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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 level signals.
Myth: A pedal is true bypass if you can hear the dry signal when off, without power. 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 true bypass.
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. Until then, keep on stompin’!
Tom Hughes (a.k.a. Analog Tom) is the owner and proprietor of For Musicians Only (formusiciansonly.com) and 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