Ibanez TS9DX Turbo Tube Screamer


Analog Man Vintage guitar effects

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What is the Turbo Tube Screamer?

The TS9DX Turbo Tube Screamer was created in 1998 by John Lomas at Hoshino USA to meet Ibanez (Hoshino's) marketing request for a tube screamer with different modes for output and distortion. It has an additional knob along with the old Drive, Tone, and Level knobs. The new knob is a 4 position MODE switch. The TS9DX has the EXACT same circuit as the original TS-9, but the mode switch changes some of the parameters of certain components of the original circuit.

The changes in the circuit for the 4 modes are :

  1. Clipping diodes : there are several sets of diodes on new boards mounted on the control knobs, that are switched by the MODE knob.
  2. Tone Capacitor : There are several capacitors on these new mini boards which are also switched by the MODE knob.

The four modes are described by Ibanez as :

  1. TS9 : The classic TS9, no modifications.
  2. + : Grittier than the original TS9.
  3. HOT : Crunchier tone with boosted mids, like a wall of 4 x 12s.
  4. TURBO : Powerful, bottom thick sound, like todays modern/alternative guitarists like.

Here are my observations and findings on the 4 modes :

TS9 Mode

Pretty much same as the stock TS-9. I measured the same capacitance as an original TS9 (tone range is the same). The Diodes measured slightly less but should not sound much different. This mode is the same sound as a standard TS-9, but has slightly less available distortion. I found it is like turning a standard TS-9 DRIVE knob down about 3 notches. This was due to the WRONG wiring on the DRIVE pot. I have found a way to get it most of the way back with a simple resistor/pot mod.

1/99 update : Hoshino in the USA has made this change themselves on the 2nd batch of pedals. You can tell by the jumper wire on the back of the mini circuit board which the drive pot is attached to. So on the new pedals I no longer have to do the DRIVE mod, but can still do it on any 1st batch pedals. 11/99 update : Maxon (Nisshin Onpa) factory in Japan now made the change on the board, so no jumper is needed.

TS9DX drive pot boards On the left is a picture of the "original board" with our mod (the jumper wire), and to the right is the new style board. If you have the new style board on the right, you don't need the drive mod and you will have the same amount of drive as a TS9.

+ Mode

This mode sounds about 2 notches louder on the volume knob. It has stronger low-mid range and less highs. I measured different diodes in forward and reverse with slightly higher readings. The mismatch may give a slightly non-symmetrical clipping. But the doides in the circuit are actually matched, the difference is that an additional diode is placed in series with each clipping diode. Also the tone capacitor is about five times bigger which deepens the tone quite a bit. Not as much distortion as the TS9 mode (!). It sounds more distorted because it is louder but actually has less distortion.

Hot Mode

Hot mode is like the + Mode but seems to have even less distortion. Red LEDs (light emitting diodes) are used in this mode, like the Marshall Guv'nor, but not with enough power to light them up as much as in the Guv'nor. There is also an additional resistor added across the clipping diodes. The tone capacitor is about twenty times bigger than the original TS9 for much more low end.

Turbo Mode

Turbo mode has the most volume and bass. The clipping diodes are basically removed, and the tone capacitor is now FORTY times bigger than the original for tons of low end. I find that when you increase this capacitor, you lose some of the sweetness of the pedal's tone. The large capacitors are now electrolytic type due to their high values. These tend not to sound as good as other types like film capacitors.

Turbo Tube Screamer Mods

Since the basic circuit is exactly the same as a TS9, I can do all the TS-808 mods to create a true TS-9DX/808. The price for the mod will be the same also as it is the same amount of work. I can also increase the value of the DRIVE pot for an additional $10, to get most of the distortion back on the rare 1st series pedal. Check the picture above to see if your pedal needs it (it probably does not if it was bought in the last few years). I normally do not use a socket for the JRC4558 chip on the DX as there is not much room due to the boards on the pots. But if you really want a socket, let me know and I will do my best to make it fit. See the TS9 page for information on the basic TS-808 mods. We can also do the SILVER OPTION on the TS9DX.

MODS, MODES, what does this mean?

Many people are confused about the difference that the mod (modification) makes, and how it affects the 4 MODES. I will try to explain : The GUTS of the tube screamer (the main circuit board) are modified when we do the 808 mods. We can do either the Classic or the Silver mod to the GUTS. Your guitar signal always goes through the GUTS of the pedal, no matter which of the 4 modes you have it set in. The GUTS do not include the things that are switched by the MODE knob - those parts are mounted on the small boards attached to the pots and mode switch, call them the TUNINGS. The MODE MODS do not change the GUTS at all, but change the TUNINGS only. You will see why we like to change the tunings below, we call that our MODE MODS.

What is the sound like after the 808 mods?

  1. TS9 mode : The classic TS808 sound. Same as a TS9/808 or an old TS-808.
  2. + : A bit louder than a TS808, with stronger low-mid range and less highs. Also not quite as much distortion.
  3. HOT : Like the + mode but even less distortion. Yet more volume and more low end.
  4. TURBO : Yet MORE volume and bass.

Great on Bass guitar!

The TS-9DX is super on bass guitar in the 3 new modes which allow the bass frequencies to get through. When I go out to jam with my '69 Jazz Bass I always bring a TS9DX modified to 808 specs. The TS9DX sounds great on bass with our classic or silver mod, it does not need the MODE MODS which are tailored to electric guitar. Will Lee from the David Letterman band picked one up at my shop, sounded awesome for "While My Guitar Gently Weeps"! Check out his band the Fab Faux for some amazingly accurate and enjoyable Beatles music.

Garth sent me this info:

About 3 years ago I bought a silver mod turbo tube screamer from you guys. I'm just emailing you to let you that it's become an irreplaceable tool in my gear arsenal.

I've been a bass guitarist for almost 25 years, much of that time doing sessions, producing, and arranging. I use a variety of amps and 10" and 12" cabinets. The turbo silver mod is a true sonic tone smith and a real, interactive tool to bassists. In TS9 mode it offers a tubey, warm sound... great for classic American or big British blues. It reacts with my finger pressure and accentuates real wood and fret percussion. My 4 string sounds mid-late 1960's instantly.

I also play quite a bit of 8 string bass. I only use my fingers so a transparent distortion is key. In Hot and Turbo mode my 8 string keeps it's bottom with a warm overlay of distortion to create a wall of harmonic tone. Harmonics jump out and the sound of the instrument is always heard. It can be used as a spice to add drive or in full flavor for a major, ballsy punch.

For my 5 strings, it adds a boost of various levels for my solos. Amped, and at volume, the sound is gritty and beautiful and steps out like a lead guitar. With my real McCoy wah (which I also got from you...) and EBS octave pedal, it sounds like a mutron, big muff, and every other classic box combined.

Bass guitarists need to know that there is an "Entwistle, Squire, Geezer in a box." Just add imagination.

Thanks again,

I got another note in 2007, from Matt:

I received your TS9DX today and I absolutely love it! The pedal can add just the right amount of dirt on top without losing the bottom. In fact your modified pedal, which isn't specifically designed for a bass, is fatter and more bottom heavy than many "bass specific" overdrives I have tried out. It is the best sounding overdrive I have ever used for a bass. I have tried the Fulltone Bass Drive, HBE Hematoma, Gallien-Krueger Diesel Dawg, EBS MultiDrive, EBS ValveDrive, HAO Rust Ride and the Sansamp BDI. Your modified Tube Screamer blows them all away! I will spread the word to my fellow fat stringed brothers!

Here is another note from Eric who plays bass:

I just got back from a European Tour, I took your 808 modded TS9DX with me and it was a life saver. We rented backline gear (as that's WAY cheaper than flying it over) and the EQ on the SVT was shot... absolutely did not work. I have active three band EQ on my bass and that helped, but the amp still sounded kind of farty. I like a bit of drive but turning the amp's knob up just made it sound woofy and, well, shitty.

Out comes the TS9DX and it saved the day. I like a mean, growly tone and my active EQ allowed me to find that upper mid growl I dig and the Turbo TS added in the round, low mid fatness the amp was lacking. Your modded pedal has moved from the just-in-case tool box to a permanent part of my signal chain, regardless of amp. I'm even using it with my own stateside rig in a prominent position it didn't reside in previously.

Great on Acoustic guitar!?!

I got an Email from Michael Katon in late 2002 about a happy accidental use for the DX!!

Hope you have been well!... I'm writing you to let you know of something I discovered...I've been doing some acoustic gigs latley and i've found something interesting. If I plug my Acoustic into the TS9DSX turbo tubescreamer (modified by you) after leaving my Sunrise magnetic pickup and Sunrise battery pre amp I can get a fantastic tone if I set the turbo to the (+) setting...it adds a kind of bottom to the tone...of course magnetic pickups never sound truly acoustic and I plugged up the turbo just out of frustration one night...I just happened to have it in my bag as my regular 808's etc..were in the truck...

Ever since I've been using the turbo, people come up and wonder how I'm getting such a great tone on the acoustic!...I don't hardly turn on any distortion but something in the turbo (+) setting or higher adds some warmth and bottom (the regular tubesreamer sounds horrible)... if you do turn up some distortion you can get it to sound just like an old Elmore James record!...I'm using the Sunrises on Gibson J45's and the like, plugged into a '59 bassman with the Jenson Alnico speakers...any way I thought you might want to pass along a newly discovered use for the Turbo Screamer...

Great on Harp (Harmonica) too!

I had an experienced harp player come in looking for the tones of old distorted amps for his harp. I immediately thought of the TS9DX and put one out to try. The TS9DX/808 classic with Mode Mods worked great, through our old Deluxe Reverb and even through a Roland solid state amp. The higher modes really made the tone fat, with great low end. We also tried a DX with the standard modes and it was not good at all, very thin as the distortion is actually less. So while bass guitar does not need the mode mods, harp certainly does.

New TS9DX/808 Turbo Tube Screamers

I now offer brand new already modified TS9DX/808 pedals. They are about $20 more than a normal TS-9 so they will be $185 instead of $165. The modified TS9DX will be the same as a TS-808 when you put it in the TS9 mode. In the other 3 modes the mods will help also, giving them a better, smoother sound. Please Email me for ordering information, or you can order online from below.

More info on the DX sound VS the TS9

From a professional customer in NYC who plays a guitar with humbucking pickups, and Fender style amps:

For me, the DX is definitely an improvement over the straight TS9/808. With my Deluxe Reverb, I'm using the + mode with all the knobs turned up to about 10 o'clock. With the amp turned low this is a horrible sound, but with the amp on 4 to 5 it's really kicking the power tubes into action without fuzzing things up.

I think the problem was that the straight TS9 tends to make things more trebley than I like (although high end is critical to making an amp break up, I often feel like I'm walking a narrow line between using enough treble to get the OD, and a shrill tone I dislike). In order to keep that shrill, high end sound to a minimum, I'd keep the tone knob off on the TS9, but I found my self gradually turning the drive knob up. My last TS9/808 setting was tone off, level 12 o'clock, drive 12 o'clock. This was really using the box as less of an OD, and more of a distortion.

By going to the + mode on the DX, the drive of the pedal is reduced (unlike the Ibanez claim of more distortion!) and very importantly, the bass is increased. Primarily, things get louder, so I can roll the level down a bit, and still slam the amp with a small amount of TS breakup (otherwise, I could just use an equalizer with a level boost like my GE7), and get a full sound because of the increased bass. By using a bit of the tone knob, I can play somewhat "clean" with the guitar level knobs down. If I have to play at a lower level, like amp on 2 (god forbid), I can just use the old TS9 setting in TS9 mode.

I don't think this pedal really appeals to the standard TS oriented players (who are using Strats), I think Ibanez missed the mark in the distortion levels, but it's working out pretty well for me at this point.

Bass Guitar review

For my bass sound on the recording, your modded TS-9DX Turbo totally saved my bacon! I was finding the direct sound a little lacking so I ran the TS-9 Turbo on all the time with the drive set very low and it gave me the perfect sound to tape. I couldn't believe it. I normally just use it live when I want to punch up my signal a bit when I play a little higher up the neck (I have a very definite 60's to late 70's Who sound to my style).

The modded TS-9 turbo totally kept me from clashing too much with the bass drum giving us both the perfect sonic space to do our thing. Awesome!!! Seriously...EVERY BASS PLAYER SHOULD OWN ONE!


I have tried numerous bass distortions (too many to count) and the Ibanez TS9DX/808 Turbo Tube Screamer with your "brown mod" smokes them all!!! My K*** is gone and so is my F******* B*********! I simply cannot believe the sound coming out. I can't wait to hear this thing through my Sunn Model T... The TS9DX/808 is absolutely SMOKIN'!!! I've been playing bass 30 years and I've never come across anything that sounds this good. I'll be sending in another for a "silver mod". Not that I'm distortion crazed... I just want the "silver" on all the time as a low-gain fattener (is that a word?), and my "brown mod" for more over-the-top, Jack Bruce, kind of grind.

Silver option

Our SILVER OPTION is also available on the DX. This option is awesome on this pedal, makes the alternate TURBO modes clearer and richer sounding. The silver option is $30 more on a new pedal or a pedal sent in for the mods.


We have come up with some mods to change the tunings of the MODE switch on the TS9DX. The stock modes go too far in the bass setting, and the clipping (distortion) styles can be improved. Here is what we came up with for our standard mode mods:

  1. TS9 MODE: standard TS9/808 circuit and sound, no changes.
  2. + MODE: Some more low end, as used on most boutique TS808 clones. Bass strings will not mush out even playing fast. Not as much additional low end as stock + MODE, and we keep clipping diodes stock.
  3. HOT MODE: Same low end as our + MODE but with Boss style asymmetrical clipping for more crunch, attack, and harmonics, and a bit more volume. Similar to our BOSS SD-1/808 but a bit more low end.
  4. TURBO MODE : same as HOT mode but with even stronger bass (about as much bass as the original + MODE).

These modes were arrived at when we were coming up with settings for a TS9DX/silver to send for Gary Moore to try. We think the modes are excellent along with the SILVER mods for the ultimate TS9 mod!!! We can do these MODE MODS on a TS9DX/Classic or TS9DX/Silver, for an additional $25 at the time of an 808 mod or $45 seperately. The MODE MODS are on option on the TS-808 MOD FORM

We can also optionally do a CLEAN MODE MODS version. If you like less drive from the pedal for more of a clean boost sound, this may be your best option. In this version, the HOT and TURBO modes will be changed for less drive and more volume. The TS9 and + modes are as above in our MODE MODS list. HOT is like the TS9 mode with less drive and more volume. TURBO mode is like the + mode with less drive and more volume. If you want the CLEAN MODE MODS just make a note on your order, same price and the regular MODE MODS.

Andy Powell with '59 LP and TS9DXs

Andy Powell from Wishbone Ash is seen on the left checking out two of his TS9DX/808/Silver/ModeMod pedals with my Les Paul. Andy came to my shop in early 2003 with his '52 tele (ex- Roy Buchanan) and his '67 Flying V which he has used on all his albums. This pedal worked great with both guitars, all the modes were quite useable. It also sounded awesome running into the Stereo Clone chorus he picked up. He is taking these pedals on tour now, check out their tour dates on the web site. His other guitarist, the awesome Ben Granfelt from Finland, also picked up one of our TS9DX/808/Silver/Mode mods which I delivered to their last stop on their US tour in NY. Andy has since stopped by again and gotten a spare, and a fourth DX pedal for their guitar tech in the UK. Ben also has a Captain Coconut2 which he uses with his own band.

The OD Pedal Comparinator

The Old Tone Zone website has an awesome page where you can compare many different overdrive pedals. Anthony has included our SD1, BD2, and TS9DX mods so it's a great way to hear the different settings. You can choose three settings: clean, medium, or full gain. You can hear the samples with (studio mix) or without (raw) a backing track. Raw really allows you to hear subtle differences while the studio mix is great for hearing it with a band.

You can compare the different modes on the TS9DX/808 classic with MODE MODS. He has adjusted the volume to match so you won't hear how the modes get louder on each click. Use a higher gain setting to hear more of the differences on the attack and low end. Here is the link to The OD Pedal Comparinator.

Keep on screamin!

mike aNaLoG.MaN

Click here for mod form with shipping and payment details for sending me your tube screamer to mod.

Online Ordering

For easy ordering, check out our new website buyanalogman.com . The new website uses a shopping cart for everything so it's very easy to buy multiple items or add in options. It allows using paypal in addition to several other payment methods including credit cards. It also keeps track of status, tracking numbers, etc and allow editing orders after they are placed so it's best to use our new website.

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