• Buffalo FX Carrera review

    Buffalo FX Carrera Overdrive

    Every time I come across a new overdrive I always ask myself – Do we really need another overdrive pedal? You probably have a couple on your board already and a handful laying in a box somewhere. Still, I’m always excited when Buffalo FX comes out with something new and their most recent offering is indeed an overdrive. The Carrera. Here’s my review.

    I’m a huge fan of the stuff Buffalo FX make (yep, I might be a little biased here…). The TD-X and Patriot are some of my all time favourite effects and while we’re certainly not talking about reinventing the wheel, Buffalo FX main man Steve has a unique way of tackling classics with a new, and often much needed, spin.

    In recent years I’ve gone from a typical early/mid 70’s setup, with mids scooped fuzz and boosters, to more mids humped and cutting pedals. I still try my best to create those raw and edgy tones but nowadays I need big fat tones, with lots of presence and less struggle.

    The Carrera address this issue. You want that tube amp chime but with enough mid range and presence to effortlessly cut through the mix regardless of what amp and pickups you have.

    The Carrera feature controls for volume, gain, treble and bass, a bright led and top mounted jacks. It runs on 9V and like all Buffalo FX pedals, it feature true bypass switching.

    Tonally, the Carrera sits somewhere between the TD-X and Evolution (or a Boss BD-2 and Rat). Whereas the TD-X can sound a bit thin and bright on some mids scooped high headroom amps, the Carrera has that extra mids hump that maintains the character and warmth of the pedal.

    On some amps, the Evolution can sound a bit flat and the higher gain settings a bit too bright, but although with less gain on tap, the Carrera sounds creamy and fat when you crank it. For the same high gain tones you get from the Evolution though, you might want to pair the Carrera with a booster.

    The Carrera is the perfect link between the TD-X and Evolution and the fact that it can do similar tones but with a bit more mid range and compression, makes it perhaps even more versatile than the other two.

    As a clean booster, with the gain low and the treble and bass around 2 o’clock, the Carrera adds a nice chime and fat low end to single coils in particular. It’s almost like engaging a transparent compressor that just makes everything pop out a bit more.

    Raising the gain and volume to around noon, while backing off the treble a bit, produce a crunchy tube-like tone that responds incredibly well to your picking and guitar volume. Light picking just adds a bit of sparkle but dig really deep into the strings and you get this really nice attack and crunch.

    This is probably where the TD-X and Carrera is overlapping to some extent but again, the Carrera has that little extra mid range that makes it easier to set up on some of the more scooped amps and bedroom levels in particular.

    There’s not a huge amount of gain available, both the TD-X and Evolution has considerably more, but the Carrera is fully capable of producing some powerful tones, with tons of sustain. The bass and treble controls also allow you to finely tune the gain and balance. Obviously, with a pair of humbuckers you can easily turn the Carrera into a loud and aggressive distortion pedal.

    I really don’t have anything to put my finger on here. Again, Buffalo FX has managed to create a pedal that, at least for me, fits right into my setup and solve some of the issues I’ve had with similar sounding overdrives. If you’re looking for those classic tube amp sounds, with a bit of mids, high end sparkle and impressive dynamics, then look no further.

    See buffalo-fx.com for more info.

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36 Responsesso far.

  1. Bjorn,
    I currently own both a TD-X and a Tree of Life based on your recommendation. I find the ToL to have more kids than the TD-X, which I like, but I much prefer the gain structure of the TD-X. Is the Carrera the happy middle ground between these two do you think? I’m playing a MIM Strat with CS69/SSL5 combo into a Laney L5T-112.

    Thanks!

  2. Phil B says:

    Hi Bjorn,

    I’m thinking about either getting a Carrera or a TD-X for my setup (Hiwatt T20 into a V30 cab) …
    I have the PowerBooster already, which acts as my clean boost “always-on-pedal” right now and I intend to use it that way in the future. The main OD I use, also in combination with the PowerBooster, is the Keeley Phat Mod on a fairly high gain setting. While it does sound nice I’m starting to feel it’s a bit too compressed for my liking …

    That’s why I am looking into getting another OD pedal with less compression and a bit of mid range maybe?
    Based on this would you rather recommend the Carrera, the TD-X or maybe even the Supa Drive?

    Cheers and hope you are well,
    Phil

    • Bjorn says:

      The Supa Drive has a classic scooped character so very little mids goining on. urning up the pre gain adds a hint of compression but not much. The TDX has more of that amp breakup not unlike the old Plexis but less mids and compression. Very flat and transparent. The Carrera is sort of a beefed up TDX, with much more high mids and compression. Based on your setup I’d go for the TDX.

      • Phil B says:

        Alright thank you for your answer, I had the same feeling.
        Just to find one right now haha Steve wrote on the website a couple of days ago he is out of parts, so the whole production is halted :-/

      • Phil B says:

        Got my TD-X a few days ago, a german dealer still had one luckily.
        Tested it a few hours now and my god is it GOOD!!! Exactly what I was looking for :) That thing can’t produce any bad sounds, even with Lo and Hi turned up and down fully and those controls shape the sound immensly.
        No fizzy sounds, chords ring out beautifully, even on higher gain settings and there’s just that clarity in the sound also, because it doesn’t compress the sound too much. The CS 69s on my Strat shine trough with their glassy, transparent character but if I swap to the Duncan SSL-5 … oh man … it’s rock city haha

        I like to use it with the gain at like 12 or 1 o’clock, that seems to be the sweetspot either way.

        Thanks again for the advice, Bjorn, I won’t regret this investment for sure :P

  3. Gabriel Tate says:

    Any chance you can review the Buffalo FX Propeller?

  4. Parker D. says:

    Hi, Bjorn!

    Any idea how this bad boy would sound with a Hiwatt Custom 50 through a WEM 4×12? That’s what I gig with, and this thing sounds super sweet in your demo. Thanks for everything you do!

    • Bjorn says:

      Hi Parker! I think it would go nicely with the amp. Sounds great with my Reeves Custom 50. It’s basically a Tube Driver with a bit more mid range.

  5. James says:

    …also, have you had an opportunity to test drive (hehe) the MI Audio Super Blues Pro?

    Due to it’s range and price point, it could be an option for Gilmour enthusiasts on a more modest budget.

  6. James says:

    Hi Bjorn,
    Enjoying your work.
    You give high praise to the Vick ToL. How would you compare the Carerra to it as far as enjoying the tones?

    On less mi rangey, bluesy el84 amps, which OD would you go for (of any) and what distortion would you combine it with nail killer Gilmour tones?
    Cheers

    • Bjorn says:

      The Carrera has an overall more compressed and mid rangy tone. The ToL has a bit more open sounding character and more gain. Both pedals will go nicely with your amp. Personally I prefer the ToL.

  7. Steven Reed says:

    Hi Bjorn,

    I’m trying to decide between the Buffalo fx Carrera and the Vick Audio Tree of Life. I play a PRS Starla (mostly single coil) through a ’68 Fender Custom Vibrolux Reverb (on the vibrato channel). I would use the pedal for mostly low/medium gain sounds. Probably 65% rhythm playing and 35% leads and fills. Would appreciate your advice on the benefits/drawbacks of each.

    Thanks,
    Steve

    • Bjorn says:

      You could go either way I guess. Both should fit your setup nicely. The Carrera is a tad brighter but you have the two EQ controls. The ToL is a bit ore open sounding but again, they’re similar.

  8. Carlos says:

    Hello Bjorn,

    Great tone in this review. Very smooth sounding. What I love about the On An Island album. Question. How does this compare to the Wampler Plexidrive?

    Thanks,

    Carlos

    • Bjorn says:

      The Plexi is brighter and has more compression, still they’re fairly similar, especially when you turn up the gain on the Plexi.

  9. Toby Harris says:

    Hi Bjorn,so you reckon this could sound great on a prri due to the mid hump?

  10. Maycon Costa says:

    Hello Bjorn. I see that it always takes incredible shades of several drivers, does the pickup you use have the most influence on that final tone?
    Thank you. I’ve learned a lot from you! :)

    • Bjorn says:

      No I don’t think so. They Carrera has a distinct character so what you hear is very much the gain structure of the pedal.

  11. Brian Miller says:

    Another winner of a review, Bjorn! I really dig your playing & how much Gilmour has impacted you as a player, & wish your reviews were a little longer sometimes so I could hear more of your playing! But I’ve got the Airbag & Solo stuff for that…
    You solved the “seagull” sound mystery for me some years ago, and I’ve been hooked ever since. Thanks for the kick ass content, and keep on keepin’ on, brother!

  12. Jaap Kroijenga says:

    Hey Bjorn,
    This beautiful
    overdrive works exactly how you discribed it in your review. For me it was the missing link of tone between the other 4 buffalo pedals I have. I”m using it together with the Power Booster and for solo’s with the Evolution or TDX. I have the feeling that these pedals make the sound of my VOX ac15c1 also together with my Cali 76 tx compressor like the sound of a boutique amp.

    Instead to go on holidays, i want to buy an amp and my top 3 are, Reeves Space cowboy, Magnatone panoramic stereo and one of the 3rd Power amps. I’m playing in a small music homeroom 4 by 2.5 meters. maybe you can give me some advice. Thank you for your great work on this website. I reading it everyday, that’s my daily routine.

    • Bjorn says:

      I haven’t tried the Magnatone so I can’t really tell. The Space Cowboy is closer to a Marshall than a Hiwatt but it should provide enough headroom for pedals. You might also want to check out the Lionheart amps from Laney.

  13. Brad Roller says:

    Sounds like a mix between a power boost and tube driver :) love it! Love the univibe on top!

  14. Martin says:

    Hey Bjorn,
    I was referred by Steve at BuffaloFX as he believes you’re the best placed to answer my question :
    If you had to keep only 3 pedals among of all BuffaloFX collection, which ones will cover the most ground for pop-rock used individually and stacked (and in which order to optimize stacking) ?
    My best regards and kudos to your amazing website and tasty playing ;)
    Martin

  15. Cribs says:

    Hi bjorn!great review!
    Does it go well with mid scooped amp like twin or ac30 and Jc-120?
    I have a problem with my td-x its harsh sound when I plugging into twin. I hope Carrera would be the solution to the problem.

  16. Arya Boustani says:

    Oh what a beautiful breakup! Sounds like some old timer’s warm overdrive tone. Is mids becoming more dominant with gain increase? If so, that’s a very wise decision. Thanks for the review.

  17. David says:

    Not fair… I thought I was pretty much set and here comes your review! ;-)
    Cheers and thanks anyway, I’m not married so no headhache, I’ll just get it haha :)
    Maybe in replacement of the TD-X which for me is too thin and which I find not comparable to the Tube driver with Yugo tubes upgrade, and which sounds much better to my hears!

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