Preferred use of a Tube Screamer?

Discussion in 'The Tone Zone' started by Vesperado, Nov 15, 2020.

  1. Vesperado

    Vesperado Active Member

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    So after much diddling 'round with my TS pedals, I think I have developed a good understanding of their several applications. Not every TS will be an all around one piece wonder, for too many variables come into play, so I figured I'd share some thoughts on what I use, or have tried, in hopes that it might give someone out there some ideas on what to do with theirs before flipping it for something else.

    Maxon for Ibanez TS-9 (Nine Series Tube Screamer). PCB has Maxon logo, Panasonic film caps, unmarked OPA, possibly a late 90s build. Got mine on a trade. @ 9 VDC it has that creamy mid smoothness. I found that it does well as a "voicing with some hair" boost for stacking or adding that liquid creamage to the amp's overdriven channel. I don't prefer it as a stand-alone unless using a good-output pickup, however, the Level only gets so hot so don't expect much boost, but the voice can't be beat imho. The lower frequencies are cut, so your tone doesn't get muddy or boomy, which makes for a nice "solo" or "percussive" tone. I have tried 12V, which is ok, but the added headroom removes the "girth" and "hair". I put mine before my Maxon SD-9 as a mid boost for soloing, and before my Maxon DS-830 for a similar effect.

    Maxon VOP-9 (Vintage Overdrive Pro). Got lucky, mine has a JRC4558D, not the newer repro; I ordered mine from Japan. This is very similar to the TS-9, except it has four additional features: a charge pump for 9V or 16V operation, more output gain, a clean boost feature, and a feedback loop for making the tone more linear. I prefer the 9V for stacking as the 16V option (via internal slider switch) spikes the treble somewhat unpleasantly. The VOP-9 can mimic the TS-9 pretty close, but the feedback loop gives it a different voice altogether from what you would expect in a TS. Still stacks very well and is much more aggressive for pushing an amp into shred territory. Unlike the TS-9, I can use this in lieu of a clean boost if needbe, so it serves double duty on that account, yet its tone does not color the overall tone much if any; this is preferable if you dial in your tone elsewhere. This fb loop provides the guitar pickup the impression of tighter tracking, and is a good pedal for "shredding" old-school style. I know Godlyke claims it to be a OD-820 in a Nine Series housing, but from my understanding it is not a Klone, only does it take the fb loop from the OD-820 circuit.

    Maxon OD-9 Pro+ (Overdrive Pro Plus), a newer product like the VOP-9, but designed for modern metal (think KSE). This pedal, I find, is good for running into an already overdriven amp. Loads of mids and hair with tons of gain. This pedal is not meant for use as a stand alone, it is intended to take your amp into brute territory. Like the VOP-9, there is a charge pump which offers 9 or 16V operation, but unlike the VOP-9 it has a mid-boost switch, which TRIPLES the volume in the mid freqs. I find it overkill, it would have been nice to just double it, but some rock-stars out there liked it so much Maxon produced them with it that way. Very percussive and liquid, tight palm-muting, and a sweet treble.

    The others, like the DS-830 and the SD-9, are not Tube Screamers, neither is the OD-820. I don't have the OD-9, which is the TS-9 with more gain on tap, but hear that it's nice also. Maxon does not produce a TS-9, they stopped making them for Ibanez in late 2001, so if you are a Maxon fan search the web for one used.

    To set up your gig with any of these pedals, the key is to first set up a base tone, which you will then stack upon. The TS cuts lower frequencies and gradually slopes off the high-pass beginning @ 100 Hz or so. Turning the Tone clockwise removes the Treble cut from the signal, making it brighter. Depending on your guitar and amp, you might find that switching between guitars, channels, pedals, and what not WILL require an adjustment of the Tone control, so experiment with this. Bear in mind the main benefit of a TS is not for gain if anything but rather for voicing, and the TS is particularly suited for solo work. Guitarists generally discover the advantage of the TS when they find their set-up rather "loose" or "boomy" or "muddy".

    One common complaint, or misconception, is that the Tone has a limited range. At first I fell into this predicament, but after tweaking my amps and changing guitars, found that on occasion the Tone nearly maxed out can get some pleasant "hair" depending on other variables. Take the OD-9Pro+, it was made for shredding. Once I modified the circuit on my TSL-100 I was able then to discover the sweet sizzle of that pedal with ceramic buckers, in fact I almost had flipped it!

    On the other hand if you are playing MFD "single-coils", stacking comes into the picture, and is why I suggested this at the very first. Doing this gets a low-output pickup to behave as a hotter pickup would. The TS-9 gives me the ability to get that crunchy rhythm and sweet singing lead. The trick here is to set up your other pedal, or amp, with less treble and more bass, the TS providing the cream and mids. At volume you might have more treble than desirable, so to avoid this, get a "big sound" at the lowest volume possible where your tube amp will pass a good sound, along with the TS engaged. I typically pull out some gain on both pedals and focus on obtaining that target tone in my head, then dial in the gain to taste once I turn up the amp.

    Other observations are that stacking two TS variants into one another is (1) unnecessary, and (2) not favorable (unless perhaps you want honky mids then go for it). I just don't find it very musical. I never, when stacking, have the gain higher than 1/5 on the TS. If I use the TS to push my overdriven amp, then I use either the VOP-9 or the OD-9Pro+, otherwise for that TS "mojo" the TS-9 is perfectly qualified.

    With that said, if you have not yet discovered the utility of a TS (or TS circuit), you will be surprised to see what the buzz is about. It is by no means an "end-all OD" pedal, but chances are you have heard it's voice on some favorite song of yours. I have other OD pedals which I will never part with, but this is my take on the TS.

    Perhaps Tube Saturator would be a good substitute name?
     
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  2. IOSEPHVS

    IOSEPHVS Well-Known Member

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    I prefer not to use silicon or germanium distortion including Tube Screamers. I heard I Don't Know from Ozzy's Diary of a Madman album on the radio yesterday. Randy's guitar playing on the album is impressive, but the timbre of the guitar makes it somewhat difficult to appreciate.
     
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  3. pedecamp

    pedecamp Well-Known Member

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    I bought a brand new ts9 about a year ago, I find the higher I set the gain on the pedal the less pronounced the mids get. Currently I tend to keep the pedal gain at half plugged into an amp set at edge of breakup. I still need to do some more experimenting.
     
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2020
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  4. Edgar Frog

    Edgar Frog Well-Known Member

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    I use my TS7 (TS9 w/Hot switch) as a boost with amp in slight breakup, I also stack it with a Rat clone and I use it as a stand alone distortion like it was originally intended/designed for. The things are very versatile IMHO. I've had great luck using them with solid state amps, modelers and tube amps, so they aren't just for tube amps.

    The TS7 has the original TS9 circuit w/JRC4558D chip and a hot switch that offers a decent amount more gain over the regular TS9 mode. It can easily do 80's metal level gain on its own with the hot switch engaged. My controls are all over the place on my TS, so no set rules or way to use it for me.
     
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  5. Gunner64

    Gunner64 Emotional Support Animal Gold Supporting Member

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    Right now my ts is a early 2000 model I guess. Ibanez..I have detroyed or lost a few over the years. I use mine, and always have, with the Gain down level up, tone at the mid point. Always on..Boosting the front end.

    I really didn't know what the hell I was doing with it in the beginnig in the early 80s, but my heroes used the Dallas Rangemaster and as it turned out that was kinda how I used my tubescreamers from the beginning. Not for the ts distortion, which I really don't care for, but for that clean boost that takes an amp like an 2204 800, and immediately gives it that singing roar.

    I have the same results with the ts and most of my other Marshalls. I'm a late 70's/ 80's dinosaur, Priest, Scorpions, Schenker/UFO, Accept, Maiden ect. The ts9 pushes my amps instantly into that territory. I will never be without one.
     
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  6. Adieu

    Adieu Well-Known Member

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    Used a Joyo TS copy on the dirt channel of a Mesa F100... gain min volume max tone somewhere around midway.

    Transformed it from dull and annoying into a roaring beast.
     
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  7. jeffb

    jeffb Well-Known Member

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    I prefer it in the closet. So TS'ed out.

    I used a few different ones (808, 9, 10, first 9RI) in the 80s and 90s as a lead boost when I was using less midrangey setups. Those bastards had the worst switches. ALL of them. junk switches.

    Nowadays, they just don't jive with my amps, speakers, pickups. Muddy and doesn't really offer the big tonal difference I prefer for a lead boost. I want the amp to sound bigger and nastier when I goose it- not more focused with a low end cut and high end clarity loss.

    That said, find an old TS10- I liked them better than the 9s, and 808s. Also the old Digitech tube overdrive from the mid Y2K era is one of the best clones out there even among the overload of booteek clones.

    I'd rather have an old OD1 if I wanted to get back into that style of boost. Clearer and a little nastier than a TS.
     
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  8. Wildeman

    Wildeman Well-Known Member

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    As trade material.
     
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  9. ampeq

    ampeq Well-Known Member

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    They make a very good paper weight.
     
  10. MarshallDog

    MarshallDog Well-Known Member Gold Supporting Member

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    Mine is in the closet also! I prefer many other pedals over this one. May even sell it some day!?
     
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  11. RCM 800

    RCM 800 Well-Known Member

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    tried quite a few different types and brands but I always come back to the plain old 3 knob ibanez TS9. One of mine is from mid 90's and the other from early 2000's but they sound fine to me. I use them more as boosts than distortions most of the time. Been thinking about switching to the mini version to free up space on my board. Gain low, volume high, tone middlish. Amp on the edge of breakup. Should add I usually use them as a second boost on top of an EQ thats always on. Base tone is very pic responsive. Can go from Marshally clean to AC/DC with pick attack. Add the TS and it goes into distortion.
     
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  12. Vesperado

    Vesperado Active Member

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    That sounds like a good way to employ it. I'm glad you brought that up as I didn't mention that, but I also use an EQ before the amp which is always on. Any particular EQ? I especially like the Yamaha GE-100 (TI4559S) and the Guyatone PS-034 (JRC4558D) with my MFD G&L ASAT Classic.
     
  13. Crikey

    Crikey Well-Known Member

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    Same hete never been the moressed with it although i used it extensively with twin reverb during band touring days. I like the ibanez tube king much more
     
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  14. Crikey

    Crikey Well-Known Member

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    Same here never been impressed with it although i used it extensively with twin reverb during band touring days. I like the ibanez tube king much more
     
  15. RCM 800

    RCM 800 Well-Known Member

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    I use a Boss GE7.
     
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  16. C-Grin

    C-Grin Active Member

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    I have a couple a Maxon 808 and a Maxon VOP9 and I like them a lot more with fender style amps that have less mids, with the Marshall they are a bit much. But the 808 stays in the chain just in case I want a mid boost.
     
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  17. Marshall Stack

    Marshall Stack Well-Known Member

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    Have you compared it against an Ibanez tubescreamer? Just curious if you have.
     
  18. Adieu

    Adieu Well-Known Member

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    Nope too stingy to spring for the real thing
     
  19. Marshall Stack

    Marshall Stack Well-Known Member

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    I had bought the TS-5 tubescreamer that came in a plastic enclosure in mid 90s. I compared it with my friends TS-9 and we both thought the TS-5 sounded better. Unfortunately, the switch is notorious for breaking and the jacks are PCB mounted. I wished it would have lasted.
     
  20. Crunchifyable

    Crunchifyable Well-Known Member

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    I have a joyo Tube screamer clone and I don't really use it.

    I also think tube screamers are over rated, maybe over copied. I think other pedals are better for coloration, and an EQ is better for a transparent boost.
     

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