In 1988 a friend to me had a crazy powerful distortion pedal from the Ibanez classic 9-series, a pedal that took the flagship TS9 a bit further. SM9s distortion was extraordinarily powerful, and had a bit larger bottom. Unfortunately Ibanez closed the production of it, presumably because the TS9 was stronger in the market. TS9 is much used today for various purposes ranging from blues to metal guitarists, and is a bit easier to use than SM9 who had more knobs and a little different "sound spectra". The SM9 is a bit of a forgotten diamond in the world of pedals.
Distortion pedals cuts the tone so that the sound wave gets an appearance more like a plateau compared with overdrives that more smoothly cuts the top and you will receive a more severe oversteer which is flashier, but also a little flatter as a result. Not as crunchy as a overdrive. SM9 tries to compensate the faltering issue by adding both bottom and more punch with some additional parameters.
Some of you may have already tried to run two TS9 in the chain for increased gain. In fact, it works really well. I suspect that the idea of SM9 was a bit like that, that is more gain and adding some other values at the same time. What made TS9 got its characteristics was the JRC 4558D chip in it and in SM9 there are two of them, so the comparison with the two TS9 after the other is not so far from what it is all about.
Some people discuss in different forums that a good thing with SM9 is its ability to give a tube amp more solid-state character, but I do not agree on that. It is clear that we have different ears here as in many other contexts. Opinions are very subjective, and should be. There are no truths, just what you here and how you like it.
When I tested it, I put it between the guitar and the amplifier's input jack. I feel that distortion pedals do their best job there, and not in the effects loop. Maybe it's a matter of taste, I do not know.
Level: adjust volume
Edge: adjusts the top, I think
Drive: adjusts the amount of gain
Attack: adjusts the attack
Punch: adjusts the pressure ahead of the amplifier (bottom)
These five knobs creates almost endless possibilities and that is probably what's on the other hand is its lack, as it requires an ear for finding just the sound that suits your game plan.
Thats why "tips" around "settings" are practically useless in a sense. With a Peavey 6505 it works a little than with a Bugera 333XL. It works best for me with a Marshall JCM800 or JCM2000 or with a Mesa Rectifier. With these you can produce great variety, without risking undifferentiated distortion. I also tried it with a Blackstar HT-5 with good results. I also conclude, after trying several cabs, that the choice of speaker plays a major role.
But there are nevertheless some basic tips, like not to over spice "Attack" and "Edge", as it gets a little too harsh. You'll get more bottom if you hold them back a bit. If you "drive" down to half it actually appears very similar to TS9 and you get a bluesy crunch instead.
SM9 works also very good for sharpening your ordinary gain in the amplifier. But be careful, you can easily override and you lose momentum. If you put a TS9 in front of it and lowers the gain, you can highlight the mid tone, the very same strategy that many metal players use to lift their tone with for example Peavey 6505.
In summary, one can say that SM9 delivers a basic sound close to tube-gain itself and with little tweaking you can get "the Brittish Sound" and "American Sound". It is not for modern metalheads, despite the name "Super Metal", it sounds more like modern vintage hard rock or 80´s hair metal distortion with tube character. With some other effects of your choose you can get Warren DeMartini "You're in love" (RATT) right there in your living room. SM9 requires a lot of love and finesse with the 5 knobs and therefore is patience is a good skill to have with you. In a whole this is very close to a vintage badass pedal...I suggest you test one and listened for yourself.
The experience stays between your ears...stay Zombied...
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