Very early Blue Tube by B.K. Butler | The Canadian Guitar Forum

Very early Blue Tube by B.K. Butler

Discussion in 'Effects Pedals, Strings and more' started by Tone Chaser, Nov 30, 2019.

  1. Tone Chaser

    Tone Chaser Gold Member

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2014
    Location:
    Windsor, Ontario
    An friend/acquaintance, is closing up/selling his resale shop, and I stopped in to catch up, before he is gone.

    I saw this early ‘80’s pedal. I asked if it worked and how much. Correction, mid to late eighties.

    He told me a friend checked it out and it worked. Told me to take it home to try it.
    image.jpg

    It plugs in to an outlet and has a tube in it. I tried this kind of thing in the mid eighties and took them back to the store.

    This one needs TLC. Very low volume output and crackling pots. Sucks on some amps, and a real gem on others. The key words are “Real Tube Enhancer”. Kind of like my Mesa Toneburst, but servicing the pedal is a must. It needs full disassembly, Deoxit everywhere, silicone caulk removal that has been plastered everywhere.

    I am taking it back later today to discuss my findings and pricing. I don’t need it, but it is really cool with Vibro Champ.
     
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2019
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  2. Frenchy99

    Frenchy99

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2016
    Location:
    North Pole
    Cool … waiting for your update...
     
  3. mhammer

    mhammer

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2007
    Location:
    Ottawa, Ontario
    Steve Daniels at Small Bear sent me this clone of the BK Butler tube driver to try out. He was thinking of carrying it. I wasn't impressed. I have no idea if there are any design differences between the 4-knob and 5-knob tube drivers, apart from the midrange control. The Eleca version offers a switch that reduces gain enough to be considered a "clean" booster, on top of the stock overdrive function. Unlike the BK Butler units, it has a vent for the tube, although that seems to be primarily for marketing purposes rather than any needed heat dissipation. It also lets you see the orange LED underneath the 12AX7, that makes it look like the tube comes on instantaneously.

    If the unit shapes the input signal to derive a pleasing overdrive from a tube amp, great,. But do not expect it to instantly deliver "tube sound". Certainly not with a 12V supply.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
  4. Tone Chaser

    Tone Chaser Gold Member

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2014
    Location:
    Windsor, Ontario
    I talked with the shop owner, expressed my concerns, and explained what my experience was with the pedal.

    I don’t need it, but I think that I can get it back to a standard. A little back and forth on the negotiation, and I got it in the ballpark that I felt it was worth.

    I think of this unit as a tube preamp pedal, that offers cleanish gain and fatter tonestack, when used with an amp that compliments.

    gut shots for now
    image.jpg image.jpg image.jpg
     
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  5. Tone Chaser

    Tone Chaser Gold Member

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2014
    Location:
    Windsor, Ontario
    I removed the silicone caulk from the tube and circuit board.
    Now the tube can be removed, socket cleaned. Just being able to pull the tube and reseat it a couple of times already made a big difference volume wise.

    image.jpg
     
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2019
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  6. Scottone

    Scottone Gold Member

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2006
    Location:
    Toronto, Ontario, Canada
    I just picked up the rack version of the same unit. Haven't messed around with it too much, but like it so far.
     
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  7. Tone Chaser

    Tone Chaser Gold Member

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2014
    Location:
    Windsor, Ontario
  8. mhammer

    mhammer

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2007
    Location:
    Ottawa, Ontario
    Given the proximity of the transformer to the rest of the circuit, I have to ask - what's the hum like?
     
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  9. Tone Chaser

    Tone Chaser Gold Member

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2014
    Location:
    Windsor, Ontario
    Surprisingly not that bad. It is more of an organic tube amp kind of a hum, slight but noticeable when things are at idle.

    Some drive pedals add a lot of noise. I am not telling you anything new, you are amongst the most experienced.

    Somewhere over the next few days, later in the evening, I will go over every nut, washer, pot, input, etc.

    One of the rivets holding the transformer in place didn’t get a washer like the other side, and is a little loose. I read somewhere that tightening up those fastening points would help some.

    The pots click in small increments as you turn the knobs, giving a nice quality feel, almost satisfying.

    As I mentioned earlier, it seems like it either works well with an amp, or not. My Mesa Express 5 25 Plus, instantly sounded bad with it. However, I moved on quickly to another amp, then another, and so on. More time needs to be spent with every amp in the collection, and then the introduction of other pedal, placement, etc.

    I makes the small modded ‘74 Fender Bronco sound like it has larger iron and fuller speaker, and a little introduction of hum is evident. That is with the drive at noon or so, and the volume anywhere from noon to full. Amp volume can be turned down from 5 to 3, and guitar volume can be rolled down at the knob. Moderate drive that has an organic tube flavour can be had.

    Hum is greatly reduced from the as found condition, and volume has significantly increased. I will work on the pedal to get it up to snuff and roll a few tube types, etc.
    I have found placement of the pedal, near the power bar, or other power supplies, can induce more hum.

    I had a Nady tube type of pedal back in the eighties, when I had a Roland Jazz Chorus. I didn’t readily like it with my favourite Stratocaster. Both the amp and pedal went back to the store eventually, and I stuck with the GK250 ML combo and a Fender Concert 210.

    I am more patient now, and willing to explore options. Time will tell, how much use the Blue Tube pedal gets in reality. The price I bought it for makes it forgiving.
     
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  10. jb welder

    jb welder

    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2010
    Location:
    Melonville, Canada
    Around the time these came out, and everything had to be 'tube enhanced' we would always pull the tube to see which ones stopped working, and which ones kept plugging along without the decorative glass. ;)
    Agree with you about using it to add a little, rather than a lot.
     
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