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BK Tube Driver - Tubes MAKE a Difference!

BillyK

Member
Messages
2,582
After reading a recent thread on this subject, I bought a "Yugo" "Real" tube from BK, and auditioned it against the stock tube and some other candidates as well. I used a stock EJ Strat and a vintage Princeton Reverb with just the TD in the chain.

First off, the choice of tube in the TD makes a significant difference - really. Way more of a difference in fact than the tube in the Zen 2 or Tonebone Classic, for instance. So we can put that issue to rest.

Here's what I heard in an extensive a/b today:
- Stock tube: sounds good. It's got a smooth fat gain structure.
- BK's Yugo: sounds GREAT. Fatter than stock, more sustain for sure, and more articulate at the same time. Simply inspiring for me. With the gain half up, the TD has a beautiful sustaining tone that stands-up to fast passages. Many held notes turn to a howl that is so like a super-heated high-power tube amp, but at managable SP levels.
- 60's NOS Mullard 12AX7: nice but too tame. Not what I want a TD for.
- GT 12AX7: sort of like a lower gain stock tube. Not bad at all.
- 60's RCA 12AT7: nice, really nice. It gave the TD a characteristic that was like a super-refined OD/light distortion. If I had two TD's, I'd have this tube in one of 'em. Still, for that "fatter-than-a-Rat" type tone that keeps an articulate attack, the BK Yugo is "it" for me.

So, if you are a TD user on the fence about laying down the scratch for the Yugo tube, here's yet another vote to do so.

From what I understand, BK selects the Yugos from his diminishing supply with a 50% rejection rate. So if you have been considering it, go pull the trigger. It really works for me.

-bk
(no, not THAT "bk"!)
 

HeartfeltDawn

Member
Messages
231
I haven't got a Tube Driver but I do have an Ibanez TK999, an old gold one, and a little bit similar to the Tube Driver. Whenever I've mentioned this pedal on forums, there have been a few negative comments. Personally I think the tube makes a huge difference and many have heard these pedals with bad valves in them. Currently I have a Telefunken valve in place and it sounds great, very 60's vibe, not surprising perhaps as it used to belong to a guy who was playing guitar with the Brian Jonestown Massacre for a good long time.
 

nightraven

Senior Member
Messages
907
i'm using a groove tubes 7025 in my old rackmount butler tube driver - i like it a lot more than the old sovtek 12ax7 that was in there before. very nice overdrive :)
 

michael patrick

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
10,810
I've got a US-made 5751 with black plates (not sure who made it, probably RCA) in my old three-knobber. Sounds better than any other tube I've tried in it, and I've tried many tubes in that sucker over the years...
 

BillyK

Member
Messages
2,582
Seems like lots of different tubes can work in a TD. I could have spent more time a/b'ing with my stash of NOS tubes, but that BK Real tube kills - and I couldn't stop playing!
 

NeilYoungFan

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
2,277
Stock tube was too high-gain for my taste. Dropped a TubeAmpDoctor (TAD) 12AX7 in and I'm very happy.
 

BillyK

Member
Messages
2,582
Stock tube was too high-gain for my taste. Dropped a TubeAmpDoctor (TAD) 12AX7 in and I'm very happy.
I know what you are saying.

If I wanted the TD for more of an OD, I found that the NOS RCA 12AT7 kills, 'cause it has lower gain like your TAD. It's just that I need the TD for gainy super-fat, sustaining tone, and it delivers in spades with the Yugo tube.
 

Starsailor

Member
Messages
742
JJ 12au7 works great for me. Smoother, slightly less gain but at higher settings you can't really tell. Still, I'd love to find a Yugo to try. I really dislike the stock tube mine came with.
 

Griz

Member
Messages
2,833
i'm using a groove tubes 7025 in my old rackmount butler tube driver - i like it a lot more than the old sovtek 12ax7 that was in there before. very nice overdrive :)
Those rackmount Tube Drivers are great. Had one in the early 90's.

Enjoy.
 

BillyK

Member
Messages
2,582
Hey Iggster,
To the degree that any one component in the chain can be responsible for the tone in total, the TD contributes significantly.

The TD is big, has a PIA AC cord, is very very particular about how you set it, can be noisey in the higher gain ranges, is expensive and is currently in limited production.

With all those negatives, the tone just slays me.

With a Strat into a totally clean Fender amp, it's a monster. Put a good compressor in front of it, and an authentic, non-modded TubeScreamer (gotta have that mid-hump!) I get a tone that jumps out of the mix.
 

Agreed

Member
Messages
1,647
So is that guy a starved plate or "real" tube implementing circuit? (not to disparage starved plate designs, using a tube as a diode is cool and they have some unique properties when used like that) How much power does it draw from the wall?

I got the reissue Ibanez Tube King not long ago, and I'm very impressed with it. It's running on AC, of course with the same barrel end as any other pedal (recipe for disaster, I need to get some stickers to label these things as I have four different kinds of power running thanks to differences in voltages, polarity and now AC instead of DC - whose idea was it to make all these have the same barrel end??). I'm not sure in what way it's related to the Tube Driver, but I understand that it is - perhaps the old one was moreso, though. Anyway, it's got a thick but well defined sound and good dynamics.

The only Tube Driver clip I've heard was Andy Timmons using it on his Mesa Stilleto, it had a really cool sound. Very thick. Almost like a fuzz, but not. How's yours sound?
 

BillyK

Member
Messages
2,582
From AngleLoss in a previous post:
"Low voltage, I believe 12v in. If I recall correctly it uses an opamp to push the tube then post EQ to output. I had one a while back with the bias knob and it was a lot of fun, but too big for my pedalboard :( Though this is a low voltage tube design, it is still more of a "tube" overdrive than say a Zendrive 2 or some of the Ibanez tube designs which merely use the tube for internal diode clipping rather than as a gain stage. But all that said, if a pedal sounds good I guess it doesn't matter how it is achieved.

I used my Tube Driver with the tone controls on the lower side for a lead overdrive, with the bias rolled of just a hair to juicy up the sound. I also used a lower gain tube, but I don't remember which."

I find the TD can go from OD to distortion with a fuzz-like component at it's higher gain settings. There are a billion YouTube videos if you are interested, and another billion threads there @ TGP on the TD. Go get some tea/coffee/beer and sit for a while and read what's been said already. Also, Harmony-Central has some reviews I believe.
 

Iggster

Member
Messages
261
Hey Iggster,
To the degree that any one component in the chain can be responsible for the tone in total, the TD contributes significantly.

The TD is big, has a PIA AC cord, is very very particular about how you set it, can be noisey in the higher gain ranges, is expensive and is currently in limited production.

With all those negatives, the tone just slays me.

With a Strat into a totally clean Fender amp, it's a monster. Put a good compressor in front of it, and an authentic, non-modded TubeScreamer (gotta have that mid-hump!) I get a tone that jumps out of the mix.
The tube I have in mine is stock. It rules, especially with the bias option. I've read about switching out to the a yugo tube before, is the BK to only place you can get them?
 

gbravo

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
269
I've got an original TD from 1985. Had it refurbished by BK a few years ago. I'd love to try a different tube in it; is there another source for the Yugo tubes or do you have to contact BK??
 

BillyK

Member
Messages
2,582
I've got an original TD from 1985. Had it refurbished by BK a few years ago. I'd love to try a different tube in it; is there another source for the Yugo tubes or do you have to contact BK??
Hey gbravo,
I looked into this a bit and just contacted BK to buy one of his - hence this thread. If you are a picky dude (like most of us) it makes a very nice difference. However, the stock tube is nothing to make apologies for.

=)
 




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