In 2014, Ibanez introduced its 35th anniversary TS-808 Tube Screamer overdrive pedal, based on the original it created in 1979. What’s now known as the “narrow box model” by collectors, has returned in its original smaller footprint, with the rare “flying fingers” graphics along with side-mounted 1/8-inch 9v DC adapter jack just like the original. The lightweight aluminum 35th anniversary TS-808 was also changed under the hood to be closer to the original, and is outfitted with a pair of op amp chips. This is a variation that is the main difference between it and the single op amp version of the 1980 TS-808 Tube Screamer and others including the TS-9 that followed. These later TS-808 and TS-9 models deployed input and output transistor buffers rather than the additional chip used in the original and now reissued narrow box model.
The Ibanez TS-808 35th anniversary TS-808 Tube Screamer is made in Japan like the original and is similar in build to a vintage MXR pedal in that it has a removable bottom plate with no plastic battery cover for battery access. Also, just like the 1979 TS808 original, the Level knob is labeled Balance. The 35th anniversary TS-808 model is a limited edition with only 1,500 being made available in the US (3,500 total worldwide).
In terms of how it sounds, the stock version of the anniversary model sounded nice, but now Analogman offers a mod to 35th Anniversary TS-808 Tube Screamer which has made it a clear personal favorite in my collection. For $55, Analogman will tune and modify the 35th anniversary edition to original specs by using a pair of 1458 op amp chips as used in the original 1979 models (Ibanez opted to use the JRC4558D as found in its standard TS-808 reissue likely due to convenience). In addition, the modified unit changes the critical pair of clipping diodes to the original vintage “blue stripe” variety, as well as replacing six electrolytic caps to the larger style versions used in the original.
Analogman owner Mike Piera is a stickler for detail and the de-soldering and soldering work and overall quality that goes into the mod is first rate. Mike also didn’t like the appearance of the reissue’s input and output jacks which stick out further than the original, so he also includes hardware inside the unit which creates a more aesthetically pleasing tube screamer that is also closer to the original.
When comparing the Analogman-modified TS-808 35th anniversary reissue against the standard TS-808 reissue, the differences were greater than I anticipated. While the Analogman TS-808 35th Anniversary reissue is certainly characteristically a tube screamer with the creamy overdrive one expects, this modified reissue sounds even more smooth, and captures a little more low end emphasis, which in the end delivers a fuller range and more transparent sound. The overdrive characteristics also feel more relaxed and natural, and don’t exhibit the somewhat “stiffer” feel in the midrange as the standard TS-808 reissue does.
In fact, the Analogman modded TS-808 35th Anniversary reissue sounds closer to my original and very valuable TS-808 from 1980 that I have in my collection. And with the great tone and awesome retro looks of the Ibanez 35th Anniversary TS-808 Tube Screamer, this Analogman-modded version now gets more playtime than my original TS-808 in my studio to juice up my vintage Fender and Marshall amps. It’s tonal bliss!
Analogman Mike Piera is world-renowned for his modifications of the standard TS-808 or TS-9 reissues and offers a variety of options including a vintage-correct version that uses a New Old Stock (NOS) JRC4558D op amp chip from the mid 80’s and the same correct clipping diodes. If you don’t want to shell out the money for an original vintage model, be it a narrow panel version or later original TS-808, all which have continued to creep up in value, Analogman’s service is a fantastic choice for sonic tones that will please your ear as well as your wallet! Check out his services at www.buyanalogman.com.