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Sound Quality

Can't give a rating, because it sounds great in some applications, pretty lousy for others. First, these things, along with their predecessors & successors, were designed to goose tube amps. They're NOT stand-alone full-on distortion pedals. If you need that, go with the Rats, Big Muffs, Metal Zones, etc. That said, I have zero tubes in my set-up. I'm a gigging semi-pro, and I long ago, for a variety of reasons, switched to SS combos with great clean sounds. Lots of'em out there -- old Randalls, Roland JCs & Blues Cubes, Tech 21, on and on. The really good ones -- the Roland JCs, the old Randalls -- respond to most pedals very well. I run humbuckers > TS5 > old Korg G3 floor unit > old Celestion-loaded Randall RG80 80-watt 1x12 combo (GREAT amp, BTW. Clean channel has slain a lot of tube Fenders at blues jams. Best spring reverb I have ever heard.) I got the G3 cheap, NOS, because the shop had had it collecting dust for 6-7 years & couldn't get rid of it -- not NEARLY as feature-loaded & programmable as units out there now for less than $100. However, it had what I wanted: a few effects, easy to program, but most of all, great clean sounds & very smooth distortion that didn't mess with my guitar's tone. However, despite the sweet smoothness & sound of the distortion of the G3, it didn't have enough oomph. It has plenty of fat, but the notes peter out before it starts singing or going into harmonic feedback. When I picked up the TS5, cheap, floor model, (I'm cheap!) just for open blues jams, I tried it in front of the G3. Voila! This is the poop. Acted just like it was goosing preamp tubes. Now, it does cut some low end, but here's a dirty little secret, even for you scooped-mid headbangers & nu-metalers: mid-focused LEADS stand out in the mix, cut through the din. If your sound is not fighting the bass player, the keyboards, the subs, etc., it doesn't turn to mud out front. Scooped mids are great for muted chugs or massive hugely distorted power chords, but, frankly, not so hot for leads. I don't do scooped-mids - I love mids, that's where the electric guitar lives - so it's no problem for me. The TS5 also sounds great overdriving the G3's clean & crunch sounds. The crunch options on the G3 are also kinda weak, if very good-soundig, so kicking in the TS5 gives a great, fat, rock crunch for rhythm work. How does the TS5 work for, say, blues, straight into my Randall? Kinda harsh, which is not a big surprise with a SS amp. I can make it work, but I think one might be better off with a pedal that has more distorion on tap and a much wider EQ range. Tech 21 pedals work GREAT with SS amps. However, I've run the TS5 into our other guitarist's Mesa DC3 (a GODLY-sounding amp), and it does just what it's supposed to do. Bottom line: TS5 is great for overdriving tube amps and running into other overdrive/distortion devices -- kind of a cascading effect there. SS amp users, however, might not like it as a stand-alone overdrive.


I have depended on it for years now. Yeah, the switch can shit the bed, but contact cleaner always brings it right back. Yeah, it's plastic & cheap, but it reminds me of 60's Harmony guitars -- they were cheap, but you could not kill'em, no matter what you did. Also, I find that mine sounds better, smoother & more powerful, running a 9V adaptor instead of a battery. (Shrugs) Go figure.

General Comments

For some applications, I'd give it a 9. For others, a 4. All in all, a pedal well worth having in your rig, especially for the peanuts that they go for. Get 2 or 3 of'em, why not? ;-)

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