Ibanez Tube Scremer, The Legendary and Iconic Overdrive Guitar Effect

Ibanez Tube Scremer – The overdrive guitar effect pedal is one of the key ingredients for a guitarist’s character sound. Maybe we can see this overdrive pedal as a mandatory gear in a guitarist’s set-up. Manufacturers of guitar plugins are also not left behind, they include an overdrive pedal in their line of features. Then when did this trend start to emerge and how much impact did this pedal have on the character of the guitarist’s sound. This article briefly discusses the history of the Ibanez tube screamer as one of the iconic pedals from its periodization to its transformation.

First designed by S. Tamura in the late 70s, the Ibanez Tube Screamer (TS) is arguably one of my favorite overdrive pedals. This pedal is used by great guitarists of various genres such as Eric Johnson (instrumentalist), Trey Anastasio (rock), and John Mayer (blues). Some argue that no pedal has had a greater impact on musical expression as well as in the development of effects modification than this TS pedal. So far, the TS’s advantage lies in its “smooth” quality when connected to a tube amp that doesn’t change the guitar and amplifier’s built-in character. In addition, the TS pedal does not obscure the dynamics of the player.

Early Appearance

The emergence of the stompbox is closely related to the Invasion of British bands such as The Rolling Stones, the Beatles, and the Kinks in the mid-1960s. This trend was continued by great musicians such as Jimi Hendrix, Jeff Beck, and Cream at the end of the next decade. Although these bands mostly rely on tube amps to mix their guitar sounds, the presence of stompboxes tends to provide an alternative to their sound mix.

This situation is also inseparable from the invention of the transistor in 1948 which prompted them to include a stompbox pedal in their guitar signal path. Since then the stompbox pedal has quickly spread because it is believed to be able to save costs, provide comfort, and practicality in producing guitar sounds that are different from previous trends. It was also the moment that ultimately helped define rock n roll music and modern culture as well as determined the spread of the effects pedal as a portable sound changer and became a common item in popular music.

TS808 (1979-1981)

Ibanez Tube Scremer TS808

The first Ibanez Tube Scremer is TS808. This pedal is manufactured by Nisshin, a Japanese company that manufactures pickups for several Ibanez guitars. In a rather odd business setting, Nisshin was allowed to market its own effects and that’s where the Maxon brand came from. In the late 70s, Nisshin developed the first Tube Screamer, the TS808 which was later popularized by Stevie Ray Vaughan.

Launching the Premier Guitar website, former Ibanez product manager John Lomas said that when the TS was made, their main competitor Roland was also producing the Boss OD-1. Since then Nisshin used symmetrical clipping on the TS808 to produce a smoother and more sustainable overdrive than to differentiate with the OD-1 for which the scheme was patented at the time.

TS9 (1982-1984)

Ibanez TS9

The next Ibanez Tube Scremer is TS9. Despite the popularity and status of the Holy Grail (a very important object, highly desired but hard to find) achieved by TS808, perhaps the most popular series from TS is TS9. The TS9 can be considered a pedal that replaces the TS808. The production of the TS9 in 1982 can be considered a failure in the market. Due to the lack of demand for the TS9 when it was released, Ibanez then released a new stompbox series, the Master Series, but without the Tube Screamer in its line-up.

Instead, Ibanez released the Super Tube STL with a 4-knob development still using the Tube Screamer circuit with the addition of a 2-band EQ. Furthermore, STL was also released which is similar to the ST-9 Super Tube Screamer. Characteristically, the TS9 sounds a little brighter and a little less polished than the TS808. Internally the two are identical, with slightly expanded output. The nine-series footswitch is larger, almost one-third the size of the pedal for easy treading.

TS10 (1986-1993) and TS5 (1991-1998) – Ibanez Tube Scremer

TS10 Ibanez

The Master Series only ran for a year and the TS was lost in the market for quite a long period of time. In 1985, Ibanez released the TS 10 series. The TS 10- had a different design and slightly fixed the noise problem that the TS had when all controls were turned on. But it turns out that the change was not able to bring the TS 10 to market, on the contrary, most of them still chose the TS808 and TS9. It is said that the quality of the TS 10 spare parts, such as jacks, switches, and potentiometers, is often damaged which does not meet consumer expectations.

The next interesting moment was that when Ibanez launched its Soundtank effects line in 1991, the TS5 also appeared with the aim of producing older vintage sounds at a lower cost with simplified manufacturing techniques. The economic conditions at that time greatly affected the quality of Ibanez’s pedal manufacturing that time and had to move production sites to China to reduce production costs.

The result is that these pedals are not as good as the quality of the previous TS pedals produced. The TS5 and TS10 weren’t made by hand like the TS9 and TS808 and ended up being sold in high-impact plastics instead of metal casings. The TS5 circuit is comparable to the TS9, but is made by Taiwan-based manufacturer Daphon, and features smaller, less expensive components.

TS9 Reissue (1992-present) and TS9DX (1998-present)


The revival of the classic TS series is ultimately inevitable to increase the popularity of the company. It all started when the used TS9s sold in stores reached fantastic prices, which prompted the re-release of the TS9 and TS9DX Turbo. To this end, the Ibanez research team spent weeks buying every original TS9 to ensure that this re-release was the right decision for the company. The results of the research found that there was a Toshiba TA75558 IC chip inside the TS9 and TS808 which they said was the recipe for the success of the early TS9. To maintain the authenticity of the chip’s production, Ibanez undertook close scrutiny, including the same place, person, and production manual as the chip used at the start in 1981. The effort was successful, more than 5,000 sold within weeks of release, and Ibanez estimates that it has sold 10,000. -12,000 TS9 reissues annually for the last decade.

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TS7 Tone-Lok, and TS9B (Ibanez Tube Scremer)

TS7 Tone-Lok Ibanez

In the last decade, the Tube Screamer has continued to evolve with new editions such as the TS7 Tone-Lok, re-released TS808, TS9B, TS for bass as well as the introduction of the Tube Screamer amp in 2010 which is an ultra-portable, low wattage amplifier available in a version heads and combos. This amp incorporates a selectable Tube Screamer circuit in its preamp. That’s a bit of the journey of this legendary effects pedal. I hope this information is helpful.