The poor man
tube screamers HOME
Well you must have noticed that the price of original ts9 or ts808 can make you the same effect than sleeping in the tent of the Blair witch project guys. So what is left is these 3 screamers, that can be obtained for the price of a good dinner for two ( your girlfriend is going to hate me ). They are all very good pedals and judging them was not easy : I used a '77 strat on a Jubilee 25/50 1x12' Marshall amp with same cords and same battery. Settings were more or less : level and tone at 9 o'clock, distortion at 3 o'clock and a Mitsubishi zero at 10 o'clock.
TS10 : First, you should know that you can find 2 types of ts10 : Japanese and Taiwanese. French readers will have a bonus laugh at the 'FABRIQUE EN TAIWAN' which means something like made out of some organic stuff that is called 'Taiwan'.Anyway the 2 pedals are very similar but all this page is about slight differences so here we are:
Apart from the brand of resistance and caps, they have use a different PC board and a different kind of wires. But they both use the famous original JRC 4558 chip !!! And this is good news for us ts9 weirdoes. Sound wise they are excellent, while the Japanese ts10 seems to make you play better, to sound better. I have always ended up playing the Japanese for a much longer time. Craftsmanship is top class and much better than the next of kin. And yes, ts10 are sure losers for beauty prizes. Their sturdy plastic box reminds me 80's pseudo-punk sharp ugly hairdoes.
Here is the innards of the ts5 , aka bye bye black bug. Not that bad, and surprisingly it uses the TA 75558 chip from midlife ts9. The result however is quite different from a TA75558 ts9: it is a darker pedal, somehow gothic, where its happening overdrive ts9 sound seems to wear a veil. This pedal can be very useful in conjunction with a metal pedal, such as MT2 or my darling MZ2, to obtain a real exquisite gothic metal sound. And you have it so cheap. My example seems to have badly suffered from the ever popular beer spilling without any sound damage. Good girl.
The exciting new ts7 uses a strange desertic board with meat stamps and a surprise du chef : the JRD4558. But we won't get fooled again ( like in the first fuzz face reissue with NKT75 transistors ). These chips cannot be the original ones. And when you play a ts7, you immediately notice a slight crisp which is the sign of a not-so-good ts9. However you can have screamer fun with this pedal and the boost switch could be a good idea if it was not so small. The silver metal enclosure is very becoming while the two jack-in-the-box springs that pop up when you open the battery lid are goofy big time.
The winner is ,without any doubt, the made in Japan ts10 with the Taiwan one just behind. They really are true tube screamers in both feel and sound. Buy every ts10 you see. And stock pile them. The ts7 come good 3rd and you should buy this if you want a new pedal or if you do not like to haunt used gear shops and eat healthy food instead of pizzas. A good modern choice. The ts5 comes last, not because it is a bad pedal but because its sound is different from what you can expect from a screamer. Anyway its cheap price make it a real bargain and its gothic application should be investigate. Stay tuned.