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A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE TUBESCREAMER
What’s mean, green, and all over the scene? The Tubescreamer. This legendary pedal is a must-have for guitarists and should have a spot reserved for it on almost every pedalboard. The first of its kind to feature an integrated circuit chip, the Ibanez classic has become synonymous with overdrive, beloved for its sweet vocal-like mid-range, but in fact, it wasn’t Ibanez that created it. The real origin of the Tubescreamer isn’t that simple.
The Hoshino Shoten bookstore company opened its doors in 1908 as a book and sheet music retailer. Soon after, they expanded to musical instruments and created a new division, Hoshino Gakki Ten, which began importing Spanish guitars made by the luthier Salvador Ibanez in 1929. Six years later, Hoshino Gakki Ten took over manufacturing for Salvador Ibanez, and in 1957 transitioned to the shortened Ibanez brand.
In the 1960s and 1970s, Hoshino and its subsidiaries like Ibanez were known for making mostly high-quality knockoffs of popular brands like Rickenbacker, Fender, and Gibson. As demand grew, they started putting effects into production through an outside manufacturer, Nisshin, but there was a quirk in their contract. Should they choose to, Nisshin could also market pedals they made for Ibanez under their own brand name, Maxon.
Nisshin’s Susumu Tamura designed The Tubescreamer for Hoshino, and the first Maxon and Ibanez models hit the market in 1979. Dubbed the OD808 and TS808, respectively, sales were initially poor. Ibanez transitioned the TS808 to the TS9 in 1982, which featured a brighter sound, higher output, and bigger footswitch. Still, it wouldn’t be until the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, when guitarists like Stevie Ray Vaughn got a hold of it, that anyone thought twice about this or any of these strange little green pedals from Japan.
Forty years later, the Tubescreamer is an enduring example of design done right. It’s been endlessly imitated, replicated, and redesigned, but nothing has managed to exceed the magic of the original. To commemorate the development of this rock and roll mainstay and ubiquitous feature of pedalboards everywhere, Maxon (yes, that Maxon) has released the 40th Anniversary OD808-40K. Designed in collaboration with the one and only Robert Keeley, this Tubescreamer features his new “Max Gain” mod, which offers a “louder, hotter, stacked-gain sound” without getting in the way of the classic OD808 tone.
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