Price paid: $ 89
Purchased from: Broadway Sound, Knoxville, TN
Sound — 10
I use the Blues Driver through my Fender Blues Jr. Amp, mainly playing my Stratocaster. My Telecaster also sounds great with the pedal, for the bluesy sound I want on some things, although I tend to run it pretty clean most of the time. Very quiet pedal at lower volume levels, although you'll get some hissing when the amp is cranked up. But I consider that normal and a noise gate takes care of that between songs. I have yet to find a single weakness in the tones this baby will produce. I have been able to get a quite good SRV tone from it, as well as some Hendrix-type sounds. One thing this pedal is superb at is producing the slightly overdriven tone (signal just beginning to clip) that is a staple fixture of my own favorite sound. And the pedal can give a solid-state amp a tube-like tone quality. On my all-tube amp, it gives a healthy dose of "steroids" to it, just as I expected.
Overall Impression — 8
I use it mainly for the blues and classic rock that I play and it's an excellent match for both. I confess to being an old-schooler and it's a fantastic pedal for a vintage-style sound, but would likely leave something to be desired for the Thrash/Metalhead culture of our musical world. Boss makes other distortion pedals for them. If my Blues Driver were to break (it WON'T ever get lost!), I would definitely buy another one. I've been playing for more than 35 years, off and on, and this is the BEST pedal of its type that I've yet seen. The only bad thing I can say about it is that changing the battery is a little difficult for me. You have to unscrew a little knob, then tilt the pedal part upward, to get at the battery, and there ain't a lot of room in there for my fat fingers. However, other than that, this is an excellent FX pedal and I would highly recommend it to anyone who wants the sort of sound that it's so great at producing.
Reliability & Durability — 10
Damn thing is as tough as nails, period. I've dropped it a few times, tripped over a cord and yanked the plug out of it more than once, kicked it out of my way a time or two, and it hasn't hurt it one bit. Like the old Timex commercial went: "It takes a lickin' and keeps on tickin'!" I think you could toss the thing down a long flight of concrete stairs and it wouldn't bother it any. If I were gigging, it would be my only Overdrive pedal, but I'd always have a spare battery on hand, in any case.
Ease of Use — 10
I'm not a big user of pedals at all, but the Blues Driver I consider an essential tool. It's my go-to pedal, plain and simple. Very simple and basic pedal, with three controls: Tone, Gain, and Level. Doesn't take an engineering degree to figure this one out and that's one of the best things about it. Simplicity is bliss! Level is like a Master Volume, Gain lets you dial in the amount of Overdrive boost, and Tone allows you to shape the sound to your liking. Mine came with an owner's manual, but the only thing I read in it was how to change the battery (std. Square 9-volt). I figured out the rest by just playing with it. Between the pedal's controls and the amp settings it's possible to get a very wide variety of overdriven tones, from just a hint of harmonic overdrive, to a vintage-sounding fuzz, to a screaming hard rock/dirty blues distortion. This is the only Overdrive pedal I'll ever need, for my styles of playing.