Review: Ibanez Tube Screamer Overdrive (TS808 Reissue)

Ibanez TS808When Ibanez released the tube screamer guitar overdrive pedal, I bet they never would have thought that it would eventually become one of the most revered overdrives of all time. Used by a great number of professional players over the years – Stevie Ray Vaughan beig the most often cited – this pedal was created with blues rock in mind. After a lot of requests, Ibanez finally reissued the famous TS808, with the original JRC4558D component, and the pedal is really pretty good!

Sound Quality:

This pedal sounds great. Not quite the same quality as the original TS808, but close enough for most tastes.It gives just the right range of crunch for playing most blues and classic rock songs, and goes all of the way from clean boost to dirty overdrive. Tonally, it favours the mid ranges, and so it provides the right kind of punch when it comes to guitar solos.

Used as a boost pedal, the TS808 really shines, and can be set just right to give those extra few Db when needed.

As is the case with most overdrive pedals, the Ibanez is at its best when placed before the pre amp of a good quality all tube amp head. It can really bring out the natural, sweet overdrive of the valves. Remember that the TS808 is primarily an overdrive pedal; designed to drive a tube amp into natural distortion, or make the sound of a solid state amp or PA slightly warmer and deeper. It is not a high gain distortion, and so those metal-heads out there would need to suppliment this pedal with a stronger distortion, or even just go straight for a strong distortion pedal and forget about the Ibanez.

Build Quality:

The unit itself is mostly metal, and very durable for day to day use. For the reissue, Ibanez have used the smaller square-ish switch that was a feature of the original 808 series, and sometimes this kind of switch can be a little awkward to engage, if your foot is slightly out then it might not work as smoothly as one would like. The PCB inside is not the same design as the original 808, and is more similar to later Ibanez effects models. While this doesn’t matter so much to the majority of players, it could be an issue with serious pedal collectors who are looking for a truly faithful recreation of the TS808.

Overall:

8/10

This is a great reissue of a classic pedal, loved by pretty much every rock and blues player ever to pick up an electric guitar. It provides a warm, sweet overdriven tone which is heavy in the mid frequencies: the recipe for a perfect blues rock lead tone.

Used before a good tube amp, it works very well with the valves to produce natural, organic overdrive which is very responsive to the way that you play the guitar. It fights back with crunchy bites when pushed, and cools off to milder distortion when you back off a little more.

A great pedal for blues and classic rock, but not strong enough for anything too heavy.

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