Welcome to the Revolution

Hi there, welcome to my blog - La Revolution Deux. It's an odd name - but I like it! Here you will find all the info on my various DIY Guitar effects builds, amplifiers and guitars. Everything from a humble Ibanez tubescreamer to the holiest KLON Overdrive.

You may also find a few effects builds that I am looking to move on - usually in exchange for other effects/gear/cash. You can always check my ebay account to see what I've got up for grabs.

Have fun, enjoy the blog - Fred Briggs :-)


Feel free to get in contact with me about anything you see on this blog or with any general questions about guitars, amplifiers and effects, I'll be happy to answer! Just click the button above to email me directly or alternately my email address is fredbriggs2007 [at] googlemail [dot] com

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Friday, 6 April 2012

Dean Markley Overlord to B K Butler Tube Driver

So, I've got one of these and I've got to admit - I agree with the advert - it's ugly as sin but it does sure cook an amp nicely, but it could be better. It's the Dean Markley Overlord Tube Overdrive pedal. Using a REAL 12AX7 vacuum tube it creates realistic tube overdrive and distortion tones! It has some close relatives:

Now check out the schematic for the Overlord:

Now, as I stated earlier it has some close relatives, not only looks wise but circuit wise too. Here's the B K Butler Tube Driver:

Now there are plenty of variations on this design from B K Butler himself, Chandler and Tube Works among others. I took a look at various schematics with a view to modifying the Overlord to full-fill it's true potential:

Tube Works - Real Tube
Tube Works - Blue Tube
Tube Works - 303 Smooth
Chandler - Tube Driver (4 Knob)
And the newly updated Tube Driver itself (with the "Bias" mod):

New version B K Butler Tube Driver
And another version by Bajaman - The Real Tube Overdrive with a regulated power supply and simplified tone control:

Baja - Real Tube Overdrive
Now what I want to do is combine the best parts of each of these variations into one and modify my Overlord into the ultimate tube overdrive pedal... So, what am I planning to do:

1 - Make this thing True Bypass; the bypass switching currently employed by Overlord is terrible, a switch to true bypass will greatly improve the bypassed tone.

2 - Incorporate the "Bias" mod, here's a description of what the bias mod actually does from the B K Butler website:

"The Bias control is very helpful as it adjusts the amount of current applied to the cathode of the tube. Eric Johnson used to spend a lot of time looking for perfect tubes to use in his standard Tube Drivers, but now he can just set the bias easily with the stock tube. Just go up or down a few clicks and he nails what he wants. The Bias control also adds dynamics and allows you to custom match your Tube Driver for any particular pickup/amp combination.

Technically it varies the electrical 'strength' of the tube and that affects gain, texture and dynamics. It does not change the EQ directly but because the way the tube responds can be varied; you will hear EQ differences at various settings.

Most players find a 'sweet spot' about 2:30 - 3 o'clock on the control.

All in all, it is a 'pro tool' type of control that each player can set to their own subjective taste."

3 - Remove the in chassis power transformer and utilise a 16VAC adaptor with a modified regulated power supply a'la the Baja Real Tube Overdrive to reduce hum and circuit noise.

4 - Modify the stock component values to match the re-issue B K Butler Tube Driver. The "Mids" control will be sacrificed and replaced by the Bias control.

5 - Upgrade poor quality components to higher quality equivalents and use shielded wire for all signal carrying off-board connections to ensure this thing sounds as good as it can!

So after all that what am I going to end up with? Well, hopefully a super clean and cool version of the well known (and widely used) "Tube Driver" circuit. Check back here to see my build/mod report shortly :-)


  1. Hope it sounds as good as you imagine....

  2. Hi, any update on this mod? Just picked up a Dean Markley Overlord and I'm very interested to know if your mod was a success!

  3. Great website. Thank you for the bounty of "educumacation".
    I too am eagerly waiting for an update so I can modify my 5 knob.
    Would love to see it's potential...and an added bias control...WOW!!!
    I currently have a 12au7 in it right now...it's ok but needs "something".
    I also needed to cobble in a repalcement footswitch...would be nice to replace with a REAL switch.
    Thank you again

  4. PS: if you need an Overlord to do the experiment on I could ship you mine (^=
    Thanks yet, again

  5. Eagerly and patiently waiting for update. Can hardly wait.
    My Overlord awaits surgery and seek its rightful position on my pedal board.

  6. same as above - could this be done by myself, a no-techie, or will it need someone experienced?

  7. I designed all the pedals mentioned. The units made by Chandler with "wall wart" power supplies are fake copies and should be avoided (2 hard circuit errors he made). The Overlord was copied by DM out of spite after I left his company and designed the Real Tube. It is, in fact a direct copy of the RT. Actually in the original GP ("Mad as Hell") ad, the pictured Overlord was a repainted RT (TRUE). I've been plagiarized a lot over the years... Actually the bypass system in the RT (aka OL) is very good; but drops the impedance like a direct box would in bypass. True Bypass is somewhat over rated IMO, as I've never had a pro complain about the TD with the high impedance ground referencing switching scheme. (reduces pops). Best wishes, BK Butler

    1. Wow! So cool of u to comment Mr. Butler! It is sad that u have been plagarized as much as u have and I believe u deserve much more respect and kudos than u recieve for your work. I am a longtime fan of your designs and believe u were way ahead of the times in your work. I still have some of your rack gear from the 80's I have had since new and will never part with. Thank You for your awesome designs and contributions to music history. People just don't realize how many great recordings have been made with your gear but I'm sure you do and that is something u must take great pride in and the imitators and plagarizers can not take from you. EVER! Ihave never been able to afford/acquire a Tube Driver and recently picked up an overlord in hopes of getting near that sound.Am going to modidy it to your specs and add bias control and go from there.Again Thank You for your great ear, knowledge, and designs and all the joy u have given to me personally by playing through your gear.(esp. the BlueTube)! David G. From KY

  8. Hi Fred,
    Did you eventually modify the overlord?
    I'm quite interested as I currently received an noisy overlord myself and am about to do a maintenance on it. nothing spectacular, just caps and shielded wiring. but I am curious if you eventually added the bias control and/or changed the amps?
    Personally I would keep the buffer and would leave the Mid control unaltered, since I find it of great use.
    Kind regards, Tom D. from Antwerp (Belgium)


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