Review: Rodenberg TB Drive Shakedown Special

Nashville-based guitarist Tyler Bryant is no stranger to overdrive and this ‘Bird Skull’ edition of his signature pedal promises plenty of punch.

REVIEW OVERVIEW

Rodenberg TB Drive Shakedown Special
9

SUMMARY

Hugely impressive and versatile, the TB Drive is well-built and lots of fun.

If tours with AC/DC, Guns N’ Roses, Aerosmith, ZZ Top, Rival Sons and more haven’t yet alerted you to the prodigious talents of Tyler Bryant & The Shakedown, perhaps plugging into this latest version of the guitar-toting frontman’s signature pedal will encourage you out from under that rock.

Germany’s Rodenberg Amplification – which produces a comprehensive range of single, dual and triple drive pedals along with Marshall-style amps – first joined forces with Tyler Bryant nearly six years ago. Now in its third cosmetic incarnation but retaining the same sounds, the TB Drive Shakedown Special is a mainstay of Bryant’s live and recording rig.

“I’ve been using this pedal for years and it’s something I really lean on,” he says. “It’s on every electric song The Shakedown has recorded. I haven’t met an amp or guitar I didn’t dig this pedal with yet!”

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Dressed in a fetching gold ‘Plexi’ front panel with amp-style jewel lights, the TB Drive is essentially two independent Rodenberg GAS-808 overdrive pedals in one compact box, plus a few clever extras. Alongside the ubiquitous volume, drive and tone controls are bass boost micro-switches, useful for quickly thickening up weak single-coils or adding closed-back heft to your open-back combo.

The left-hand 808 circuit also has a micro-switch marked ‘909’, which significantly ups the gain from the standard mode. Unscrewing a back panel to access hidden switches and trim-pots is a pain, so it’s nice that these features are accessible without having to reach for a screwdriver.

Rodenberg TB Drive Shakedown Special
Of the many ‘extras’, the bass boost micro-switches are useful for quickly thickening up weak single-coils

In use

Standard 808 mode sits firmly in Screamerland and is reminiscent of the gorgeous vocal midrange of a great old TS808 married with the top end punch of a TS9. It’s perfect for soaring riffs and leads and has more than enough clarity to force itself through a busy mix.

Using the TB Drive in combination with a Strat’s controls elicits a vast spectrum of tones from clean boosts, bluesy drives and all points between. The pedal’s thick, harmonically rich lead voice is perfect into a clean ‘blackface’ Fender amp, but it’s even better when paired with a PAF-loaded Les Paul into a cranked ’50s tweed combo.

The real ace up the TB’s sleeve can be found by switching the left-hand circuit to 909 mode. Although it’s definitely still a soft-clipping high-gain overdrive rather than a metal distortion, 909 is rather like running a couple dimed overdrive pedals in series, with tonnes of liquid sustain and squealing harmonics – hours of fun are guaranteed!

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Although this pedal was designed to deliver Tyler Bryant’s signature tone, there’s still plenty of scope to find your own voice. A superbly dynamic overdrive, it’s equally at home driving a clean amp or pushing an already driven amplifier into meltdown.

Rodenberg TB Drive Shakedown Special
No plain LEDS here – you get amp-style jewel lights

Key Features

  • PRICE €199
  • DESCRIPTION Dual overdrive pedal, made in Germany
  • CONTROLS 2x drive, 2x volume, 2x tone, 2x bass boost mini-toggle. Additional mini-toggle for 909 mode (left side only)
  • FEATURES True-bypass switching, 9-18V DC mains power only
  • DIMENSIONS 120 x 94 x 34mm
  • CONTACT rodenberg-amplification.com

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