This review was submitted by Guitar Jar contributor: Steve Coates
I’d played through a number of overdrive pedals looking for a vintage-style tone. Being a Fender amp player, I wanted something that would push the amp into a nice valvey overdrive but nothing too crazy. I’d read in reviews that the Tube Screamer was designed to give a similar vibe of an amp that was breaking up (not to mention SRV used them!).
Eventually I managed to track down a used one, which I later discovered was an original 80s TS-9 with the much revered JRC4558 chip! The pedal sounded great and I’ve played Tube Screamers ever since! I am currently playing through a Robert Keeley TS808+. This mod removes some of the issues that the original 808 had, such as limited bass response (that cuts so much that it appears as a huge midrange hump in the sound) and limited gain range… doesn’t get clean enough or on the other hand, doesn’t get enough distortion.
Volume, Tone, Drive. True-bypass… Blue LED!
3 knobs, well easy… a breeze to get usable tones – fairly straightforward all in all.
The mods definitely give the pedal a very open and natural sound. The pedal allows the guitar’s character to come through whilst at the same time bring a really rich overdrivey crunch. Whilst I normally keep the drive level at about 11 oclock there’s plenty more to be had!
My pedal line-up isn’t too extensive and the only ‘effect’, as it were, is a delay (when necessary). I also use an original Marshall Blues Breaker pedal (not the silver one). The Marshall colours the pickups really nicely – especially on a Strat. The combination of the two gives two great gain stages.
I tend to use the guitar to adjust volume/gain/boosts and the Tube Screamer always performs brilliantly to the adjustments.
Never had any problems – seems to be solid as a rock!
The Robert Keeley Modded TS-808 is an awesome pedal with a very earthy organic sound. It works great with humbuckers, P90s and single coils. The cost of the Keeley seems to have increased a bit since I got mine, but is a cracking pedal regardless.