BD2: the Blues driver H20 Mod

She's shy, until you get to know her....

Here is the review!
I just got back from 3 services, playing lead in all of them, and here are my thoughts on my newly-modded BD2.

First of all, this is a HOT looking pedal. She has a brilliant LED that just makes it gleam. As my new buddy Karl is apt to say “Look how cool that looks! That even looks like tone!” This thing looks SHARP, and is a very nice contrast to my GREEN TS9.

And talk about tone!!! WOW. First of all, I am (now I am) a die hard TS9 fan. Its such a smooth, soft, polite overdrive. Very creamy, very fresh, and you can get great tones from it for almost any style music. Everyone in guitar-dom has played a TS9 and recorded with one. I love my TS9. This is not a TS9.
First of all, the midrange hump is absent. Well, it might be there, but after playing a TS for so long, I do not notice a hump at all.  Also, this pedal is built on Boss asymmetrical clipping. That basically means that the pedal is a bit harsher sounding, with more dynamic harmonics within its breakup. This BD sounds more true to my Tubes breaking up, but with more dirt- and none of the TS9’s politeness. On low gain settings it has a light “sparkle” in it, due to the harmonics and asymmetrical clipping. On  high gain settings… well, lets just say that you have a wide range of OD into distortion.

What amazed me the most is how dynamic this pedal is (mostly due to this mod). I was playing with gain about 12 o’clock to 1. I rolled back my guitar’s volume to about half and had a fairly clean sound with just a slight sparkle. But if I hit a riff hard, snap a string, or power chord, it responds with more crunch. Then I roll the volume up and its as nasty and dirty as ever.
With the volume up, I played with palm muting, striking the chords lightly. The BD was kind back, with just a hint of sparkle, until i hit hard, and then a nice overdriven sound came back. What a pedal!

Due to the harmonics and lack of midhump, this pedal does sound more transparent than a TS. On low to mid gain, I heard “MY” guitar rather than an effect. This is nice and scary, as I realized one of my lead riffs I have been playing for a year now isn’t as smooth sounding/smoothly played as I heard in the past when I used a compressed distortion pedal.

Compared to a TS: This BD is louder. I usually have my level on the TS at 12 to 1 o’clock. The BD I kept at 9-10. This pedal has more gain available compared to a TS. I’d say on the scale of the TS9 (808 “brown” mod) the BD gain goes from 1 to 16 on the TS scale. This pedal has NO cream to it what so ever, with barely a mid hump (if any). Also a hint more transparent. This is the main difference between it and the TS.

That said, I used the TS9 into the BD for a lead boost. Happiness cannot explain what my ears heard. I am used to the TS9 into Analogman’s DS1. This always gave me a smooth crispy, glistening sound. Very smooth distortion. Distorted, but very polite. Now, its smooth, but with a hint of rudeness. The harmonics break slower and louder than the DS1, and I was able to get a couple of screams by barely trying. A very noticable decay of clipping/harmonics, unlike the steady rapid clipping of the DS1 mod. Very FUN. Oh, and the new parts they put in this thing (whatever they are), have done alot to reduce the stock noise. There is very little noise, except at high gain settings, and when the tone is all the way in the treble. A very quiet pedal.

Short mods discussion:
Again, there are 3 main modifiers:
Analogman: He replaces many of the cheap components with more audiophile type pieces. He mentions a secret transistor set that he gets from Japan that really cleans up the sound. AM’s philosophy is to get the effect to sound less like an effect and more like whatit is suppossed to be. He does not add stuff to make a “new” sound. He tries to get the most “analog” or vintage sound out of the pedal. I own a couple of AM pedals and have been extremely content with them. I’m sure I would’ve liked this one as well. I just saw differing views on this one. And there existed better reviews on the BD I ultimately bought.
Robert Keeley: He perhaps the most well known modder today. He replaces and puts in several diodes. I believe he also used an LED for “Phat Mode” use. I owned/have owned several Keeley pedals. I have played through this pedal. I kept his DS1, but ditched his TS9. His LED usage and bass response mods all makes his pedals sound… the same. Alone, they sound fine, but when you test his pedals in a row, they sound almost like the same pedal but with differing levels of distortion and mid hump. I don’t like his bass response and am not a fan of the LED clipping mod. I don’t think it sounds a thing like real tubes as he states. I swear, you could play 8 differing TS mods and I could pick his out. There is a definite “Keeley sound” which I don’t like. That said, I still want his compressor. And thats my story.
Monte Allums/CMATMODS: I found phenomenal reviews on this “H20 plus” mod. He replaces many of the cheap components, but also adds an opamp that acts as a great tone buffer and keeps the hiss of the pedal quiet. Since I chose this one, you can obviously tell I am happy with it. For those of you who are brave and adventurous, Monte Allums sells this as  DIY kit for $26.99. For those (like me) who don’t have the time, know-how, or hardware you can get Chad Matthews of CMATMODS to install it for you.

In fact, I think the only thing I am disappointed with is that I really want two BDs now. One set low gain (for natural chord strums, hint of dirt) and the other dirtied out for heavy power chords or leads. Sigh… I have the worst case of G.A.S. right now!

and for those still pondering about the BD2, remember that Lincoln Brewster- in all his awesome, holy coolness- uses it as his primary OD, and soloing drive. AND THATS JUST A STOCK BD2!!!!

“Splendid.” as Karl says.

5 Responses

  1. Great review, brother. Makes me want to try one with the Allums mod. Maybe soon!

  2. Look for my review of his Boss compressor mod coming up🙂
    I do want to try his DS1 Trigain, it has incredible reviews as well. Apparently its like the Analogman DS1 and Keeley all in one, with a switch to go between them. Well, I’ll get to that later.

    You know me, I can talk effects all night!

  3. […] gets on the new board. The one I decided I  would use least was the BD2 mod I have (see link here: BD2 MOD) But OH MY the low gain leads on it were amazing. In as much as I hated the rhythm sounds out of […]

  4. I now am using the Zendrive in ways that I was using the BD2. It works better!!

  5. Cool review! I have a BD-2 modded by Doob-tone and it’s a killer pedal. I use it all the time. Perfect for bluesy stuff.

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