Ibanez TL5 Tremolo

TL5

What is it?
Ibanez TL5  Tremolo from soundtank series in plastic enclosure. Made in taiwan around 1995.

There are just a few highly peculiar effects in whole Ibanez catalog fom the seventies to today. This is one of them. Only tremolo Ibanez ever produced. And to be honest, the design isn’t bad at all. In all the simplicity, there’s TL022 opamp that acts as a LFO – which then controls the amplitude of BA6110 SIP voltage controlled amplifier. Dirk has drawn a beautiful schematic and posted it on his site.

TL5-guts1

The idea of using a VCA for amplitube modulation isn’t as popular method as i thought. The optical Vactrol and FET methods are present in more common designs. So this isn’t only special for Ibanez, but for the whole subgenre of tremolos. I’ve seen a few designs even utilizing a OTA for a tremolo effect, but for me, this was the first design with a VCA. Also the one transistor that’s controlled by LFO and pulsing the status LED is very nicely designed.

Traces look sort of like modern japanese drawing of a tree and the solder joints are neat. Components are also placed in very neatly. It’s getting harder to find anything really wrong with this unit.

TL5-guts2

Component side is one of the roomier ones in whole soundtank series. The way all the 1/8W resistors are laid in straight sets is also very eye pleasing. The biggest culprit once again is the switch. Replacing it isn’t that big of a task and is recommended as most of the original switches in this series will die eventually. All in all, this one is a must have. Ibanez (or basically Maxon) design that is at the same time quite original and versatile.

Springs up a question. Why Ibanez didn’t ever made another tremolo for any other series? In my opinion this doesn’t matter as now we have here a piece of Ibanez effect pedal history that will be a highly valued collectors item for its sound and design. Some people might argue that the value has already climbed to where it should be. I’d have to agree on that. If you are lucky, you can still find one for cheap.

How does it sound?
Like a world class tremolo. Soft with reasonably wide range of speeds and depths. The level control lets you boost the signal slightly to avoid all psychoaural volume drop issues. Really nice tremolo. One of the great beasts in a plastic box. Highly recommended pedal.

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8 Responses to “Ibanez TL5 Tremolo”

  1. traskVT Says:

    Miro, I was wondering about replacing those switches with a momentary metal button switch after rehousing. Do you know what type would work for that function? I’ve got a few soundtanks, and as always, the plastic case and that switch are always the weak points, so I wouldn’t mind getting new pots, jack, and switches to put them in a metal enclosure.

    Love the blog too btw, been reading through all of it!

  2. mirosol Says:

    Thanks Trask!

    The standard N/O (normally open) momentary switch would get the job done. Like this one: http://www.taydaelectronics.com/electromechanical/switches-key-pad/stomp-switch/spst-momentary-soft-touch-push-button-stomp-foots-pedal-switch.html

    IMO the switch is the only weak link in all of the Soundtanks. Those are cheap to get and easy to replace with Alps brand switches. Those usually last something like 5 years of active use, so it is a lot cheaper choice than rehousing. You can get the switches from Mouser: http://fi.mouser.com/ProductDetail/ALPS/SPPB512300/?qs=%2fha2pyFaduhmovEa64HnkLCFbmCTUqrsbDSUnqKrItU%3d

    And there’s always the classic thread on FSB about rehousing and TB’ing a soundtank. Dirk is my hero.
    http://freestompboxes.org/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=10743&p=123093#p122959

    Most of the soundtanks have diy projects around the web (TL5 doesn’t at the moment..). So basically for about the same price as a rehouse, you should be able to build yourself a clone with all the modern features.
    +m

  3. traskVT Says:

    Thanks man! I’ve got a few soundtanks, some modded, some not, and a few friends have asked me to re-house them, which is why I asked. Personally I’ve got a TS5 that I modded and replaced the switch in (with the Alps switch) and it works just fine for my taste, but some of my friends that gig heavily wanted something a bit sturdier than the plastic enclosures. That said, I personally haven’t seen a broken enclosure yet, but I’m sure they’re out there. Thanks for your help again! Now if I can just find a TL5 on the cheap!

  4. mirosol Says:

    Here in finland we have this site called muusikoiden.net (musicians’ web). It has a section marketplace section. There’s been a few units recently with prices around 35-45€ (shipping not included). You should be able to find one through ebay as well… It is a very nice pedal, but do not pay too much for it :)
    +m

  5. BK Says:

    Believe it or not, this cheap trem sounds better than my EA trem, Demeter tremulator clone,Mojo Hand Bayou trem,joyo and Valeton tremolo. Its a classic and a cool piece of history being the only trem Ibanez made. A real classic!
    [I need to sell some tremolos] ;-)

  6. mirosol Says:

    It is good. BA6110 based, which isn’t that usual. None of the units you listed are not bad… :)
    +m

  7. BK Says:

    Ps, these are all giggable pedals with the footswitch bounce cap fix.Its not the footswitch thats bad…

  8. mirosol Says:

    On a gut feeling i’d say about 60% of the cases it’s both. For some, the cap will cure issues completely.
    +m

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