1983 Ibanez SD9 Sonic Distortion

Model Description:

The Japanese‑made Ibanez SD9 Sonic Distortion has sometimes been described as a ‘Tube Screamer on steroids’, although it doesn’t use the same chip that some commentators say gives the Tube Screamer its distinctive tone (tech nerd note: the SD9, like some original and most reissue TS9s, uses a Toshiba TA75558P op amp rather than the JRC4558D IC used in most TS‑808s). The analogue SD9 belongs to the Ibanez ‘9’ series pedals that were introduced in original form from late 1981 (most sources cite 1982), when they replaced the short‑lived but highly successful ‘0’ series pedals (including the now‑legendary TS‑808). The ‘9’ series stayed in volume production until they were superseded by the ‘L’ Master series from 1985 and the ‘10’ Power series from 1986. While not particularly scarce, original 1980s SD9s are now becoming increasingly in demand on the vintage market on the back of the Tube Screamer connection. The SD9 is now getting gaining recognition, possibly because Ibanez reissued the model in 2012, encouraging a new generation of guitarists to re‑evaluate the model within a much broader contemporary context. The Ibanez SD9 Sonic Distortion will always remain in the shadow of the prodigious TS‑808/TS9, although it may well carve out its own distinctive niche in time.

Pedal Description:

It took me several bidding battles over several months to lay my hands on a good condition 1983 Ibanez SD9 Sonic Distortion, perhaps indicating that demand is increasing for these overlooked vintage pedals. The rather in‑your‑face SD9 comes in a rather gaudy lime green colour. At least it shows up better on a dark stage than some other pedals. Whether you buy into the whole Tube Screamer mythology depends on the other gear used, playing style, as well as personal taste. This Sonic Distortion sounds quite different to the Tube Screamer and the dirt is certainly dished with a harder, edgier, noisier distortion than some other pedals including its Ibanez siblings. As if to match its garish appearance, neutral‑sounding it is not. In line with its name, it falls short of all‑out fuzz. I actually prefer tones that are a bit different from the widely‑accepted norm, so it may be worth tracking one down on that score alone. It took a while to work out how to get the best from the SD9, as it is quite sensitive to settings. This particular pedal dates from 1983, complete with the silver ‘Made in Japan’ label on its base. Overall, it is in very good unmodified condition and comes with its original box (but no instruction manual). With the values of vintage Tube Screamers (both TS‑808s and now TS9s) going stratospheric, it is somewhat ironic that these old SD9s can still be picked up at reasonable market values, even lower than the modern reissues at the time of writing. Go figure! I don’t think that situation will last for very much longer. So, if you fancy some fiery Sonic Distortion, grab one of these snot‑coloured little ‘beauties’ as a bargain price while you can. Definitely not to be sneezed at.


  • Made in Japan by Maxon in 1983
  • The ‘Dist.’ knob controls the amount of gain added to the original signal
  • The ‘Level’ knob controls the overall output volume
  • The ‘Tone’ knob controls the amount of treble or bass
  • 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: 570g
  • With original box but no manual

Detail Gallery:

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