Ibanez Tube Screamer Mini vs TS9 and TS808


The Ibanez Tube Screamer is one of the most popular overdrive pedals on the market, and it’s available in a few different versions to suit different players and budgets. The two main full size pedals are the TS9 and the TS808, however the Mini TS also offers an excellent alternative at a lower price. In this article, I’ll compare the pros and cons of the mini and full size Tube Screamers, so you can decide which to buy.

The Quick Answer

The Ibanez Tube Screamer Mini and the original full-size TS808 sound the same. The main difference, excluding the size, is that the Mini requires an external DC 9V power supply, and the full-size Tube Screamer can be powered by either an internal 9V battery, or an external power supply.

The Ibanez TS9 Tube Screamer sounds brighter compared to the TS808 version. They have the same 3 controls but the TS9 is slightly wider and heavier than the TS808. The TS808 Tube Screamer is also more expensive than the TS9.

Do They Sound Different?

The full-size Tube Screamer TS808 and the Tube Screamer Mini sound the same, despite the Mini being a lot smaller. The Mini is based on the original TS808, so it saves all the mid-boosted overdriven tone and power and just delivers it in a smaller package.

There are some that will argue that the TS Mini sounds a bit less smooth compared to the TS808 but it’s near impossible to tell the different, if there even is any at all, personally I can’t notice it. So don’t skip on the mini if it fits the bill for you, just because you’re worried it won’t sound as good as the full size TS808 as it’s really not the case.

The TS9 however, sounds different to both the TS808 and the Mini. The TS9 is a newer version of the Tube Screamer and has a brighter and grittier tone compared to the original TS808 which sounds smoother in comparison. The TS9 is designed to deliver a more modern tone compared to the more vintage TS808.

You can listen to a comparison of the TS9 and TS808 in this video.

Controls

Both full-size Tube Screamers (TS9 and TS808), and the Mini version, have the same controls: drive, tone and level.

  • Drive: adjusts the level of overdrive.
  • Tone: adjusts the warmth/ brightness. Turning it anti-clockwise will emphasise the bass and produce a warm tone, whilst turning it clockwise will produce a crisp and sharp tone due to the emphasis on the treble.
  • Level: adjusts the volume (output).

These three controls allow you to use the pedal in a few different ways to achieve some different effects. I’ve written an article on 4 different ways to use a Tube Screamer if you want to learn more.

There are a couple more versions of the TS9 and TS808 that have extra controls, these are called the DX versions. They are more expensive than the basic full size pedals, and have an additional “mode” control. This acts as a boost which allows you to select either a +, Hot or Turbo mode, for some additional functionality. There is no DX version of the Mini pedal.

The only difference in the controls between the standard full-size Tube Screamers and the mini-version, is that the level and tone controls are much smaller and impossible to see when you’re playing. The drive control is still large enough to see though.

Check out these images below (all link to Amazon) to see the difference.

TS808

TS9

Mini

Power Source

One of the most notable differences between the full size TS9 and TS808 versions of the Tube Screamer, and the mini version, is the power source.

The full size Tube Screamers are powered by an internal 9V battery, or by an external power supply (usually in your pedal board). On the other hand, the Tube Screamer Mini needs an external power supply to work, and does not have room for an internal battery.

This can be a bit of a pain as you need to purchase an additional power supply if you don’t already own one, which of course adds to the cost, making the mini version not quite as cheap as it seems if it’s the first pedal you are purchasing.

It’s not complicated to connect the power source though, you’ll just need to plug in a DC 9V power supply, which connects the pedal directly to the mains, or use a pedal board power supply.

It’s not complicated to connect the power source though, you’ll just need to plug in a DC 9V power supply, which connects the pedal directly to the mains, or use a pedal board power supply.

Something like this DC 9V Power Supply on Amazon will work fine.

DV 9V Supply (image links to Amazon)

It’s also worth noting that you can use these power supplies for multiple pedals by using a Daisy Chain Cable like this one on Amazon. They’re very inexpensive, so if you already have a pedal and external power supply, you can get something like this to split it between your existing pedal, and the TS Mini.

Valve for Money

One reason that you might be looking at the mini version, is to save a bit of cash.

The TS808 is the most expensive of the full-size versions, whilst the TS9 is a bit cheaper. The Tube Screamer Mini is the cheapest option available, so a good option to go for if you’ve got your heart set on the TS808 tone, but are looking for a more affordable version.

Whilst there is a large difference in price between the TS808 and the Mini, with the Mini often costing around half the price of the original, the difference between the TS9 and the Mini is less. Often the Mini costs around 3/4 the price of the TS9, although they do sound a bit different with the TS9 being a bit brighter and grittier.

Personally I currently own the TS9, and I purchased it because it was more affordable than the TS808, but still had that classic mid-boosted overdriven effect. Plus when you factor in the cost of the external power supply for the Mini, the difference in price between that and the TS9 becomes even less.

Of course, prices change all the time, so here are some links to take you directly to the pedals on Amazon so you can check the current ones.

Size and Weight

The final thing to consider when comparing these pedals, is how much room they take up and bulk they add to your setup. Here is a table to summarise.

Ibanez TS808Ibanez TS9Ibanez TS Mini
4.9 x 2.8 x 2” (12.4 x 7.2 x 5.1 cm)4.9 x 3 x 2” (12.4 x 7.6 x 5.1 cm)3.5 x 1.6 x 1.4” (8.9 x 4.1 x 3.5 cm)
1.2 lbs (0.54 kg)1.3 lbs (0.59 kg)0.3 lbs (0.14 kg)
Ibanez Tube Screamer weight and dimensions.
  • The Tube Screamer Mini only weighs around 25% of the full-size TS808 when it contains a battery.
  • The Mini is around 30% shorter, 40% thinner and 30% shallower than the TS808.

Which Should You Get?

You should get a full-size Tube Screamer if: you

  • Don’t want to use an external power supply
  • Have enough room on your pedal board
  • Need full visibility of the controls when playing

You should get a Mini Tube Screamer if you:

  • Are looking for an affordable way to get the iconic TS808 tone
  • Need the most portable and lightweight option

The only real drawbacks of the Mini, are that it requires an external battery and controls are harder to see when playing, otherwise it’s a great option because you can save money without sacrificing the tone.

Looking to get the best out of your pedals? Check out my article on the best pedal chain order here to learn everything you need to know about setting up your chain.

Here are Amazon links to the different TS versions:

Here are some more articles you might find useful:

Heather

Hey, I'm Heather. I started playing an electric guitar when I was given a Squier Strat for my birthday around 15 years ago. I now own an acoustic guitar and several electric guitars including my personal favourite, a PRS SE Custom 24.

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