This month we continue to bust some
rampant pedal myths. Let’s get started.
Myth: TS9s with no “CE” mark on the
label are originals.
The original Ibanez TS9 Tube Screamer
was made from 1982 to 1984. The earliest
of these had a black label on the bottom
plate, which easily identifies it as original.
But the labels were changed to silver with
black writing at some point during the original
production, and when Ibanez reissued
the TS9 in the early ’90s they continued
to use the silver label. The CE marking,
indicating compliance with EU safety directives,
started to appear sometime after
1993. With regard to the TS9, this would
lead to the logical assumption that a silver
label with no CE mark must be original,
but this isn’t necessarily so, since the TS9
reissue dates back to at least 1992. Analog
Mike thinks that starting with the serial
number is a better indicator:
“The 1st digit of the serial number helps
in determining the year of manufacture;
a “3” indicates 1983, and you will see a
lot of these starting with “4” for 1984.
These can have the earlier JRC chips, but
they sometimes have the TA75558 chip
as used in the reissues. These are almost
impossible to tell from the first reissue
TS9. But the reissue TS9 will usually not
have a serial number starting with 3 or 4.
I have reissues from the early ’90s with
the serial numbers 206XXX and 207XXX
that are probably very early reissues from
1992. They have silver labels, whereas
an original from 1982 would have had a
black label. I also see a lot of silver label
TS9s with serial numbers starting with 1.
These are all reissues, as a 1981 would be
a TS808 or a very early TS9 with a black
label. All reissues and late originals have
the TA75558 chip.”
Myth: You can use a line level 25k volume
pedal if it’s after a buffered effect.
No, you still have a low impedance guitar
level signal, not a line level signal, and
using the wrong pedal will hurt your tone.
A 25k pedal is meant for line level signals
such as keyboards or for send/return
loops. Use a 250k volume pedal with guitar
Myth: A pedal is true bypass if you
can hear the dry signal when off,
This myth probably started because when
using a pedal with a buffered bypass, such
as Ibanez or Boss, it’s actually true. When
these pedals are without power, they will
not even pass a dry signal. But this test
only works on pedals using an electronic
bypass. Most older pedals like the original
MXR, Electro-Harmonix, and old wah pedals
used an SPDT – single-pole, doublethrow
– switch to send either the direct
signal from the input jack, or the output
of the circuit, to the output jack. This will
pass the above test, but it doesn’t mean
the pedal is true bypass. The input signal
from your guitar is still connected to the
circuit when the pedal is off, which can
cause tone suck and loss of high-end and
even volume. This is especially noticeable
in old wah pedals and vintage Big Muffs.
Other pedals, like some MXRs, have less
noticeable loss, even though they are not
Never use a power supply that
has AC voltage output in a pedal
that is designed for DC power.
Myth: A 9V Line 6 power supply will
work with a battery-powered pedal.
Not really a myth, but more of a mistake.
Guitarists see a plug and a matching jack,
put one and one together and end up
with zero. We feel Line 6 has done us a
disservice by making their AC power supplies
with the same size plug as standard
DC powered Boss pedals; thousands of
pedals have been blown due to this. Most
guitar pedals, including nearly all batterypowered
pedals, are DC. However, there
are some effects that use AC voltage.
Never use a power supply that has AC
voltage output in a pedal that is designed
for DC power.
Myth: Digital effects digitize your
sound, even the dry sound.
This may be true with some effects but
most, like a Boss digital delay with a separate
dry signal and added wet signal, keep
the dry sound purely analog.
We have even more myths to bust at
a later date, but that’s a wrap for now.
Remember, the Internet is a great source
of information, but there are way more
opinions out there than real facts. And
opinions are like bellybuttons – everyone’s
got one! Check back with us next month
and we’ll help you define your dirt
then, keep on stompin’!
Tom Hughes (a.k.a. Analog Tom) is the
owner and proprietor of For Musicians Only (formusiciansonly.com
author of Analog Man’s Guide To Vintage Effects. For Musicians Only is
also the home of the FMO Gear Shop.
Analog Man (analogman.com) is one of the largest boutique
effects manufacturers and retailers in the business, established by
“Analog” Mike Piera in 1993. Mike can be reached at AnalogMike@aol.com