Tube Driver review by BK Butler

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  • Sound: 10
  • Overall Impression: 10
  • Reliability & Durability: 10
  • Ease of Use: 9
  • Reviewer's score: 9.8 Superb
  • Users' score: 9.1 (9 votes)
BK Butler: Tube Driver

Price paid: $ 424

Purchased from: BK Butler

Sound — 10
I think the key to this pedal and to getting the Vintage Tube Driver sound is the bass knob. I typically have it set in-between 5 and 7 and it adds so much power like amp distortion. The optional bias knob really adds a lot to the distortion giving it sounds from a Fuzz Face to a big muff and as I prefer a lower gain 12au7 tubes in it, you can get that lower/tighter sound by cranking the bias. When I asked BK what kind of tube he recommends he says "cheep Chinese high gain 12ax7s" which I would never have tried but actually sounds really good.

Overall Impression — 10
I have to admit that I held on to my old Chandler Tube Driver for a while until I figured out how to tweak the bass and bias to get the same sound. When I figured this out though, the Chandler immediately went on eBay. This pedal really is all the old ones were and more reliable. By adjusting the bias or using different types of tubes it ranges from a tighter Marshall to saturated Fuzz Face style tones.

Reliability & Durability — 10
All the short comings of the old models were addressed with Switchcraft pots and jacks. The metal housing is a little smaller and more rigid like a tank with BK's signature hand engraved into the bottom. I've yet to have a problem with it on lots of gigs and sessions and it consistently gets me lots of compliments. The inside is neat and uses snap connectors and the pots are wired straight into the board. Very tidy and neat like electronics should be.

Ease of Use — 9
I bought this pedal to replace a Chandler Tube Driver that I used exclusively in the studio. The problem with the old Tube Drivers were the pots were scratchy and the stomp Switch usually didn't work. But the sound is amazing! After years of searching for a similar pedal I found that B K Butler, the inventor of the pedal was doing a limited run of the pedals so I jumped at the opportunity to get an updated version. The construction is top notch, with a transformer inside the pedal so you don't have to mess with a wall wart, just a normal 3 prong power chord. The pots; while weird at first since they're notched; were really nice on stage because I could feel it while turning it on a dark stage. As I got used to it, it actually made it easier to make small adjustments.

4 comments sorted by best / new / date

    I have an original 1980s version that I intend to have buried with me. Its been across Canada numerous times and parts of the U.S. and has been reliable for over 20 years. It LOOKS like crap and beat up now, but it still sounds amazing.
    I've got 2 Tube Works branded Real Tube Pedals 1st one came with a non branded yellow silk screened "12AX7 ECC83" tube in it the other was used from ebay and came with a Magic Parts blue logo'd tube also 12AX7. Serial numbers are RT020 and RT042 engraved by hand in same handwriting style. Pics available... anybody tell me if these are the original low numbered hand made ones??
    Great pedal for a screaming solo or some other additions.  However the distortion for a power chord sucks.  Open chords with some boost sounds good.  I can switch over to the EVH 5150 15 watt, and the power chords and distortion blows the doors off this pedal.  I guess it is a personal preference or people who want to spend hours trying to imitate Eric Johnson.