Tone Report Weekly Issue 144 - Page 12

The Tube Screamer I am going to get lambasted for this one, I just know it. A few years before the boutique thing really kicked off, I lived down the street from Music Room Guitars in Knoxville, Tennessee—still the greatest guitar shop in the world in my opinion. The owner—my dear friend and early gear mentor Brad Gibson—used to let me take home any pedal I wanted to try out, because not only was he a trusting generous friend, he also knew that I would blow virtually all my income from delivering pizzas on gear. At some point, he had three Tube Screamers in stock simultaneously. One highly coveted late-‘70s TS-808 with JRC4558 chip, an early-‘80s TS-9 with the same and a bone-stock, then-current ‘90s TS-9 with the less desirable TA75558 under the hood. I hooked them all up and whacked them through my old Marshall 100-watt JMP stack. Predictably, the 808 was warmer and smoother sounding, perhaps slightly better for buttery leads, but I have always leaned toward the extra bit of sparkle from the TS-9 so I eliminated the 808, which was hundreds of dollars out of my budget anyway. I remember switching between the old TS-9 and reissue with the different chips and hearing virtually no difference between the two; certainly not a $100 dollar difference. That was a real ear-opener; lesson learned, money saved. One thing is certain though; Susumu Tamura created one of the most influential circuits of all time. 12 TONE TALK // Do Components Matter? A Case-By-Case Study