Dialing in Tube Screamer Tone

This is probably the best explanation I’ve heard on how to dial in an Ibanez TS9 (or any overdrive for that matter). The gist: you want to begin by dialing in a neutral setting (with no gain) that colors the amp’s sound as little as possible when the pedal is engaged. From there, start dialing in additional volume, tone, and drive as needed. My sense is that most players (myself included) tend to turn up the drive knob at the outset, erring on the side of too much dirt and burying their sound in the stage mix. After watching this video, I dug out my Analog Man-modded TS9DX and rediscovered the pedal.

I’ve learned over the years — as much from listening to other players as myself — that less gain is usually the path to tonal nirvana. I think most of us over-estimate the amount of drive our favorite players dialed in on stage or in the studio. Cats like Jimmy Page, Angus Young, and Stevie Ray Vaughan primarily relied on the distorted sound of overdriven tubes, which is relatively mild by comparison to what most pedals have on tap — even at ear-splitting volumes. Give one of your favorite guitar albums (of the non-metal variety) a good listen, preferably through a solid pair of headphones. Focus on the guitar, and you may be surprised just how clean the fundamental tone is; the sound is memorable because the chops aren’t buried under an indistinguishable blanket of fuzz.

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