Review updated 4 January 2009 David is often associated with his lead tones but he’s a master creating the sweetest overdrive tones too. Ever since 1994’s Division Bell he’s been using the Tube Driver as his main overdrive unit and it’s been one of my favourites for the last couple of years. The classic Colorsound Power Boost was David’s main overdrive unit in the 70’s and after some experimentation with different units in the 80’s he settled with the Tube Driver during the Division Bell sessions in 1993-94. The pedal was also an essential part of his tones on 2006 On an Island album an tour. The Colorsound Power Boost and Tube Driver are very similar, which may be one of the reasons why David chose the Tube Driver. They both got that powerful transparent tone with thundering lows and a crisp top. The main difference is the dynamics and warmth you’ll get from the tube in the Tube Driver but my experience is that with the gain all the way up the Colorsound manages to stay more focused and compressed. David uses two Tube Drivers in his rig but you could easily substitute one of them with a Power Boost for a hint of that vintage flavour. The Chandler Tube Driver (in David’s rig from 1993-2006) has a slightly warmer tone than the new BK Butler model (in David’s rig from 2006). Tonewise, I would perhaps place the Chandler somewhere between a Tube Screamer and a BK Tube Driver. The BK has a bit more presence and a generally more aggressive tone, although this can to some extent be “controlled” by replacing the stock tube. The 2006 BK model is delivered with a 12AX7 tube which is a bit too aggressive for my taste. It depends on what tone you’re looking for but it has a very narrow clean response and it can be a bit boomy as well. I replaced the 12AX7 with a 12AU7 (JJ Electronic) for an overall warmer tone with more compression and a much wider range from powerful clean volume boost to soaring overdrive. - This a clip of my band Airbag and the song Prelude. I’m using my black Strat with CS69 pickups > Gollmer Composus > BK Tube Driver > Boss DD2 > Sound City amp. Check out Airbag’s Youtube Channel . Keep in mind that if you do decide to replace the 12AX7 tube you should give the pedal some time to break in. All tubes, whether it’s your amp or a pedal, need some time before they reach their potential so don’t freak out if the 12AX7 blows your head off the first time you try it. Likewise, expect the 12AU7 to sound a bit muffled at first before it breaks in and “opens up” nicely. The Tube Driver is designed for bigger tube amps so if you’re mostly playing at home on a smaller rig or transistor amps I’d go for something a bit more versatile like a Boss BD-2 or Ibanez/Maxon Tube Screamer. The BK Tube Driver is an excellent overdrive ideal David’s 70’s and present tones although I have no trouble getting great PULSE tones as well. It also works extremely well as a booster for the more demanding distortions like the Big Muff. Hello Bjorn, Firstly congrats for such a cool site and effort. I am quite new to the Tube Driver and would want to know which pedals in your view work best with it. Apparently, the Tube Driver is quite selective about its neighbours? thx.. [Hi! Thanks! Glad you liked my site :-) I haven’t had any serious problems with the placing of the TD, but I know it doesn’t like pedals with buffers etc like some of the Pete Cornish stuff. I use mine with all sorts of effects like Muff (obviously), BD-2 and Colorsound PB. – Bjorn ] When looking for information about the new Tube Driver, I happened to find your review and your website (nice page & a great version of ‘Shine on You Crazy Diamond’!) The main pedal I am presently using is Boss BD2, which you have also reviewed. In general, I am satisfied with my main pedal but sometimes that pedal sounds a little feeble, and, in the case of more drive, also muddy. Could I ask for your opinion on whether replacing BD2 with a Tube Driver would result in some qualitative improvement? I read that you compared those two pedals: would the difference in sound be proportional to the difference of price ($50 as opposed to $229)? [Hi Allan! Glad you enjoyed my site! A Tube Driver is definitely better than a $50 BD-2… no doubt. That being said… A modified BD-2, like Keeley or AnalogMan has much of the same qualities as the TD. In general, the BD-2 is in my oppinion one of Boss’ finest. It’s very transparent and is equally fitted as a volume booster and overdrive. Still, at full gain setting, it can sound a bit too hars and lack some lows. That’s just the downside of all assembly line products. AnalogMan and Keeley has replaced some of the weaker parts and tweaked the pedal into a very warm overdrive unit with a great character. It’s one of the most versatile pedals I can think of. The TD has got a tube and you definitely get what you pay for. It’s got an awesome tone with great dynamics. However, I don’t think it’sas versatile as the modded BD-2. The TD is a better pedal in most ways, but I’m not sure if I would have traded my modded BD-2 for it… luckily I have both, ha ha! As the review also mentiones, I needed to change teh tube to get the sound I wanted. – Bjorn ] Excellent Job on the site. Computers are my job and I’ve got to say this website is just as a website should be, pretty but not cluttered with all the info easily accessible. I’m a big Gilmour fan. Recently in an attempt to get closer to his sound I’ve picked up a Fender Strat and now I’m trying to get my pedal board in order. I have a couple of questions … I’m looking to pick up my primary overdrive pedal and I’ve narrowed things down to a BK Tube Driver or a FullTone Full-Drive 2. While I want to get close to David’s sound I also want to have a reasonably versatile overdrive. Have you ever tried a Full-Drive 2? Obviously your familiar with the BK, if you have tried a Full-Drive 2 what is your opinion of it? I’m not in a position where I would be able to try them out before purchasing them. Thanks for you help and keep up the good work. [I haven’t tried the Full-Drive…. My personal oppinion about the Tube Driver is that it’s not very versatile. It works great for Delicate and PULSE stuff and of course On an Island, but I can’t make it sound good for the classic 70’s overdrives. As I tell all people with your question… Check out AnalogMan or Keeley’s modded Boss BD-2. The pedal is perhaps the most versatile I’ve ever tried. – Bjorn ] Hey Great site. Maybe the best on the web. Anyways I’m looking to get a new Tube Driver as well. Where did you get yours from? Where could I order one from? On Butlers website it just advertises his home and car audio amps. [I think he’s the only one selling them… I think he had stoped making them, but the demand is high after David got his two new for the last tour. Just write BK an e-mail and he’ll help you. – Bjorn ] Hello Bijorn, i’m looking for the right sound to Play On an Island solos (Aol session like)..well, i have in line: Guitar Mxr Dynacomp Bk Tube Driver new model Boss Ns2 Boss Rv3 (Reverb and Delay) The sound is good but have little saturation…do you think i need to add a pedal to boost the BK? Wich pedal? [I think David used the Cornish G-2 on that one… perhaps boosted by a clean TD. The TD alone won’t give you that sound I’m afraid, but a Muff or a RAT will. – Bjorn ] Hi Bjorn ! by the way, your site is awesome, thanks for all the great advices and other gilmourish stuffs !!! I just bought a BK Butler Tube Driver with the extra Bias knob… and I still think the distortion is a little bit too harsh … could it be because of the tube anyway ? Do you think it will help if I change the tube for a 12AU7 tube ? and by the way… in response from another person who left you some comments about other pedals that don’t work well with the TD… all the modulation effects works well with it and the boosters too… when you come with the distortions, you may want to put the TD before all the other ones, unless it will “buzz ”. The best combination that I’ve found is with the Xotic AC Booster. It sounds really natural and not really noisy. [Thanks Adam! As you may have read in my review of the Tube Driver, the pedal was way too aggressive for me and I changed the 12AX7 tube right away for a 12AU7. The sound is much more balanced and it produces a very nice and warm clean boost with a break up around 10:00 on the gain control. I definitely recommend changing tubes if you’re looking for a milder tone. Regarding placement of the Tube Driver, I think it’s very much due to what kind of pedals you blend. I change stuff around all the time, and right now, I’ve placed the TD last on my board (before the delays) and it works very well with both modulations and distortion infront of it. – Bjorn ] Hi Bjorn! Great review as usual!!!! and I can’t wait for the Dogs analysis – it’s my favourite song! I reached the nirvana (not the band) with my Colorsound Power Boost: I definitely prefer Animals tones than Pulse ones, but maybe one day I will try a Tube Driver too… I see there are lots of versions of the tube driver… for example, what do you think about the Tube Works Butler Real Tube Overdrive, the black one with 5 knobs? is it tonewise different? is the extra Mids knob useful? thanks a lot Bjorn, please keep on illuminating our way! I wish you all the best for 2009! Marco [Hi Marco! I haven’t tried the Real Tube Overdrive so I can’t tell. Sorry. – Bjorn ] nice sound bro!!! so, what´s the diference between the maxon and the bk? The sound or the drive? [The Maxon or Tube Screamer is general has a much smoother tone with more mid range making them warmer and creamier compared to the Tube Driver, which has a bright scooped mids tone. The TD has a higher output and more balls. The tube makes a difference too naturally giving the Tube Driver more character and the pedal responds well to your pickups and picking technique, the other pedals and the amp. They’re actually two quite different overdrives serving different purposes. – Bjorn ] I Bjiorn! i’m building my new pedalboard and hope to found a sound like Pulse and On an Island, i specially hope to find a sound like Comfortably Numb of Pulse, can you help me how can i set my pedals in a chain? This is my instruments: Fender Custom Shop Closet Classic ’69 Fender Custom Shop Devid Gilmour Nos Fender Telecaster Baja Boss CS3 Mxr Dynacomp BigMuff Green Sovtek first model BigMuff Ram’s Head Rat II BK Butler new model Boss CE2 EH Mistress Boss NR Boss RV3 Fender The Twin 100W 2 Channel …for Comfortably Numb the BK Butler clean as a booster is placed first or after the muff? You advise me to use a Boss Ge7? Last of all, with my old pedalboard i had many problems because the sound at last of chain was very weak and insufficient, a buffer like a Masotti Black Box can resolve this? Thank You. Luca [The chain seems fine. I’d place the BK after the Muff. A booster could solve your problem but first you should make sure that the Boss NR doesn’t cut the tone or sustain. If you set these things too high they’ll do more harm than good. Also, with all these pedals, you should use good quality cables that can sustain your signal as much as possible. Please check out this article for more tips. – Bjorn ] I love my BK Butler Tube Driver (with bias mod). I just have to say it cause it is an incredible pedal. I use it to boost my Skreddy units as well as by itself. I have a Lunar Module from Skreddy that is out of this world as well as a Pink Flesh. The Colorsound I own is also excellent for boost and overdrive. It is because of Bjorn that I got this awesome tone thru my Marshall and Hiwatt. Just a quick note – try the Butler Tube Driver through a Marshall or Hiwatt with mild delay and use a Gibson Les Paul, or Explorer….it’s from another planet…Thanks Again Bjorn !!! [Cheers Pete! – Bjorn ] Hi Bjorn, I got a TD from BK Butler about a year ago after reading your excellent review. It has become one of my favorite pedals. I actually bought a second one a few months ago. I keep one set for overdrive and one for boost. I also thought the 12aX7 tube was a bit too aggressive. After the tube got worked in it was not so bad though. I keep a 12AU7 in my overdrive TD. I made some clips so others may hear what it sounds like. Excuse the sloppy playing. By the way, your Airbag YouTube above sounds awesome ! Here is the TD with 12AX7 tube, set for overdrive doing the second On an Island solo. Here is a mix of different Gilmour bits with the overdrive setting using a 12AU7 tube. Here is the TD as a boost placed before a Sovtek Civil War Big Muff in the signal chain. Here is the TD as a boost placed AFTER the Big Muff. I used a 2008 strat with Seymour Duncan SSL-5 bridge pup into a Fender Twin 65 RI. Delay is a TC Nova. [Thanks for sharing the clips! Nice tone! On clip #2, is that just the TD straight into your amp or is it blended with the other TD as well? – Bjorn ] Hi Bjorn I’m just about to get a TD clone, ’cause where I live its kinda hard to find an original TD…this is the website. but I’m just wondering..I’m a big fan of Gilmour’s tone, but the perfect tone for me its from Eric Johnson. Its not a surprise that he owns a TD…but I’m wonder…how can I get the EJ clean tone with this pedal??? I know that this is an overdrive pedal, but EJ said something about getting his clean tone from a TD … I thought that someone like u, who knows a lot from this pedal could give me a light…xD Thanks for the help and keep the GREAT WORK (Airbag really ROCKS !!) Cheers Sérgio [The Tube Driver has a wide range from transparent clean to soaring distortion. David has two of these in his board, one set for ovedrive and one for clean boost. – Bjorn ] Bjorn, I just purchased a handmade TD replica and it sound a little noisy… Did you have this kind of problem when you bought the original? I will soon replace the tube (sovtek 12ax7) with a 12au7, but for now the pedal is sounding more fuzzy than I expected … [The Tube Driver has a lot of gain so it’s only in its nature that it will appear noisy if you turn up the gain. But I haven’t experienced that the pedal is noisy in it self, when the gain is at a minimum. It’s very quiet actually. – Bjorn ] I just ordered a Tube Driver, I tried to resist but decided I didn’t want to miss out on having one of these authentic Butler units in case he decides to stop making them soon (the site does say it’s a “limited” run). Looking forward to hearing this in my setup. I have several boutique pedals for overdrive/distortion already, but they don’t seem to complement the Large Beaver pedal as nicely as I’d hoped. If my wife gives me grief over getting yet another pedal, I’ll just say “Bjorn made me do it !” :) [Sure! I’ll take the blame :) – Bjorn ] Bjorn, I love this site and this thread in particular has been very helpful to me. I got my Butler Tube Driver in the mail yesterday. I was a little concerned because I use Valvestate amps but I had heard so many killer clips on youtube, I had to try it. I set all the knobs to 5 and turned it on and I was sure it had to be broken. Nothing could sound this heinous intentionally. I swapped out the stock 12ax7 for a Telefunken 12au7 and that improved things a little but it was still unusable past about 4 on the tube drive dial. I found this thread and realized that others were having similar experiences with the pedal. Then I tried recording the tone through a pair of SM57s and the sounds I was getting on playback blew my mind. They were reminding me of Gilmour’s tone on the solos for Money or Dogs. I A/Bed the Telefunken tube with a JJ 12au7 and I found the JJ a little dull in comparison. The Tele has a high end that is warm and glowing without being shrill. [I do think that tube amps are the best combo for the TD and the louder you play the more it cleans up those harsh overtones. However you should be able to get great tones with it on other amps too. I mostly use the TD for milder overdrives with these settings level 2:00, hi 1:30, lo 1:30, drive 11:00 (o’clock). If you want to boost the gain all the way up you need to back off the volume and treble to around 11:00. Do your own adjustments. Do check out this article too for more tips on using boosters/overdrives on smaller amps/solidstates. – Bjorn ] My Tube Driver arrived from BK last night, and I absolutely LOVE this pedal. I haven’t tried swapping out the tube yet, but I have several types waiting to try (tung-sol ax7, a 5751, EH ay7, and an EH au7). The pedal is brilliant… warm, tubey overdrive when you want it, turning down the drive gets you back to an extremely transparent sound (ie, it doesn’t sound thin or harsh when you back off the drive to just a slight amount of gain–most pedals fail this test). The range of the drive knob is perfect… from no boost, to searing lead tones with long sustain. But what really amazes me is the usability of the tone controls… hands down the best tone controls on a pedal I’ve seen. First off, there are two (hi/lo); one tone control just isn’t sufficient, imo, though most pedals just offer one knob. The HI knob goes from warm, rolled off highs to in-your-face, biting treble, and the LO knob goes from rolled off bass to flat lows, letting all your gutar’s low end through. These are the tone controls everyone wishes their amps had. For anyone who wants solid tube overdrive that is extremely versatile, or for those who don’t like their tube amp’s gain stages, this is a perfect choice. Audiodawg — what type of pickups are you using to drive your tube driver? Also, how is your amp set… to use the tube driver and get the best tone, I’d highly recommend starting out with your amp set to very clean settings, with max headroom (set master vol very high, and preamp gain very low). The TD puts out a large signal, and it will definitely slam an amp’s preamp if the preamp is set for any gain. RLee , I’m using the EMG DG20 pickup set. My amps are a Marshall VS265 and a VS102r, running simultaneously to take advantage of stereo effects. I’m using the clean channels on my amps, so there’s no gain knob involved. I set the EQ about like: bass 10, mid 8, treble 2. I need to mess around with the EQ more. I love the Tube Driver when just playing single notes, but for chords, it creates some pretty heinous distortion. I’m not sure if this is because I’m using solid state amps at relatively low volume or because of my settings. If anyone has an idea, I’d love to hear it. [I think the Tube Driver works better on tube amps. It’s cleans up nicely. You could also try to replace the tube with a milder. Keep in mind too that the EMGs are very hot, which might be a bad combo with the Tube Driver and a solidstate if you want clean tones. – Bjorn ] Hi Bjorn Well, I finally got my Tube Driver today, and all I can say is wow….its great for pretty much anything I have wanted it to do so far. The booster for my Green Russian – fantastic, On its own as a volume boost – fantastic, and as an OD, well, as much as an OD it can be with a 12AX7 – sweet sounding distortion. I might switch to a Mullard 12AU7, not sure, ill see how I get on with the 12AX7 first. Just wanted to say thanks for the advice you gave me when upgrading my previous OD – the Boss SD-1 – I dont recommend it – for anything Gilmourish !!! Thanks again, as always, great review, and all 4 clips you have on youtube are brilliant !!!!! Phil [Thanks Phil and congratulations on your BK! Glad you found my site useful :) – Bjorn ] Hi , I’ve just received my BK Tube Driver. Am interested in trying the 12AU7 tube option but was hoping someone here could describe the process of swapping the tubes before I go & cock it up ! Cheers [Just replace them as they were lightbulbs. Give the tube a good jolt and it will loosen. Some BK pedals has a rubber band around the socket you need to take off. Make sure that the new tube is properly fitted into the socket. – Bjorn ] Bjorn, I just received my BK Butler Tube Driver. I have a question regarding the settings. I used your advise on an earlier post and am getting feedback which sounds like a “heart beat” (not kidding). I just bought the “stock” TD without any extras. Here are my settings: Out Level 2:00 Hi 2:00 Lo 2:00 Tube Drive 10:00 (if I turn it up higher it gets too distorted) Thanks for this excellent site and for all of your comments ! [The stock 12AX7 tube can be a bit too aggressive and I replaced it with the milder 12AU7 as you know. But in either case you need to let the tube break in for a couple of weeks for the tone to open up nicely. Your line should be – compressor > Tube Driver > Mistress > DE7 > amp. Try setting the amp like this… use the clean channel only – Bass 50%, treble 40/50%, mids 40% and set the master volume to about 1/3 of the channel volume. You might need to adjust the settings on the TD to suit your amp and pickups and be careful with the compressor. Set it for unity gain and a mild compression to avoid too much feedback. – Bjorn ] Bjorn, Sorry that I didn’t list more of my equipment in the post last night. I followed your advice and have the EH Mistress, Ibanez DE-7 delay, MXR 90 compressor, and have it running to a Fender Hot Rod Deluxe amp… If you could give me an idea on the settings for the BK Butler Tube Driver that would be recommended, I’d really appreciate it. Many thanks – Dave [See my reply in the previous post. Cheers! – Bjorn ] Bjorn thanks again for the feedback its very helpful. Another overdrive tone I’d like to attempt to take a stab at, and you might be up to the task, is his sound on the 50th anniversary concert for the strat. Heres the link just in case… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J4kgBpgoQaU . He kicks in something at about 4:35 and comes up with one of the most heavenly tones Ive ever come across. I only really know the basics of that hes using the white 54 strat and that he is using a whammy pedal for those octave bends but other than that I am kinda clueless. Care to take a shot at it? Thanks so much ! [Sorry for my late reply. What you’re referring to is just him switching back to the neck pickup. The effect setup for the song is a Demeter Compulator compressor, Chandler Tube Driver (this was just prior to him purchasing the new BK Tube Drivers) set for a mild overdrive, Digitech Whammy and MXR digital delay. Pretty basic but the essence of the tone is the original 1954 pickups and the Tube Driver. Cheers! – Bjorn ] Hey Bjorn , Theres a video on YouTube of an interview with David Gilmour, the video is simply called David Gilmour Interview 2008 Part 1. At about 4:02 in he talks about distortion and uses the Tube Driver to demonstrate. My question is what kind of amp is he using, the pedal sounds nice on that amp. P.S. Im starting to dig your band, you guys are really rock! I hope you make more albums in the future. [That’s a 1950s Fender Champ tweed as far as I can see. Great little practice amp! Thanks! Glad you enjoy our music! We’re just about to enter studio for the follow up to our debut! Cheers! – Bjorn ] Hey all , I just got my BK Butler Tube Driver straight from the source off of ebay. Don’t know if this is covered before, but he’s offering them with a “bias mod” that controls the voltage going across the tube. I got mine with this mod and it allows you to go from dark and splatty to bright and tight and everywhere in between. With this mod I’m more than happy with the stock tube and feel no reason to swap it out. If you’re ordering up a pedal, get the mod done – it might save you a lot of money and time trying different tubes. Thanks for the great site, by the way ! Allbread [Never tried the bias version my self but I’ve found my tone with the Tube Driver at last :) Agree that the bias version is probably a better way to go. Cheers! – Bjorn ] Hey Bjorn, on the song you posted from your band (great track by the way), are using the Tube Driver at the beginning (at about 1:00 of the video) or do you use up until the near end when the sound is dirtier? I just want to have an idea of what this stompbox can do [It’s on throughout the song but the first couple of bars is with the guitar volume slightly rolled off for a warmer tone and after a couple of bars I roll it up for more gain and I add a compressor. Cheers! – Bjorn ] Bjorn , I’m trying to make a decision between buying either the BK Butler Tube Driver or the Maxon TOD-9 True Tube Overdrive. They’re both up there in price and seem like very good pedals. The sound I’m looking for is the one Gilmour uses on Shine On (PULSE/REMEMBER THAT NIGHT). For reference of what I like, there is a demo of Dave Weiner demoing the Maxon TOD-9 on YouTube, about 2 minutes into the video. I own the Boss BD2, but I prefer the sound of the Boss Super Overdrive, mainly because I like a warm, barely saturated, thick and clean tone, if that makes sense. I also use a Tonebone Trimode pedal for heavier distortion, though I don’t care much for the overdrive channel. What’s your opinion about those pedals? Thanks, and great site. [Although David’s using the BK for Shine On it can be quite tricky to get that smooth, warm tone on some amps. Check out this article for details and some tips. The BK is a fantastic pedal and IMO the best overdrive for David’s tones. If you’re uncertain if it works on your rig I recommend the Fulltone OCD. Incredibly versatile and great for David’s overdrives. – Bjorn ] Hello once again Bjorn, The action on my guitar is low but not that much, but i realised now after couple of days of using the BK that i’m only facing this problem whenever i turned it on with my dunlop fuzzface(the bk being set b4 the fuzz unit),so i’m a little bit confused about the notes played on the E bass string that seems to be weaker than the other notes played on other strings,specially that i’m not using so much gain on both pedals. One final question, any info about the settings used by Eric Johnson on the BK & the FuzzFace. Thanks again Bjorn for ur reply & ur support. Cheers !! [Not sure how Eric uses his pedals. You might be experiencing to much saturation… Blending a Tube Driver and a Fuzz Face is tricky and you need to find the sweetspot for the pedals where they function together. Even though you don’t have that much gain your guitar/pickups, amp or other pedals might effect the signal for a slight overload. I’m sure that some careful tweaking will solve the problem and if possible try the setup with other guitars and amps as well. – Bjorn ] Hi Bjorn , Gtrat sound , thank You . I want to ask You :I want to buy Tube Driver WORKS model . it will be good for Gilmour sound compare with more Expencive Batler Chandlerm Tube Driver as used Gilmour model ? Thank You very much . [The old Tube Works Tube Driver that looks identical to the current BK Butler model was, to my knowledge, designed by BK Butler as he worked for Tybe Works. I haven’t tried these my self but I understand they’re very similar to the current versions. – Bjorn ] I have a 2010 BK Butler Tube Driver that I’ve always liked but never really loved. I’m running it in a fairly “Glimourish” pedal chain into the front end of an Egnater Tweaker (great Gilmour amp if you don’t need huge volumes). It just seemed far too “fuzzy” with the 12AX7 and dull with a 12AU7. It didn’t really respond well to the volume knob and there wasn’t a nice smooth transistion from overdrive into distortion. I ran a 12AT7 in it which was OK, but it just never really blew my mind. I tweaked that poor thing to death but I never could find a sound that was right for me. A couple of days ago I was going through my tube box and I found an interesting tube at the bottom. It was a 12DW7 which is pretty fascinating. It is a dual triode just like a 12AX7, but half of the tube has a gain of 20 (12AU7) and half has a gain of 100 (12AX7). I thought – “what the heck, let’s give it a spin ” Well folks, personally I found my tone. It sounds far less compressed, it has a tremendous range of gains (from dead clean to screaming), it is super sensitive to the volume knob, and at all settings it keeps it’s teeth. It growls and screams. It can chunk like a Rectifier (really!) or sing like David tone in Pulse. It’s like a completely different animal. I’m absolutely floored by this unit now and I’m seriously thinking about getting another one and ditching all of my other dirt boxes (well not my Lunar Module – they’ll bury me with that one). I’ll bet with two of these set to different drive levels I can get almost any kind of dirt. Unfortunately all of my mics are in storage so I can’t record well. I’ll try to get something up later for you all to chew on though. Tube Depot sells them for $16.50 delivered with hi-gain testing. Please try this out if your not happy with your Tube Driver – I think that you’ll be happily surprised. Hope this helps ! [Thanks for the tip Rich! – Bjorn ] Hi Bjorn , Is OCD Tube scremer, if it is which one you recommend TS9 or OCD If OCD is a Tube drive, which one you recommend BK Buttler or OCD. Thanks a lot. [The OCD is based on a Tube Screamer. It’s very similar with a warm creamy tone. It has a bit more gain and bass than the TS. However, the OCD also feature an additional tone switch that allows for more presence (scooped mids) and gain. This features makes the OCD closer to a Tube Driver so in a sense you can say it’s the best of both worlds. Very versatile. Personally I prefer the Tube Driver but the OCD works better on most setups. – Bjorn ] HI Bjorn, Still I didn’t get it, ok then tell me please, I should get TS9 and BK or OCD and BK or what ever you suggest. Thanks so much [Well, that’s not for me to decide :) The Tube Driver is my favourite of the three and I think it should go fine with your Mesa. I’ve done that many times. The OCD is perhaps more versatile though. I have both on my board but if you ask me I’d go for the Tube Driver. – Bjorn ] Hi Bjorn, you might have heard it many times but again, what a great site! fantastic job! I am a PF fan and after a long break I start to build my gear. I’d like to use the Gilmour tone as a direction. At the moment I am using the following: Std-US-Strat>CS3modified>RussianBlackBigMuff>BossOS2>MXR-Phase100>fenderChampion30DSP. I did modify myself the CS3 with only few items like some metal film capacitors and resistors and few other things.This in order to reduce noise but it’s not really good. I’d like to invest in an overdrive to replace the OS2 (I did buy it as I was younger and it makes its job) into a “real” overdrive that can suit to the other effects. With the actual set it is hard to find a nice balance between the muff and the OS2! Probably the boss are a bit noisy in general and also the OS has a to shy overdrive. due to the small transistor amplifier, I am hesitating to invest in a tube driver, or a transistor based pedal such as a modded BD-2, fulltone OCD, BBamp from Xotic, or TSlike. But also, I use in concerts the amps that are already set there so it can be usually bigger and tube based amps such as twin reverb etc… so it makes maybe sense to invest in tube overdrive? or is it really a lost of money to use it on small amps? Then of course, BK.Butler/chandler comes. I saw on the net some other pedals like the tubework 901/903/911 familly and also blackstar HT drive… what do you think about these ones?thanks ! [Thanks for your kind words! Glad you enjoy my site :) The Tube Driver needs the right amp or it will sound harsh and thin. In my experience it doesn’t work that well with Marshalls, Fender Twins etc. Of the Fenders it seems to go well with the Blues JR, Bassman and Showman. I think I’d go for something a bit more versatile like the OCD or a modded BD2. The 901/903/911 are all very similar to the BK although not as open and dynamic. – Bjorn ] Hi Bjorn , Im in the position to aquire a chandler tube drive from a friend with a 12ax7 tube in it. I really like the tones David gets on the song “Time” his rhythm and lead tone. I was wodnering if the chandler is able to aquire that tone. And would it be a good idea for me to get that pedal. I have the ocd pedal and an original ibanez ts9 from the 80’s i woudl realy love to hear your opinions regardign those 3 pedals as i love your comments and reviews and have foudn them very helpful and informative and me sometimes i need sum good advice from good experience people before i go and make my mind up. [The Tube Driver is fully capable of producing David’s Dark Side, WYWH and Animals overdrive tones but it depends on what amp you have as I’m sure you are aware. Check out this post for some tips on how to use the Tube Driver and for some details on the TS9 and OCD as well. – Bjorn ] Hi Bjorn , Me again. Any thought between the chandler tube driver vs the hermida zendrive? Have your tried both? [The Chandler is more or less identical to the BK although not as open and bright. I haven’t tried the Zen but from what I understand it’s similar to the Tube Driver, OCD etc. – Bjorn ] Hey Bjorn , I’m actually following up from a post from Jan 24th. Based on what you’d mentioned the TD should sound like, I ended up sending it back to BK Butler. He did a diagnostic on mine, and it turned out that the Bass EQ knob WAS totally broken, and engaging the pedal was sucking all the bass away. He fixed it and sent it back, since then its been amazing ! So I can definitely report that this pedal works fabulously with a mesa boogie mark IV I run it on the R1 channel very clean, and I can really nail those Coming Back to Life and Shine On Pulse tones. Simply gorgeous. I keep the tube drive level as far down as I can without hurting the bass tone (so its mostly clean), and run it with a Boss CS2, TC corona chorus (with the warm toneprint), and some reverb and delay from a TC Gmajor in the effects loop (all of this running through a GCS switcher). Tone heaven. I also just got an Eric Johnson strat which perfectly completes the picture. So if anyone here has a Mesa Boogie Mark series amp, the Tube Driver will work with it, you don’t need only a marshall or fender style amp ! [Glad to hear it worked out :) – Bjorn ] Hi Bjorn , How is the bypass signal of the Tube Driver? I know it’s not true bypass, so does it change the tone of overdrives before it (or after it)? Thanks, Yoni. [I haven’t noticed any tone or volume loss from mine. It’s very silent and seems to handle the signal well. It can be a tad demanding in terms of other pedals though and I’ve experienced that it doesn’t like to be placed next to certain Boss pedals and some vintage stuff. – Bjorn ] Hi Bjorn , thanks for all info you are sharing. I have a quick question. At your web site, it is mentioned that tube driver is used with OD (not clean) settings after P1 by Gilmour for songs like “comfortably numb”. Can you define what is “boosting ”? I hope my question makes sense. [The term boosting usually describes when you use an overdrive or distortion pedal to drive the tubes in the amp for more gain or when you add an overdrive with a distortion for more volume during solos. In terms of David’s sounds “boosting” is perhaps a bit misleading because he only uses the Tube Driver more like an EQ. The Muff is set fairly mild with the volume about unity with the amp and the gain around 50%. The Tube Driver is placed after the Muff with an equally mild setting with a slight crunch and the volume slightly above unity with the amp. This way he adds tone to the Muff rather than to boost the volume. In terms of David’s tone a booster should be transparent with as little mid range as possible so that it doesn’t colour the Muff too much. Pedals like the Colorsound Powerboost, BK Tube Driver, Boss BD2 and similar clones are ideal. Hope this helped. – Bjorn ] I just picked up a Tube Driver from BK himself. Wanted one for a long time, but couldn’t put the money up for it, so recently I gathered all my pedals that just sit around not being used, sold them and got the TD. So far I am very impressed with the TD, running into a clean Peavy Classic 50, it is amazing. I still have the stock tube in mine too. Do you notice a different in your modulation pedals when running them after the TD? I notice the effects seem stronger after the TD, than with my muffs, and other overdrives. I have mainly noticed this with a CE-2 and a CS Phase 90. [Congrats! All pedals will behave differently with different pedals. The Tube Driver has an aggressive character with a typically scooped mids tone, which will make the modulations sounds brighter and more focused. Muffs with a warmer tone and more mids, will make the modulations sound smoother and not as dominating. Ttry different setups and combinations and see how that affects the tone. – Bjorn ] Hi Bjorn – great site, always fun to wander around in :) Just got a Laney Cub Stack, very much enjoying it. Do you think I’d get away with a BK Butler Tube Driver, or would it be too much for the amp? Peace to you and yours Mick [Depends on how loud you’re able to play. It works nicely in a band or studio situation but at home on lower volume levels I recommend something a bit more versatile like a Keeley Boss BD2 or The Fulltone OCD. The TD tend to sound thin and harsh if you’re not able to really crank the amp. – Bjorn ] Hi Bjorn, hope that the new year is going well for you. I have a BK Butler Tube Driver that I’m playing through a Deluxe Reverb, where should the volume on the Tube Driver be if I’m playing at around 1.5-2 on the amp? [Hard to tell. Depends on a lot of things like your pickups, EQ settings on the amp, how the other controls on the TD are set, what other pedals you combine it with and what pedals that are placed before and after it in the chain in regards to buffers etc… I always keep the volume at 2.00. This produce a volume boost but also smooths out any harsh overtones. The more you increase the gain, the more you need to roll off the treble as well. Hope this helped :) – Bjorn ] My signal chain goes; Skreddy Lunar Module, Barber Tone Press, Stomp Under Foot Violet Ram’s Head, BK Butler Tube Driver, MXR Phase 90 (74 script), Electric Mistress Deluxe, TRex replica and DD-20. I was thinking of getting an OCD to save space but I’m wondering if I would regret that. [Personally I think the TD sounds way better than the OCD. – Bjorn ] Hi Bjorn! Just wanted to ask a quick question. Do you think the BK tube driver and Sovtek Big Muff would sound good on a laney cub12 15 watt? I’ve already got the muff and am considering the BK and Laney. Thanks ! [The Tube Driver needs a lot of power and volume. On a CUB 12 I think you’d be better off with an OCD or Boss BD2. – Bjorn ] Hi Bjørn , I recently found this post on you blog (amazing work, by the way!) and I’d like to ask you a technical question. I bought a B.K. Butler Tube Driver Rackmount, by Tube Works, and it is the 9v AC model. I read in many reviews that the Tube Driver does not sound as good in 9v as it does with the 110v cord, since 9v are not enough to properly feed the 12AX7 (or any other tube you use). My question is; can I use more voltage? I mean, if I use a 12v or 18v (or even 24v or 27v) ac adapter, can the sound get better? Would it damage the circuit of the Tube Driver in any way? And would it be enough to get a better sound? Thanks a lot and all the best , Vlamir [Hi. I’m very sorry but I don’t have any experience with this so I’m afraid I can’t help you. It’s true that the tube needs more power but how to achieve this I’m not sure. – Bjorn ] To the person who asked how the TD compares to the cornish ss-3…. Bjorn.. I RARELY dispute you. Lol… Listen to disc 5 of live at gdansk. Track 9. Wearing the inside out. I believe in the studio and perhaps live(90s) he was using an ss-2 or ss-3 right??? Now listen to the gdansk track (s) of this tune. Isnt he using the tube driver on a clean boost setting.. With the compulator to get close to that ss-3 sound? To me.. It sounds better than the ss-3.. Only caveat is that u really need a 12au7 in the TD. Siemens… Or rca nos to get that metallic bright shimmer and clarity while still retaining the bottom end. The yugo ei… Is really hard to find. If bk has them he will sene them.. But im sure hes low.. Yugo is out of business..Bjorn.. Im really curious what u think. Im waiting on a siemens nos 60s 12au7 that i got cheap. 60 bucks. If there is any tone to cop from gilmour that a bit tough.. Its THAT sound.. Since cornish stuff is like a 2 million year waiting list. Other than that of course he is using that cornish tes. Which is even more rare. I settle for the empress vintage mod super delay. Its as close as ur gonna get for tape echo sims. Unless u wanna spend 2g on the cornish. T rex is good. Others are as well.. But empress nailed the tape echo sound … [There are no confirmed info on what he used for Wearing but my guess is that he used a Chandler Tube Driver for the recording. It could have been a SS2 but it sounds very TD-ish to me. The old Chandler has a bit more warmth as well. On the 2006 live recording he’s definitely using a TD, as you also point out. David’s current TD are 2006 BK Butler models with the Yugo 12AX7 tubes. You will get more headroom with 12AU7 but a 12AX7 will give you the headroom you need. – Bjorn ] Bjorn , What pedals can get ‘close’ to this BK tone? I love the tone you have on the live version of Prelude, and presume its the BK mostly there? My BD-2 lacks the mids for this, but would something else, say a Xotic BB Pre come closer? Keep up the good work dude ! Best Dan [The studio version is the BD2, while the YouTube live clip is the Tube Driver. The TD doesn’t have much mid range but loud volume adds a nice mid boost from the amp. You should be able to get similar tones with the BD2. The OCD and Pork Lion are also good alternatives. I don’t have much experience with the Xotic. – Bjorn ] Hey Bjorn, I just purchased the BK Butler tube driver and would like to purchase a JJ 12au7 based on your recommendation. I’ve got 2 quick questions. I noticed there’s 3 different JJ 12au7 tube options on tubedepot.com: – JJ ECC82 / 12AU7 Preamp Vacuum Tube – JJ ECC82 / 12AU7 Gold Pin Preamp Vacuum Tube – JJ ECC802s / Hi-Performance 12AU7 Gold Pin Preamp Vacuum Tube Question 1: which one one do you recommend I get? The next thing I noticed on the site is when you select what tube you want, you also have these options with your purchase: – standard test included – hi gain – matching – balanced triodes – matched plus balanced triodes – low noise and microphonics Question 2: which of these options should i select? Your help is much appreciated because I don’t know much about tubes (this pedal is one of the only things missing currently in my Gilmour rig) Thanks for all your help Bjorn! Matt Hey Bjorn! Thanks a lot for the tip the other day regarding my amp question. I have one more enquiry. You suggest often that if possible, a pedal board should have two overdrive pedals: one acting as the classic transparent mids scooped booster and the second acting as the creamy, mid boosted overdrive. In regards to this, I’ve been thinking of getting a TC Spark Booster (for clean boost) and OCD (to act as a dedicated overdrive). So three questions arise: 1) When comparing a TC Spark Booster with a stock Boss BD-2 with no modification for boosting cleans, which would be the better choice (considering the presence of a fuzz pedal on the pedal board as well). 2) Are two overdrive pedals really needed for two different jobs? Can a single OCD or a single BD-2 cover both tasks mentioned above for example? What about a Tube Driver? 3) Considering the prices of the Spark Booster and OCD where I live, buying both of these units comes to about ~$290, which is almost the price of a BK Butler Tuber Driver (as listed on his website). Do you think it’s better to just go for a Tube Driver? My setup will be geared towards mostly home with a 15-30 watt amp, and I realize that this may be an issue with a Tube Driver as it needs high volumes and bigger tube amps. Sorry for the length questions, they’ve just been circulating in my head for a while. Thanks a lot for all your input once again, it’s amazing how you can keep up with everybody’s questions (and do it so patiently and with a lot of attention to detail as well !). Cheers. [1. The TC is true bypass and will work better with fuzz. In terms of boosting, it’s also cleaner with more headroom than the BD2. 2. Could work but usually, the Tube Driver needs a lot of volume to open up and get that smooth tone. I think you’ll be better off with the TC and OCD. Besides, having two different sounding pedals will always be more versatile than having just one. – Bjorn ] Hi Bjorn, Can you tell me the most cheap pedal for give me the ´´ BK Butler Tube Driver´´ tone ??? and other thing, who ´´muff´´ pedal you recommend for the “Division Bell´´ and ´´On an Island´´ sound ?? Thank you and good bless their work !! [The Boss BD2 I think. It’s not identical but has the same tone character. Depending on your amp and how well it can hendle Big Muffs, I’d say that the Electronic Orange Pig Hoof is a close match for Bell and Island. If you want something cheaper, then check out the EHX Tone Wicker and Bass Big muff. – Bjorn ] Hi Bijorn, I have a non-bias B.K. Butler Tube Driver and I’m looking at another one on eBay. Hopefully I’ll have the winning bid. I plan on swapping the stock 12ax7 for a 12au7 on the one I already own and if I get the one Im looking at on eBay. My question for you is since David Gilmour uses one for volume boost and one for distortion, which one should be first in the signal chain? Thank you. -Cameron [Very sorry for my late reply, Cameron. The position doesn’t matter if you don’t intend to use them together. You can combine them but my experience is that it just sounds too noisy and messy. Better to boost one of them with a more tamed clean booster. – Bjorn]
When looking for information about the new Tube Driver, I happened to find your review and your website (nice page & a great version of ‘Shine on You Crazy Diamond’!).
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Ciao Giampaolo, io ho sotto la 12ax7 che sicuramente cambierò!Un consiglio, sto costruendo la mia nuova pedal board, ho la seguente catena: Boss cs3.