A circa-’82 original TS9 Tube Screamer. Photo courtesy of Ibanez
9. Stevie Ray Vaughan's Ibanez TS9 Tube Screamer
Almost right out of the gate, Stevie Ray Vaughan was touted as the heir apparent to Hendrix—a challenge he took on with disarming reverence, even as it became clear he was mapping out a style all his own. Being steeped in Texas blues had a lot to do with it, but SRV was also a tireless tone hound, and when he sniffed out the first version of the Ibanez Tube Screamer (the TS808), he knew he’d found the midrange bite he’d been looking for. He soon moved on to the grittier TS9, which seemed to shimmer a bit more in the higher registers.
“I use it because of the tone knob,” he told Frank Joseph in 1983. “That way you can vary the distortion and tonal range. You can turn it on slightly to get a Guitar Slim tone, which is how I use it, or wide open so your guitar sounds like it should jump up and bite you.” SRV and Double Trouble’s Texas Flood sports a few notable examples, including the title track, the classic hit “Pride and Joy,” and the instrumental blues boogie “Testify”—all testament not only to his versatility as a player, but to his incomparable ear for crafting a lead tone that perfectly fit the mood of a song. By the time he got to 1984’s Couldn’t Stand the Weather, everyone knew an SRV solo when they heard it.