The Ibanez TS808 Tube Screamer has garnered legendary status in the world of guitar effects, and after putting it through its paces, I can confidently say that its reputation is well-deserved. This pedal offers a classic overdrive sound that’s smooth, warm, and incredibly versatile, making it a staple for guitarists across various genres. In this review, I’ll delve into its key features, focusing on its gain capabilities, tone shaping, versatility, and build quality.

At a Glance

TS808 Tube Screamer

TS808 Tube Screamer

  • Midrange Emphasis
  • Smooth Overdrive
  • Vintage Voicing

Brian's Take: The TS808 is an absolute classic. Midrangey, vintage, and warm. It's one of those pedals that they just got right, in every sense. It's simple, does exactly what it should, but also leaves room for you to shape your unique sound around it.

Pros
  • Extremely well-liked
  • Widely used
  • Familiar sound
Cons
  • Slightly less versatile than the TS9
  • Stock can often be low

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Gain

One of the standout features of the TS808 is its exceptional gain control. In my experience, the overdrive it provides is not harsh but rather smooth and creamy. The gain knob lets you dial in everything from a gentle, bluesy breakup to a more aggressive crunch, allowing for a wide range of tonal possibilities. It’s worth noting that the TS808 excels at preserving your amp’s natural tone, adding a layer of warmth and character that’s hard to find in other pedals.

Tone

The tone shaping capabilities of the TS808 are another aspect that sets it apart. The pedal’s tone knob is incredibly responsive, allowing you to tailor the tonal profile to your liking. Even at higher gain settings, the pedal manages to retain clarity and definition, ensuring that your playing cuts through the mix without becoming muddy. In all my experience using the TS808 in bands and in the studio, I’ve found it to be a great piece of equipment to work with. I can always dial in to get the sound I’m looking for (or, the sound a producer is looking for).

Versatility

Versatility is where the TS808 truly shines. Guitarists from all walks of life will find something to love about this pedal. It can be a subtle yet vital addition for adding warmth and texture to clean tones, and it can also be used as a powerful tool for driving your amp into creamy, harmonically rich distortion. There is simply no doubting the pedal’s ability to suit various playing styles and genres, making it an essential addition to any pedalboard. And, the proof is in the pudding – it’s been used by a lot of top artists, like SRV, John Mayer, and Eric Clapton, to name a few.

Build Quality

The TS808’s build quality lives up to its reputation. Designed for the rigors of live performances, it’s built like a tank. Its metal chassis feels solid and durable, ensuring that it can withstand the demands of the road without a hiccup. The pedal switch, an often overlooked but crucial component, is responsive and reliable, letting you engage and disengage the effect seamlessly.

You’ll see the odd concern here and there, about an input jack or the foot switch or something else, but they’re outliers. The vast majority of musicians using or who have used the TS808 can attest to it’s durability, and it’s more than stood the test of time.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, the Ibanez TS808 Tube Screamer lives up to the hype and then some. Its gain capabilities, tone shaping options, versatility, and robust build quality make it a must-have for any guitarist seeking classic overdrive tones. Whether you’re after a smooth bluesy breakup or a more driven rock sound, the TS808 delivers in spades. The positive reviews from various users across the web further validate its status as a staple in the world of guitar effects. If you’re looking to add a touch of iconic overdrive to your sound, the TS808 is undoubtedly a pedal worth considering.

If you’re still undecided, or interested in looking at other options, check out my post on the TS808 versus the TS9.