playing the Blues, feeds the soul

Ibanez Tube Screamer Mini Reviewed

It's hard to imagine an age B.T.S. (Before Tube Screamer.) Real, there were fuzzes and distortions, many which could fairly work as overdrives. The Ibanez TS family altered the real definition of the term overdrive, generating legions of low- to mid-gain impersonators. Both small shop builders and large manufacturers (consisting of Ibanez) based a market on supposed TS improvements. To lots of in the "if it ain't broke, don't repair it" camp, the classic Tube Screamer is still "the one." For these perfectionists, Ibanez's most current development, the Tube Screamer Mini, may be the only Tube Screamer that represents a real enhancement-- not in sound or performance, but in size. It's a simple TS, 3.5" long and less than 1.5" broad.

Made in Japan, Tube Screamer Mini is driven in part by the JRC4558 IC chip found in initial TS-9s. The Mini's controls are crammed into a green enclosure dressed up with TS-808-style graphics. There's a button-style footswitch, one big knob for drive, and pair of smaller sized knobs for tone and level. The little format indicates there's no living room for a 9V battery-- you must us an AC adapter. (Given the number of players rig their pedalboards with daisy-chained power products, this shouldn't be an issue, unless you have an Eric Johnson-like fixation with battery types.).
est Tube Twins.
We checked Tube Screamer Mini with an Fender Telesonic w/ Lollar p90's and a stock PRS Mira, both played through a Fender Blackface Super Reverb reissue. We also pulled out a vintage Tube Screamer to compare, setting the knobs on both pedals to the same spots: tone and overdrive around 1 o'clock, and level around 11 o'clock. Initially it appeared as though the Mini had a bit more gain than the initial, however when I advanced the larger box's drive knob a hair, I got near-identical sounds.

With overdrive set to 3 o'clock, tone at midday, and volume around 1 o'clock, I got a rich, velvety noise perfect for flashy blues licks and double-stop rhythm figures. Even with the gain up high, the Mini was exceptionally responsive to characteristicsof string attack.

The signature midrange focus of the Tube Screamer circuitry remained in this near-clean setting, including presence and sustain. Try utilizing the Mini as a clean increase to overdrive another Tube Screamer.

The Verdict.
While the Mini is little enough to fit into a shirt pocket, don't be fooled-- it's 100-percent Tube Screamer. Even if you already own a Tube Screamer or TS-variant, there's no factor not to pick up a Mini.

For these purists, Ibanez's newest creation, the Tube Screamer Mini, might be the only Tube Screamer that stands for a real improvement-- not in sound or capability, but in size. Made in Japan, the Tube Screamer Mini is driven in part by the JRC4558 IC chip found in original TS-9s. Even if you already have a Tube Screamer or TS-variant, there's no factor not to choose up a Mini. There is a very good reason the TS-808's have been the most popular distortion pedal for studio and stage these past several decades. One should be included on any and every pedalboard belonging to a Blues Player. Now it will take up less space!