Jacques Stompboxes







  Ibanez  ts808 pedal page

(see below for dating and history info)















Here we are ! The Super Star, King of the Hill, A number 1. And not made for little town blues.
For many of us, the final evolution of the distortion pedal. The 'homo sapiens'  of the stompbox breed.
In the beginning was the germanium English, then any buzzing silicon mosquitoes, followed by diode fueled distortion from the US, and last the Nippon diode + op amp + silicon complicated overdrive.
And it is really hard to compete with this wizard indeed. But it has become so rare and expensive that only rock star and collectors can touch their magic green.




















And that lead us to its brothers : od850 and od855.
At the time of their issue the competition was still opened. Many music mags gave the OD 850 the award for best harmonic distortion around.
Here are the ts808 signal-to-noise ratio precious info from a yore French tech mag:
Maximum gain: +30 db (+ 40db for OD850  and +45db for OD855)
Equivalent input noise: -100db (-70db for OD850 and -100db for OD855)
Price in French Francs of 1980 : 345,- ( FF 325,- for the other two)
All in all it seemed logical to the testers to choose the OD850 as a perfect ratio between gain and noise.
History made another choice.



















Jacques chaos theory

So why do the original ts808 pedals sound better than the numerous reissue/clones ?
When it comes to comparing
ts9 and ts808, it is an unspoken consensus of op amps and resistors. But look carefully to this picture and find what is different from a ts9 layout.
Eagle eyed shoppers saw 2 differences. That is a lot for pedals that has been examined by experts a hundred times.
First and smallest: the DC plug circuit. As the electrons go through it, with or without battery it could be of some interest.

2nd: these are not ts9 pots! And pots can alter tone.
And most of all, my opinion is now, after more than 40 years tinkering with pedals (I started at 13), that, like coffee, distortion boxes are more subject to chaos theory than the average phenomenon.
Example: take same brand of coffee, same tap water, same brand of coffee machine. Try it in 2 different homes, and you will end up with 2 different tastes. Parameters are so numerous that any mathematical model will be wrong somehow.
Distortion boxes are not different, because human ears, like human taste, are a very precise mechanism that can perceive very small differences in the final resulting tone.
I believe this is why original ts808 sound better than reissues & ts9, because they were differently made, wired, soldered, stocked, painted, drilled, etc… let alone that their components are not exactly the same. I have never tried to electronically clone this legend but my own take has always been to work on a tonal miming.
I propose a
JACQUES STOMPBOXES version of this perfect pedal. I have called it The OVERTUBE and believe I put all my knowledge and ear in it, as well as an extended gain range in both senses (from clean to more distortion) and I have added a CASCADE switch mode that mimes the sound of two ts808 put in series a la SRV .  Who has 2 vintage ts808 to experiment that ( except me of course ) ... and the overtube really nails it ...



























The Malaysia story

A lot of aficionados consider the malaysian as the best opamp for tubescreamers to this day, mostly because of internet buzz...
As we can see in the pics below :

these pictures come from serial number 131054 for the top, and bottom serial number 127743 ts808 . My favorite ts808 , nicknamed 'west' ( 127743 ) has the no-malaysia chip . Here are some more pics of the two ts808. Please note that except for the chip, there are no differences in components or workmanship.
Their serial numbers are quite close but I suppose somewhere in between , the TI chips changed factory . For me, the magical 4558 is the TI RC4558 P , J044 ATJ . So do not focus on this malaysian chip and be happy to find an original....



The r and non-r controversy

The same internet/ collectors buzz have lead to consider (r) pedals ( this refers to the registrated sign near the Ibanez logo) more collectible than their non-(r) equivalent , certainly because r pedals are older. Older is always better ?

Here is a great non-r from 1981 along with my overtube pedal. How do I date it ? Well there is an easy way : simply read the date on the electrolytic cap !

How to date a vintage ts808 :

H81 here on this pedal. This date is quite consistent even today so , considering that this cap is original , that's the best possible way to get the manufacturing year and be sure we have an original here. A pic of the inside of the non-r in the 164000-series :

As time passes , we get closer to the specs of the ts9, which was to be produced just a year later, 1982 . But for a lot of people, that's this precise chip, the japanese JRC , which has that magic 'midrangey' tone associated to SRV.

So along this path through the ts808 life, we find all versions have their fans, who would swear their choice malaysian, 'american' ( Texas Instruments, oldest ), japanese (JRC), sound the best.

here is another non-r from 1981 in the 176000 series with JRC

I would try one day to make a video demo to try and ear the differences, which are very light, but in conclusion, I would say that I will always buy an original ts808, any period, if the price is nice.

DC plug duality :

As you can see, the ts808 enclosures has the option for both DC plug type square hole barrel or round hole minijack