Ibanez TS9 VS TS808
While both pedals are occasionally accused of being over-hyped, the biggest difference between them is the analog circuit and the TS808, which runs up the retail and used prices noticeably. As a result, sound quality is a bit better in the TS808, which does a better job of naturally pushing your amp, while the TS9 is a more modernized (in comparison to the 808) digital gain layer.
In this comparison we're looking at the Ibanez TS9 VS TS808, where the TS9 is a sort of modernized reissue of the original TS808. The most notable difference between the two pedals is the analog circuit in the 808 compared to the absence of any analog circuitry in the TS9.
While each pedal has been extremely popular, the TS9 has gotten a lot more "airplay" and has been more widely used because it's cheaper and has even been picked up by a lot of professionals, including John Mayer, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and Greenday's Billie Joe Armstrong.
Though both pedals have been around for a really long time.
Moreover, both have a distinctly vintage voice and shouldn't be considered for modern distortion sounds or situations where higher levels of gain are needed.
But we're not necessarily here to disprove the hype.
We're just going to put the TS9 and TS808 side-by-side to see how they compare to one another.
Let's get started.
Compare to Similar Distortion Pedals
First, we'll list the pedals with a couple other similar options. Note that Guitar Chalk is reader supported and that these orange buttons link to Sweetwater where it's possible for us to earn commission off their sales. This changes nothing about what you pay on Sweetwater or your browsing experience. We appreciate your time and support.
Ibanez TS9 Tube Screamer
EHX Big Muff
TC Electronic Dark Matter
Audio Comparison of TS9 & TS808
To start our comparison we've embedded two audio clips, the first one for the TS9 and the second for the TS808. Notice the subtle but clear difference in tone, where the TS808 comes off as a bit more crisp and natural-sounding.
TS9 VS TS808: Basic Specs
Let's start our comparison tables with the basics. The TS808 is more expensive than the TS9 which I mentioned is mostly due to the analog circuit used in the 808. This keeps the used price of the 808 similarly high, which is also due to it being the less popular of the two units (less units on the market equals less supply which drives the price higher).
3" x 4.9"
2.8" x 4.9"
Typical Used Price
Though both pedals have been around for a long time, Ibanez actively manufactures both versions, which means you can still get them new. In either case - buying new or used - the TS808 is going to be more expensive.
We've listed a few numbers in regards to impedance for the TS9, though the same data is not applicable to the TS808. Outside of the more subtle differences, the only major distinction between the two pedals is the analog circuit. The TS9 does not have an analog signal path, which - again - is the main reason you see the cost come down.
Equivalent Input Noise
9V DC negative center
Yes (JRC4558D IC chip)
You might also notice the power connectors are different, with a 9V AC for the TS9 and the DC negative center for the TS808. If you buy the 808 you've got to make sure you have a negative center DC power supply that can run it. Putting a battery in that metal chassis is a pain.
The resulting tone differences - while noticeable - are still subtle. With a similar feature set, both pedals create a warm, amp-driven overdrive that fits well in a blues or classic rock context, or even just for boosting a simple clean tone to break it up a little.
Both pedals have predictable distortion control schemes with drive, tone, and level knobs that provide a similar range of tone manipulation.
You can get a little more "grit" out of the TS808, while the TS9 is smoother with less of a grunge feel. Both drive controls give you a modestly wide gain range to work with, allowing you to have almost no breakup or go all the way to a vintage fuzz type of sound.
While the controls are functional and useful, they are complete mirrors of one another and don't make a lot of room for tweaking in either pedal.
We'd call the control scheme for both "static" and not at all versatile.
Review Count and Community Feedback
With such a high level of popularity, particularly in the case of the TS9, these two pedals have been reviewed a lot and it has been largely positive. Some of the criticisms I see included the "too much hype" argument I mentioned earlier, and then the lack of versatility, which we've also made a note of.
Between the two, the TS9 has been reviewed more and has received a lower total of negative write-ups.
Sweetwater, Amazon, Guitar Center, Reverb
Sweetwater, Amazon, Guitar Center, Reverb
Percentage of Positive
Concluding the Comparison
The biggest factor in choosing between the Ibanez TS9 and the TS808 is going to be the analog circuit in the 808. You'll need to decide how important that is to you and whether or not it's worth running up the price so much to get a pedal that's extremely similar to its counterpart - but with analog-driven tone.
That component matters a lot, to a lot of guitar players
But, In this case, we'd probably recommend going with the cheaper of the two options - the TS9.
It does the job of providing a smooth, vintage-voiced overdrive and doesn't come off as overtly digitized. Moreover, it has a long-standing positive reputation and has been really popular with pro guitar players in a wide range of styles and musical landscapes.
Even if it is over-hyped, the TS9 does a simple job very effectively.
Questions about the Two Overdrive Pedals
Do you have questions about the Ibanez TS9 VS the TS808? If so, we can do our best to help you out in the comments section below. Leave your notes there and we'll chat.