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.

Rodenberg TB Drive Shakedown Special

The TB Drive is essentially two independent Rodenberg GAS-808 overdrive pedals in one compact box

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Review Overview

Our rating


Our verdict

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!”

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!

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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