Review: Ibanez Analog Delay MINI, Chorus MINI, & Super Metal MINI

Review-Ibanez-ADMINI-CSMINI-SMMINI-Analog-Delay-Chorus-Super-Metal-MINI-01

Did you see Ant-Man?

Summary: A suit with the ability to shrink offered Paul Rudd an unexpected advantage against an adversary that was also using that technology for evil, and the smaller he became, the denser and more powerful. Yeah, it was a pretty outlandish (and awesome) concept, but it’s one that reflects an impetus that has driven nearly every industry since industry was born. One of the great paradigms of all technology is to make machines do what they do better in smaller packages. In the world of guitar pedals, tinier circuits in enclosures to match make for more palatable and often more usable devices. Sometimes this is an Earth-shattering improvement, other times a profitable sidestep, but it’s always… smaller.

If you’re here, you know that nobody feels the urgency of this size reduction like a guitarist. You keep cramming these massive buzz boxes on your ‘board because they sound f*cking awesome, but eventually you’re gonna run out of precious, precious real-estate. I purposely built my too-heavy pedalboard about five pedals too big for the 9 pedals I run now, so that I can add more on a whim without sacrificing anything; that’s nuts! If you like vintage pedals, you’re even worse off than us normies with your tall, weird-shaped, mains-powered monstrosities.

The biggest and most-seasoned companies in the industry know the struggle, and if you’ve been paying attention, you’ve noticed the massive influx of itty-bitty reissues and how wild people are going over them. Ibanez jumped into the Bite-sized Battle Royale during Winter NAMM 2015 by introducing the Tube Screamer Mini, and now they’ve infused some of that pequeña power into more of their 80’s legends. The orchid-hued Analog Delay MINI (ADMINI), the lavender Chorus MINI (CSMINI), and the sparkling electric blue Super Metal MINI (SMMINI) have all joined the roster, and they are not to be trifled with. Because in the case of Ibanez’s new MINI Series, size isn’t everything.

FEATURES:


Review-Ibanez-ADMINI-CSMINI-SMMINI-Analog-Delay-Chorus-Super-Metal-MINI-05ADMINI:

  • Based on the Ibanez AD9 Analog Delay
  • 3 knobs to control Delay Time, Blend, and Repeats
  • Delay Time: Controls the amount of time between repeats, ranging from 20ms to 600ms
  • Blend: Basic Wet/Dry blend
  • Repeats: Determines the amount of repeats, ranging from 1 to infinity.
  • True Bypass
  • 9V Power
  • Tiny Footprint

Review-Ibanez-ADMINI-CSMINI-SMMINI-Analog-Delay-Chorus-Super-Metal-MINI-06CSMINI:

  • Based on the Ibanez CS9 Chorus
  • 3 knobs to control Depth, Speed and Level
  • Speed: Adjusts the velocity of the modulation
  • Depth: Determines the width of the modulation
  • Level: Wet/Dry blend
  • True Bypass
  • 9V Power
  • Tiny Footprint

Review-Ibanez-ADMINI-CSMINI-SMMINI-Analog-Delay-Chorus-Super-Metal-MINI-07SMMINI:

  • Based on the Ibanez SM9 Super Metal Distortion
  • 5 knobs to control Drive, Edge, Punch, Attack and Level
  • Drive: Controls the level of distortion
  • Edge: Boosts or cuts high-end frequencies
  • Attack: Boosts or cuts a narrow slice of the mid-range frequencies- Ibanez calls this “Bite”
  • Punch: Boosts or cuts low-end frequencies
  • True Bypass
  • 9V Power
  • Tiny Footprint

Visit Ibanez for more info on the MINI Series!

ADMINI: See the lowest price on Amazon.

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CSMINI: See the lowest price on Amazon.

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SMMINI: See the lowest price on Amazon.

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Sound & Performance:

ADMINI – Analog Delay MINI

Review-Ibanez-ADMINI-CSMINI-SMMINI-Analog-Delay-Chorus-Super-Metal-MINI-02If you know how to use an AD9, you know how to use an ADMINI. It’s pretty much that same style of dark analog tone we all know and love in an adorable pink package. As with the TSMINI and CSMINI, the ADMINI reprises the AD9’s knob functions (while losing the AD9’s dry out), so the benefit of choosing this over its predecessor (should you own an AD9 already) is more-or-less the benefit of more room and an updated chip. However, if you don’t own an AD9 or ADMINI, the tone is impeccable despite the loss of the AD9’s stereo functionality. The proportionally massive Delay Time knob in the center implies where the money is and pitch shifts the delay creamily if you turn it while the pedal is generating repeats. The smaller Blend and Repeat knobs are impossible to kick accidentally, which is a huge boon for anyone who packs their ‘board tightly. At its extremes the ADMINI will self-oscillate into chaotic, pitch-shiftable banshee wails; at its most gentle, you’re rewarded with a gritty ambient delay that dies out warm and dark like a freshly extinguished log of firewood.


CSMINI – Chorus MINI

Review-Ibanez-ADMINI-CSMINI-SMMINI-Analog-Delay-Chorus-Super-Metal-MINI-03If you’re looking for a super dependable, classic-sounding chorus that adds subtle nuances to your signal rather than mangle it into a squirmy mass of worms, then does Ibanez have a pedal for you! The CSMINI sports the same body as its delay counterpart with the parameters of the CS9, but like the ADMINI, the CSMINI loses its stereo heritage to accommodate its lithe frame. There’s not an exceptionally wide range of wild tones you can squeeze out of this thing, but it does everything a chorus generally meant to do, from gentle waves of lush modulation to surging, wobbly bubbles. The size and super simple interface speak for themselves, and any guitarist seeking something extra to push their tone out of a mix should start here.


SMMINI – Super Metal MINI

Review-Ibanez-ADMINI-CSMINI-SMMINI-Analog-Delay-Chorus-Super-Metal-MINI-04Man, starting on the surface the SMMINI is cool. It sports an identical chassis to the ADMINI and the CSMINI, but in addition to the huge drive knob, it also features two smaller dual-concentric knobs. “What does that mean?” you ask. It means that this little beast has knobs inside of knobs. I know! I’d love to see more dual-concentric knobs industry-wide. Tone-wise, you can get whacky, over-the-top hair metal out of it or even just use it as a dirty boost for soloing. While single notes soared and dyads were harmonically thick, I did notice that the SMMINI tended to mud up my chords as I brought the drive further past noon, and became almost intolerable when maxed out. However I remind you, dear reader, that a distortion is meant to distort to taste; you can’t crank everything and expect to sound like Vai.

All of the Ibanez MINIs’ bodies are pretty dense in a way that implies non-pliant dependability, and each sports traditional latching foot-switches. Despite the no-nonsense lack of frills, I have no grievances over the functionality of these lovely little tone engines: mini pedals are kind of just what they, are and you can’t ask for much more from them than compact tone at the press of a button. Despite the fact that the ADMINI and CSMINI’s predecessors both have stereo wet/dry outputs, the mini’s are making their own way and doing their own thing for the tired guitarist, and for some of us, the reason we want smaller pedals has a lot in common with the reason we won’t go stereo. Maybe its time we gave our backs a rest and went mini.

Review-Ibanez-ADMINI-CSMINI-SMMINI-Analog-Delay-Chorus-Super-Metal-MINI-08

IBANEZ Analog Delay MINI (ADMINI)

Overall-Rating-4.5

Stupid simple, warm analog tone, itsy-bitsy. What’s not to love? If you’re looking for a tiny plug-and-play delay pedal that won’t break the bank or leave you spending hours menu-diving, its hard to compete with the ADMINI.

 

IBANEZ Chorus MINI (CSMINI)

Overall-Rating-4.0

Believe it or not, everyone has classic tone needs. While the CSMINI is nothing groundbreaking in terms of variety, it does what it does very well, and what it does is satisfy the need for a lush analog chorus while also being fun-sized.

 

IBANEZ Super Metal MINI (SMMINI)

Overall-Rating-4.0

Five parameters on a mini pedal?! Even if that doesn’t impress you, the price and the tone are not to be ignored if you’re looking for gain. The SMMINI is the size-conscious shredder’s best friend, and like its counterparts, evokes the classic tones we should expect from reissues like the Ibanez Mini Series pedals.

That concludes our review of the Ibanez ADMINI, CSMINI, & SMMINI. Thanks for reading!

 

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Ibanez ES2 Echo Shifter Review – Best Analog Delay Pedal?

Ibanez-ES2-Echo-Shifter-Review-Best-Analog-Delay-Pedal-01

Introduction

Aside from the almighty Tube Screamer family of pedals (including the Tube Screamer Mini, TS808HW, etc.) and perhaps some other classics like the SD9 or old Standard Fuzz, Ibanez aren’t exactly known for too many offerings in the pedal realm. Partly for that reason, the ES2 Echo Shifter runs the risk of flying under the radar a bit, especially since it doesn’t seem to be part of a long-running series of pedals like the Tube Screamer and its assorted variations. But with a full analog signal path, tap tempo, modulation, and a unique styling (a rare set of features for such a relatively affordable delay pedal), the ES2 has the potential to be a serious contender in today’s analog delay pedal market.

Features

  • Delay Time slider: 30ms – 1000ms
  • Feedback Control
  • Mix Control
  • Modulation Depth Control
  • Modulation on/off toggle switch
  • Oscillation on/off toggle switch
  • Tap Tempo Foot-switch
  • 9v Battery or standard center-negative DC

Ibanez-ES2-Echo-Shifter-Review-Best-Analog-Delay-Pedal-02

From a designer’s perspective, incorporating a digital circuit, such as a tap tempo, to control certain parameters within an analog design can be a bit of a hassle, not to mention costly. While digital control and tap tempo have long been less common on analog delays, such implementation adds a lot of versatility. Therefore, the ES2’s main selling point is the fact that its signal path is completely analog, while also featuring a tap tempo.

Analog delays aren’t exactly known for being capable of long delay times either, but the Echo Shifter offers a surprisingly long 1000ms, which is certainly plenty for most applications.

Another characteristic of analog delay pedals that could be considered downside is that the repeats generally are somewhat noisier and definitely color the tone, not unlike the treble roll-off of a tape delay. This is obviously a matter of taste, and most people are aware that an analog delay is not the best choice when crystal clear repeats of the original sound are desired.

Although I couldn’t directly confirm this, I suspect the unit uses the standard buffered bypass circuit featured on most Ibanez guitar pedals, a solid choice in my opinion.

As far as the usual stuff goes, there is a clear white status LED above the on/off foot-switch (labeled ‘FX’) on the left, as well as a green (red while tapping) tempo indication LED above the tap tempo foot-switch which is nothing out of the ordinary, but I really appreciated the orange LEDs to indicate the status of both the modulation and oscillation toggles, definitely handy on a dark stage.

Another major way the ES2 distinguishes itself is by the vintage styled wedge shaped housing, finished in a somewhat greenish white, with old school wood side panels, a delay time slider, and big chrome-centered knobs. It’s definitely a nudge in the direction of the analog synth world and I think it makes for an attractive and unique looking pedal.

As expected there’s not a whole lot of info in the single page manual. Although adequate, it’s very brief and doesn’t offer anything in the way of suggested settings.

Visit Ibanez for more information about the ES2 Echo Shifter Analog Delay.

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Sound & Performance

The ES2 Echo Shifter definitely has character, both sonically, as one would expect from an analog delay, as well as visually. The treble roll-off caused by the relatively primitive analog bucket brigade chips (a pair of Coolaudio V3205D’s in this case) makes it quite dark and lo-fi sounding, even more so than sophisticated analog delays which generally use more expensive chips, but I quite liked how it separated my dry signal from the repeats in the overall mix and it also remained fairly noise free considering a lot of noise ‘lives’ in the treble frequencies.

Ibanez-ES2-Echo-Shifter-Review-Best-Analog-Delay-Pedal-03

The layout of the controls works well, so going from a simple slapback to a more obvious delay all the way to oscillation is achieved relatively easily.Briefly going over the controls: the ‘Feedback’, also depending on the other controls, goes from a single repeat at minimum to infinite repeats anywhere past 3 o’clock.

With the ‘Mix’ at the first quarter of rotation repeats are barely noticeable, but it quickly gets up to unity a little past noon, and the initial repeats get a fair bit louder than unity anywhere past 3.

The ‘Depth’ control, which is only active with the ‘Modulation’ toggle engaged, is subtle until about 9 o’ clock but causes fairly heavy detuning anywhere past halfway, up to a modulating 5th above/below the original pitch at maximum, which is a lot heavier than the modulation found on most delays, further establishing the somewhat experimental nature of the ES2. The modulation isn’t particularly fast, and I would have certainly appreciated being able to control the speed as well. After flipping the modulation toggle to the ‘off’ position, the modulation doesn’t disappear straight away, as there’s an interesting wobble that occurs for a few more repeats.

Moving on, the ‘Oscillation’ switch seemed a little redundant at first, since the ES2 is capable of oscillating even with the toggle turned off as long as the ‘Feedback’ is at or near maximum, but it speeds up the process, so that within a couple of repeats the relatively low headroom BBD chips overload and the repeats are distorted quite heavily, quickly turning your repeats into an epic wall of noise.

The other controls do still retain their functions while the ES2 is oscillating: turning the ‘Feedback’ to minimum stops the oscillation completely, while the ‘Mix’ simply controls the volume of the wash of noise behind your dry signal, which makes the whole thing a lot more manageable than expected. The ‘Oscillation’ still modulates the pitch, while the ‘Delay Time’ slider (or tap) permanently change the pitch, causing that typical warping sound for even more craziness.

Ibanez-ES2-Echo-Shifter-Review-Best-Analog-Delay-Pedal-04The highlight of the pedal overall is the ‘Delay Time’ fader, partly for the novelty factor, but controlling the delay time this way is surprisingly intuitive, as it allows for more instant and detailed control. As far as downsides go, in spite of the ES2 being buffered bypass it unfortunately doesn’t let the repeats trail off after the pedal is disengaged. Instead the repeats get cut off immediately, which is a serious downside if smooth transitions are what you’re after. But there may be being a technical reason for this, since delay oscillation can get really loud quite quickly, and most people’s panic reaction would be to switch the pedal off when things get too crazy, it might have been designed this way to prevent amps from blowing up. In short, a (perhaps internal) toggle switch would have been nice to allow delay ‘spillover’. Another minor issue is that the foot-switches feel a little too squishy, are somewhat noisy (mechanically, not electronically), and have a fairly low profile. However, my biggest issue would be regarding the tap tempo; it does what it’s supposed to as long as the pedal is engaged (it overrides the slider setting until it’s moved), but it doesn’t retain the ‘tapped’ tempo as soon as it’s bypassed, simply reverting back to the setting of the slider, and it doesn’t register a new tempo being tapped while the pedal is disengaged either. These are fairly essential features for most people looking to use delay in a more discreet fashion.

It’s also relatively bulky, taking up a fair amount of space, although this can be a good thing when making adjustments on the fly, and even allows for moving the delay time fader by foot, a nice alternative to the tap tempo, although I’d be wary of putting too much pressure on it. The quirky enclosure does make for a somewhat crude battery compartment, similar to that found on old RAT pedals, with a door that’s held in place by a thumbscrew, which happened to be quite tough to unscrew the first few times.

It’s Ibanez, so it’s sturdy and it works as expected. It has more of a mass produced feel to it, but it certainly looks eye-catching and has a unique character visually and sonically. It would be nice to see a premium version with more features (tap divisions?) and its few issues addressed.

Ibanez-ES2-Echo-Shifter-Review-Best-Analog-Delay-Pedal-06

 

Overall-Rating-4.5

The Ibanez ES2 Echo Shifter is a great fully analog delay pedal with tap tempo at a very competitive price. The ES2 makes a decent traditional delay as well as something I could see myself using in more experimental setups, due to its extreme modulation and wild, yet highly controllable oscillation. There are some quirks not everybody might be able to live with, the somewhat limited tap tempo functionality being the biggest one, and it might not be anything special in terms of build quality or reliability. While this might make it somewhat delicate for the road, the ES2 would be an inspiring creative tool in the studio. I definitely enjoyed this inspiring piece of gear, and I would love to see Ibanez design more pedals in this vein, using similar cosmetics paired with old school (analog) designs.

That concludes our Ibanez ES2 Echo Shifter Delay review. Thanks for reading.

 

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Ibanez TS808HW Hand-Wired Tube Screamer Review – Best Overdrive Pedal?

Ibanez-TS808HW-Hand-Wired-Tube-Screamer-Review-Best-Overdrive-Pedal-01

The Ibanez TS-808 Tube Screamer is one of the all-time classic overdrive pedals, most notably used by legendary blues guitarist, Stevie Ray Vaughan, to achieve his signature sound. Three knobs – Level, Tone, & Overdrive – and that all-important JRC4558D chip form the basis for the classic mid-boosted tones the Tube Screamer is known for. The Ibanez Tube Screamer TS808HW returns to the hand-wired craftsmanship of the original pedals with a serious upgrade to the quality of components and wiring. Is this the best TS-808 overdrive pedal available? You’ll find out in our Ibanez TS808HW Hand-Wired Tube Screamer review.

Features:

  • Ibanez-TS808HW-Hand-Wired-Tube-Screamer-Review-Best-Overdrive-Pedal-02Limited Production.
  • Completely Hand-Wired.
  • Overdrive,Tone, and Level controls.
  • Japanese MOGAMI OFC Cable.
  • True Bypass.
  • Powered by one 9 Volt Battery or external AC Adapter AC509 (sold separately).
  • Modern power supply adapter included (1/8” (3.5mm) to 2.1mm barrel plug).
  • Special Metal Box included.

Visit Ibanez for more info about the TS808HW.

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Sound & Performance:

There’s something about the vibe of the TS808HW that really screams premium tone. It’s more than just appearances. The new heavy, rugged enclosure and collector’s metal box contains something within that’s really special. All the talk of hand-wiring, original JRC4558D chips, and premium components would mean nothing if the tone wasn’t there. Thankfully, it is. The Ibanez TS808HW is truly a premium, boutique grade overdrive pedal and comes closest to capturing that original Tube Screamer TS-808 sound than nearly any other pedal.

Ibanez-TS808HW-Hand-Wired-Tube-Screamer-Review-Best-Overdrive-Pedal-03Now when I say the TS808HW is closest to the original Tube Screamer sound, there are a few things that need to be understood. Those early Tube Screamers everyone’s chasing around on eBay for exorbitant prices often have slight tonal variances. They may sometimes sound as different from each other as the TS808HW sounds to any of them. Anyone trying to put one of those pedals on a pedestal, as great as they may be, needs to understand that there are just certain inconsistencies that make it difficult to create the definitive Ibanez TS808HW vs original TS808 Tube Screamer comparison. The great news about the production of the TS808HW is that what you hear from one of these pedals should be pretty consistent with other TS808HW units. Sure, they’re all individually hand-wired, but Ibanez has gone to great lengths to set a new high standard for Tube Screamer tone. Ibanez says that this is the “most evolved Tube Screamer ever created”. My impressions are that the TS808HW is indeed the most exceptionally well crafted Tube Screamer that Ibanez has produced. The tones in this pedal easily sit alongside the greatest Tube Screamer tones you’ve ever heard.

So how exactly does it sound? Well, there are certain characteristics Tube Screamers are known for, particularly their accented mid-range boost. There’s also an enhanced touch sensitivity that makes a good Tube Screamer a sheer joy to play through. The overdrive tones produced from that classic JRC4558D chip are just as important, hence the reason you always see that chip specifically referenced. The TS808HW exhibits all the qualities you’d expect from a Tube Screamer but with a certain uniqueness that earns this pedal its own coveted place in the Tube Screamer legacy.

While some Tube Screamers can sound a little harsh on the top-end or a bit light on the lows, I find the TS808HW be more gentle on the highs and has extra low-end presence. While the mid-range hump is also still ever present, there’s a little mojo happening across the whole frequency spectrum that sets the TS808HW apart from lesser 808-inspired pedals. I wouldn’t quite say that it’s coloring your tone any more than a Tube Screamer is known to do, but it’s more-so that the pedal is preserving more of the inherent tone that you’re feeding into the pedal from you guitar. Between the high quality components and Japanese MOGAMI OFC cable that it’s wired with, the TS808HW minimizes the negative tone-sucking effects of pedals perhaps more than most overdrive pedals on the market. For the impact that cheap wiring can have on tone, this pedal may also have a positive impact on your sound even when bypassed compared to other pedals that use lower quality wiring. The TS808HW has a “hi-fi” sound quality with much greater depth than your run of the mill overdrive pedal.

Ibanez-TS808HW-Hand-Wired-Tube-Screamer-Review-Best-Overdrive-Pedal-04Some people believe that a good Tube Screamer can make just about any amp sound better. There’s a certain truth to that just in how our ears respond more pleasingly to mid-range frequencies which Tube Screamers are known to accent and enhance. The TS808HW delivers a pleasing nudge to your amp’s preamp that can help you find any amp’s sweet spot. When playing the TS808HW into a clean channel, you can dial in higher Overdrive settings to instantly achieve mild to moderate crunch tones. The Tone knob remains surprisingly musical throughout its range and can help you contour the sound to your tonal preferences. The Level control can provide a reasonably substantial boost for a hefty volume increase for solos or kick to your amp to induce some extra saturation. (Where do you think the “Tube Screamer” name comes from?) If you’re playing the TS808HW into a crunchy or heavily distorted amp channel, cut back the Overdrive to use the Tube Screamer for some added dynamics to your pick attack and just a little extra cut and aggression to your sound. As countless guitarists know, a tastefully used Tube Screamer in front of a dirty amp can make a good overdrive foundation sound even better. The TS808HW handles this task exceptionally well.

Also, as far as getting into the territory of those classic Stevie Ray Vaughan tones, this pedal will get you closer to that ballpark than nearly anything else. Yet while the TS808HW would be my first recommendation for a modern guitar player seeking out those classic tones, this pedal offers even greater opportunity for finding your own signature sound. Each hand-wired Tube Screamer it as unique as your playing is, so make it your own.

While I sometimes find myself reluctant to give out the highest ratings to simple pedals with seemingly few applications, the TS808HW is just hard to not like. While another recent Ibanez offering, the visually and sonically appealing ES2 Echo Shifter, features great looks and sounds but is mass-produced in China, there’s something about the overall sound and ‘feel’ of the TS808HW that comes with the attention to detail of being a hand-made product. There was one minor thing I almost wanted to gripe about: Ibanez stuck with an old-school 1/8” (3.5mm) power plug socket. Fortunately, they include a small adapter cable that’s compatible with standard modern power supplies. Just don’t lose it! And it kind of adds to the retro-meets-modern vibe of the product. With reissues of the TS-808 still going strong (along with the new TSMINI), the Tube Screamer guitar pedals have long been a mainstay for great overdrive tones. The TS808HW is simply impeccable and sets a new modern overdrive standard.

Let’s see the final result.

Ibanez-TS808HW-Hand-Wired-Tube-Screamer-Review-Best-Overdrive-Pedal-05

Overall-Rating-5.0

The Ibanez TS808HW Hand-Wired Tube Screamer is the ultimate modern version of the iconic Tube Screamer design available from Ibanez. While capturing the classic sound that the best Tube Screamers are known for, the TS808HW has its own unique feel that sets it apart from other Tube Screamers and similar styles of overdrive pedals. While keeping everything that made the original TS-808s endure over time, the TS808HW carries that legacy forward for new generations of guitarists to experience and make their own.

That concludes our Ibanez TS808HW Hand-Wired Tube Screamer review. Thanks for reading.

 

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Ibanez Tube Screamer Mini Review – Best Mini Overdrive Pedal?

Ibanez-Tube-Screamer-Mini-Review-Best-Mini-Overdrive-Pedal-01

The Ibanez Tube Screamer needs no introduction as it’s one of the most legendary overdrive guitar pedals ever made. Used by Stevie Ray Vaughan and countless other guitarists who all love its signature mid-boosted sound, the Tube Screamer TS-808 is also one of the most cloned and imitated pedals ever released. With the growing trend of downsized effects pedals taking over guitarists’ pedalboards, Ibanez decided to stake their claim to your precious board real estate with the Tube Screamer Mini.

Ibanez-Tube-Screamer-Mini-Review-Best-Mini-Overdrive-Pedal-02The Ibanez Tube Screamer Mini (TSMINI) features a real analog tube screamer circuit, the classic JRC4558 IC chip, and the same knob configuration as its larger siblings, the TS-808 and TS808HW. But does it live up the reputation that precedes it? Is it the rightful heir to the Tube Screamer legacy? You’ll find out in our Ibanez Tube Screamer Mini review.

Features:

  • Controls: Overdrive, Tone, and Level.
  • 100% Analog Circuitry.
  • Genuine Tube Screamer circuit with JRC4558 IC chip.
  • True Bypass Switching.
  • Made In Japan.

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Sound & Performance:

For this review I went right for my Fender American Standard Stratocaster and plugged into my Rivera Venus 5 head. I dialed in a clean tone, and kicked on the pedal with its knobs set to noon. The moment you activate the Tube Screamer Mini, you’ll know you’re hearing real Tube Screamer tone. Despite the fact that Ibanez shrunk down the TS-808, they made every effort to capture that iconic sound. The fact I got lost just jamming away for 30 minutes before even touching the knobs was a very good sign.

While the TS-808 sound is undeniably present in the TSMINI, I eventually realized that I hadn’t even bothered trying to fine-tune the sound or adapt it to my guitar and amp. Sure, there’s something about the Tube Screamer’s mid-boost that makes it enticing to play through, but there are some sweet spots to be found with a little tweaking that’ll help you get the most out of this pedal.

Ibanez-Tube-Screamer-Mini-Review-Best-Mini-Overdrive-Pedal-03When I turned up the Overdrive knob to around 2-3 o’clock, the added saturation thickened up the tone accordingly. Pushing up the Level knob past 1 o’clock added similar tonal enhancement as the pedal began overdriving the front-end of my amp slightly. This range of settings is an excellent start for some nice rhythm tones. Consider cutting the Overdrive to the range of 9 o’clock to noon for more subtle overdriven rhythm tones. Maxing out the Overdrive induces some nice saturation from the Tube Screamer Mini’s JRC4558D chip, excellent for singing lead breaks. It’s at these higher gain levels where a little extra attention should be pain to the Tone knob’s setting. I like to cut it back just left of noon to tame the high-end a little. I wouldn’t call it harsh by any means, but a little roll-off helps smooth it out a little. Of course, some darker pickups will benefit from a mild boost from the Tone knob.

The Tube Screamer Mini is a bridge between your guitar and amp, adding another musical dimension to your sound and creating a very rewarding playing experience. I sometimes forget just how great a Tube Screamer is. Once I plug in, it all comes back to me. The TSMINI’s simplicity and undeniable presence make it an essential tool in the modern guitarist’s pedal arsenal. In fact, if you’ve never owned a Tube Screamer and want to see what all the fuss is about, the TSMINI is a great introduction to the Tube Screamer legacy. It certainly stacks up well against other Tube Screamers I’ve played and is a steal at the price Ibanez is selling them for..

Speaking of stacking up, since the Tube Screamer Mini isn’t too over the top when it comes to overdriving and distorting your sound, it’s great to pair up with other pedals or a high-gain amp. If you already have some decent chunk going on, kick on the Tube Screamer Mini in front for a hotter sound. The Tube Screamer Mini sounds especially great for the “Killswitch Engage” style of ultra-heavy, 808-infused distortion tones. Put the TSMINI in front of a high gain amp. Start with the Overdrive all the way down and the Level at around noon. Raise the Overdrive to taste. Voila’! Added pick attack bite and heaviness galore! This is a great trick if you’re stuck with single coil pickups but want some heavier tones. I demonstrate this towards the end of my Tube Screamer Mini Review YouTube video.

While every Tube Screamer does have very minor tonal variances, it’s very commendable how Ibanez have maintained a more than solid TS-808 sound while shrinking the TSMINI to its pedalboard friendly size. There’s really no excuse for not squeezing a Tube Screamer Mini on your board if you don’t have a TS-808 already. It’s even worth considering picking up the TSMINI anyway in case you want to leave that vintage Ibanez TS-808 Tube Screamer at home and put this space-saving little wonder on your pedalboard.

Sure, you can find overdrive pedals out there with added tonal options (i.e. more knobs and switches, etc.). But the Tube Screamer Mini excels at achieving classic Tube Screamer tones while saving space on your pedalboard and being gentle on your wallet (akin to Ibanez’s budget-friendly ES2 Echo Shifter Analog Delay). Ibanez have laid down the gauntlet for micro-sized classic Tube Screamer tone with the TSMINI. The final verdict is below.

Ibanez-Tube-Screamer-Mini-Review-Best-Mini-Overdrive-Pedal-04

Overall-Rating-4.5

The Ibanez Tube Screamer Mini recreates the legendary TS-808 sound in a pedalboard friendly enclosure. What more could you ask for? Not to be mistaken for the knockoffs floating around, the TSMINI is the real deal. It holds up against other Tube Screamer models and stands well on its own. Whether you’re a guitarist on a budget, are looking for a small overdrive pedal, or simply want great Tube Screamer tone, the Ibanez Tube Screamer Mini is among the best mini overdrive pedals around.

That concludes our Ibanez Tube Screamer Mini review. Thanks for reading.

 

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