TS808 Tubescreamer Review

manufacturer: Ibanez date: 01/10/2012 category: Guitar Effects
Ibanez: TS808 Tubescreamer
It's back - the incomparable overdrive pedal that's been described as "the Holy Grail of Tube Screamers." The TS808 reissue features the same famous large square footswitch and the even more famous warm tones of the JRC4558 chip used in most of the original TS808's. For players who feel their tone is suffering from a lack of real warmth, the TS808 is the Real prescription.
 Sound: 9
 Overall Impression: 9.1
 Reliability & Durability: 9.1
 Ease of Use: 9.3
 Overall rating:
 Reviewer rating:
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reviews (8) pictures (2) 22 comments vote for this gear:
overall: 9.5
TS808 Tubescreamer Reviewed by: matthew_z31, on december 19, 2005
10 of 12 people found this review helpful

Purchased from: Guitar Center (How Cliche)

Ease of Use: I can answer this rather quickly. I don't think they really had "firmware" in the 1960's. The TS-808 has three knobs "Overdrive," "level" and "tone." You can't get any easier or more straight foward than that. // 10

Sound: I play a Fender Showmaster QMT HH on a Line 6 Flextone III XL. With the versatility and power of the amp (it pushes 150 watts to 2 12's), the addition of this pedal makes the amp really scream. The pedal, as with most Overdrive pedals, is somewhat noisy with the "Tone" knob turned up. The addition of a noise suppresor will surely cure this problem. I play a lot of classic rock and blues rock along with some 90's alternative. The effect only gets weak if the battery is dying. The tones of Led Zeppelin, Aerosmith, Stevie Ray Vaughan, ZZ Top, Lynyrd Skynyrd, AC/DC, Black Sabbath, Creedance Clearwater Revival, George Thurgood, The Meat Puppets, Nirvana, Candlebox, Live, and silverchair (just to name a few) are all atainable using the pedal along with the gear I mentioned earlier. There's obviously only one effect (Overdrive) and this pedal does it very well... they wouldn't have reissued it if it didn't! // 9

Reliability & Durability: The TS-808 is built like a rock. You drive nails with the thing. The battery supply is a different story. As with most effects pedal this one will go through them pretty quick, I'd use an AC adapter if I were going to play a gig. But otherwise, I wouldn't worry about any sort of backup. // 10

Overall Impression: The reason I got this pedal in the first place was because I was in search of that classic creamy rich overdriven sound and the TS-808 is the perfect match. If it were stolen or lost I'd defenitely get another one. The ease of use and general quality of sound are the most likeable things about the pedal. I compared to a Marshall Overdrive pedal and a couple of Boss pedals and I just had to buy this one, it really is a nice pedal. // 9

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overall: 9.5
TS808 Tubescreamer Reviewed by: stratomasterb, on october 08, 2008
2 of 2 people found this review helpful

Ease of Use: As soon as I plugged it in, within minutes of fiddling, I had a nice tone down. Very easy to use, it's got a tone/volume/drive. it's so easy to use there is no need to even look at the manual. it's also great as a boost for a break up clean solo, if you turn down the Drive all the way and set the volume to a desired level, it sounds very cool. beautiful if I may add. // 10

Sound: I am very picky when it comes to sound so I am constantly adjusting and meddling with it trying to get a good sound but one thing's for sure, I am always satisfied in the end with the tones it can create. It can give you that awesome, absolutly amazing bluesy crunch, and it can definetly do rock. However it is not a distrotion pedal as mentioned countless times. This is an Overdrive, and it's the best at what it does. The only problem is, I have a solid state amp which, compared to a tube amp sucks ass. So I'd bet it sounds a billion times better through an all tube Marshall or Fender amp. WITH A STRAT and a Fender Amp, it sounds godly. You can't go wrong with this pedal. // 9

Reliability & Durability: Built like a tank. I would use an ac adaptor during a gig because you never know with batteries, they tend to run out pretty fast. An ac adaptor is only around 30bucs and it lasts a hell of a lot longer than a battery so... do it, you can't go wrong. And if you're starting to buy many pedals, consider building or buying a pedal board so that you don't have to carry everything around seperatly. // 10

Overall Impression: I play everything from classical, to blues, rock, to metal. I would say that this amp is great for blues and rock, not so much metal for once again, it is a Drive pedal not a distortion. if it were stolen I would definely buy another one for 190 bucs, it's worth it in my opinion. Like I said before I am picky when it comes to sound so I am constantly fiddling and toying with the tone and volumer on the pedal, my guitar, and my amp and I hope someday I'll find a tone that will blow everyone away. // 9

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overall: 9.5
TS808 Tubescreamer Reviewed by: sven_svensk, on december 28, 2005
1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Price paid: $ 180

Ease of Use: The TS808 is very easy to use and you can tell just by looking at it. It's 3 knobs that you control Overdrive, tone and level with. The on button which is a fairly big metal plate can be located beneath the knobs. // 10

Sound: I'm using an Ibanez RG570 into a Guitarport or Roland Cube 30, the Guitarport for recording and the Cube for practice. The idea when I bought this was to use it as a solo boost to an already distorted channel and that is what this pedal does best, it provides tremendous sustain and tone to your guitar. It can also be used for rhythm playing to get that nice AC/DC type of sound. Keep in mind that the Overdrive even when turned way up isn't that loud so it's not so good as an distortion pedal but that's not what it should be used for either. // 9

Reliability & Durability: I never had any kind of problems with it and I think I'll never have. The original TS-808 are still functioning and demanding high prices after a decade, so I think I can depend on it. // 9

Overall Impression: My style of music is rock, metal, blues and this pedal can cover most styles, but I think it's best for Blues and Instrumental rock like Joe Satriani, Steve Vai etc. The best thing about it is the sound it produces, the difference it makes. My amps fell dead if I'm not pluggin it in. It could have more gain though, but that's alright, it's not it's primary purpose to act as a distortion pedal. As a comparison I've tried all the Marshall distortion/overdrive pedals and I felt like they were lacking something, once I picked up the TS-808 Tubescreamer I found what I was looking for. So if you want a classic warm sound with loads of sustain, try the TS-808. If you want loads of distortion I suggest you buy something else. // 10

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overall: 9
TS808 Tubescreamer Reviewed by: Arlabester, on february 13, 2007
0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Purchased from: Mid-Michigan Music

Ease of Use: The ease of use on this thing is pretty easy. It's got three knobs, overdrive, level and tone, and it's pretty easy to get a tone out of. You just move them around until you get what you want. There is a manual for it, but it wasn't much of use. It had basically how to set it up, and what each knob did. I kind of had to figure out how to get my sound myself. // 9

Sound: I'm using this with stock Ibanez AXS32, Fender MIM Strat and Squier '51. I'm running it by itself through a Blues Junior. It works well with every guitar. This pedal is pretty quiet. I don't really hear much buzz. The effects always sound great and sharp, unless the battery is dieing, which I don't have to deal with, because I have adapters. What I use this for is, AC/DC. It's got an incredible AC/DC sound, even with my strat. Very good tone and sound quality. // 9

Reliability & Durability: I'm pretty sure I could count on this. Of course I haven't gigged yet, but it seems rugged and capable. It's got a zinc (I think) casing, and it seems like tank armor, it's also got a rubber stopper on the bottom, so I don't think it'll slide. // 8

Overall Impression: I play stuff like AC/DC, Hendrix, and MCR. I think this is a great piece of equipment. I've been playing for about a year and a half, I own a blues junior, metal muff, crybaby, and big muff. I use this usually only with my metal muff, as a boost, or just by itself for classic rock. I don't think I have any regrets at all buying this. I bought it for classic overdrive, and it delivered. I think if it were stolen or lost, I'd definatly buy it again. Very nice pedal. // 10

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overall: 7.5
TS808 Tubescreamer Reviewed by: Revalk, on march 23, 2007
0 of 1 people found this review helpful

Purchased from: Longue & McQuade

Ease of Use: It's easy to get a good sound out of this pedal. Plug it in, put the tone and distortion knobs in the middle area, adjust your level to equal your volume level when the pedal's not on, and wham, descent sounding distortion. However, I will find I found this pedal didn't have a hell of a lot of range. You could increase the distortion and play with the tone, but I found it just changed how much fuzz there was a little bit, and didn't really give you new sounds to work with. I gave the manual a quick flip, and it seemed okay, but let's be honest, it's a basic Overdrive pedal, and doesn't require much of a manual. I'm not sure of the exact version number of this pedal, but I'm pretty sure it's on of the latest. // 7

Sound: I tried out a few guitars with this: A Standard Les Paul, and a PRS EG. Sounded not bad with both. The pedal was fairly sharp sounding, which was a definite bonus for an Overdrive pedal, as often you get muddy sounding ones, which somewhat defeats the purpose. I found the effects were a little weak for some sounds (I wouldn't want to play anything really metally, or really full sounding through it, I think). Mostly, I think I'd use this pedal for power chord fuzz, which it would be excellent for, and some solos. Overall, a nice crisp sound, but nothing too deep sounding, and nothing too crazy versatile. // 8

Reliability & Durability: It's hard to say without taking the pedal home and gigging with it for awhile, but it seemed fairly reliable. The casing was all very sturdy, and I noticed no weak spots well I played. In all likelihood, this pedal wouldn't be versatile enough for a gig I would play, so I probably would have more distortion pedals then this with me anyways, so no I wouldn't bring a backup. // 8

Overall Impression: I play a wide variety of music: blues, jazz, rock, ska, hard rock, metal, etc. etc. This pedal only suits certain elements of these. For blues and jazz, it's not bad actually. You can still play 5 note chords and feel the individual feel of each chord, which most pedals just muddle. For rock, I'd say it's not a bad pedal for some power chord distortion and such, but it's not quite deep enough sounding for hard rock or metal. Ska distortion can be all over the place, so it might not be bad for that either. I've been playing 5-6 years, and own a few guitars and basses, and a drum set. Check my sig on the forums for full gear info, just for your info. To be honest, I doubt I'd buy this pedal. It has a few really nice feels, but would only work for some things I play I find, and not everything overall. I really liked the sharp crisp sound. I was unimpressed however, with the versatility of the pedal. Albeit my Boss DS-1 (yeah, nothing special) isn't quite as crisp all the time, I would prefer it as it has a tonne of range in what you can use it for. // 7

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overall: 9.8
TS808 Tubescreamer Reviewed by: supergerbil, on august 17, 2007
0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Price paid: $ 272.67

Purchased from: soundcontrol

Ease of Use: Very easy to use; 3 knobs: overdrive, tone and level. Overdrive is nice and smooth, so the right amount on Overdrive is easy to get. The tone control works well and so does the level. Getting a good sound is never a choise; you always get one. All the different settings are very useable. The manual really is just how to set it up and safety precautions, but you don't really need one as it is easy to use. // 9

Sound: I use this with a few different guitars, but mainly with my Gibson Les Paul Studio. I play it with my Laney VC-30. It works great and I can get most great classic rock sounds. You can get a classic AC/DC sound along with many other artists, but moreover you can get your own sound. It is not at all noisy and very transparent so it doesn't suck your guitars tone. It always sounds great. // 10

Reliability & Durability: It is totally dependable and very reliable. I could use it at a gig without a backup. It's housed in a very strong metal casing that looks like it would be bullet proof. I'm not sure how long the battery life is as I always use the 9v power supply. The knobs seem strong and I know that they will be reliable enough to frequently mess with. // 10

Overall Impression: I mainly play rock (both classic and modern) and it's a perfect match. I've been playing for 2.5 years and I own this, my Les Paul, my VC-30 and a Fender mexican strat. I can't find any regrets and if it was lost/stolen I would definitely buy another one. I bought this after I had a DS-1 and it's a huge improvement. I'd reccommend it to antone of any styles as it is great in every area. // 10

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overall: 9.3
TS808 Tubescreamer Reviewed by: unregistered, on may 12, 2011
0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Price paid: $ 210

Purchased from: online

Ease of Use: This is a very simple pedal, there's an overdrive, tone and level knob and an "on" switch. Within firing it up it's easy to dial in a tone you like. The Overdrive knob gives you crunch, the tone is self explanatory and the level is designed to keep the volume constant. What I've found though is that if you're someone who has it on constantly, you can crank up the level as well as the Overdrive and make the distortion really dirty, which is great for Grunge and early sabbath-style metal sounds. The battery lasts a fair amount of time but with all pedals, it's advisable to use external power if you don't want it dying in the middle of a gig. // 10

Sound: The sound of this pedal is classic and has been replicated by dozens of other makers. It works well by itself if you want to give your sound some classic crunch for rhythm playing, but it can also be used in front of a high gain amp to get some great lead sounds or as a booster for other pedals such as a fuzz. It has a noticeable mid-range sound which is often considered desirable but if you're after transparency look elsewhere... This pedal is great for a wide variety of sounds and styles and is the only pedal I've used almost constantly since I bought it. It's great for rock, early metal, grunge, country, punk, alternative and more. This is not a distortion pedal so it may not be ideal for heavy stuff. One thing to note is that it's a buffered pedal and not true bypass, meaning that when it's off the signal still passes through part of the circuit potentially coloring the sound. However, if you have a long signal chain or long lead it's adviseable to have at least one buffered pedal to prevent signal loss, so it's often used in this respect. // 9

Reliability & Durability: This pedal is really solid. I've had the paint chip but that's about the extent of the damage you can do to it through regular use. The Switch and all the knobs are solid and have never let me down, it's dependable and I use it all the time. The DC jack on mine is the "TRS" audio type jack you'd usually see on headphones rather than the common Boss style DC jack. It has a tendancy on mine to slip out killing the sound, this may be down to the age of the pedal and it's easitly fixed with temporary duct-tape or you can take it in to swap it out for a standard DC jack. Despite this I'd happily take it to a gig with no other backup, it's rock solid. // 9

Overall Impression: I play a variety of different styles and this pedal has been one of the few constants on my pedalboard. I've had this pedal for about 6 years and I bought it from someone who'd used it for about 10 years before me. It's never had any real problems and has works everytime. If it were stolen or lost I would get a new one immediately. // 9

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overall: 9
TS808 Tubescreamer Reviewed by: unregistered, on january 10, 2012
0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Price paid: $ 200

Ease of Use: With basic controls, it is very easy to use the pedal. If you keep the O/D knob down (ccw) and Level up (cw), you get a booster. When you give more O/D, you get crunchy. The Tone knob does what it says. No matter what instruments and setup you have, you can get decent results. // 9

Sound: I use American Standard Strat guitar and Blues Jr all tube amp. I use the amp with lower gain settings so I get a clear Fender tone by default and when I want to have a bluesy touch, I cranck up the TS808. However, when I need a sharper and distorted lead for certain songs, I use my Boss DS-1 Distortion (with level and distortion at 12 o'clock) to boost up the tone and sustain, as my previous distortion pedal (Pro Co Rat 2) did not sound well together with TS808. So my final pedal setup is: Boss volume pedal, TS808 Tubescreamer, Boss DS-1 Distortion, ADD+ delay, Electro-Harmonix chorus. // 9

Reliability & Durability: Very solid and reliable case. Good to use it with a battery however I strongly recommend to use it with an adaptor if you go for gigs, as you may not know when the batteries may go off. I wish the adaptor jack is of a more standard type but it comes with and adaptor, so no need to worry. // 9

Overall Impression: I generally play blues and rock and I really like the tone and sound that this pedal provides. It is a must for every guitar player but beware that if you don't have a decent guitar and an amp setup (tube amp strongly recommended), it would sound like any other overdrives. // 9

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