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Sleeper Pedals in the Ibanez 10 Series

It’s arguably one of the most ambitious and extensive effect pedal lineups of the 1980s. In the days of the dynasty of rack effects, Ibanez went to market with a massive push of made in Japan stompboxes. Decades later, a few of these pedals obtained cult followings but most were simply forgotten. But are there pedals in the Ibanez 10 Series that are due for a comeback?

Officially, the pedal line is called the Ibanez “Power Series,” yet most know it by the more common moniker the “10 Series.” Either name signifies the line of thirty-six pedals Ibanez pushed out between 1986-89 with the help of the production partner Maxon. The principles of mathematics tell me, on average, that’s one pedal a month. Though the design and release of these effects wasn’t on a monthly basis, it does put it in perspective how ambitious and unprecedented this line and launch was for Ibanez. 

The story on why Ibanez scrapped the lineup in such short order is not entirely known. In retrospect, however, we can say that only a few pedals have enjoyed epic effect afterlives due to popular use. At the front of the pack, of course, is the Ibanez TS10, the new Tubescreamer of the late 80s. While Stevie Ray Vaughn was known for using a variety of green boxes, the TS10 was certainly one of them. For more recent history, lurkers on the used market noticed an exponential price spike of TS10s a few years ago after John Mayer’s guitar tech flashed a TS10 as part of Mayer’s live setup in a video rig review with Premier Guitar.

Clearly, the TS10 won the day. But with another thirty-five pedals in the lineup, certainly there are others that deserve a shout out. Some are on the used market from time to time. Others seem to exist in effect exile. Either way, here’s a top three picks of effects from the Ibanez 10 Series that are worth a listen or deserving of a reissue. These were selected for their innovation, functionality, and versatility.

Ibanez DDL20 Digital Delay III

There are a number of delay boxes in the Ibanez 10 Series, but this is as loaded with features and options as it gets for a compact stompbox. With options for six different delay sounds, from slap back to long delays, the DDL20 was arguably ahead of its time. Dialing in the delay times and repeats can also allow for almost chorus or flanger sounds. Whether it is a thickening agent or developing an ambient architecture, the DDL20 gets the job done.

Ibanez FC10 Fat Cat Distortion

The Ibanez 10 Series is also not short on overdrive, with options from mid-EQ nudges to high-gain crushers. The FC10 sits somewhere in the middle, making it one of the more versatile overdrive pedals of the series. As the name suggests, its sonic structure retains a firm low frequency foundation for distortion, particularly when the gain is ramped up. As the overdrive ascends into a low growl, one can’t help but wonder if the pedal was thought of as some sort of ProCo Rat stalker.

Ibanez SC10 Super Stereo Chorus

You can’t have an effect lineup from the 80s without a healthy dose of chorus. Among the chorus-style effects of the lot, the Ibanez SC10 Super Stereo Chorus is the clear front runner. The real advantage of this stompbox is the ability to dial in the delay times that are at the heart of any chorus effect. Since these are run through a bucket brigade analog signal path and then pushed out in stereo, the result is some truly signature sounding washes. Though the Ibanez 10 Series had a short run, it was undoubtedly ahead of its time. As Ibanez continues to distill the best of the best of their effect offerings for modern players, perhaps the years ahead will see some reimagined reissues from the expansive and ambitious lineup of the 10 Series.

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