Ibanez TS808 Original Tube Screamer REVIEW

Ibanez TS808 Original Tube Screamer REVIEW


Ibanez TS808 Original Tube Screamer REVIEW
copyright photo: Thomann

Average price: $179.99

Links to buy

The TubeScreamer is the pedal that is always present in any guitarist’s arsenal. 

Introduced and made famous by the almighty Stevie Ray Vaughan, it’s been used by guitarists in any music style, from Blues to Rock and Metal, Jazz and Pop.

There are many different reasons why the TS808 is still the GOAT after so many years, and why it should be in your pedalboard even nowadays. 

In this article, I will do an honest Ibanez TS808 Original Tube Screamer REVIEW, and I will explain to you why it is my overtime favorite overdrive pedal ever, and why I think it is super useful to sculpt any sound.

Why the TS808

Ibanez TS808 Original Tube Screamer REVIEW
Copyrights photo: Thomann


The first TS808 Overdrive was introduced during the late ’70. As is it today, it was a green simple pedal with three simple controls: Gain, Tone, and Level.

The Gain section controls the amount of distortion produced, the tone operates a cut on mid-high frequencies, and the level simply adds volume output to the overall sound. 

The first editions used the Japanese JRC-4558 chip or the RC4558P from Texas Instruments. 

In a relatively short time, the TS808 earned a big success, due to its transparent tone, smooth creamy sound, and versatility. 

It’s the smoothness of its sound that convinced many guitarists, among others Steve Ray Vaughan, to use it on their pedal boards. Sometimes it was used to boost the preamp of a tube amplifier, sometimes for bluesy solos and Hendrix-styled rhythms. 

Lately, Ibanez introduced the TS9 and the Ts10 pedals and discontinued the TS808. The TS9 has been a big success as well, but it has more of a high-frequencies character compared to the TS808, and it’s less creamy and smooth. 

The TS808 has been present only in the used market for many years, until nowadays. 

In fact, Ibanez decided to make a reissue out of it, as the prices for the old ones were raising too much among the collectors.

With the reissue edition, it is now possible to obtain the same sound on a budget without breaking the bank. 

The TS808 is a long-therm investment, as it is multiuse, and can be adapted to many different situations.



How does the TS808 work?

Ibanez TS808 Original Tube Screamer REVIEW
Copyrights photo: Thomann

The concept behind the TS808 is relatively simple: the overdrive defines the amount of additional distortion we will need. So for example, placed in front of an already distorted tube amp, it will add more gain, it will smooth the attack, and will provide an overall volume boost. 

With the gain around 8-9, it will saturate the preamp of the tube amplifier, giving more sustain for solos and more punch for riffs. With the gain around 2-3 and the level at max, it will provide a boost in volume and a slight increase in saturation. 

Guitarists like Scott Henderson, also use it putting a booster immediately after. This way Scott adds more distortion to the TS808, obtaining a super creamy but at the same time defined and singing sound. 

Steve Ray Vaughan was using sometimes even 2 TS808 to add that extra boost in gain.

What’s magnificent about the distortion of the TS808 is the fact that the distortion is never confused or fuzzy. 

Most distortion pedals tend to be noisy and more oriented to high frequencies. 

The science behind the TS808 goes exactly in the opposite direction: you need a more mid-oriented smooth sound to go through the mix, especially during guitar solos. 

For this reason, the tone knob is perfect to define the character of the sound. 

With the tone around 2-3, the sound becomes closer, and high frequencies are more cut out. 

The more we turn the knob, the more we add high frequencies. With a tone around 8-9 the sound becomes more open and ideal for riffs, especially with single-coils equipped guitars. 

The sound of the TS808 will add tone and gain to your signal, but it will always be super transparent, and this is the big advantage of using this pedal. It won’t color the sound of the amplifier, but it will exalt it, with more sustain, gain and punch. 

I personally advise investing these almost 200$ in something that will be worth in time. 

You are never going to sell this pedal, I am very sure it will stay with you as long as you will play guitar. 

The reason why I am so enthusiastic about it is because I owned TS808s, TS9s and also a modified TS9. 

They were always the missing ingredient in my solos, and they will be still for a longtime I guess.

In this other article, I made a list of which are for me the best overdrive pedals, maybe it could be useful for you.

It’s all for today, I will see you in the next article. 




Links to buy the TS808

About me

My name is Ignazio Di Salvo, well, Iggy for all my friends as my name is difficult to pronounce for non Italian speakers.

I am an Italian Guitarist, Singer, Composer, and Music Educator living in Belgium.  

I am passionate about music production and writing, I publish two articles every new week about music and music production-related topics. 

Disclaimer: the links in this article are simply affiliate links, which means I will earn a small commission if you will buy something from the shop after you have been there. Nothing will ever change for you, and this is a way to monetize and sustain my blog activity.