The Ibanez TS-808 Tube Screamer is one of the most famous overdrive pedals of all time. It also happens to be one of my favorites… It’s pretty much glued to my pedal board forever. So here’s my Ibanez TS808 review…
Yes, there might be thousands of overdrive pedals on the market, but the TS808 Tube Screamer is hard to beat for it’s well-roundness, popularity and overall versatility. Don’t get me wrong, these days there are plenty of boutique pedal builders that have designed overdrive pedals that are arguably better than the staple TS808 Tubescreamer. But, that doesn’t change the fact that this pedal is a classic, well-loved, and here to stay icon in the world of guitar playing.
I’ve had mine for a good 8 years now. I love it. It’s been on my pedalboard since the first day I bought it. And while many other pedals have come and gone, I have no plans of taking this one out anytime soon. Yes, it’s seen some modifications. When I redid my pedal board to have a buffer only at the beginning and end of the signal chain, I decided my Ibanez Tube Screamer (who sits right in the middle) needed to become true-bypass. So… I went on eBay and bought a TS808 True-bypass kit (don’t ask me which one – I don’t remember, it was so long ago.)
A quick look on eBay shows some modded TS808 pedals, plus these true-bypass mod kits for Ibanez TS808. Maybe one of these can work for you.
The kit basically involves changing the stock switch to a 3PDT switch, which will make the pedal true-bypass and also operate the on/off LED. My kit included a new brighter green LED as well. Supposedly the new LED also changes the tone of the pedal a bit. However, the new green LED is much brighter. All it does is blind me every time I turn it on while looking straight at the board. It sucks because it doesn’t even allow me to see the position of the dials. Eventually I’ll change it out.
Overall though, the kit improved my Tube Screamer ten-fold. I’m also very happy to know all my inner pedals are all true-bypass.
Oh, and before I forget… To read more about this whole buffer vs true-bypass deal, check out this article: True-Bypass vs Buffered Pedals.
The thing I like the most about this overdrive pedal is its versatility.
Going back to the TS-808 review. The thing I like the most about this overdrive pedal is its versatility. You can use it to overdrive your guitar tone of course, but it also works well as a boost. I have mine right after my Fulltone OCD distortion pedal. With the overdrive set low on the TS808 Tube Screamer, but the level set high, I can boost the OCD’s distortion even more. This setting also works well to boost and overdrive the signal at the amp’s input, rather than at the pedal itself.
I love how full chords sound through the TS808. There’s none of that muddiness you hear in thicker distortion pedals when playing anything other than power chords. For that reason it works for so many different styles of music and it’s pleasant to many people’s ears. Yes, there are better pedals out there technically… but they also cost a lot more than the $179-ish price of the TS808.
The bottom line is, this is an amazing little pedal. It’s no wonder it’s a favorite with so many famous professional guitarists – modded or not. And before you go and ask me, “But isn’t the Ibanez TS9 cheaper and almost the same thing?” Let me tell you… Yes, the TS9 is cheaper. But no, it’s not the same thing. The TS9 Tube Screamer doesn’t hold a candle to the TS-808.
Who to buy it from? I’d buy it from American Musical. Yeah, I like those guys.