What is it?
Ibanez CR5 Crunchy Rhythm from Soundtank series in metal enclosure, made in Taiwan around 1989-90.
It is a design that differs from usual TS and/or Voodoo Labs overdrive topology. Boosting, bluesy overdrive with discrete differential pair to determine which parts of the signal get to Si diode hard clipping before the tone driver. Since the 70s and early 80s, it’s been hard to come up with even remotely original overdrive designs, but this one has some out of the box thinking incorporated. Schematic can be found on the 8bitsindgenug site. It is well worth taking a look for what’s happening in there. The gain/distortion stage makes me smile, as it’s definitely something you don’t see in every OD design around. My unit is in a metal case and has very small number as a serial. I think it’s safe to assume that this particular unit was made in 1991, when the first (metal boxed) Soundtanks were introduced to the public.
JRC4558 is there to drive the tone control and other half is used as output buffer. Not sure why the IC half is used as a buffer, as it could have been just as well used as the first gain stage – instead of the lone 2SC1815Y that drives the differential pair. This is part of the reason i care deeply for Ibanez boxes. Even the commercially dullest, most underrated pedals can have good sounding, innovative stuff inside them.
How does it sound?
Not too far off from likes of Boss BD-2, even though these two designs are completely different. Resemblance to few other “dumble” styled overdrives should be mentioned here. It has good output level, and real nice, softer texture to the dirt. It keeps the frequency responce well in tact, so it can be used as a really good sounding preamp in beginning of your effects chain. All that in a metal box that just rocks. This model is getting rarer every day, especially the one in metal enclosure. So if you get a chance to score one for cheap – do it without hesitation. It will be worth it. Definitely one of the greatest boxes in Soundtank series.
4 thoughts on “Ibanez CR5 Crunchy Rhythm”
Rediscovering this overlooked gem. I bought it new in the 90s; I was in a band, needed a drive pedal, it was the only one the local mom and pop store had. Years went by, dozens of pedals later, I recently dusted it off again. Very pleasantly surprised, especially in front of say a TS9DX or MXR OD77. Balances what they’re missing nicely. The combination provides a nice full spectrum with no fizz or flub; got lucky, and glad I never lost it.
Great article by the way.
It is really an overlooked gem. In my opinion, it’s one of the greatest Ibanez overdrives of all times. The number of units manufactured is low. So if anyone wants one, they should try to find one now before these become “vintage” too. Gladly, there is a DIY project documentation available at tagboardeffects.blogspot.com – I’ve built one and it sounds pretty close to the original. Maybe slightly brighter due to omitted electronic bypass buffers. One of those clones that i hold as a keeper.
Here’s a picture of my build:
Bought my CR5 back in the late 90’s. At the time the only distortion-effect I had was a Boss Metal Zone that my mom had bought me for Christmas a year earlier. As soon as I got that beaten little obscure CR5 back with me from the local music store I just plugged it in. Didn’t know what to expect, but boy did that CR5 kick some Metal Zone-ass! Since that day the CR5 have always been my first and only drive-pedal….
I agree that its kinda special. I dont agree that it sounds like BD2 maybe with dist a tone knobs down but as soon as you move drive knob up its doing its own special thing. Sounds great with PAFs and les pauls as well as simple tele. Its super special beast with 6v6s.