOS parts for the TS-808 reissue and also offerour SILVER mod on it. See my tube screamer page for more info.
In late summer of 1998 the TS9DX Turbo Tube Screamer wasmade available for those who want more volume, distortion, andlow end. It is the same as the TS9 but has an added knob whichhas four MODE positions. Each position adds low end,increases volume, and actually decreases distortion.The 1st mode is the same as a TS9, the 2nd is not too badbut the 3rd and 4th are too much. Starting in late 2002 we have offered MODE MODS to make all four modes more useable
Does auto tune pro work with protools 10. See our TS9DX page for more infoon this pedal. This pedal is AWESOME on BASS GUITAR as well asguitar.
TS7 Tone Lok
The latest new tube screamer was made available about early 2000,the TS7 TONE-LOK pedal. It is made in Taiwan like the TS5 but ina metal case that should stand up better. There are severalcircuit boards inside, they seem to be generic and severaldifferent effects can be built using the same boards (they aremostly empty boards!). These have a HOT mode switch for extradistortion and volume, which is quite useable. The HOT mode stillworks after the mod, and gets a similar improvement to thetone (less harsh, smoother, but still has lots of drive). Most TS7 pedals come with the correct JRC4558D chip, so weusually don't have to change the chip in our TS7 mods. The TS7 is a lotcheaper than a TS9 but I don't think they will hold up as well tosevere use. They are not hand made/hand wired like a TS9 or TS808.All the boards, connectors, and cables inside add alot of complexity and there are many things to break. Alsothe tiny micro switches seem to be failing and we do notcarry replacements.
This pedal is the highest-end Tube Screamer ever made, to get part of the boutique market.It does not use a circuit board, instead parts are hand soldered onto a strip boardlike some old fuzz pedals, our Beano Boost, and many prototypes. The parts are about thesame as a normal TS808 except I noticed they used our King Of Tone clipping diodes, whichmakes them a little louder and less compressed. They also have true bypass and come in a cool box. We can do our silver or TV mod on these but can't change the chip. However theyuse a 'select' JRC4558D chip which should be fine.
Maxon OD-808 mods
We have worked on the Maxon OD-808and now offer our 808/SILVER mod for it.The Maxon OD-808 is actually a TS-10 circuit (uses TS9/TS10output section) so it takes some serious work.The circuit boards are a little fragile, like the 2003+ TS9s,so we have to be very careful so as notto damage them. We also include TRUE BYPASS onthese mods because Maxon uses a normal size stomp switch which we can easilychange to a 3PDT switch for true bypass. So if you are a sticklerfor true bypass, the Maxon OD-808/Silver may be the pedal for you.The OD808 is not as well made as a TS9 though, the pots are really cheapand break easily and cannot be replaced with a normal pot like a TS9.So the OD808 is only recommended for pedalboard use when it won't be moved or stepped on muchdue to the cheaper construction.
Maxon OD-9 mods
The Maxon OD-9 was released in the summer of 2002. Itis a TS9 with the correct JRC4558D chip and originally had a DPDT switch replacing the FET switching. It had 'normal' bypass like an old 70s pedal but did notreally suck any tone when OFF. Later ones have a 4pdt switchfor true bypass and LED switching. Since it is an exact TS9circuit, we offer the same mods on the OD-9 as the TS9, either the CLASSICor the SILVER mod, along with KWS option. These are hand-made with normalhand-wired parts (pots, jacks, etc) like the TS9 so we can keep them running forever.
Can you make my Tube Screamer true bypass??
In order to make an Ibanez, Boss or other electronically-switched pedal true bypass, we need to drill a hole on top andmount a standard round metal stomp switch. On the TS9 there isalready a small hole under the plaque on top, and there is justenough room inside the pedal for a switch. We also need to hot-wire the circuitso it is always ON. We do offer true bypass mods on the TS9 and TS808. If youalready have a TS9 or TS808, and have too many buffered pedals on your board, then the truebypass mod could be a good idea. If you don't already have a tube screamer, and want truebypass, the Maxon OD9 is the obvious choice and will work out cheaper too with our 808classic or silver mods. The TS808HW Hand Wired has true bypass also, but isquite expensive.
Another solution would be to use a TRUE BYPASS box, which is a small boxwith IN, OUT, SEND, and RETURN jacks, and a switch. When OFF, thesignal goes direct from the IN to the OUT jack. When ON, thesignal goes through the SEND/RETURN effects loop (and the pedalthat you have in that loop). These are handy for having around,you can even use it as an AB box in a bind. It iseven possible to build multiple true bypass boxes with multipleloops/switches. See our switchbox page for many examples.I tested a TS9 in my TRUE BYPASS BOX to see if the TS9 was effectingthe tone when it was OFF. There was a small loss in veryhigh frequencies, but the sound was excellent and actually can bebetter when using very bright amps like my Deluxe Reverb.
Using a Tube Screamer for CLEAN BOOST mode
Another use, which works best with a TS-808 or my TS-808 modis a clean boost. Turn the gain (top left) knob almost all theway down (maybe on 1) and turn the tone (middle) knob down almostall the way too, and crank up the output volume (top right) tothe desired boost level. This can boost a tube amp with nicesmooth tone and very little pedal distortion (makes more tubedistortion).
Do you change the capacitors or other components in your mod?
Our CLASSIC 808 mod does not change the capacitor values, it usesthe exact same values as an original TS-808. Anyone can find informationonline on changing various capacitors in a tube screamer to add low end.I have tried every mod I have seen online and many more that I came upwith, and none of the simple capacitor changes sound quite right. Theylose the sweet tone which is the reason to use a tube screamer,though it will sound good in a bedroom it may get very muddyon stage or recording with a band.These easy capacitor mods boost the low end like in the TS9DX modes,so it tends to get muddy. When we sell the DX we recommend ourMODE MODS on the DX, which changes the deepest mode to about the sameamount of low end as the 2nd mode on the stock DX. We also do not increase the DRIVE, as this does not sound righton a tube screamer. If you need more drive, it is betterto use another pedal either seperately or along with thetube screamer. Or many people use two tube screamers in a row, Trey from Phish and Kenny Wayne Shepherd are some of ourmore famous customers who use them this way. If you really need a little more low end we can add it at no charge, using thecommon boutique TS capacitor value, just put a note on your mod formthat you want a little more low end along with one of our 808 mods, no extra charge.
Check out our BEAT TUBE SCREAMER page for some nastylooking pedals that still sound killer! Do you have one even morebeat up that you still use?
Please see our TS9DX PAGE for more info on modified TS9DX/808 pedals.
Please see our BOSS PAGE for more infoon modified Boss pedals.
Keep on Screamin!
Return to the aNaLoG.MaN Tube Screamer page or the aNaLoG.MaN main page
The 2375 was Ibanez’ Stratocaster copy model and beneath the 2350 LP copy probably one of the best selling models in the early to mid 70s.
It doesn’t have a serial number so it’s built before mid 75 when Ibanez introduced the rserila system.
The stamp on the back of the pickguard and the pots date this model to 1974.
Later Stratocaster copies made by Ibanez with serials were called Silver Series and Challenger. They’re said to belong to best copies ever made.
I don’t own one yet but I’m on the hunt 😉