David Gilmour’s mid 70s overdrive tones are recognised by that transparent and glassy character, with fat lows and sparkling top end. That orange, funky looking beast of a pedal defined the sound of so many guitarists of that era. Electronic Orange recently released an updated version of their Bananaboost. Here’s my review.
The mythical pedal is of course the Colorsound Powerboost. Its huge glass shattering tone made its way into many rigs, including those of Jeff Beck and David Gilmour. Listen to Beck’s Blow by Blow or Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here. It’s all over those albums.
While Beck mainly recorded with a Les Paul, David Gilmour would use his Black Strat with the Powerbooster. That combo, with the Hiwatts, created an even brighter and edgier sound and David still base his setup on those tones today, no with the Tube Driver.
The Bananaboost is based on the classic Powerboost circuit and among all the clones out there, this one is probably the most vintage sounding. The new and improved version, can handle 9-12V powering and with a built in voltage doubler, the Bananaboost has plenty of headroom.
The pedal feature a gain control and a powerful two-band bass and treble EQ section. The original Powerbooster didn’t have a volume control so you had to play insanely loud to get the full range of the gain stage. The Bananaboost, like most of the clones out there, feature a handy master volume, allowing you to crank it up to fuzz, without bothering family or neighbours.
The Powerboost, or in this case the Bananaboost, is really three pedals in one – boost, EQ and fuzz. Set all clean, it adds an almost twangy character to the amp. With all the controls set around noon, for a fairly neutral tone, the Bananaboost smooths out those harsh top frequencies, adds a hint of low end boost and the gain, although clean, adds a nice and crispy attack. The effect is subtle but it definitely adds life to the amp.
The Bananaboost doubles nicely as a clean booster for your overdrives and distortions. Set it clean, as described above, perhaps even with the treble increased a bit, and pair it with a Big Muff (placed in front of it) and you’re spot on David Gilmour’s ear piercing tones from the Animals era.
A cool tip is to place the Bananaboost in your amp’s effect loop – if it has one. This will boost the output section of the amp, which compensates for the lack of drive on low neighbour friendly volume. Your amp will sound bigger and fatter.
Increasing the gain up to 3 o’clock and rolling back the treble a tad, produce a tone similar to a tube amp just at the edge of break up. The Banananaboost is incredibly responsive to your playing and cleans up well with the guitar volume backed down a hair or two. Combining this setting with an already cranked amp, will take it right into classic Hendrix, with fat harmonics and sweet singing sustain.
Turning the gain all the way up takes the Bananaboost into fuzz territory. There’s plenty of gain on tap and with the treble rolled down to 9 o’clock and a bit of bass boost, you get a saturated bright fuzz, with rich harmonics and fat lows. Great for capturing David Gilmour Pompeii and Dark Side tones.
Electronic Orange seems to be specialising in recreating classic circuits and they’ve designed some of my favourite pedals, the Pig Hoof and the Moon-Vibe. With the Bananaboost he’s also managed to create a Powerboost clone that captures all the characteristics I like about the original, with a few welcomed adjustments, like more headroom and an overall smoother breakup. This thing sounds really good!
The Bananaboost is highly recommended if you’re looking for a pedal that will capture David Gilmour’s early overdrive tones, with high authenticity, or if you’re just looking for a pedal that will beef up your amp, without colouring your tone. Check out www.electronicorange.cz for more details.
There are many clones of the old Colorsound Powerboost and Overdrive out there. Some close to the original circuit, while others offer the classic tones, with new features.
The Bananaboost and Vick Audio Overdriver are perhaps the closest to the original pedals. They both have that true vintage character, with glassy top end and fat lows. Not much compression going on, although once you crank everything, you will get some nicely saturated compression from a tube amp. The Bananaboost, with its internal voltage doubler, has more headroom, while they both perform excellent as a fuzz. The Bananaboost has a bit smoother breakup though and a tad more gain.
The Buffalo FX Powerboost is perhaps the most versatile of them all, with a warmer tone, more headroom and a much smoother breakup. It goes well with smaller amps and bedroom setups but if you really want those vintage tones, the Bananaboost is the way to go.
The ThroBak Overdrive Boost has long been a favourite of mine, with an overall brighter tone and lots of headroom. What I’ve always liked about this one is that set clean, it has an almost twangy character. The Bananboost does that equally well, and while the ThroBak can sound a bit fizzy when you crank it, the Bananaboost behaves more like a tube amp, with a smoother breakup.
Which of these you should pick depends on whether or not you like that vintage vibe or not and if you’ll be using the pedal on a small bedroom rig or something bigger.