1981 Ibanez TS9 Tube Screamer

Model Description:

It’s green, it’s branded by Ibanez (actually manufactured by Maxon in Japan), it’s vintage, and it is pretty darn cool. Yep, it’s a TS9 Tube Screamer, the one that replaced the legendary TS‑808 in late 1981. Some attribute the characteristics of the TS‑808 to the JRC4558D integrated chip at its core. Possibly, those same people criticise the early TS9s for using the JRC2043DD chip. In comparison, I would say they are different, rather than better or worse per se. Ibanez reacted to the change and reverted back to the JRC4558D before the 9 series disappeared around 1984/1985. The advantage for us mere mortals is that the TS9 currently remains (relatively) affordable, especially compared to its revered predecessor. Prejudice aside, the TS9 is a cracking vintage overdrive pedal, producing a wide range of usable tones from mild to gutsy distortion. Some say it is best used with low gain and high boost to push a valve preamp into natural distortion. Personally, I prefer the higher gain settings, which is personal taste. If you are drawn into the whole TS‑808 vs TS9 debate, my advice would be to keep an open mind and judge for yourself.

Pedal Description:

When it comes to Tube Screamers, there are a lot of heavily abused ones out there and good condition vintage ones can be difficult to find and are becoming increasingly expensive. The TS9 you see here is in great all-original condition and, yes, it is an early TS9 with the black label and the aforementioned JRC2043D chip. It has, however, thankfully not been ‘modded’ and sounds great to me but, heck, what do I know? Completing the signal chain with a vintage guitar and vintage amp, it is very easy to get a decent growl to suit your tastes using the straightforward controls and one can see how these cool vintage gems got their reputation and why they have been reissued. There have been so many imitations, copies and clones over the years that one can easily forget why it became so influential in the first place. Why not go green with a groovy TS9?


  • Made in Japan by Maxon in 1981
  • The ‘Drive’ knob controls the amount of gain added to the original signal
  • The ‘Level’ knob controls the output volume
  • The ‘Tone’ knob controls the amount of treble or bass
  • Red LED indicator to show when the effect is in use
  • Ibanez treadle footswitch turns the effect on and off
  • Standard ¼” single input and output jack sockets
  • 9V DC power supply input or 9V battery
  • Black ‘Made in Japan’ label on the base of the pedal
  • Original ‘Maxon’ battery compartment cover
  • No box or instruction manual


  • Stevie Ray Vaughan

Detail Gallery:

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