• Buffalo FX Supa Driver review

    The classic sounds of the Power Boost has gotten a huge revival over the past decade and clones comes in many shapes and sizes. One of the newer to arrive is the Supa Driver from Buffalo FX. Here’s my review.

    The Power Boost was long a mystery among us Gilmour fans. At least in terms of what overdrive pedal he actually used on those classic 70s albums. The mystery is solved – read more about the Colorsound Power Boost here – and personally, the Power Boost has been one of my all time favourite guitar effects ever since I discovered it.

    David Gilmour used the Colorsound Power Boost for both boost and overdrive between 1972-79. It can be heard on all of the albums and tours from that era and the pedal, or its grey Overdriver counterpart, has even popped up from time to time in the studio in recent decades.

    The Supa Driver is basically a beefed up Power Boost, with the familiar tone and character of the original but with a lot more gain and just a hint of compression.

    In addition to controls for gain, volume, treble and bass, there’s also a pre-gain control, controlling the pre-amp with an additional silicon transistor. It adds to the gain and compression and allow you to finely tune the amount of gain and take the pedal into fuzz territory.

    I’ve always been a huge fan of Buffalo FX and the way that Steve manage to make well-known and sometimes over-cloned circuits and make them his own.

    Like his stock Power Booster, the Supa Driver deliver all the mojo and character of the original Power Boost, with some much welcomed improvements. The bass is focused and tight and the high end is slightly rolled off, allowing you to really crank the pedal, without getting that nasty ice-picky treble bleed.

    The addition of the pre-gain control makes this pedal perhaps more versatile than the stock model and I also like the fact that when you roll the pre-gain past noon, you can hear a bit of compression kicking in, allowing more sustain and an overall smoother tone.

    In the clip I’ve tried to cover as many different tones as possible with just this single pedal. From crunchy clean to fuzz. The Supa Driver also makes an excellent booster for your clean tones or, in combination with other dirt pedals.

    Read more about the Supa Driver at buffalofx.com

28 Responsesso far.

  1. Simone says:

    Hi,
    do you know if Steve it’s still alive? No info about him since may…I’ve paid for a reticon flanger that was supposed to be shipped early on july but no pedal and no info from him (facebook page down, site down, no mail answer).

  2. Tony says:

    Hi Bjorn,

    Will this replicate the original Powerboost with the pre-gain knob dialed back or is it still more compressed?

    Thank you,
    Tony

  3. Søren says:

    My comment somehow dissappeared so I´l try again
    I search for a boostpedal that can go from clean to (at least some) crunch.
    As a fan of Gilmour I´m looking for these sweet low gain tones
    I needs to be very tweak able tonewise, meaning good eq, best if it has both knobs for bass and treble, and it should bevery dynamic with lots of headroom.

    but I have an issue:
    I just hate self noise.
    Self noise is the noise I get when just engaging the pedal, inserted in a almost noiseless rig (Gibson es 3445 td, a very good cable into my Carl Martin Custom Shop 50W, w/ Carl Martin custom 212 cabinet – very clean) – And, for dirt pedals: Not cranked.
    It think it is important, especially with pedals that you tend to use “always on”.

    It seems like the nature of dirt pedals is (and it is understandable) that when cranked you get noise
    Some just gets “hissy..” though…

    But some dirt pedals (and even other types of pedals!) are worse than others.
    and some builders are more aware of this than others.

    recently I talked to Steve from Buffalo, Jan from Emma Electronics, Søren from Carl Martin and Brad from Sarno Music solutions.
    They are all aware of this.

    as you can see it is an obsession and I´m on a mission trying to find a boost/dirt pedal that adds no selfnoise and the smallest amount of “cranked noise”.

    You seem to have tried almost every dirt/boos/OD worth trying..

    I´ve narrowed it down to:
    Buffalo FX – power booster
    + the supa drive, but as I understand it´s not for clean boost?
    Sarno Earth Drive
    Pete Cornish SS3

    Although I´m not sure about theSS3. – if it´s a clean boost too

    and I really like the sound of the Bananaboost

    Haven´t tried any of them – no dealers in my area.

    I have a few dirt pedals and the only one I still feel really good about is the Carl Martin DC Drive. – use it with almost no drive, but have a Carl Martin dual injection in front of it to get stages of dirt.

    What are your thoughts of the mentioned pedals re. noise and maybe other pedals I´ve missed..?

    Best
    Søren

    • Bjorn says:

      Hi Søren, noise is always difficult because noise can be the reason of many things as I’m sure you are aware of. A gain pedal, be it a booster, compressor, overdrive, distortion or fuzz, is by nature noisy. The signal is aomplified coming into the circuit and noise is pretty much what you want from these pedals. They will also aplify noise generated from other pedals or outside interferance. There are tons of different ways to deal with this and obviously careful use of gain, good cables, proper power are crucial. If David would let his guitar just ring out on stage, with a Muff or high gain set Tube Driver it will create hiss, buzz and all kinds of noise but he knows how to control that too by using the guitar volume, volume pedal, palm muting etc.
      As for pedals, a clean booster will generate less noise than a fuzz. Then there’s the circuit. Budget pedals often have more noise, often even when not engaged, compared to high end pedals but this is far from a rule. The TDX is very quiet but the Patriot, from the same maker, is very noisy. Likewise, the Bananaboost is dead silent, while the red Pig Hoof is crazy. Another pedal that I often swear by is the Tree of Life from Vick Audio. Super quiet and it ranges from warm clean boost, much like a Klon, to pretty high gain stuff like an OCD.

      • Søren says:

        Thank you Björn for a thorough answer.
        Feedback from you, Steve a.o. Makes me wiser :-)
        Can you share your experience with the Supa Drive and the power Booster?
        regarding the Supa Drive, Steve from Buffalo Fx told me that there is no real noise when using it at power booster levels, but boosted to 90/100% with the extra preamp it odds have some noise.
        This noise I consider being “the nature of things”. so it sounds very promising to me.
        The power Booster might be the most promising, It fits right in for me, but if the Supsa Drive can “do the power booster” and on top of that add even more hairy stuff, I could be a very versatile solution.
        They sound excellent, at least when you play them :-)

        I´ve heard good things about Vick audio too, the vibe machine v 2 should be dead silent too.
        Earth Drive and Bananaboost are very tempting too..

        And thanks for Gilmourish.

        Best
        Søren

        • Bjorn says:

          The Supa Driver is very silent and yes it can do a Power Boost and the pre-gain just adds more gain and a hint of compression.

  4. karan singh says:

    Hey bjorn,
    Nice post i really like your review and the indeed information about Buffalo FX Supa Driver, and I have tried this pedal its performance is very High quality and the Sustain, Level, Bass & Treble controls all are outstanding.

  5. ANDERSON DIAS KOEHLER says:

    Hello Bjorn, would this pedal work well with a Big Muff, Gibson ES335 and Fender Princeton Reverb?

    • Bjorn says:

      Depends on what tones you want. For David’s tones, like Cigar or Pigs, I’d use a pedal with more compression and mid range to compensate for these lacking features in the Princeton.

  6. Branko says:

    Hi Bjorn,

    What would you choose for DG tones, HSS strat or a normal tele?

  7. KEITH says:

    Hey Bjorn, I actually really liked this pedal, but have a feeling because of the use of the name Supa, that this circuit is partly based on the old Shin-ei, vox, univox, etc Supa-Fuzz, and Rangemaster pedals, many of which had 3 transistors. I’m sure you know if I’m right or wrong, but unless he just liked the name, I can’t see why he’d use Supa in the name of a pedal that is pretty high gain! So, maybe it’s a cross between a power boost, and a Supa Fuzz? Either way, great clip, lovely playing, and I left a question for you in pt 2 of DG’s Delay, Run like Hell about Binson head selection, but it’s sat for a bit. Could you take a look at it for me?
    Thanks for another great clip in the vault, KEITH

    • Bjorn says:

      Just replied to your Binson question. Sorry for the delay… pun intended :)
      I have no idea why Steve decided to call it Supa. Yes, it has some similarities with the Supa Fuzz but my guessing is that he used Supa as it’s a beefed up Power Booster and although a bit misleading perhaps, using Supa was a way of describing that. I might be wrong. Anyway, I love the pedal!

  8. Bish says:

    Great Review as always! Have you had a chance to try any of the Tru-fi Colordrivers, either the 9V or 18V versions?

  9. be cool if he started cloning some other stuff, sounds just like vicks which is less, but thats just my two pennies

  10. Branko says:

    Hey Bjorn! Cool review. Ypur opinion on tele vs strat? Which one do you prefer? And how good is telecaster for DG strat tones?

    • Bjorn says:

      Doesn’t matter if you’re a Strat guy if a Tele or Les Paul is what you need for a specific song or part. As your main guitar I would say that it’s down to preference. A Tele would do nicely for David’s tones. Both for the songs recorded and performed on a Tele but also for the typical Strat songs. I recommend that you try both, and different models of each, and decide.

  11. fab says:

    Hi Bjorn,

    Thanks for the review! As much as I love Buffalo pedals, I’m not convinced by this one. It sounds good but a bit dull, not enough “Gilmourish” to my ears, I wonder what other fans think about it.

    • Bjorn says:

      Well, I definitely don’t think it sounds dull but the fact that it has more compression might make it sound less vintage and raw. It could be my inability to record it properly too.

    • Brian Deren says:

      You know, I think I know what you’re saying, it doesn’t have that “bite” that I love so much from the original, Im sure thats what Bjorn means by raw,I thought the pedal pairings were more “exciting” or interesting with the original as well but then I thought it sounds sooo freaking smooth and beautiful and yes slightly, yet perfectly compressed as if this was the “Festival” sound you’d want versus the tear your head off with the razor sharp leads I love a rock show lol…problem is now I want this one as well as the Electric Banana (first)…love this site

  12. Al says:

    Hi Bjorn, great ad-lib of ‘Time’. How would the Supa Driver pair up to running through a clean Fender amp?

    • Bjorn says:

      Depends on the Fender model but in general I would say that I’d rather choose something with a bit more mid range. Fender amps has a typical scooped mid range and the Supa Driver lack the mids too so you’ll end up with a very thin and sometimes too bright tone. You can definitely tweak your way around that and compensate to some extent but it wouldn’t be the same as using these scooped overdrives with a Marshall or Hiwatt.

  13. Samuel says:

    Hello Bjorn, did you try the new big muff rams head reissue? Do you recommend it? Regards.

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