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


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

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