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This is sort of a review and a guide of my recent experiences...hope it's useful.
I have long had a love hate relationship with BKTD's.
They can be mushy, they can be noisy, they can be glorious and unmatched and a lot of it is down to which one, what valve and where you chain it.
I've finally managed to make it all work after 10 years of trying so I thought it would be worth sharing.
This is not a simple thing and what I've arrived at is via luck rather than good intent.
1. Models: there are many versions out there but the best ones are the BK/Chandler branded walwart ones, the '911' version (current) and, IMO, the dual-branded BK/Chandler Rack Version with middle, bias and contours. The other models, esp Tube Works, are a different circuit and, IMO, not as dynamic or clear.
2. Placement: the 911 model has an internal 240v tranny which is particularly useful if you want to hear the local mini cabs or of you want hum and noise everywhere. The key is shove the TD away from everything by at least 3 inches all around the casing and then do not put the mains lead parallel or too close to the signal lead. Placing after a buffer works v well.
3. Tubes: I thought this was all snake oil and that every 12AX7 or 12AU7 would sound identical in the pedal. How wrong was I? I managed to find some Mullard CV4003 12AU7's which I had heard Eric Johnson favoured in his TD's. Result: endless sustain, no noise, more control over drive levels, compression to die for and harmonics to light the night sky.
4. Controls: they're very sensitive- the gain will change dramatically over one detent notch on the pot. Set all at 12 noon and then just gently tweak. Great OD is with Vol at 50%, Bass 60%, Treble 40% Gain 60%. Great Boost is Vol 60%, EQ the same and Gain at 30%.
5. Getting rid of the mush: OK, this might sound a bit OTT but the warmth can easily morph into a mushiness. If you run a treble booster after, the results are incredible- harmonics, mids and clarity like you'd not believe. I am using my Cornish ST2 set to the shimmer setting for this. I always run the treble boost after them now.
6. Stacking 2 together into a cleanish amp: this is magical. You can get virtually every drive sound you'll ever need, from Muff to boost., The range of harmonics are quite staggering as is the rumble and sustain, and the compression you get is wonderful.
In all my years I've bought probably 10 of these, searching for 'that' tone and never found it., But with the changes I've made I am so happy I sold 2 Cornish pedals for the TDs.
They truly have a warmth that no other pedal can match, you just got to work with them to get the best out of them
Hope this helps.
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