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9 x Blue Means The Blues!

Blues Driver Style OverdriveBoostBoost and OverdriveBossKeeley EngineeringLunastoneMad Professor EffectsMenatoneMI EffectsMXROverdrivePine Box CustomsTubescreamer Style OverdriveVFE Pedals+-
2019GPX9BlueMeansBlues700.jpg

Bonus Round! I hadn’t initially intended to do a Blue colourway feature off the back of my ’Pedal Primary Colour Wheel’ article, as I thought the exercise might turn out to be a little more tricky than the Red, Orange, Yellow and Green. Yet I’ve kind of been ’in the zone’ with these different colourways so I kind of proceeded on down that road.

 

I was right in that it took more research for Blue Pedals to find those that matched my criteria - and I persevered until I had a full house - and a jolly interesting one it is at that! I’d wholly forgotten about Mad Professor’s Hand Wired Sky Blue Overdrive, and while I already have the Keeley Freak Fuzz Modded Boss BD-2 Blues Driver and Keeley Retro Super Germanium Phat Mod Overdrive - there are quite a few cool discoveries here that I’ve added to my wishlist.

 

Said wishlist already featured the MI Effects Super Blues Pro and VFE Blues King, and to that I will add the Mad Professor Sky Blue and MXR Il Diavolo. I really like the LunaStone Blue Drive, Menatone Hand Wired Blue Collar and the Pine Box Custom Ahab - but you really can’t have them all! Even if you had endless financial resources - there would still be a problem as to where and how you would store all those pedals, and I have over 300 as it is!

 

Pedals are listed alphabetically by brand as usual:


Boss BD-2 Blues Driver Robert Keeley Freak Fuzz / Phat Mod (rare/discontinued) - c£175 for lightly used example via Reverb.com

The Blues Drive is one of my all-time favourite mid-gain overdrives and I particularly like it in Waza Craft and Keeley Phat Modded varieties. My own special edition has the Freak Fuzz Mod + Phat Mod combination for lots of beautiful fat and fuzzy tones. The Blues Driver is a an absolute classic as far as I'm concerned - and my rig has always included one in the lineup.


Keeley Retro Super Germanium Phat Mod Overdrive - £179 (See note at base of article concerning this pedal's colour)

I acquired this in the very first limited edition batch - but it seems several more batches have been made since, and this is not quite the limited edition any more it started out as! Nevertheless it's a fantastic derivation of Robert's own derivation of the Blues Driver circuit - the Phat Mod Overdrive - here with extra Germanium warmth and goodness. I'm a sucker for Germanium textures, and I really like this variety of pedal - the cool graphics / paint-job and machined aluminium knobs make this a highly sensory experience - still pipped though by the above specific version of Blues Driver!


LunaStone Blue Drive 1 Low Gain Overdrive - £119

I've been aware of Steen Grøntved's LunaStone for a while and featured his innovative 'TrueOverDrive' pedals on this site a few times. The Blue Drive 1 is a lovely bluesy sounding overdrive with plenty of character in its breakup - perfect for slow-burn bluesy licks. Like all 3 of these first listed overdrives you get just the classic 3 Volume | Tone | Drive knobs - but that's all you need.


Mad Professor Sky Blue Overdrive - £189

I'm so used to looking at the Mad Professor Factory Pedals page that I sort of totally forgot about this solely Hand Wired Overdrive until right now. It has a really unique control configuration with fairly standard Volume and Distortion dials, but then 'Z' and Texture control to adjust the feel and dynamics of the overdrive. It's one of Mad Professor's germs that I overlooked in my recent 'Best of Mad Professor' roundup - would have had a very hard time squaring this off against the Snow White Auto Wah GB - possibly the overview would have become too drive-heavy, but this is really Mad Professor's specialist subject. I really love the tone and dynamics of this drive, and it's firmly back on the wishlist!


Menatone The Blue Collar Overdrive - $229

This is Hand wired beauty is beefed up Red Snapper circuit with more gain and compression - leading to greater harmonics and sustain - perfect for those smokey bluesy licks. I have always intended to get the Red Snapper as one of the classic benchmarks of 'Transparent' drives. But the Blue Collar is pretty much equally great and obviously based on that same DNA. I would have long since acquired a combination Menatone Fish Factory - if Brian but made it in a compact vertical enclosure - as has been happening at Zvex recently.


MI Effects Super Blues Pro - £142

This is another wishlist long-timer that I've been looking to add to the collection for a while, but other priorities have taken precedence. I'm a huge MI Effects / Michael Ibrahim fan - with 7 of his pedals already in my collection - and this really the last of the current range that I'm interested in - it has a really clever dual 3-way Silicon | Non | Mosfet clipping alongside controls for Volume | Drive | Detail | Body | Trim (Hi-cut). It's just a superbly versatile blues overdrive which I just haven't got around to adding to the collection just yet - but it will certainly happen one day.


Pine Box Customs Ahab V2 Low-Medium Gain Overdrive (Trans Blue) - c£140 Reverb.com

This dark blue colourway is not typical of the Ahab Overdrive - so I was lucky I came across it on Reverb.com - there's just one unique example for sale right now. This is a very simple bluesy / touch-sensitive overdrive with the classic 3 controls Volume | Tone | Gain.


MXR Il Diavolo Custom Shop Overdrive - £125

A really fantastic under-the-radar bluesy overdrive by Italian circuit designer Carlo Sorasio. Not sure MXR promoted this pedal adequately, but it looks to be on the verge of being discontinued with far too few people being exposed to its talents. A relatively simple overdrive with Hi/Low gain switch, and typical Level | Tone | Drive controls - but a beautiful colour to go with its sophisticated and textured tones. This has gone straight onto my wishlist - and is definitely something I will look to add to the collection in the relatively near future - especially if I come across a great offer!


VFE Blues King (discontinued) - $199 when new

This is Peter Rutter's version of the Marshall Blues Breaker circuit - in his usual highly evolved super tone-shaping 6-controls fashion. Here we have fully variable controls for Tone | Bass | Drive | Hard Clipping | Level | Soft Clipping. The unique thing here is the interplay between the Hard and Soft clipping dials - which can yield some really interesting textures. I've been patiently waiting for a version in similar livery to the above to pop up on Reverb.com - we've had a few of these pop up over the years, but none with the particular colourway and graphics that I like - but I'm a patient guy and I'm happy to wait until the right one turns up eventually!


Final Thoughts

These pedals are a mix of several different circuits here - some derive from Blues Drivers, Blues Breakers and Tube Screamers, and some are entirely their own thing - enhanced by specific circuit components, clipping options and unique tone-shaping controls.

 

As already mentioned I have the two first listed here - the Keeley Freak Fuzz Modded BD-2 Blues Driver, and Keeley Retro Super Germanium Phat Mod. And there are 4 more on my wishlist - 2 long-termer - the MI Effects Super Blues Pro and VFE Blues King, and two recent additions on the basis of this overview - the Mad Professor Sky Blue and MXR Il Diavolo. I feel the latter will be the easiest for me to get my hands on at a decent price - actually the Super Blues Pro often comes up on Reverb.com at appealing prices - but I've always had different priorities at the time.

 

As always, I will bide my time and wait for the right circumstances to add more of these to my Tone Library. I'm really pleased with this selection - which took quite some time to research and assemble - each of these pedals sounds fantastic and works exceptionally well within the Blues oeuvre!

 

Which one/s do you like the look of?

 

Update! - James Polston corrected me in that the Retro Super is actually mostly black - it just looks blue under certain lights - I don't know why, but I was convinced mine was a midnight blue - possibly there is a tinge of blue in there somewhere - by default and strictly speaking though it is black - but then black as a colour is often just deep dark indigo - which is essentially a blue pigment anyway. So it's really up to you if you choose to disqualify said pedal from this listing - I'm going to keep it in!

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