Ibanez Flying Pan, Tube King and Jemini Effect Pedals
FP-777 Flying Pan, $357.13; TK999HT Tube King, $249.99; Jemini Distortion, $285.70
Originally printed in Guitar World, November 2008
When you consider that Ibanez has produced more than a thousand guitar models, it’s no wonder the company’s stomp boxes are regarded as a mere footnote (pardon the pun) to the company’s illustrious history. But since the Seventies, Ibanez has made about 200 different effect pedals, pumping out new models at an output rate that puts many competing effect manufacturers to shame. Ibanez’s pedal legacy includes several must-have products, like the legendary Tube Screamer, which many guitarists consider one of the top-10 stomp boxes ever made.
Ibanez recently introduced three new pedals that give a miniature overview of the company’s past and a glimpse of its future. The FP-777 Flying Pan phase shifter is a limited-edition reissue of Ibanez’s classic Seventies Flying Pan pedal, one of the most sought-after vintage pedals of all time (a mint in-the-box unit recently sold for $1,650 on eBay). The TK999HT Tube King distortion is a significantly updated version of the popular TK999 Tube King pedal that Ibanez introduced in the mid Nineties. Designed with the help of Steve Vai, the brand new Jemini distortion pedal is Ibanez’s first artist signature pedal as well as its first dual-configured stomp box.
FP-777 FLYING PAN
There's a good reason why original Flying Pan pedals fetch top dollar on the vintage market. Nothing else matches the psychedelic head trip of its combined phase shifter and stereo panning/tremolo effects—nothing, except for this reasonably priced, limited-edition reissue that accurately duplicates the look, sound and unmistakable vibe of the original.
The Flying Pan is housed in an oversized steel case studded with a handful of controls (Phase Speed, Feedback Depth, Phase Select and Pan Speed) plus individual on/off switches for the phase shifter and panning effects. Jacks include a mono input, individual right and left outputs and a nine-volt AC adapter input. The only modern addition not featured on the original version is a pair of LEDs to let you know when the phase and pan effects are engaged.
The Flying Pan is worth its price for its deep, swirling phase-shift effects alone, but when you hook it up in stereo to two amps and kick in the panning effect, the sound transcends anything you’d expect from an ordinary phaser. Because it’s almost impossible to set the phase and pan speeds to identical rates, it generates a heady, psychoacoustic effect where sound seems to circle the room in an unpredictable manner that can make you feel drunk or seasick. With both effects set to high speeds, it creates a very convincing Leslie effect that makes other rotary-speaker effects sound artificial. The pedal still sounds great in mono, creating choppy on/off tremolo when the pan effect is engaged along with the phaser’s chunky swirl.
TK999HT TUBE KING DISTORTION
The original Ibanez Tube King pedal produced thick, creamy distortion that was perfect for blues and classic rock, but this new version is a much more aggressive beast that’s voiced for metal and modern hard rock tones. Housed in a unique diamond-shaped case, the TK999HT has drive and level controls plus Hi, Mid and Lo equalization knobs and a Hi/Lo presence switch. A noise reduction circuit dubbed “Void” allows you to adjust sustain. At high Void settings the circuit abruptly cuts off the sound—perfect for tight palm-muted rhythm. Because the TK999HT features a 12AX7 tube driven by normal DC high voltage, it operates only with its included AC adaptor—batteries just can’t provide sufficient juice to provide true tube tone.
Right out of the box, the TK999HT delivers wicked, scooped mid distortion with big-bottom bass and tight, precise treble. While you can get nice, violin-like leads by cranking up the mids and turning the Void control way down or off, this box really excels in producing thick, violent power chords, especially with a down-tuned guitar. The level control provides a significant boost in volume when cranked up, which is useful for solos. If your amp sounds wimpy or you could really use an extra high-gain channel, the TK999HT provides a low-cost alternative to getting your amp modded or replacing it altogether.
Designed to replace the TS9 Tube Screamer and Boss DS-1 Distortion pedals in Steve Vai’s rig, the Jemini combines distortion and overdrive effects in a two-in-one twin pedal. The pedal has two footswitches for turning the overdrive and distortion effects on and off, and both effects offer individual drive, tone and level controls surrounded by green (overdrive) or red (distortion) LEDs. A Bright/Save switch adjusts the LEDs to high brightness (for daytime use outdoors, for example) or low brightness (to conserve battery consumption). Because the Jemini operates on a single nine-volt battery (or with an AC adaptor), the left battery compartment allows you to conveniently store an extra battery for mid-gig emergencies.
The overdrive and distortion sections have distinct personalities and tonal character, providing a wider range of colors and textures than you’ll get from an ordinary distortion/overdrive stomp box. The overdrive effect produces pronounced midrange with rather dark overtones, while the distortion effect has a bright scooped-mid personality with fat bass and sizzling highs. Although the Jemini is configured and priced like two pedals, only one effect operates at a time. You can’t cascade both effects together for over-the-top distortion like you could with two individual pedals.
THE BOTTOM LINE
All three of these Ibanez pedals make great workhorse additions to any player’s rig. The Flying Pan is best for alternative/experimental-minded guitarists or anyone who still rocks a pair of bellbottoms. The TK999HT is a great distortion pedal for metal rhythm players, while the Jemini is ideal for soloists who want a variety of warm, singing distortion and overdrive tones with near-endless sustain.
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