Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups
Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups
Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups

TS9 vs. TS808: what's the difference?

Discussion in 'The Stomp Box' started by vedt, May 3, 2011.

  1. vedt

    vedt Tele-Holic

    Nov 8, 2010
    What's the difference?

    I've never been able to play an Ibanez TS9 against their TS808. But I have played a TS9 vs. a Sparkle Drive vs. a Fulltone Fulldrive 2.
  2. Chiogtr4x

    Chiogtr4x Friend of Leo's

    Mar 29, 2007
    Manassas Park, VA
    I'm sure 11 Gauge will respond with "the truth" but I think I have read that while the two are very similar, that the TS-9 is (was) basically a "modded by Ibanez" TS-808 to sound better with transistor amps (perhaps the addition of a few components), not to be used exclusively by SS amps but just to sound better as they were very popular (or at least a lot of production) in the late '80's...

    I have owned a TS-9's before, never a TS-808 and hear that the 808 is smoother/warmer not as much Treble, and the TS-9 a little grainier/more aggressive??

    This could all be my recurring hallucinations! Will defer to folks with facts!
  3. 11 Gauge

    11 Gauge Doctor of Teleocity

    Mar 21, 2003
    Near BWI Int'l
    There's only THREE real differences that will make any true tonal difference (that anyone with even fair hearing can differentiate):

    1. Two resistors on the pedal's output that drive the amp a bit harder with the 808 versus the 9. This is known as the "brown mod," and can be done quickly and cheaply to any TS or TS clone.

    2. Two clipping diodes that have a slightly larger "threshold" than the standard silicon types that are used in over 90% of all diode clipper pedals (that are mass produced). They allow the 808 to have a bit more "air," volume, etc. Some folks describe it as warmth versus a little more compression/congestion with the TS9 (and 99% of TS clones). These "special NOS diodes" can also be duplicated by using slightly different ones than in the TS9, so that it's not an expensive/exclusive/unobtanium sort of thing.

    3. The op amp chip only if your TS9 has anything other than a 4558 variant. Some will swear that 4558's differ, or there are "NOS 4558's), but that is utter BS. Maxon/Ibanez chose that chip because it was stupid cheap. Any different ones in the 808's were simply where Ibanez was procuring the cheapest stock at the time. It doesn't matter if it's the TI chip, the Malaysian RC, or whatever. The newer "DD" chips are the same, just have a better noise floor. The NJM and JRC chips are one in the same, since NJM bought the factory and machines. If you pull up the data sheet for ALL 4558 incarnations, you will find that the integrated circuit within it is identical - there is no way for it to sound different, and there is no "premium factory" making those things.

    So back to number 3 (sorry for the rant - lots of people get taken for a ride paying for a "NOS 4558") - there were some older TS9's that had a non-4558 chip, and it just isn't a good one for creating distortion. That is the entire key behind the op amp in the TS - it is BAD for hi fi purposes.

    So it's really just TWO differences (or 4 parts that cost a nickel each!) in many/most TS9's and any TS clone that copies the TS9 and not the 808 (a few newer ones do indeed copy the latter).
  4. 11 Gauge

    11 Gauge Doctor of Teleocity

    Mar 21, 2003
    Near BWI Int'l
    Spot on - this is the TWO RESISTORS that differ in the two pedals. The 9 has higher value resistors on the output buffer so that a solid state amp wouldn't be driven (hopefully) into distortion - the 9 was intended to produce all overdrive on its own.

    Again, spot on! This is the TWO DIODES that differ in the two pedals. The 9's diodes have a smaller "threshold," which allows for more compression and bite, since it was all intended to come from the pedal. The 808's larger threshold from its diodes gives the perception of less distortion, and a smoother sound.

    The worst of the 9's have the trifecta - non-4558 chip, output resistors for a solid state amp, and clipping diodes for a solid state amp. But the chip itself has nothing to do with the other "standard" differences.
  5. cousinpaul

    cousinpaul Friend of Leo's

    Jun 19, 2009
    Nashville TN
    I know the "brown mod". Hadn't heard about the diodes. According to the schematic I have, the TS-9 uses 1n4148's. What would be a good choice for the TS-808 sound?
  6. 11 Gauge

    11 Gauge Doctor of Teleocity

    Mar 21, 2003
    Near BWI Int'l
    Anything that will match the Fv of the diodes used in the 808, which was a MA150.

    The 1N4148 has a Fv (forward voltage) of around 650mV. The MA150 had a Fv of around 900mV.

    ...The easiest thing to do is either run a diode in series with the stock TS9 diode to give you ~900mV, provided you can find one that will do that. Easier to do is combine something like a 1N4001 with a 1N34A or BAT41 (a.k.a. "Zendrive diode"). Just take any cheap multimeter that will measure diodes, and temporarily string them together to match what the MA150 gave as the Fv. There's no magic to the voltage that a diode switches on at, at least in the case of the 808.

    It's a similar situation with the old MIJ DS-1's, and why people prefer the way they sound. In the case of that pedal, it is almost ALL diodes, and none of the chip swap stuff or anything else that people do (the DS-1 distorts too much for the other parts to have a profound effect).
  7. DOGMA Dunn

    DOGMA Dunn Friend of Leo's

    Mar 2, 2011
    I agree, the chip is not what gave it the tone, but more the other components. If they thought the chip played a more significant part they may have spent a few pennies more for better sound. When it comes to electronics leave it to the Japanese to invent a great product like a tubescreamer, the alnico magnet, and the CD player.
    Platefire likes this.
  8. cousinpaul

    cousinpaul Friend of Leo's

    Jun 19, 2009
    Nashville TN
    Thank you. I'm going to have to try that. I've got your SD-1 to OCD mod on the griddle today. LOL, interesting about the DS-1... have I mentioned that my GM has a new best friend? More to come...

  9. ZenDog

    ZenDog Banned

    Aug 3, 2010
    east coast
    Is this the same thing as analogmanium?
  10. 11 Gauge

    11 Gauge Doctor of Teleocity

    Mar 21, 2003
    Near BWI Int'l
    Yessir, analogmanium! :lol:

    Or NOStastic. Or vintigified.

    "The NOStastic tones that you hear are the result of our analogmanium parts, that only we have access to, thanks to the AnalogManiac 1981 Time Machine, which allows us to go back in and grab those rare and special germanium transistors and "period correct," premium vintigified/never exported from Japan/we know all the parts warehouse geeks so you don't have to/RC4558P gold pin chips."

    Speaking of gold, this mod is true silver and gold, all the way around. Solid gold, as a matter of fact. And the brown sounds that you hear are a result of your modded pedal being baked until it is golden brown. Why let some pimply faced 18 year old solder jockey mod your priceless TS9 when our well qualified gurus will only encapsulate the utter NOStastic experience that only a time machine rendered 808 mod can provide?"

    ...Or something like that. ;)
    kevsonic and Keefsdad like this.
  11. nixpix

    nixpix Tele-Meister

    Oct 25, 2008
    Los Angeles
    That's great! :lol:
    Thanks for always educating us, 11 Gauge!
  12. zombiwoof

    zombiwoof Tele-Holic

    Oct 17, 2008
    Tujunga California
    I'm not sure why you are blaming Ibanez ("modded by Ibanez") for the changes in the circuit between the 808 and the TS-9, when Maxon made both pedals. It's only recently that Ibanez has gone to another company to make the TS-9 pedals, all of the older TS-9's and the early reissue TS-9's were made by Maxon, so Maxon is responsible for the changes, not Ibanez.

    I also don't understand all of the anti-Analogman sentiment I'm picking up in this thread, for someone who doesn't know how to solder or work on pedals, I think it's worth the price to get his modern TS9 with the TA##### chip modded to the 808 specs by someone who knows how to do it. Not everyone has the skills to do this himself. It's common knowledge now how to put a TS-9 back to 808 specs, and I say if you know how to solder and can do the mods yourself, by all means go ahead, you'll save some money, but when Analogman started doing those mods there wasn't as much information out there on the differences, and it was great to have someone who could do it for you.

    Doctorx33 likes this.
  13. 11 Gauge

    11 Gauge Doctor of Teleocity

    Mar 21, 2003
    Near BWI Int'l
    It's just really a bit of being fresh, and admittedly inappropriate. Because the truth is really always somewhere in the middle.

    And it isn't just pointed at one guy, since A-man doesn't use a gold pin chip or "bake" his pedals - another modder had to come up with an analogous (no pun intended) term that also meant "brown mod."

    I'm grateful for the masses that the pioneers were there early on, but some of the website verbiage is tooled at a sort of "we got there first" angle, with the obsolete stash of NOS components being touted as part of the necessity to make for a proper 9-to-808 conversion. When you also consider that carbon composition resistors are used in the mod, some of the fluff becomes apparent.

    I was just trying to portray that at this point, the gig is up, so to speak. The brown mod is old hat, the chip replacement is so well known that most 9's have probably had a successful transplant. The diode thing is sort of a last vestige, but not really a biggie - just the final piece.

    It was just meant as a playful jab. Mike (and Robert, and other pioneers) have sufficiently thick skin that it probably doesn't even get a miniscule rise out of them. And it should be that way.

    If anything, it's probably a bit more inappropriate towards the 808 fiends who have web pages and blogs stating that "this particular 4558 chip circa 1982 has a particular dry crispness to it that...blah blah yaddy ya..." IMO, it's just gotten WAY out of hand at times, so it makes it hard for me to resist the temptation to go Monty Python on the whole thing. All apologies for my behavior - intention was really just jestful jabs. I'm sure I'll be on the receiving end at some point. That's just how life is.
  14. Thighbanez

    Thighbanez Tele-Afflicted

    Aug 5, 2010
    ROFL!!! :lol::lol::lol::lol::lol:
    I've always wanted to say that...just couldn't put it together well enough to be hilariously funny at the same time!
  15. Thighbanez

    Thighbanez Tele-Afflicted

    Aug 5, 2010
    There's a difference between making the information available to the public so that IT CAN be done by the average joe...and keeping the secrets to actually performing the mod away from the average person.

    Some, more honest and trustworthy, (*COUGH* MHP) mod manufacturers include detailed and explicit instructions on how to perform their mods. While others...just reference an arbitrary perfboard layout and component listing that you have to have an engineering degree to understand/interpret.
  16. ZenDog

    ZenDog Banned

    Aug 3, 2010
    east coast
    The anti-analogman sentiment is at least partly this:
    He charges large sums of money to replace two diodes
    and a op amp. and it's a change that is what I call "mojo

    I can hear the difference between a TL072 and a 4558.
    But I can't hear the difference between various 4558 types
    (DD, P etc)

    At least Wampler, Keeley etc actually modify the circuit
    rather than just charge you to swap out two or three parts.
    What analogboy do once he has used up all those "blue stripe" diodes he bought that are no longer made that are the so called magic behind the original TS808?
  17. woodrowman

    woodrowman TDPRI Member

    May 29, 2008
    Barberton, Ohio
    Can any of you tell BY EAR which distortion pedal is being used on the first listen of a recording? If not, use whatever. . . .
  18. TG

    TG Doctor of Teleocity

    Using that logic we might as well all play cheap strat copies through Line 6 Spider amps...

    Several years ago I had a Maxon ts808 and a Maxon ts9 and I experimented with both at a few gigs using each as a lowish-gain boost for my telecaster and Blues Junior. The difference was subtle...hardly noticeable... but it seemed to me that the 808 was smoother. I found myself more inclined to keep the ts808 turned on than I did the ts9 so I went with the ts808.
  19. Mike Eskimo

    Mike Eskimo Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    Nov 9, 2008

    Or use a Bad Monkey ! :lol::lol::lol:

    Oh wait - I do use one...:oops:
  20. Thighbanez

    Thighbanez Tele-Afflicted

    Aug 5, 2010
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