So on Twitter and over various emails from the site, I’ve been asked what a good pedal is for boosting leads and cutting through the mix. I’ve personally struggled with this over the years, and I have to say the Ibanez Tubescreamer TS9 is really a fantastic pedal for this. This could be a major reason why you see this little green pedal on SO many pedal boards out there. The TS9 does somethings besides adding gain. There is a clear mid-bump there, which to me, is the primary reason why the leads stand out. The mids are very important to be heard! Along with the mid bump, and how you configure the settings, you can get some unbelievable sustain out of this pedal. It tightens up the low-end a bit for some additional punch with the mid bump.
I know there are plenty of musicians out there that use this as a ‘distortion’ pedal which is fine, but I only use my TS9 for leads. The Tubescream TS9 is also great with other overdrive pedals. I personally like to use other overdrives or fuzz pedals too ‘wool’ up the lead tone prior to the TS9. When I say ‘wool’, I’m saying to give it a fatter/wider/nastier signal before the TS9 and then the TS9 tightens that up a bit. I feel like it creates a thicker ‘bigger’ lead tone. Of course this depends on the lead or the song or the style of music I’m playing.
The Tubescreamer Ts9 has pretty substantial gain, so you get some sick overdrive. Depending on your amp settings (clean channel vs. gain channel), you can get some massive volume boost. Gain channels with the headroom already floored won’t have that drastic of a change, but the ‘perceived’ volume boost due to the frequency change (mid boost) is more than enough to stand out.
You can pickup a Ibanez Tube Screamer TS9 for around $99 at Musician’s Friend, but you can find some sweet deals on eBay.
There are different types of Tubescreamers (TS7, TS9, TS9DS and the TS808 just to name a few) and there are buckets of ‘mods’ that are out there.. as well as clones. Personally, I only use the ‘standard’ TS9, but while poking around I started to read and watch reviews about mods. I think some of these mods.. are pretty amazing.
I found this particular ‘shoot out’ on YouTube, which shows a Keeley Mod’d 808 (808 Mod), Analog Man Mod, Keeley Plus Mod, Factory Maxon OD-9. All of these modified pedals can be picked up at TunnelVision Music.