30 Years Of Screaming Tubes
Ibanez’s Tube Screamer pedal is a far cry from a stranger to anyone that’s played guitar for more than a day. One of the most legendary pedals out there the Tube Screamer has been replicated, remodeled, and reinvented countless times over and the legacy it’s built has brought it to its 30th anniversary. To celebrate this let’s take a look at the history of the Tube Screamer and see what it’s led up to.
Now for the guest of honor. The limited edition TS930TH. The red carpet’s been rolled out for this new version of the TS9 with its sleek, shiny, green case, transparent green knobs, and a green LED light. Anyone that’s used a Tube Screamer before shouldn’t be intimidated by the controls or controlling the sound with the traditional three knobs for tone, level, and drive.
The first incarnation of the Tube Screamer was the famous TS-808 which featured what would become the legendary JRC4558D chip. There were variations even then on the circuitry used in them resulting in differences in the amount of distortion the pedal produced depending on when and where they were purchased. Its claim to fame is largely credited to Stevie Ray Vaughan who had made it a staple asset to his sound back in the 79 and since then the legacy has only expanded.
Developed in 1982 the TS9 is the pedal that is really getting the 30th anniversary celebration here. This was the pedal that was most readily available when the craze for the Tube Screamer really came about and it was largely indifferent from the TS-808 in terms of the hardware used in it. Sound-wise they are just a tad brighter, Aesthetically the pedal adopted a newer look that would survive future designs and alongside the TS-808 design would become the model we all know and love today.
TS10, TS5, And Super Tube
Midway through the 80s the TS10 replaced the TS9 and a new model, the Super Tube, was introduced alongside it as the first incarnation to feature four knobs. Variations of the TS10 would be made all throughout the 80s until the TS5 came out and made its point known. The TS5 was released about 1990 just as the TS10 was on its way out and featured a plastic, bulbous kind of case to it and would give rise to the nostalgic demand for the TS9 to make its return, and just like any intelligent business should Ibanez listened to their fans and said “sure.” And thus the TS9 made its reissue in 93 and it’s still in production.
TS9DX And TS7
The TS9DX Turbo Tube Screamer made its debut in 1998 and is creeping up on its 15th anniversary. The TS9DX is the same pedal as the TS9, but offers a fourth knob to alter the tone and offer more distortion at the expense of volume, or more volume at the expense of distortion making it a suitable pedal for extra grit or straight up boost. The TS7 came out just a few years later and returned to the three knob setup, but came in a grey, metal case and featured a hot-mode switch that would bolster the distortion a bit more.
Just a few years after the TS7 the TS-808 would see its reissue come about that is still in production and in celebration of the TS-808 Ibanez released the completely hand wired and features the coveted JRC4558D chip that started the Tube Screamer craze decades ago.
Tube Screamer Amps
Not too terribly long ago Ibanez made the shift from overdrive pedals to amps built around the Tube Screamer circuitry in what was probably the most brilliant way to take the Tube Screamer to the next level. They’ve been made available in heads, cabinets, and combo amps for any person’s needs and actually, ironically enough, the TSA15H head is more affordable than the TS808HW.
This is just a skim of the surface to the impact the Tube Screamer has had on the history of the guitar, but this suffices as a good nutshell to see the bigger phases the Tube Screamer went through to get to the iconic stage they’ve come to now.