Starting with the TS-808, these little green monsters known as “tube screamers” have been gracing the pedal boards of guitarists for more than 30 years. Over the years, the shade of green and look have the pedal has morphed a bit, but the popularity has never waned.
I remember these pedals being quite popular back in the late ’70s, but I think most would agree that it was Stevie Ray Vaughan who played a pretty big role in the TS9’s surge in popularity. Eric Johnson was also a fan and known to use one to a large degree. What’s amazing is that over all these years, and through all the re-issues, the overall design has never really changed. This is most likely due to the fact that Ibanez had no reason to fix what was not broken. Many guitarists love the Tube Screamer, and many have loved it just the way it is.
That said, there have been some popular mods. The most well known mod is the Keeley Modded Tube Screamer. Highlights of this mod are enhanced bass and additional drive. There have been some dark days though. In the mid 80’s, there was the “Master” or “L” series, known for cheap plastic construction, sub- standard POTS and substantial changes to the design. Some recent highlights are the TS-808 reissue, which satisfied the yearning from those who missed the originals, and the TS9DX Turbo, which offered substantially more drive and four “Modes”.
In the end, this pedal has stood the test of time because for most, it sounds great. It may not be some people’s cup of tea, but many guitarists found the tone they were looking for in this pedal.
Ibanez Tube Screamer Links