Review of the TD-X Equaliser/Gain Booster from Buffalo FX.
Guitar - Fender CIJ Stratocaster, with D Allen Voodoo 69 neck and middle pickups and Seymour Duncan SSL5 bridge pickup
Pedals - Buffalo FX TD-X
Delays are added in mix using Logic
Amp - Reeves Custom 50
Mic - Shure SM57
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FX has boldly tackled the Tube Driver – the overdrive that has defined the tone of David Gilmour and Eric Johnson for the past decades. So, without further ado. Here’s my review of the TD-X.
Settings for Tube Driver and TD-X: level 2:00, lo 2:00, hi 1:00, gain 9:00
The stock Tube Driver feature a 12AX7 tube, which provides a considerable amount of gain. Depending on your pickups and amp it can be tricky to use the Tube Driver as a clean booster, without it sounding thin. One trick is to replace the 12AX7 with a 12AU7, although this dramatically changes the character of the pedal.
With the settings above, the Tube Driver sounds pretty dirty, although rolling down the guitar volume a mark or two cleans it up nicely. It’s got a nice punch and ads a hint compression to the tone.
The TD-X has noticeably more headroom, which is a plus for smaller bedroom setups and for boosting. It sounds transparent and a bit more responsive to the guitar and my picking compared to the Tube Driver. The TD-X also works nicely as a booster for other overdrives and Big Muffs – complimenting them, without colouring too much.
Settings for Tube Driver and TD-X: level 2:00, lo 2:00, hi 12:00, gain 10:30
I rarely use the Tube Driver for full out distortion or fuzz so this is my main setup for almost anything I do besides clean or fuzz.
Personally I think this is where the Tube Driver really shines. That amp-like tone, with rich dynamics and response. It needs a bit of mids boost to get that smooth sustain and rounded off high end, which is why a Hiwatt (or similar) seems to get you closest to David Gilmour’s tones.
Again, having more headroom than the Tube Driver I need to give the TD-X a bit more gain and I also think it sounds better with a tad more high end sparkle. One of the goals with this design, was to roll off some of that high end harshness you often get from the Tube Driver, which Buffalo definitely has managed to do without compromising the character of the pedal.
Once again the TD-X matches the Tube Driver perfectly. It sounds fat, a tad darker and the gain seems to have a bit more harmonics. On a smaller amp, the Tube Driver comes off as a tad harsh, while the TD-X stays smooth and dynamic.
Settings for Tube Driver and TD-X: level 12:30, lo 3:00, hi 10:30, gain 4:00
You really need a loud tube amp and a nice chunk of mids for these settings to work but when you do, the Tube Driver is hard to beat. It sounds like a cranked up plexi with a germanium fuzz in front of it, oozing with harmonics and sweet sustain. On brighter and smaller amps, it can sound pretty bad and hars.
The TD-X sounds perhaps a bit more linear and not as aggressive as the Tube Driver. Perhaps its the lack of the tube or the fact that the TD-X is meant to be tamed a bit. Still, this is by no means a negative thing. Cranked up, the TD-X is remarkably silent, which the Tube Driver certainly isn’t and the distortion sounds less compressed.
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