Although Tube Screamers are world famous and used at least sometimes by almost every guitarist, I’ve never really liked them myself. When playing with the band they are ok, due to their mid-hump. It operates more or less in the “free frequency-area”. But when playing alone they are too honky for my taste. That might be the reason why there is several mods available in the market. Keeley, Analogman, FYA’s Arrow. You name it.
I recently had a Ibanez TS9, which sounded exceptionally bad. It had TA75558P -chip inside, which is known to be the worst of all. Well, it’s arguable if the difference is audible, but still. Had it swapped to JRC4558, which is is claimed to be “the original TS808 chip”. Got also the Arrow Mod done by Miro, and all this together made a remarkable difference. I thought to create my own mod by testing different resistors and caps, and of course, with true-bypass switching.
In my opinion it almost feels like corporate-level cheating to sell TS9 with some 140 euros, and TS808 with over 200 euros, when they are almost identical under the hood. Only two resistor values differ:
As you can see, the only difference is in the values of two resistors in output buffer. In TS9 they are 470 ohms/100 Kohms, and in TS808 they are 100 ohms/10 Kohms. So the difference in production costs is round zero. I just wonder where the price tags come from…
However, I based my Tube Screamer to TS808. Those mods mentioned earlier relate also to only two components. They are that 4,7 Kohms resistor near the output buffer, and 47 nF capacitor next to it. The resistor value affects so that if diminished, it adds more gain. By increasing the value of the capacitor the more low frequencies are going through, and therefore the mid-hump is actually evened. After thorough testing my choices are 1.5 Kohms and 220 nF. That means a little more gain and bass. I also have that 51K resistor above the capacitor mentioned replaced with 47K. That affects to the minimum gain. The smaller value, the less minimum gain.
The chip in my version is NE5532 instead of JRC4558. I’ve got a socket in my layout, so the effect between different IC’s can be easily tested. But trust me, there is next to none. I tried three different IC’s; NE5532, JRC4557 and TA75558P. All were identical.
This baby is named Blackout Greenpeace: