In the 1990s Ibanez released a range of pedals called “Soundtanks” – also know as the 5 Series. There were about 20 pedals in the series, including a few good ones like the TS5 Tube Screamer or the CS5 Super Chorus, and a few more interesting ones like the SP5 Slam Punk, the CM5 Classic Metal and the CD5 Cyberdrive – it was the 90s after all…
They were designed to be ‘more affordable’ than the 9 Series. They had similar circuits, but were in plastic enclosures and had all the components on-board, making construction easier and cheaper. The TS5 Tube Screamer, for example, is pretty much a plastic TS9 with cheaper parts and can easily be modded like this guy did. Another cool thing about the Soundtank pedals is that you can pick them up pretty cheap second hand.
When I was a kid, I got a CS5 Super Chorus for my birthday, and I still have it today. It’s a very cool pedal, apparently one of the better ones in the series. The design seems to be similar to the CS9 Stereo Chorus, except it’s mono and has an extra knob for ‘delay time’.
In the spirit or experimenting, I decided to have a go at modding it.
Here’s the schematic:
Here is the board:
The first thing I did was quite simple – I took out an internal trim pot (SR1) and wired in a full sized pot. You can see this with the orange, yellow and green braided wires in the photo above. That trim-pot is used to fine tune the ‘Delay Time’. Normally you’re supposed to set-and-forget it, but having it easily accessible means I can now set some pretty full-on crazy sounds by cranking it to maximum.
The other mod was to add a switch to remove the original sound from the chorus sound. This is done with the yellow and red wires. A chorus works by adding a slight delay and by slightly moving the pitch of the signal and then blending it back in with the original signal. If you remove the original signal from this equation, you end up with a wobbly, delayed, vibrato sound that can be quite crazy – especially with extreme settings. I achieved this by breaking the connection at R56 – the long straight line at the top of the schematic is the original signal, so breaking that line kills it.
I didn’t want to drill holes or damage the pedal, because I wanted to be able to return it to its original condition easily if I needed to, so I just put the extra controls in the battery compartment. Here’s how it turned out:
It’s a very nice sounding chorus, it would be great to gig with, but I don’t think it’s sturdy enough. Maybe if I can find a cheap one on eBay I can make it true-bypass and put it in a nice solid enclosure.
I looks like a company called “Daphon” is making pedals in similar enclosures these days – or maybe Daphon made the Soundtank pedals for Ibanez all along?
Anyway, if you see any of these Soundtank pedals going cheap, it might be worth grabbing one – if not only for a bit of fun. If you see a TS5, let me know because I’d love one! 😉