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It’s been rocked by guitar greats as diverse as Eric Johnson, Trey Anastasio, and Brad Paisley, and some would go as far as saying no single pedal has had a greater impact on musical expression or played as important a role in the development of effects modification.
The essence of the Tube Screamer’s appeal—what multitudes of similar designs that it has inspired over the years aim to capture—are the subtly pleasing qualities it induces as it interacts with a tube amp: As you increase the amplitude of an input signal to overload a tube amp’s preamp, it distorts the signal in a way that adds sustain, edge, and harmonic liveliness, while preserving the innate tonal characteristics of the guitar and amp—and without obscuring the player’s dynamics.
These pedals were actually manufactured by Nisshin, a Japanese company that produced pickups for some Ibanez guitars.
But it has become so rare and expensive that only rock star and collectors can touch their magic green.
For the Tube Screamer, the design goal was to distort the signal symmetrically, not asymmetrically like a vacuum tube does.
Humble Beginnings Stompboxes emerged as the guitarist’s tone-warping tool of choice in the wake of the guitar mania fueled by British Invasion bands like the Stones, the Beatles, and the Kinks in the mid 1960s, and then Hendrix, Beck, and Cream toward the end of that decade.
Almost all of the TS-808s used either the JRC4558D or the Texas Instruments RC4558P op-amp. The pots are different from the ones in the later pedals (they are the open design, rather than enclosed), but aside from those you could easily turn a (far cheaper) TS-9 into an 808.Though these bands predominantly relied on tube amps for classic tones, the new sounds they injected into their signal paths via pedals were made possible by the 1948 invention of the transistor.Pedals quickly became one of the most cost-effective, convenient, and instantaneous ways to generate the exciting new sounds that shaped rock ’n’ roll—and modern culture by extension.By the late ’60s, the market was flooded with portable sound-modifying devices, and effects became commonplace in pop music. Ibanez and its parent company, Hoshino, were infamous in the late ’60s and early ’70s for their Fender, Gibson, and Rickenbacker knockoffs.Unsurprisingly, it also added effects pedals to its lineup by the mid ’70s.