So. The whole Bad Monkey thing lately. This post is not about that. It's about Tube Screamers in general. Sort of.
The first drive-ish pedal I ever bought was a DS-1. I bought waaaaay back when. I had just bought my first electric after playing only acoustic for 15 years or so. Figured I needed a pedal to go with it. Ebay was all the rage and the newest way to get cool stuff cheap, so I hit Ebay and found the cheapest drive pedal I could find. Kept it for a long time. Not really sure what happened to it. I don't remember selling it or trading it off or anything, but I have not idea when or where I got rid of it, and it's not in any of my stuff anymore.
6 or 8 years later, I bought my first OD pedal that I figured I would use. It was a Visual Sound Route 66. The one with the compressor on one side and the drive on the other. I bought it because there was a guitar player I liked that swore by that compressor (the single pedal), so I figured it would have to be good if it had a drive attached. So I bought it.
Always liked the drive side. At the time, I didn't know that it had been modeled after the TS808. It was the only drive pedal I had for several years. Then, one year when we were on vacation, I happened into a music store and spent waaaaay too much time talking to the staff and playing with stuff in their shop. It was a mom and pop in nowheresville, so I felt like I owed it to them to buy something before I left. So I paid too much for a TS9. It had a little bit different character than the Route 66, but it did the same thing. It quickly became my favorite.
Sitting in the quiet of my little music room, I think I can hear the difference in a TS9 and a TS808, but, truthfully, they do the same thing, and I'm not sure I could hear the difference in a crowded room. So, at some point, I started into one of those collect-them-all phases.
At some point, in addition to the actual green Ibanez Tube Screamers, I have picked up (in no particular order):
After trying all those different TS-type pedals, I still believe that I like the sound of the TS9 better than the TS808. I'm not sure exactly what I'm hearing that makes me think that, but I do. All of the TS-type pedals made by everyone else are modeled off the TS808. I've, also, never tried a TS10 to see how it compares.
Here's how I would rank them at the moment from my favorite to least favorite. Also, the ones that I own are prefaced with an "o-" and the ones I no longer have are prefaced with a "g-". The ones actually on my current boards also have a "b" added to the preface.
So what's your favorite TS-type pedal?
I haven't actually used a pedal board in a while...several months probably. I've gotten to where I just go straight to my amp. If I feel like I need a pedal in the mix, I'll stick a pedal in the mix, but it's just one pedal. No board. But I decided to put a bit of a board back together the last few weeks.
Being a gear-a-holic, even if I haven't been using a board or even many pedals, that hasn't stopped me from continuing to pick up pedals and other gear just because whatever it is catches my eye and looks interesting. On the board the I put together recently, I have two pedals that are two of my most recent acquisitions and two that I have had longer than probably any others. Here's what I have at the moment. The signal chain goes like this. Guitar goes into...
Boss TU-2 Tuner. This was the 5th pedal I bought (I think) and the first pedal tuner. Back when I bought it, I was playing in the worship band at the church that I attended. Playing there, I had a wall immediately to my back with the sopranos in the choir behind me. To my left was the horn section of the orchestra. To my right was the bass player who was using an 8x10. In front of me was an 8' Steinway grand. My music stand pretty much rattled against the piano all the time. I realized pretty quickly that, in all that noise, clip-on tuners were pretty useless. So I got the pedal tuner. Built like a tank, and has never given me a problem. The tuner goes into...
The Tone Bakery Creme Brulee. I forget where I first heard about this one, but it's another one of those pedals that goes into the Klone camp. I've got several of this type of pedal, but this I picked this one up back the end of summer, and have enjoyed playing around with it since then. I have the gain just barely cracked open, and the volume set to about 2 o'clock. I have it on most of the time and use it as that clean boost to just push the amp a little more. Same way I use any other Klone I've got. The Creme Brulee goes into...
The Visual Sound (now TruTone) Route 66. This pedal is the 4th one I ever got. It's probably the pedal that comes the closest to staying on my board all. the. time. On the occasion that I pull it off, it doesn't stay off long. To my ear, it can get a little dirtier than a regular TS pedal. It can pull off that throaty growl better than anything than any pedal I have. I run this one just the opposite of whatever Klone I have on the board at the time...volume not too high and the gain turned somewhere between noon and 3. When I first got this pedal, I used it much like I use a Klone nowadays. Funny thing was, when I used it like that, had never heard of a Klon or of folks using it like that. These days, it gets used more as that gainy OD pedal. When I don't have a Klone on my board, I typically use this one in conjunction with a TS. The Rt 66 pedal runs into...
The TC Electronics Flashback X4. I picked up this delay pedal on the cheap from a buddy like 2 or 3 years ago, and never used it. It's too complicated. However, when putting a board together, I always feel like I need to have a delay of some sort on it for some slapback. So, rather than my usual delay, I pulled this one out and stuck it on. I figured I'd play around with it for a while and see if I could figure it out a little better. It's probably not going to last long, but we'll see. I always fall back to that whole, keep-it-simple-stupid thing when it comes to pedals. As I was playing last night, I was already thinking that I needed to go ahead and switch it out. SO we'll see how long it lasts. The delay runs into...
The TC Electronics Hall of Fame 2. I picked it up the first of October. I had sold a bunch of stuff on Reverb, and was trying to spend the Reverb Bucks I had. Didn't have a reverb pedal (never been a big fan of them), but decided I'd spend some of the earnings on either this pedal or an ElectroHarmonix Oceans 11. I ended up with this one only because it was cheaper. Other than that, like I said, I've never been a big fan of reverb pedals, so I'm giving this one a shot just to see how it does. The reverb pedal goes into...
The Morley ABY. I used to have an ART ABY, and it always seemed to be giving me problems. As often as anything, it buzzed. Made me think something wasn't soldered quite right. So I opened it up, but couldn't find anything that would be causing it. It would buzz today, and be quiet tomorrow. Never could figure it out. So I finally ditched it and bought the Morley. Haven't had a problem since. It's been rock-solid. The B side of it goes to one of my Blackhearts. The A side of it goes to...
The Boss RC-20xl looper pedal. This is the third pedal I ever bought. I picked it up less than a week after the pedal hit the market. It's old school looper tech, but it was state of the art when I bought it. 16 minutes of recording, which was like triple what anything else had at the time. These days, depending on the looper, you can get hours of looping fun, save to an SD card, send it to your computer via usb or any number of things like that. This one has none of that. Heck! Memory cards weren't that advanced and nothing had usb back when this one hit the market. But it's been another mainstay in my arsenal (for practice anyways), and I don't see it going anywhere. I've never upgraded it because I like the simplicity of it. This pedal runs out to my Fender SuperChamp set on the clean channel.
Now keep in mind that I'm not currently playing out. This setup is mostly to keep all my pedals in one place, and to keep the music room floor from having pedals strung all across it. If I were playing out, I'd tailor the board to whatever the gig needed. This just works pretty well for what I've been practicing the last few weeks. It'll change I'm sure.
Since I've mentioned the 3rd, 4th, and 5th pedals that I ever bought, I feel like I should mention the first two. The 1st pedal I ever got was the obligatory Boss DS-1. I got it from eBay for like $15. Had no idea about pedals back then. Didn't realize there was a difference in distortion and OD. Bought it, used it for like a week (because I honestly had no idea what I was doing with it), and then quit using it. I have no idea what ever happened to this pedal. Did I sell it or trade it off? Is it stuck in a box out in the garage somewhere? I honestly couldn't tell you. The 2nd pedal I got was the Danelectro Cool Cat chorus. Kind of like the DS-1, I got it off eBay because it was cheap and I thought it looked cool. The surf green colored one that is built like a tank. It's still my go-to chorus pedal.
I had the Cool Cat and looper for like 5 years before I bought the next pedal (the Rt 66). After the Rt 66 and tuner, I have no idea what pedals I got in what order. At this point, I've got a closet full, and have given away, traded, or sold off quite a few others to either finance others or just to get rid of them because I never bonded with them.
What's on your board right now? Any of these pedals that you like or think should never have been made?
The Dallas Guitar Show. I usually try to go to it most years, and actually make it every 2 or 3 years. I hadn't been in 3 years (maybe 4 now that I think about it), so I took the day off from work and headed over this year.
I always try to go on Friday, and be there when the doors open, just to miss a lot of what can be the insane Saturday and Sunday crowds. I got there about 15 minutes after they got the doors opened, but still early enough that I had to stand in line to get in the door.
They really need to do something different about the way they handle tickets. All tickets bought online have to be picked up at will call. That's actually been the bottle neck the last couple of times I went. The ticket is cheaper (they say) if you buy your ticket online, but then you have to stand in line to get your wrist band to actually get in the show. I, also, would've waited and paid cash at the door had I known that they were giving a cash-at-the-door discount that made the tickets even cheaper than getting them online. And gotten in about 15 minutes quicker because there was no one in that line.
I didn't get any pictures this year, but there was a lot of amazing and fun stuff there. There were guitars that were brand spanking new and barely on the market yet. There were super expensive vintage guitars (and some that were being called vintage that were just plain old). There were guitars for every budget. There were parts of all kinds and all prices. There were pedals and straps and slides and pickups and every imaginable accessory you can imagine at some location in that big room. Here are some of the more interesting things (I thought) that I saw while wandering through.
A Les Paul truss rod cover that had a price tag of $500 on it. The price tag also gave the year it was supposed to be from (early 60s as I recall), but it was a truss rod cover for crying out loud. I can head up to my local GC and get one for $10 I'm sure. If the guitar I buy isn't period correct when I buy it, I'm not looking to make it original (because it never will be). 5 bills for a truss rod cover. I totally don't get that one.
Lots of acoustics this year. They were predominately Martins, Gibsons, and Taylors. A handful of Santa Cruz. I think there were even fewer Epiphones. Outside of the a couple of Taylor 8 and 9 series, a couple of Martin D-42s, a couple of Gibsons (not quite as familiar with their price point), and the Santa Cruz, there were no high end acoustics that I saw. In the past, I've seen some McPhersons and even an Olson one year. They may've been bringing those in on Saturday, but they weren't there on Friday.
A couple of vintage acoustics that I saw. Both Martins. Both pre-war, but both D-18s. One was a player (although still out of my price range), and the other had a mid-5-figure price tag on it and was in really nice condition.
I don't remember seeing any really expensive electrics while I was wandering around. I saw a mid-5-figure Les Paul at one booth, and it had several signs on and around it that basically said look but don't touch. There were several early 60s Strats and Teles around the room. There were some really cool looking guitars too.
I noticed a lot more of those old, at one time cheaper guitars. It would have taken both hands and probably at least one foot to count the number of Kay guitars that probably wouldn't have even made the show a few years ago, and, if they did, they would've been priced at $100 or below. They were sitting around with prices closer to $500 - $750. Maybe the seller was wanting to be sure they had negotiation room. Maybe they figured some sucker was going to walk by and grab it. Either way, these old, generally entry-level guitars, in my head, are the beanie babies of this generation. Folks slap a "vintage" tag on it and charge a ridiculous price for them. Give them a few more years and the buyers will realize that they waaaaaaay overpaid for them. They weren't real good instruments when they were new. Thirty or forty years of sitting under a bed didn't make them any better. It just made them older.
That was probably my biggest eye-opening moment of the show. Realizing that this all-things-vintage craze has just gotten out of hand. There was a lot of just plain old gear there with a "vintage" tag on it that had been marked up by 500%. Another example (like the truss rod cover). I passed a parts table. They had a box of screws sitting there (I forget what to) with a price of $2 a piece. I can see almost see that. Guitar show, guitar show prices. You need a specific screw to fit a specific application, pay a couple of bucks and get the exact one you need rather than going to Home Depot and getting $5 on a handful of screws only to get home and none of them quite fit what you need. Anyways, sitting right next to that box was another box with about 20 screws in it that were all rusted, but they had a price of $12 a piece on them. Looked like the same screws to me...just rusted. At a 600% markup.
Wandering around, I saw Greg Koch sitting at one of the booths playing quietly on an electric that wasn't even plugged in. I saw Seymour Duncan at his booth (at least I'm pretty certain it was him). I think I saw the Truetone (formerly Visual Sound) guy at his booth. I was actually hoping to see TV Jones at his booth, but, if he was at the show, he wasn't at his booth either time I wandered past.
I didn't stay for any of the festival part. It had been raining up until the doors opened, and, since a couple of the stages were outside, they were just ramping up a couple of hours after the doors opened. Eric Johnson was playing Saturday night, and I didn't get back for that. Just spent a few hours wandering the aisles on Friday afternoon before heading back to the right side of the Metroplex (the west side for those of you wondering).
I ended up picking up another strap from Lakota Leathers. They always have a table full of 2nds for cheap, so I always have to pick one up. They make the best straps in the business. I found an NOS VIsual Sound (now Truetone) Open Road overdrive that I picked up. That's the only non-Tubescreamer OD that I tend to like and use. Then I saw some cool leather gig bags that weren't insanely expensive back in the back. I spoke with the guy that I think owns the business, and ended up getting myself a Probag leather gig bag. Got it home and it'll fit my Strats, Tele, LP, or 339. So it looks like it's going to be a pretty versatile bag.
I'm including a pic of the gig bag. I totally dig its look. I haven't had it long enough to see if it'll stand the test of time, but, so far. it looks like it probably will. I think I had the 339 in it at the time of the pic.
Snarf is a wannabe musician who currently resides in the great state of Texas. His wife is his favorite. He believes chocolate milk made from milk that is anything less than whole milk is basically water and deserves to be dumped down the sink so nobody has to suffer through it. He hates having to shop for clothes. But he has a thing for really cool bags, and, consequently, has more gig bags than guitars and a closet full of messenger bags and backpacks. He still misses his dog who was taken by cancer years ago. Check out his Reverb shop and see if he has any gear he's trying to get rid of.