Real Tube Overdrive

real tube overdrive

About the BK Butler Real Tube Overdrive guitar pedal

The “Real Tube Overdrive” is a BK Butler guitar pedal manufactured by “Tube Works” back in the 70’s and 80’s. The image above shows my recently purchased Real Tube pedal case (disassembled), because in the video below I’m about to show you how to clean it.

The Tube Works Real Tube distortion overdrive pedal is near “legendary”, probably because Eric Johnson, Billy Gibbons, and Joe Satriani are known for using it. Since the design is no longer licensed to Tube Works (or they’re no longer making it), the devices have become sought after guitar pedals. Mr. BK Butler is still making these pedals today and his calls his real tube overdrive the “Tube Driver” pedal. You can find it here. You’ll also find that the Tube driver is $299 direct from BK Butler Audio, and the bias version is $434.

Now Butler says that the Real Tube overdrive pedals made by Tube Works from back in the day are unreliable. Supposedly he gets inquiries to fix them all the time – and won’t. I wouldn’t either if I was selling them new for $300-400 a pop. There were several models made, you might find the “Blue Tube” by Tube works, or the “limited Gold Tube Works overdrive” (I don’t know how limited that really was). I admit, there can be problems with pedals 20-30 years old, but the original ones that they made (like my picture) are built practically out of solid cast iron and wired to last a century. Unless it was dropped from a 10 story building, or put in a lake – I can’t see you having any problems with it (used), or being something minor you couldn’t fix on your own.

Here’s the thing – the Tube Works BK Butler Real Tube Overdrive guitar pedal was built with a 12AX7 tube inside for a British tone. A very heavy, very distorted, and in my opinion very muddy tone. It’s nice, if you want that 70’s “Black Sabbath” sound – but IMHO, that’s all you’re gonna get. In the video you’ll see I purchased a NOS 12AU7 tube online, and installed it in the pedal. While I had it apart – I used DeOxit to clean all the volume pots, and the thing is stellar! It sings for blues, with a few adjustments on either the pedal or guitar volume, I can be SRV, Tom Petty, AC/DC – the thing is simply amazing! The most beautiful thing of all is that you can get this sound on any amp solid state, or tube – and at any volume! I have a lot of pedals, but I can tell that the Real Tube Overdrive will be in my collection for many years to come!

Real Tube Overdrive Video Review

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f88DWNVLo8Q

Find yourself a “Real Tube Overdrive” on eBay today!

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Max Butler Amp Review

This is the *Official* Max Butler Amp Review page. I’m proud to say that this is the first EVER video interview placed online with the legendary Max Butler, the master guitar amp builder located in Eaton Rapids, Michigan (MI). I’m providing this interview series so musicians can finally hear commentary directly from this master amp builder. So often online, what you can find are only blog reviews and forum posts from musicians. I want people to be able to hear directly from Max Butler himself commentary about his amp builds. If you provide comments and questions below, I’ll add more interviews with him in the future to answer those questions as well.

There are many cookie cutter amps to be had at Guitar Center, and the great bulk of the moderately priced ones now come straight from China. If you decide to buy a nice “boutique amp” from a master amp builder, odds are you’re probably going to have to pay $3,000+.

Max Butler has been building amps for 28 years, and for the entire duration has barely charged enough to cover the cost of parts alone. That’s right – he’s not even making a profit. He hand wires the amps point-to-point style, and hand builds the cabinets, installs the speakers, and covers them in the tolex covering of your choice. His love of musicians, and passion for amp-building is very evident.

Max Butler doesn’t have a web site, he has never advertised in any way – he has been building amps for 28 years out of his Eaton Rapids basement shop merely by the word of mouth. And during that time he has almost always consistently had orders for new amps. He estimates he’s built between 300-400 amps to date. I own one currently – and another is on order.

Max Butler builders 2 kinds of tube-based guitar amps, the “Silver Hammer” (based on a 50 watt Plexi), and the “Swamp”. In the Part 1 of my interview with Max he talks about the Silver Hammer amp and how it began – because he wanted a Plexi with a Master volume. It’s a 2 channel amp with clean and distortion channels, reverb, and footswitch. It has 1 volume and 1 master per channel, in addition to presence, bass, middle, and treble controls. Max has built Silver Hammer amps for Eric Johnson, CC Deville, Billy Gibbons, and other famous players.

Max Butler’s newest guitar amp, the “Swamp” is his newest creation – which he talks the most about in Part 2 of the interview. The “Swamp” amp comes in 15, 30, and 50 watt configurations of a standalone head on top of a speaker cabinet. I say “newest”, because he’s built about 60 of these (out of the 400) over the last 6 years or so.

I currently own a Silver Hammer 50 watt amp (which I will review here soon), and I have a 30 watt Swamp on order (which I will review when I receive it as well). When I pickup my Swamp, I plan to interview Max again and ask him to (re)tell the stories of amps he’s built for famous players, as well as to provide some commentary about various tubes.

Harmony Central Reviews of Butler Amps

Lasing State Journal print interview with Max Butler from 2006

I bought my Silver Hammer amp off Craigslist from another player who had way too much gear. I bought it on sight alone after reading the online reviews – which led me to do some research to find the man who built it. I made the 90 minute trip to meet Max Butler in person last summer, so I could have him give it the once-over and make sure it was in tip-top shape. Not only did I meet probably the nicest man I’ve ever met, he was very gracious – and we talked guitars and amps for a few hours. Once he had my amp for a week, he found there was a problem with the transformer – and he replaced it with a Bassman transformer, replaced the power tubes and one preamp tube, AND recapped the amp for $127.00!! Unbelievable!! He even replaced one tube socket he thought was flaky. Just about all his amps are $1,000, you simply can’t buy boutique amps of this quality ANYWHERE for that kind of money.

Please enjoy the following interviews with legendary master amp builder Max Butler.

Max Butler Amps Interview Part 1

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PpAimeFMvYk

Max Butler Amps Interview Part 2

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ROd07izyr_I

If you own a Max Butler amp – please comment below. If you would like to comment on his interviews, or ask Max a question please comment below as well.

If you would like to contact Max directly, please Use My Contact Form – and I’ll reply with his phone number so you can call him.

Max – if you read this, thanks again – for the interview, for your amps, and for all you do for musicians!