Sunday, December 27, 2015

Ibanez JD9 Jet Driver Review

The Ibanez TS9 Tube Screamer is a big favorite of blues and rock players everywhere, whether your playing through a high gain metal amp or a Fender twin it's great for boosting solos and cutting through the mix. It's also the most copied drive pedal circuit in history, almost every overdrive, amp in a box, and even quite a few fuzz circuits are tweaked versions of the classic TS9. Even Ibanez has put out more than a few variations on their classic pedal. I love overdrives and I almost always have some variation on the TS pedal on every board I've ever used. But this classic circuit does have it's share of complaints. Some people feel it needs more gain, more output, true bypass, more bottom end... ect.

Ibanez JD9 Jet Driver
I recently picked up an Ibanez JD9 Jet Driver. Ibanez markets it as a distortion which in my mind is a mistake. It's a TS9, with a few tweaks. First off it's true bypass, there is no tone coloration when this thing is off. There is more output (level or volume, what ever you want to call it) so it's great for pushing an already crunchy amp into drive just by doing that. There is also noticeably more gain than the typical TS pedal. It still has the famous JRC4558D chip, which some people feel is a big deal. But the real selling point of this pedal is a mids knob that allows you to adjust the 650 Hz frequency of the pedal. Mids are an important part of the guitar sound and help you cut through a band mix, but a lot of todays pickups are wound hotter which naturally boost the mid frequencies and paired with an already mid heavy pedal can sound muddy. With the mid knob on the JD9 you can take the mids to as flat as your pickups. It doesn't scoop the mids it just flattens the eq of the pedal.

With vintage single coils in my strat this thing can nail the Stevie Ray Vaughan sound that he used various TS pedals to make. Keep the Drive low and give it a bit of Volume boost in a cranked Fender sounding amp. Start with the Mids and Tone knobs in the 12 o'clock position and dial in your tone from there. I'm pretty familiar with the TS sound so I start with the Tone knob and then roll the mids to where I need them.
A video posted by @adhd_guitarist on
Most players will use this pedal to boost and cut through the mix for solos and the JD9 excels. All TS pedals are perfect for this but as I stated earlier a lot of todays hotter pickups are already mid heavy and can sound muddy when paired with a TS style pedal. So having the Mid knob comes in handy to roll back those mids a bit. Of course with vintage sounding PAFs or single coils this isn't a problem. The extra gain is nice and I guess that's why Ibanez decided to call it a distortion pedal but I always think of distortion with a bit of scoop in the mids and more bottom end. That is one thing to note: this pedal cuts the bottom end like a typical TS pedal. If your looking for more bottom end check out the TS9dx which also has a bit more gain than the standard TS9.

I've read that this pedal doesn't clean up well with your volume knob and while it doesn't go to perfect cleans from the higher end of the Drive knob it does clean up. With vintage single coils and PAFs if the gain is around 1 o'clock or less it will clean up just fine. With higher output pickups or the gain up around 3 o'clock it rolls back to a nice crunch tone. I've also read of a loud audible click when engaging the pedal but mine doesn't do that. It does add to the background noise with single coils but that's to be expected.

Interestingly this pedal averages $10 less than the typical TS9 and often gets discounted even more, so pedal snobs won't like it. There are more amp like screamer pedals, many with a different mid hump frequency or less of a mid bump. But I feel this pedal is a gem in the Ibanez TS line, in fact I would go so far as to say this is my new recommendation for a budget TS pedal! If your looking for a pedal with more gain, volume, less mids, or true bypass while keeping with the overall tube screamer flavor you owe it to yourself to checkout the Ibanez JD9 Jet Driver.

This review was completely unsolicited, I received no compensation for it and all views and opinions are my own

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