S TOMPSCHOO L
Effects Modifications: Concepts and Philosophy
Greetings, all ye pedalheads! This month super-reliable and available everywhere, so
we’re going to discuss our take on effects they’re great for mods. We also do a lot of
modifications. Most players these days are at mods on Maxon OD9 and SD9 pedals. They
least aware of the availability of effects mods are the same as Ibanez but have true bypass
as a way to unlock the sonic potential of so they sound a little better both on and off.
inexpensive, mass-produced pedals made by Every day I get requests for new mods, but
the major manufacturers. The most popular time is scarce so we only work on something
and common of these is the Ibanez TS9
Tube Screamer, the quintessential pedal
mod. The Ibanez TS9/808 mod was
popularized by Analog Man beginning in
the early nineties and has since spawned
an entire cottage industry based on this
simple concept: Take a stock, mass-produced pedal and replace certain cheap
components with higher audio grade
parts, and change the values of a few key
components to further refine the tone.
idea. We guitarists seem to have always
liked to tweak our gear and have things customized just to our liking.
Analog Mike recalls, “The TS9/808
mod started sort of by accident in the
early nineties based on someone telling me there was not much difference
between a TS9 and a TS808. I had
both, so I compared them and figured
out the changes. Then I found some of
the JRC4558D chips in an electronics
stall in Akihabara, Tokyo, and I brought
them back and did some mods. I did
808 mods for people who corresponded
with me by e-mail and the Usenet
groups, and they really liked them.
When the reissue TS9 came out around
1993 it really took off, as you could have
a TS-808 clone easily and for not much
money. Then in ’ 94, I also started modifying Fuzz Faces. I didn’t really intend to
get into the effects modification business; I was just sort of having fun and
getting people hooked up with some
good tones. I started the Analog Man website in ’ 95 and it’s been non-stop ever since.
Now that we’ve mentioned questionable
modifications to vintage guitars and amps,
it raises the question of whether or not players should modify their valuable vintage
pedals. Here is our expert opinion – it’s
okay to perform certain mods on most
vintage effects. Many old pedals are
notorious tones suckers, such as original
MXR, Electro-Harmonix and Crybaby wahs.
These can all benefit from a true bypass
mod. In terms of dos and don’ts, it helps
to think of vintage effects as the same
as vintage amps. Keep the modifications
reversible. If you can’t undo the mod, it
may not be a good idea. It makes me
cringe to see an original script logo Phase
90 that’s had the case drilled for the addition of a LED and power jack.
You don’t need to save the original power
cord and switch in case you want to put
the pedal back to stock – that’s just kind of
silly. The only exception would be certain
rare, highly collectible, vintage fuzz pedals, such as an original Fuzz Face or Tone
Bender, where there are few components
and each one is deemed highly important
to the overall value of the unit.
Well, that’s about it – class dismissed!
Check back with us again next month.
Until then, keep on stompin’!
that I think will be popular and fill a need in
the marketplace at a good value, and not
something someone else is doing.”
“Customers always asked for different things
so we’ve tested a number of mods. By then
the DIY sites had a lot of info on modifying
Tube Screamers. I’ve pretty much tried them
all, but most of the mods actually took away
from the sweet tone so we never offered
them. The mods we offer now are still mostly
on Ibanez and Boss pedals. We try to offer
professional-sounding mods for the cheap-est, most popular pedals, so people can
upgrade what they have when they get more
serious about their tone. Boss pedals are
Although more popular now than ever,
effects modification is nothing new. Stomp
gurus Roger Mayer and Pete Cornish began
their careers in the late sixties, in part by
performing pedal mods for their famous
clients. In the seventies, amp mods and hot-rodded guitars were in vogue, which is why
today we occasionally see Plexi Marshalls
with drilled chassis and sixties Strats with
Floyd Rose routing (ouch!). Pedal modifications were just a natural outgrowth of that
(a.k.a. Analog Tom) is the owner and proprietor of For
Musicians Only ( formusiciansonly.com) and author of
Analog Man’s Guide To Vintage Effects. For Musicians
Only is also the home of the FMO Gear Shop.
Questions or comments about this article can be sent
( analogman.com) is one of the largest boutique effects
manufacturers and retailers in the business, established by “Analog” Mike Piera in 1993. Mike can be
reached at AnalogMike@aol.com.