About Maxon Guitar Effects Pedals - MaxonFX.com
While we strive to make maxonfx.com the most complete and informative web site possible, there's always some topic that we've forgot to mention or did not explain in enough detail. To make it easier for Maxon devotees to learn about our products, we've taken these FAQ's and compiled them here in one easy-to-access section. Of course, there's sure to be something we've left out, so if you have a question or comment regarding any of our products just drop us a line by clicking on the e-mail link to the upper left: If we feel the question deserves more attention we'll add it to this page!
Q) What is the relationship between Maxon and Ibanez?
A) Nisshin Onpa Company (Maxon) is an audio electronics manufacturer that has been in business since the mid-1960s. In the early 1970's they developed a line of compact guitar effect units and marketed them in Japan (these models are currently available as the Maxon Reissue Series). The Hoshino Trading Company (Ibanez) soon took notice and licensed the designs from Maxon for distribution around the globe under the Ibanez brand name.
From that time up until early 2002 Maxon was responsible for the design and manufacture of many Ibanez products, including the legendary TS808 and TS-9 Tubescreamers, the rare and collectible Flying Pan, and the popular SoundTank series.
Over the years the companies did less and less business together, until the only unit being built by Maxon was the TS-9 Reissue. In early 2002 Maxon ceased manufacture of the TS-9 Reissue for Ibanez and began marketing several of the original Nine Series models under their own Maxon brand name.
Q) What is the difference between the OD808, OD-9, and OD820?
A) Both the OD808 and OD-9 are based on the legendary TS808 Tubescreamer overdrive circuit, but differ slightly from it and from each other. Besides different chassis (the OD808 comes in a standard Hammond-style enclosure and weighs 1 Lbs. while the OD-9 comes in the custom 9-Series enclosure and weighs 2 Lbs.), the main difference between the OD808 and OD-9 lies in their switching - the OD808 uses FET (electronic) silent switching while the OD-9 uses mechanical True Bypass Switching w/a 4PDT switch.
In addition, the value and position of two output resistors in the OD808 circuit were changed from the original TS808/OD808 in order to reduce noise created by static electricity build-up. The position of these resistors was reversed in the current production OD-9, although their values were kept the same. Sonically, the OD-9 will have a little more gain than the OD808 yet each model offers the smooth, creamy, dynamic overdrive of the original TS808 and sound extremely similar to one another.
The OD820 features a similar overdrive circuit to the OD808 and OD-9. However, it also features a clean blend circuit that is controlled by the unit's Drive knob (at zero, the Drive knob will pass clean signal only, and overdriven signal is added as the knob position is increased). This feature allows the OD820 to be used as a clean booster as well as an overdrive.
The OD820 runs at 18 volts which provides more headroom - the result is a fuller low-end response, less compression, and more dynamic responsiveness than either the OD808 or OD-9. In addition, the OD820 features True Bypass Switching using a DPDT switch and a larger chassis than either the OD808 or OD-9.
Q) What is the difference between the AD80, AD-9, and AD900?
A) The AD80 and AD-9 have very similar circuits, but differ in much the same way that the OD808 and OD-9 do (different chassis style, different switching type). Due to its larger chassis the AD-9's components are more spread out on the PC board, which leads to less component cross-talk and more quiet operation. The AD-9 tends to be a little brighter sounding than the AD80, which is primarily due to fewer components in the switching circuit (again, the AD80 uses FET and the AD-9 uses TBS w/a 4PDT) and a less sophisticated filtering circuit in the AD80. Besides these slight differences, you'd be hard pressed to tell the two apart sonically.
With 600 milliseconds delay time, the AD900 is a more advanced unit than either the AD80 or AD-9. Instead on one Panasonic MN3205, the AD900 features four Panasonic MN3008 high-voltage BBD's. The AD900 runs off a special 12-volt adaptor which gives it more headroom and less chance of overdriving the input with hot pickups. Sonically, some people feel the AD900 is slightly darker than either the AD80 or AD-9. However, in our experience we've found it to be very similar in tone to its smaller cousins, save for the extended delay time.
Q) Are the Maxon 9-Series models actually true bypass?
A) In some ways the answer to this question is a matter of semantics and perhaps we need to clarify a few things before saying "yes or no." First off, the initial two shipments of 9-Series units (AF-9, OD-9, and SD-9) sent to the USA were configured as true bypass switching (TBS) using a DPDT switch. For purists, calling these models TBS was considered a false statement, as many believe that to achieve TBS you must use a 3PDT switch. However, we were more concerned about performance than anything else, and when these units measured lower resistive loads in bypass than pedals that actually used 3PDT switches (drop us an e-mail for the test results), we felt justified in calling them True Bypass, regardless of the Internet gossip.
Shortly after this, Maxon decided to re-introduce the AD-9 and CS-9 Pro, which caused a new problem - since these models had dual outputs, a DPDT switch wouldn't work to make them TBS. Therefore, Maxon decided to go with a 4PDT mini PC mount switch for these models in order to assure their transparent operation in bypass, regardless of mono or stereo operation.
Since they were using the 4PDT switches anyway, Maxon decided to upgrade all the 9-Series models to TBS using the 4PDT switch in an effort to please even the toughest customers. Now, every 9-Series model that ships uses this switching configuration and the debate over whether they are TBS or not is finally laid to rest.
Q) Why are Maxon effects so expensive?
A) As with anything in life, you get what you pay for. While more expensive than mass-produced brands, Maxon products offer design features and components that just aren't found in your run-of-the-mill stompbox. While we try to keep Maxon prices as low as possible, there are certain models that contain very expensive components that add significantly to the units' prices. In fact, many key components in Maxon's 100% analog circuits are discontinued and extremely expensive and difficult to get. While it would be easy to switch to more affordable digital-based circuits, Maxon believes that nothing can match the warm, organic sound of analog, and therefore we spend a lot of extra time, money, and resources in an effort to continue to bring analog effect units into the marketplace.
Furthermore, each Maxon model is hand-assembled and thoroughly tested prior to shipping, ensuring a lifetime of trouble-free performance (Maxon defects average less than 1% of units shipped). This means you won't be repairing or replacing your Maxon pedals anytime soon, and we at Godlyke are known for servicing products that are long past their three-year warranty.
Lastly, the current price of Maxon products is a simple matter of economics - in the 1970 and early 1980's the Yen traded very poorly against the dollar, so Japanese products were much more affordable than they are today when the Yen is trading strongly against the dollar. This coupled with the fact that Maxon does comparatively small production runs of their products translates into a slightly higher price than you would pay for a comparable mass-produced pedal from China, Taiwan, or Korea.
Q) What do the trim pots inside Maxon pedals do? Can they be adjusted?
A) Regardless of the model they are found in, each internal trimmer has a specific function that is vital to the proper performance of the effect and should not be tampered with. Most of the trimmers are there for proper alignment of internal components and need to be calibrated using an oscilloscope, multimeter, and signal generator. However, some models do contain trimmers that can be adjusted manually or "by ear" to improve particular parameters of the effect. Drop us an e-mail with the model you are interested in and we'll tell you which trimmers may be adjusted and which should not be touched. Note that any adjustments made by a non-qualified service technician are done at your own risk and will void your product warranty.
Q) What are the differences between the D&S, D&S II, SD-9 and DS830?
A) The D&S is a classic three-transistor distortion pedal, very similar in sound to a vintage EH Big Muff, and has a sharp, aggressive distortion that borders on a fuzz tone. The D&S II is based around an op-amp IC amplifier stage followed by a clipping stage that uses germanium diodes for a smoother, warmer distortion tone akin to tube amp overdrive. The SD-9 (besides featuring TBS and having a larger chassis than the D&S and D&S II), features a combination of transistor and op-amp circuitry, and thus can emulate the sounds of both the D&S and D&S II fairly accurately. In addition, the SD-9 also features a different tone circuit than the D&S models (the D&S models use a high boost/high cut circuit, while the SD-9 uses a Low Boost/Hi Boost circuit) that allows for a fuller low-frequency response.
The DS830, while very similar in tone to the SD-9, features two independent tone controls, allowing for low boost and high boost simultaneously, rather than either/or. The DS830's low frequency control is custom-tuned and optimized for adding a tight, low end punch to any amplifier. Out of all the Maxon overdrives and distortions, the DS830 has the fullest, thickest tone with the highest degree of saturation. The DS830 can run on 9-volt battery or AC adaptor, and features mechanical switching with buffered ins/outs.
Q) What are the differences between the CS505, CS550, and CS-9 Pro?
A) While all three of these chorus models feature analog circuitry based around the Panasonic MN3207 BBD, there are some inherent differences to their features and sounds that set them apart from one another. The CS505 is the most "bare bones" of the three, with a simple Rate and Depth control configuration and stereo outputs. The CS505 has a fairly slow maximum Rate setting, and the modulation from its Depth control is somewhat subtle as well. In addition, the CS505's analog comb filter circuit will boost the output level somewhat when the effect is engaged.
Besides the differences common to the Reissue and 9-Series models (TBS switching, larger, heavier chassis), the CS-9 Pro also features more controls and improved performance over the CS505. The CS-9 Pro features increased Rate and Depth settings, allowing it to emulate rotary speaker cabinets with stunning accuracy. Furthermore, the CS-9 Pro features Delay Time and Blend controls that allow the user to place the chorus effect behind the dry signal to create very subtle ambient effects that are not possible with a standard chorus. The Blend control also serves to control the output level of the CS-9 Pro by reducing the signal boost created by the effect.
The CS550 is practically identical to the CS-9 Pro in features and sound quality. However, it is AC power only, is housed in a larger chassis, and features mechanical bypass switching with buffered ins/outs instead of TBS switching.
Q) What is the difference between the two-IC and the four-IC versions of the AD900?
A) There is a lot of hype on the Internet lately stating that the two-IC version is preferred over the four-IC version, so let's go over the history. Originally the AD900 featured two Panasonic MN3005 BBD IC's (300 mS delay time each) connected in series to achieve its 600 mS delay time.
However, when Panasonic discontinued these BBD's Maxon switched over to four Panasonic MN3008 BBD IC's (150 mS delay time each) connected in series to achieve the 600 mS delay time. This changeover occurred prior to our marketing of the AD900 in the USA, so no two IC versions were ever sold in this country.
More importantly, there is no difference between the sound quality of the two-IC and four-IC versions: the delay times of the IC's are the same and they sound identical despite the fact that there are twice as many. Besides the aesthetic appeal of having a rare effect unit, the two-IC version offers no advantage sonically or otherwise over the four-IC version.
Q) Does Godlyke offer parts and service for Ibanez products made by Maxon?
A) Unfortunately, we do not offer service for Maxon-made Ibanez products or for any vintage Maxon products (prior to 1998 manufacture). We do have certain parts available for particular models (battery covers, knobs, etc.), so please contact us on a case-by-case basis.
Q) What is the difference between the AD900 and the new AD999?
A) The AD900 Vintage Series Analog Delay was discontinued in 2003. In short, the unit had become too expensive to manufacture, and the high-voltage BBD's used in the circuit were becoming increasingly harder to find. Meanwhile, Maxon had located a source of current production low-voltage BBD's and decided to design a new Analog Delay around them the result is the AD999. The AD999 was designed to address many of the complaints and shortcomings associated with the AD900. While the AD900 ran at 12-volts and required a special power adaptor, the AD999 runs at 9volts, allowing easier integration into your pedalboard. The AD999 features 900 milliseconds of delay, a full 300 mS longer than the AD900's 600 mS maximum. In addition, the AD999 features stereo (wet/dry) outputs while the AD900 only had a single output (wet/dry mix). Lastly, the AD999 features mechanical true bypass switching on both outputs, while the AD900 featured mechanical non-true bypass w/buffered in/out.
Sonically, the AD999 is slightly darker than the AD900, which is due to the additional BBD's required for its extended delay time. However, this difference will mainly be noticed in longer delay settings, and at shorter delay times the units are quite similar. Overall, the AD999 is a superior unit from a features standpoint, and is already gaining praise and popularity for its rich, thick analog delay textures.
Q) Can Maxon pedals be modded to my specifications?
A) Certainly. However, we here at Godlyke do not offer this service at the present time. Frankly, we are quite proud of the sound quality and features of the Maxon brand, and we have had a hand in developing several of the more recent models and some that are yet to come. This being said, we feel that Maxon products are some of the best on the market and in our opinion they do not require any modifications. However, since no one size fits all, we recommend the following websites if you feel that you absolutely have to tweak your Maxon effect to your demanding specs:
Please note that we are not allowed to distribute schematics or technical information on Maxon products, so please don't ask us for it. Also note that any after-market modifications made to Maxon products will automatically void any existing warranty, so make sure that the person who is modifying your pedal is reputable, knowledgeable, and offers you a warranty/service period for their work. Good luck!