1984 Ibanez SM9 Super Metal

Model Description:

The Ibanez SM9 Super Metal is an overdrive/distortion pedal manufactured in Japan in 1983‑1984 by Ibanez’s business partner Maxon. Despite the name, the target audience for the SM9 seems to be the hard rock guitar aficionado, rather than the hardcore heavy metal musician. Ibanez marketing from the time describes the SM9 as “The ultimate overdrive weapon!” The basis of the pedal is the TS9 Tube Screamer overdrive which used, amongst others, a Japan Radio Company JRC4558D operational amplifier chip, just like its predecessor, the iconic Ibanez TS‑808. The SM9 uses not only two JRC4558D op amp chips but also two Texas Instruments MC1458P op amps to produce up to a massive 54db of gain. Many players liken the SM9 to using ‘stacked’ TS9s, where the output from one TS9 is input into a second TS9. Alternatively, it has been described as a ‘TS9 on steroids’. While the TS9 was produced in large numbers and was very popular, the SM9 is a much rarer and esoteric beast. Possibly, one of the reasons that the SM9 didn’t catch on was the complexity of the pedal’s control system, which uses five controls to tailor the sound, making it less easy to dial in a desired tone compared the TS9, which used only three controls. Essentially, the ‘Level’ and ‘Drive’ are familiar to most users, while the confusingly named ‘Edge’ and ‘Punch’ knobs work together as active dual treble and bass tone controls. ‘Attack’ has a subtle effect on the front edge of a picked or strummed signal, which is a bit compressor‑like. The SM9 tends to divide people between those that think it is a hidden gem and those who simply overlook it as an unnecessary anomaly. To‑date, Ibanez has not reissued the Super Metal. The SM9 is relatively collectable but, as an unusual oddity in the Ibanez ‘9’ series, it doesn’t command top dollar on the vintage pedal market, especially compared to some of the other, more familiar Ibanez ‘9’ series stomp boxes.

Pedal Description:

Here we have a bright blue metallic monster of an effect pedal, a cool and rare 1984 Ibanez SM9 Super Metal, adorned with no less than 5 controls for the avid knob twiddler out there. To my ears, it definitely fits into overdrive/distortion territory, rather than more savage scooped metallic fuzziness. Think 1980s big‑hair arena rock, rather than the incisive excesses of 21st century thrash or doom metal. I wouldn’t describe it as brutal or fierce, which may or may not disappoint the niche guitarist looking for that elusive demonic ultra‑heavy metal edge. The controls provide plenty of flexibility over tone although they can be a bit confusing in use – a better arrangement and clearer labelling would help a great deal. Don’t get me wrong, the level of overdrive/distortion is pretty good for this sort of pedal, although falling short of awesomeness. It may be my personal taste that I seem to find standard analogue solid state overdrive/distortion pedals lacking a little, well, oomph. If we are going down this rocky road, give me a good frothy fuzz pedal any day. This SM9 is all‑original and in good overall condition; there are a few surface scuffs that might just have resulted from some fashionable (at the time) 1980s platform boots. It works perfectly well and with a little patience produces some satisfying grit, grunt, grind and growl. Oh, and it also looks very pretty too – I love that colour. The SM9 seems to occupy the same kind of ballpark as other 1980s Ibanez leftfield oddities, like the SD9 Sonic Distortion and the very rare ST9 Super Tube Screamer. If you find you need a bit more welly and wallop than the popular mainstream overdrive/distortion pedals can give you, this may well be what you’re after. Either way, this pedal can provide a ‘whole lotta love’ if you’re in the right mood. Bluetiful!


  • Made in Japan by Maxon in 1984
  • The ‘Level’ knob controls the overall output volume
  • The ‘Drive’ knob controls the amount of distortion
  • The ‘Attack’ knob controls the amount of initial ‘bite’ applied to the signal
  • The ‘Edge’ knob controls the level of treble cut or boost in the distorted signal
  • The ‘Punch’ knob controls the level of bass cut or boost in the distorted signal
  • Red LED indicator light to show when the effect is in use
  • Ibanez treadle footswitch turns the effect on and off
  • Standard ¼” mono input and output jack sockets
  • 9V DC power supply input or 9V battery
  • Silver ‘Made in Japan’ label on the base of the pedal
  • Original ‘Maxon’ battery compartment cover
  • Dimensions: 74mm (w) x 124mm (d) x 53mm (h)
  • Weight: 590g
  • No box or instruction manual

Detail Gallery:

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