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May 2014
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Green Giant: History of the Tube Screamer

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Green Giant: History of the Tube Screamer

The TS Hits Its Stride

1982-1984
Model: TS9
Series: 9 Series
Knob Configuration: Overdrive, Tone, Level
Notes: Same basic configuration as
TS808 but with a bigger footswitch
and 9V AC operation.
Country of Origin: Japan
Despite the popularity and Holy Grail status attained by the original TS808, the Tube Screamer wasn’t left alone—and plenty of pedal lovers are glad. Perhaps the most popular of all Tube Screamers, the TS9 replaced the TS808 in 1982 with the introduction of the 9 Series. The TS9 was slightly brighter and a little less smooth sounding than the 808. The two were almost identical internally, apart from the TS9’s expanded output. The footswitch got bigger, too. Nine Series pedals had a footswitch that took up approximately a third of the pedal—a move clearly intended to compete with the easy-to-stomp design of Boss pedals. However, one drawback of the new Tube Screamer, according to Lomas, was that TS9s were built with a somewhat random sourcing of parts—basically whatever was readily available at the time of manufacture. This resulted in TS9s that varied widely in tone from batch to batch.

“[The introduction of the TS9] was not a magical moment by any stretch of the imagination,” Lomas says. “The public didn’t give a rat’s ass—not for the longest time. It caught on much later. I would say guys really started talking about it in the late ’80s, and by 1990 it was really starting to roll along.” Since there was little demand for the TS9 when it came out, it was out of production by 1985. Ibanez then released a new series of stompboxes, the Master Series, without a Tube Screamer in the lineup. Instead, it included the Super Tube STL—a 4-knob affair with a Tube Screamer circuit and a 2-band EQ. According to “Analog Mike” Piera—a noted stompbox expert whose company, Analog Man, began modifying Tube Screamers to original specs in the mid 1990s—the STL was similar to the rare (and very valuable) European ST-9 Super Tube Screamer that was never released in the US.

1984
Model: ST9
Series: 9 Series
Knob Configuration: Overdrive, Mid Boost, Tone, Level
Notes: Mid Boost control added.
Breifly available in Europe but not
in the US. Extremely rare.
Country of Origin: Japan
1985
Model: STL Super Tube
Series: Master/L
Knob Configuration: Overdrive, Level, Bite, Bright
Notes: Not officially a Tube
screamer, but uses a Tube
Screamer circuit with a 2-band EQ.
Country of Origin: Japan

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