Colorsound Power Boost

gilmourish - Colorsound Power Boost

The Colorsound Power Boost was one of the very first overdrive pedals to hit the market. It offered a wide range of tones and soon became a favourite among guitarists like Jeff Beck and David Gilmour. Both using it to create their signature sounds in the early 70s. In this feature we’ll look at the history of the Power Boost and compare some of my favourite models.

The Power Boost was designed by Gary Hurst around 1968-69 (depending on who you ask) and sold by Macari’s Musical Exchange in London, UK. Gary also designed the legendary Sola Sound Tone Bender. The early versions of the Power Boost was powered by 18V but later changed to 9V.

gilmourish - Colorsound OverdriverApparently, the orange coloured design didn’t go well with the American distributers and by 1971 the Power Boost was repackaged in a grey box, with 9V powering and renamed the Overdriver. The actual circuit was, according to Macari’s, identical to the original Power Boost.

There has been many reissues over the years, with different features including 9V or 18V powering, leds and master volume control. See Kit Rae’s run-down of all the different models here.

Boost, overdrive or fuzz?

Boost, overdrive and fuzz was somewhat overlapping in the late 60s. Guitarists didn’t really have a lot to choose from and while you could use your fuzz pedal to create overdrive, like Hendrix, it was still a fuzz with its limitations.

The Power Boost was very much designed out of need. While guitarists demanded bigger and louder amps, there really seemed to be no limits, they also had a hard time taming these beasts. The amps had a huge headroom and proper overdrive was only produced at high volume level as they didn’t have a master control. Once overdriven, the tube and speaker compression leveled out the top end.

In this clip I’m using a 9V master volume Colorsound Power Boost for boosting a mid 70s Electro Harmonix Ram’s Head Big Muff. The Power Boost is placed after the Muff. The effect is subtle but like how David Gilmour would use his, the Power Boost acts similar to an EQ, enhancing the tone.

The Power Boost is a pre-amp booster and EQ in one. The early models didn’t have a master volume, but the 18V powering provided plenty of headroom and power. You could drive the front end of your amp and use the treble and bass controls to shape your tone or compensate for anything lacking in your amp.

The Power Boost also made it possible to achieve overdrive or distortion on smaller amps, without having to drive the pre-gain tubes.

The Power Boost has a distinctly scooped tone, meaning that there really isn’t much mid range nor compression going on. Its open and transparent tone is really the secret to be able to drive those old Hiwatts and Marshall heads for smooth, singing overdrive and distortion. The silicon transistor based circuit creates a fat low end and glassy top, with lots of sweet sustain.

David Gilmour and the Power Boost
gilmourish - David Gilmour Power Boost

David pictured at the premiere of Eclipse/Dark Side of the Moon at Rainbow Theatre, London, UK February 17 1972 playing slides on the third black Strat, – a 1971 model with a bullet truss rod maple neck. Notice the Colorsound Powerboost lying on the floor together with a Dallas Arbiter BC108 Fuzz Face, Binson Echorec foot switch and a DeArmond volume pedal and UniVibe (out of picture).

David Gilmour started using the Power Boost in January/February 1972. This coincided with the stage premiere of Pink Floyd’s new Eclipse suite, which was later turned into Dark Side of the Moon. The pedal was also used on the 1972 Obscured By Clouds recording sessions.

It’s uncertain whether the Power Boost was actually used on the recording of Dark Side of the Moon or not. Based on the album alone, it probably wasn’t, although this is just speculation.

The Power Boost was used on 1972-75 live performances of Time (rhythm) and Any Colour You Like as well as early versions of Shine On You Crazy Diamond, Have a Cigar, You Gotta Be Crazy (Dogs) and Raving and Drooling (Sheep).

One of the best references for David’s Power Boost tones is the Wembley 1974 show released on the 2011 Dark Side of the Moon and Wish You Were Here extended versions. Another favourite of mine is the Ontario, Canada June 1975 show.

The Power Boost was heavily featured on the Wish You Were Here album, including Shine On You Crazy Diamond and Have a Cigar. It was once again used for the 1976 Animals recording sessions, notably for rhythm tracks on Pigs and Sheep. Both albums stands as some of the most iconic recordings featuring the Power Boost.

gilmourish - David Gilmour Power Boost studio

– David Gilmour’s pedal rig pictured in his home recording studio in 2015. Notice the Colorsound Power Boost on the lower shelf.

By 1978 and the recording of David’s debut solo album, the Power Boost had been replaced by a similar sounding ST-2 treble and bass boost designed by Pete Cornish. The ST-2 was used for the recording of The Wall and the subsequent 1980-81 tour.

The Tube Driver has been David’s main overdrive unit since 1993 to present. Although tube driven and sonically closer to a early Marshall JTM type of amp, the Tube Driver and Power Boost do have some similarities and David often use the Tube Driver similar to how he would use the Power Boost – both for boosting and overdrive.

David is also spotted using an Overdriver during various recording sessions in the early 90s, including the soundtrack for La Carrera Pan America and Division Bell.

The Power Boost was once again spotted in David’s current home recording studio and pedal setup. Whether or not it was used for the 2014-15 Endless River and Rattle That Lock recording sessions is not documented.

The mysterious Orange

In an interview with Guitarist Magazine in 1979 David mentions an orange treble and bass boost that apparently was featured in his current setup. Everyone, including me and well known pedal makers, was searching for this mysterious holy grail. Some claimed that they once owned a booster pedal designed by Orange (obviously they couldn’t find it), while others categorically denied such a pedal.

Pink Floyd perforing Have a Cigar at the L.A. Sports Arena, Los Angeles, California, USA April 26 1975. Dvaid used his Colorsound Power Boost throughout the song, including the solo, with his Black Strat and Hiwatts.

The mystery was later solved when pictures of David’s old Colorsound Power Boost started to appear. Wether or not David forgot the name of the pedal and just referred to it as orange (which indeed is the colour of the Power Boost) or if the magazine quoted him wrong is hard to tell but there’s never been an Orange treble and bass boost.

Me and my Power Boost

My history with the Power Boost dates back to 2005. I was celebrating my birthday in London and naturally, I visited Macari’s in Denmark Street. And there, displayed in the window, was this large orange pedal.

I went into the store and said that I wanted to buy the pedal. The guy behind the counter picked it up and rolled his eyes when he saw the price tag “oh, it’s £85 for this? We’re making them here in the shop! Well, £85 then.”

Mine is an early/mid 2000 reissue, 9V battery only powered, with the added master volume control.

Apparently, the guy thought it was a bit too much but keep in mind that this was a couple of years ahead of the explosion of boutique pedals and clones. Macari’s now offer historically correct 1972 versions built by Stu Castledine.

The Clones

The Power Boost has seen a huge revival during the last decade, which goes hand in hand with the renewed interest for classic tones and designs. While some of the clones stay true to the original design – Macari’s also offer a couple of models – others expand on the design, with modern upgrades and extra features.

Perhaps it’s the lure of the large box or the mystique of the orange colour but I have yet to discover a clone that fully manage to capture the magic of my old Power Boost. Still, some come very close. Here are some of my favourites:

ThroBak Overdriveboost
The Overdriveboost has a nice twangy character, with a lot of headroom but it can also produce a nice fuzz tone as well. An additional pre-gain booster and switch for germanium overdrive makes it one of the most versatile Power Boosts on the market. See my full review of the ThroBak Overdriveboost here.

Vick Audio Overdriver
Buyer's Gear Guide - Vick Audio OverdriverThe Overdriver is perhaps the most vintage sounding clone. The added master volume control adds the needed headroom for boosting but cranking the gain all the way produce a super smooth silicon fuzz. This one can be hard to tame on typical bedroom setups and mids scooped amps. See my full review of the Vick Audio Overdriver here.

Buffalo FX Power Booster
The Buffalo Power Booster has a huge headroom and a wide gain span from clean to fat fuzz. This one is a bit darker and overall smoother sounding than the original, making it an excellent choice for bedroom setups and mid scooped amps. See my full review of the Buffalo FX Power Booster here.

Electronic Orange Bananaboost
Buyer's Gear Guide Electronic Orange BananaboostA favourite of mine is the Bananaboost from Electronic Orange. Like the Vick Audio Overdriver, the Bananaboost is very close to the original Power Boost, with a nice and twangy clean boost, lots of headroom and possibly the smoothest fuzz between any of the clones. It’s also one of the loudest. See my full review of the Electronic Orange Bananaboost here.

You may also want to check out similar sounding pedals like the BK Butler Tube Driver, Boss BD-2, EHX Crayon and Wampler Plexi Drive. Each of these has a tad more mid range and compression compared to the Power Boost but they can easily be set up for similar tones and may be a better choice for bedroom setups and mids scooped amps.

Please use the comment field below and share your thoughts and experiences with the Power Boost and Overdriver!

100 Responsesso far.

  1. Tim says:

    How is the Power Boost with Master Volume knob at living room volume levels? Is it as good as a Throbak Overdrive at that volume? Thanks!

  2. Marc says:

    Hi Bjorn,

    I have a Fender Twin Reverb, Jim Dunlop Fuzzface and Fulltone OCD on my pedalboard. I wonder if the OCD can replicate the tone that Power Boost make?

    – Marc

    • Bjorn says:

      Yes, to some extent at least. The OCD has a much more compressed tone, with a bit of mid range but with the bright eganged and the gain set not too high you should be able to get in the same ball park.

  3. Rory Ferguson says:

    This pedal is responsible for my favorite overdrive sounds ever recorded. I have a Boss Katana 50W and was wondering if that amp would be able to handle a pedal like the Vick Audio Overdriver?

    • Bjorn says:

      I haven’t tried that but my experience is that Power Boost cirquits prefer louder tube amps. At least for David’s tones. It might work but other alternatives would be the EHX Crayon or the Boss BD2. Both has a tad more mids but you can easily get close to the PB.

  4. Michael Papageorgiou says:

    Hi there, I just picked up a Power Drive by Idiotbox. Apart from running into Hiwatts with massive headroom, how else might one compensate for the lack of mids? Maybe running it into a mosfet or jfet preamp with lots of mid-range?

    • Bjorn says:

      Yes or place an EQ behind it.

      • Michael Papageorgiou says:

        Thanks! Currently running into a Hiwatt voiced mosfet preamp with three band eq (diy pedal I made). I have the mids dialled up and the Power Drive by Idiotbox sounds awesome. I may never go back to using a regular overdrive again..

  5. Frank says:

    Hi, I have a Macari colorsound powerboost 18v without master volume, placed 1st in my chain. If I use it with the same settings you listed in the albums and your chapter, passing from the mild OD to the hard OD I have to roll down the amplifier’s volume. How can I solve this problem? Thanks

    • Bjorn says:

      The settings listed for the Power Boost is loosely based on my experiences with the pedal and actual pictures of David’s. This pedal is a bit tricky because we don’t have sources for every time or year that he used it. In any case, any setting should be a guide. Do the necessary tweaks to match your gear and preference.

      • Frank says:

        Yes I am using your settings as a reference point but changing from mild to hard OD it increase my volume and I think DG maybe used a pedal volume after the Powerboost. Isn’t it?

        • Bjorn says:

          I think you should concider them as two different settings used specifically for studio and recording. He did use the PB live too but often as a booster for the fuzz and he would roll back the volume on the guitar to create overdrive, with the fuzz, for songs like Time and Money.

  6. Neal Davis says:

    Thanks Bjørn. Just got the last 18v power boost Aussie with master volume from Macari’s. Hope it sounds good. Just went on your playing. What’s the word on these? 12v v 18v, master volume v none, tone compared to clones like Throbak? You rock!

  7. Robert Rillo says:

    Hey Bjorn.

    I was just in London in May 2019 for my 50th. Visited Macari’s and bought The Frekenbender. Tonebender with the Grainger FX mod.

    The guy found out it was my B Day and knocked a few pounds off. It was still about £300! Worth it though. One of the best B Day gifts I’ve ever got.

  8. Raphael B says:

    Hello Bjorn,

    I have a question regarding my pedalboard and the Colorsound PowerBoost.
    I now use a Colorsound Powerboost with a Dallas Arbiter Fuzz Face. It’s sound is so so. I want to change the fuzz face for something smaller ( making a smaller pedalboard )

    I read you recommend the Sunface BC108, which goes well with the Colorsound PowerBoost.
    Do you have any other recommendation at a more affordable price cause Sunface BC108 is quite expensive these days…

    • Bjorn says:

      What Fuzz Face do you have? Red, grey, blue…? What sort of amp and pickups do you have?

      • Raphael says:

        I have the classic Red fuzz face. I use a tube amp with Fender 69 pick ups.

        I may go back to transistor amp as well because I move a lot and cannot afford to buy many tube amps ( or carry them ) . I need something versatile, although the power boost compensate any kind of signal haha.


        • Bjorn says:

          The red FF is a germanium model, which has much less gain than the 108. Depends on what tones you’re looking for. David used the red from 1968-70 and then switched to the 108 in 1971. The 108 was then often used with the Power Boost.

        • Brad Roller says:

          The blue fuzz face mini is the way to go if you’re looking for pedal board friendly pedals!

    • Try some speakers like the Celestion Greenbacks or GT12-75. The speaker is the final tonal filter

  9. Stephane Crin says:

    Hi Bjorn,

    I would like to know if the 2014 reissue of the powerboost is close to the original version ?
    It’s a model made by Solasound.



  10. Frank says:

    What kind of pedal can be used to be close to the colorsound powerboost without break the bank? As I can read here the boss BD is close to the tube driver.

  11. I’m curious how it sounds at the lower than 9v

  12. Michael says:

    Hi Bjørn!! It’s to the point now that I’m not sure what I’d do without your site! Thank you for doing what you do! Currently I’m running my guitar to:
    PC-2A compressor
    Analogman BC109
    VA ‘73 Rams Head
    Buffalo Patriot
    ProCo Rat
    Buffalo TDX
    Phase 90
    Electric Mistress
    CE-2 chorus
    RT-20 Rotary
    DP Boonar
    to Laney L20

    I just purchased the Bananaboost I’d like to get your opinion on its placement. And if you don’t mind, what are your thoughts on my pedal order, especially the gain pedals? I also want to add a Fire Bottle. You’ve inspired this rig and it’s fantastic, I can’t thank you enough! Cheers from Fort Worth, TX!

    • Bjorn says:

      Hi Michael! Thanks for your kind words! Very sorry for my late reply… Your order looks great. Might want to have the fuzz first but it depends on how well it stacks up with the compressor. I’d place the Banana after the Rat. Cheers!

  13. emmanuel hemard says:

    what do you think about alh power boost clone ?
    sorrry for my bad english
    thanks and congratulations for your website

  14. Mick says:

    Hi Bjorn, is it possible that David’s PB had a trim pot put in it to act as a master volume? I ask because looking through his Wembley settings he turns it on and off throughout the concert for different songs.

    Using mine I can have my Triwatt master volume at 8:30 with the 18w PB engaged and there’s more than enough sound. Disengaged, I feel like I need 11:30 on the amp to keep the same sound level and guitar volume knob not maxed. Sadly the volume on the PB even at its lowest still boosts up the sound quite a bit. It seems like he would be increasing and decreasing the amp volume an awful lot.

    Which brings me to my last question. Do you think the 70% on his Fuzz Face was just slightly above parity volume?


    • Bjorn says:

      Hard to tell for sure how he set his pedals back in the days. One can only guess by listening to the bootlegs and trying to decipher photos. I realy have no idea whether his PB had a trim or not and that 73-75 pedal board is still a big mystery. Keep in mind too that whatever he might have used for settings doesn’t necessarily apply to your setup. He had several amps going, a big stage, rotary cabs and possible mods on his pedal board. I’d rather try to set up the pedals to match your guitar and amp.

      • Phil B says:

        Funny just thought about this when listening to “Raving and Drooling” this morning … :D
        You clearly hear him using it on and off during the song and the volume stays sorta consistent.

        I guess he either adjusted the master vol with a vol pedal when engaging the pedal or had a mod for the powerbooster output in the board/pedal or something.

        Just check the recent Powerbooster/Hiwatt episode of That PedalShow, Mick and you’ll notice that, when the amp has so much headroom like those Hiwatt DR103s, it takes so much volume to push the amp into OD territory.

        • Mick says:

          Thanks for the heads up on that great episode Phil! I spoke with Stu and I’m going to try a trim pot at the output and see if it retains its maniacal quality while being able to keep the amp at a nice 12:00, instead of always backing down to 8:30.

          We may be onto something. I’ll have a re-listen with 1972 stuff and see if the volume there was as consistent as it is here. It probably doesn’t matter whether it was done on the board or the pedal but its still interesting nonetheless :)

          • Brad Roller says:

            This is a bit late, but in my experience, you don’t need a trim pot. The power boost when set to overdrive/almost fuzz, is very similar to a fuzz face and reacts to guitar volume like a fuzz face. Set your volume and gain as desired, and leave it on all the time. When you wanna clean up the tone, roll the guitar volume back a bit, and pick lighter. The pedal reacts very well to pick attack. Strum lightly and pick lightly you’ll notice it doesn’t produce the same gain, but your volume will be the same. Same goes for the guitar volume. Roll it back to 8 or 7 and it’ll clean up while retaining the volume. Hope this helps

            • Phil B says:

              Well you’re not wrong here, Brad. I actually have been doing that live recently on certain songs that require a clean-ish tone and a heavier OD and I could use two pedals, but like to try it with just the Powerbooster using the guitar volume ;)

  15. Brian says:

    Interested in getting a colorsound power boost and was hoping to learn the difference in the different models any help would be awesome. I see there is a 12volt a 9 volt and and Aussie version. What are the biggest advantages and drawbacks to the 3. As best as I can tell the 12V version is battery only and the other 2 appear to have a plug to power then is this true

    • Bjorn says:

      Battery VS adapter is a whole chapter in it self but I guess you could argue that adapter is convenient while )v non-alkaline battery certainly sound better. The higher the voltage the more headroom.

      • Brian says:

        Ended up getting the 18V version and I love it however I was surprised at how big it was, is the 9V just as big or is it smaller

  16. Liung Yit says:

    Hi Bjorn,
    the PRO CO mod. RAT it’s a good alternative to COLORSOUND mod. POWERBOOST ?


    • Bjorn says:

      No. It’s a distortion with a lot of gain, compression and mid range. Quite the oposite of the Power Boost. The closest budget pedal would be the Boss BD2 I guess.

  17. Liung Yit says:

    Hi Bjorn,
    the ELECTRO HARMONIX mod. CRAYON it’s a good alternative to ELECTRONIC ORANGE mod. BANANABOOST ?

  18. KEITH says:

    Hey Bjorn, I haven’t been posting, but rest assured I haven’t gone anywhere! I’m still a daily Gilmourish reader, and stay caught up. Just want to say how much I love the Coloursound article, and the addendum of your favorite Gilmoir tones where he used the pedal! It’s a fantastic booster, and Overdrive, with a soundlike no other pedal. I’m happy woth my Throbak, which is about as close to the original circuit as any clone, plus the extras make for a versatile pedal that emulates the Coloursound quote well, but IMO there’s really no substitute for the original 18V, or the one’s Stu Camstledine is making for Macari’s now. Great pedal, great article, hope you and your family are doing well my old friend!
    Peace, Keith

    • KEITH says:

      Sorry for all the typos!!! You’d think by now I’d have learned to proofread my posts! Oh well, you’ll get the gist I’m sure.
      Your faithful Padawan for more years than I’d like to say, Uncle Ebbramone, The Postecutioner Keith

    • Bjorn says:

      Hi Keith! Good to hear from you and to know that you’re still around! Hope everything’s well :) Thanks for the kind words! I will be doing more videos like this one in the future :)

      • KEITH says:

        I will be very happy to see more of these videos, as they are more like your old videis. I really enjoy rhem so much more when you talk to introduce the video, and you even gave us a glimpse of you, inatead of just your hands. I like the more personal approach like all your old videos had, so please jeep it up. And lastly, unless you hear from one of my Gilmourish friends that I have passed on to the next phase of existance, know that I’m here reading, just quietly taking all that you have to offer, silently into my brain.
        With Love, and Respect, your friend, KEITH

  19. Gabriel Tate says:

    I think this maybe where the mysterious Orange confusion comes from ”
    ColorBoost Orange Power Boost 1969 BC109 18volt Floyd Gilmour Nirvana Tone NOS Parts Handmade pedal”.

    • Bjorn says:

      I haven’t seen this one before but it appears to be a recent clone. The “orange” pedal comment comes from an interview with David in 1979.

  20. Bryan says:

    I’ve had a hard time using my Buffalo Power Booster as any real overdrive. It’s a great clean boost, but if I want to overdrive it, you have to turn the gain knob almost all the way up, which vastly increases the volume, so to remain in unity with other pedals, I have to turn the volume almost all the way down on it. It combines well with my Muff and helps shape the tone, but I don’t get that overdriven sound from it very well. My Blues Driver and TD-X has a much more linear gain structure that I just do not get from the Power Booster. I would love a video guide on how to properly use the Buffalo Power Booster. My amp is a Hi-Tone DG30 so it should compare to your Reeves.

    • Bjorn says:

      You’re pretty much describing the nature of the Power Boost and the clones. The break up happen very late as these pedals has a lot of headroom. Think of it as a pre amp that should interact with your tube amp. The more you crank the pre-stage of your amp, which David always does, the sooner you will get overdrive from the Power Boost. The cleaner the amp, the less effect the pedal will have. The Blues Driver and TDX are more modern, with a more linear break up and are much more overdrives than boosters.

      • Bryan says:

        Maybe I don’t drive my amp enough then. A really helpful video would how to set your amp to edge of break up at various volumes, especially with cleaner amps like the Reeves / Hi-Tones to best utilize overdrives and other gains.

        • Bjorn says:

          The amp’s headroom and breakup depends on a lot of things, including how you’ve set the amp, its tubes, the speakers, your pikcups, what pedals you use etc so it’s very individual. Hiwatt amps has a lot of headroom and you can push the quite hard and still get a nice clean tone but with a hint of bite.

  21. Shomo says:

    Lots of valuable information. Great stuff as always. Just wondering if i want to use any mini pedal what could be the alternatives available.


  22. JD Riley says:

    You know, Magnetic Effects’ Zola boost pedal may not be ostensibly a copy of the Power Boost, but I’m curious if that could serve a similar function?

    Plus, it has much higher headroom, around 30 volts.

  23. Daniel says:

    I have a Throbak: love it. Do you think the current macaris reissue is different enough to warrant having them both? Which can produce boost overdrive and fuzz as opposed to boost and fuzzy overdrive? Chees

    • Bjorn says:

      I haven’t done an A/B test between them but based on memory alone, I would say that the ThroBak has more headroom and less range on the breakup, while the current Power Boost has a wider break up and more gain.

  24. The Colorsound Overdriver was my first or second pedal back in 1975 or so. I can’t remember whether I got it or the Colorsound Wah first.

    Somewhat depressing to find that in one’s youth one held the grail, only to sell it for beer money :-)

  25. Dimitris Kovaeos says:

    Love and hate relationship with my Vick Audio Overdriver…
    Whenever I feel, that I need something more versatile, this huge low end and raw power coming from my Lionheart stack…oh, boy!

  26. Jon says:

    To me it sounds like it was used a lot on DSotM. I doubt he would have stopped using it all of a sudden. And the overdriven tones on songs like Money and Any Colour You Like sound like the Power Booster.

    • Bjorn says:

      Hard to tell. I do think he used it but there are no source to confirm it. Dark Side has much more studio trickery compared to both WYWH and Aniamls and most of the overdrive tones you hear on Dark Side could easily have been created by compressing or limiting a fairly clean but loud guitar signal. He did also use the Fuzz Face quite a lot for rhythms back then.

      • Robert Mosack says:

        I don’t remotely pretend to be an expert. But my recent experience (finally, after all these years) with an Analogman BC109 Sun Face and a Buffalo FX 18v Power Boost has led me to believe a few things.

        One, it sure seems like those classic WYWH (e.g. Have a Cigar) overdrive tones come from a Power Booster. It just sounds “right”.

        And two, the Fuzz Face with the guitar volume rolled back just a tad sure seems to be the ticket for some of those DSOTM overdrive rhythm tones (e.g. Money, Time). I guess the Power Booster could easily be used with 99% of the people not being the wiser. But to me, the Fuzz Face just nails it.

        But there are so many tones on DSOTM, that I guess Gilmour could have done a lot of stuff.

        • Bjorn says:

          Yes, both germanium and silicon fuzz pedals are capabale of multiple tones and the silicon sure sounds like a Power Boost when you roll back the guitar volume. You get that same sparkle and clarity. Again, hard to tell how he recorded Dark Side but you can hear on the 1973-75 live records how he’s using a fuzz for the rhythms on Money, and probably Time, and just crank the guitar volume for the solo.

  27. Roman says:

    When video – ing a pedal demo, one should always have nice shoes on.

  28. Richard McEntee says:

    Hi Bjorn,

    One thing I have not quite got clear is how David used the PB for the overdrive sounds themselves, like the Time rhythms or Cugar.

    Given the PB did not have a Volume control, like today’s clones do thank goodness, it needs to be really turned up to get that pedal OD, and that comes with a lot of pedal output that woud then drive the Hiwatts which I am thinking would just make things even louder as they were set clean-ish even just about to break up would still leave a lot of headroom.

    So I suppose, I am thinking that really it was mainly the Hiwatt’s preamp OD pushed by the PB, I would think in those days it was difficult to hear just the PB OD by itself without a output volume control!

    That of course links to how did David manage his volumes when kicking on the PB!


    • Bjorn says:

      Obviously we don’t know how he used the pedal. I’ve based my assumption on what I hear on different studio and live recordings and compared that with the tones I get from a similar setup.

      Now, mine has a master volume so I can get more headroom or earlier breakup than he probably did. I think it was a combination of using the Power Boost as both a booster and an overdrive. He would have had no problems using high volume, especially in a live situation. Back in the days they barely had any monitoring and David always used to play extremely loud.

      His Hiwatts were always set with quite a bit of pre-amp drive that probably would only distort if and when he added the booster.

      Again, we don’t know but if you listen to clips like Have a Cigar from 1975, there’s no doubt that what you hear is the Power Boost.

  29. Brad Roller says:

    Brilliant man! The powerboost finally has its own page! You wanna know how significant this pedal is for me? A while back when i was still playing in a band, I experimented with different overdrives, to find a lead tone somewhere between gilmours lead overdrives and lynyrd skynyrds lead tones. Something of my own. I used typical overdrives, including tubedrivers but was never satisfied. But when I finally bought a real 18 volt powerboost reissue, everything changed. My playing changed, and my inspiration sky rocketed. I learned how to control this beast using guitar volume to get clean tones, overdrive, to distortion. The pedal hasnt left my setup yet. And it probably never will. When you have other guitarists, coming up after a show asking “how were you getting that tone??” And trying to copy your amp settings, You’re doing something right. Well, it wasnt me, it was that pedal. They were usually shocked that i used one single gain pedal, a modulation and a delay, and got the amazing sounds I did. But, again, I give the pedal the credit. It took my tone and playing to a whole new level. It really isnt the most versatile pedal out there, BUT if you take the time like you and I have, to learn the pedal, and how to control it, the results are astonishing. That smooth glassy tone just cant be matched.

    • Bjorn says:

      Awesome! Thanks for sharing.

      • KEITH says:

        Those Fralins you got around the same time you ararted talking to Stu have to help as well, if you’re stoll using them. At last we talked, you were still in love withthe bridge pickup, but had put 69’s in the middle, and neck postition. 69’s are almost identical in those two positions, but the Fralins are a tad higher output, and use better materials, but to each his own. I’ve A/B d 69s, and Vintage hots, and the only real difference I noticed was the slightly higher output, and the Fralins were warmer. Hope you’re doing well, haven’t heard from you in awhlie, you muat be busy hinting still.
        Take care bro, K~

  30. Josh says:

    I’ve been using the Cornish CC-1 to fill these tones… But I’d sure like to try the real one someday.

  31. Mike Brennan says:

    Hi Bjørn,
    . The Colorsound Power Boost is one of my favourite topics! I’d been baffled on “how” to utilize my Vintage F/X Colordriver. When I used it alone, gain cranked and master set to “unity gain”, it had a very nice sound – very useful, but not very “Gilmourish”. So, I set the gain much lower, raised the Master, and ran different Distortions through it. I got closer, but since I had no Muff (-type) of Distortion, I was still not in the Floyd-ian Zone.
    . I also have a Stereo Mesa Power-Amp 2/95 (no pre at all), which I had tried many different pre-amps on, but could never get to sound like a Fender Showman (my favourite and vintage 85 watt Tube head)…
    . So, to cut to the chase – and on a whim – I tried this Vintage F/X Colordriver (Power Boost Clone), with the treble on 10, Bass on about 5, Master on 10, gain on about 1.5 into the Mesa 2/95 and voila!! – instant Fender-y Showman-y sound!! It was sublime AND ULTRA Clean – just how I wanted it to sound!! (The Mesa 2/95 has an input characteristic, in which it can handle high input levels. So, the higher level of the Colordriver “matched well” to the 2/95’s input…)
    . I recently got a Muffuletta, and a (this is embarrassing) a Behringer “VTM-999″(9v DC). So, I go Muffuletta>VTM-999, for my “Fuzz BC108>Colorsound Power Boost” tone, and I will keep using the Colordriver(always on), for my 2nd amps “pre-amp”.
    . I have tried the Muffuletta directly into my Colordriver, and it did sound very Animals-y. But for now the Colordriver better suits my needs as the Mesa’s “preamp”.
    Food for thought, for future reviews:
    . I’d like to mention the Behringer “VTM-999″(supposedly 9v DC, adapter only): It only worked with one of the higher voltage (~10-12 volts DC) settings of my Voodoo iso Power-Supply. It appears to be Behringer’s take on the B.K. Tube Driver.. It is likely of the “starved-voltage” variety, but it’s a good “poor-man’s” Tube Driver; I got my VTM-999, for <$50. I believe it is based on the Ibanez TK999US "Tube King"(9v DC). I had a Tube King; it had a nice Distortion, but never had a good High-headroom Overdrive tone. The TK999US, was made in the 90's, and actually had BK Butler's name and license info, imprinted right on the Ibanez-PCB. Now Ibanez offers the TK999HT(12v AC, internally boosted..) – a High Voltage model.
    . Bjørn, if you're so inclined, perhaps check out & maybe review some of these "poor-man's" Tube Driver's. LOL!!
    . As always, thank you! You Rock!

    • Bjorn says:

      Thanks for the input Mike! The Colordriver has the most headroom of all the clones out there so it can be a bit difficult to nail David’s mid 70s overdrive tones with it but it’s an excellent clean booster as you’ve discovered. Cheers!

  32. Arya Boustani says:

    Thanks Bjorn. You always come up with interesting topics that are so much desired by the school of Gilmour guitarists. This one particularly is my favourite subject, and lost quite a few hairs scratching my head to figure things out. If you have time to make another video in future, wouldn’t you mind demonstrating the behaviour of tone, compression, and bite (attack) variations with the upstream gain changes? I mean if you increase the gain of upstream pedal (let’s say in this case muff) and lower the gain of downstream (power boost itself) and vice versa? Ideally this could be compared in parallel with something else like Tube Driver, Banana Boost, and Vick Audio Overdriver. The comparison is very helpful for people to know what they get if they go in either direction, assuming the Muff differences, amp and amp settings and speakers don’t undermine the credibility of the comparison too much.

    I pointed out in one of my comments last year or two years ago that I think it’s nice that a review includes impact of upstream gain on the reviewed pedal, as well as impact of pedal gain on downstream pedals, amp basically by varying the gain of one and compensating the gain in the other upstream / downstream pedal and comparing the tone, compression, etc. For instance, Tube Driver high frequencies go beyond sounding nice with even moderate upstream gain, rather Plexi Drive mid-range frequency of around 2 to 2.5 kHz (which can be annoying depends on downstream pedals, amp, settings) becomes more dominant in increasing upstream gain rather than high frequencies in case of Tube Driver. For Vick Audio Overdriver the impact of upstream gain is increasing bass, and 3 to 3.5 kHz frequencies. Still annoying but not as much, just a bit overwhelming and piercing at times, and perhaps not sounding lush like Tube Driver. Having a treble / bass to mid-range ratio knob would be handy in many many pedals but then mid-range EQ should be parametric since sometimes there is a mid-range but not in a nice and pleasing spot :)

    If I remember correctly, I think there is a bit more bite and upper harmonics in the recording versions of David Gilmour. Do you think it is the result of the amp and amp setting difference, higher treble, higher gain setting on the pedal or upstream pedal (Muff), or it is postproduction EQ, compressor, etc…? Do you think 18v version gives that extra bite or just louder?

    Thanks again, and sorry for the long and demanding reply :)


    • Bjorn says:

      It’s always hard to do these pedals proper justice and especially when you’re trying to use David’s tones as a reference. The Power Boost, Tube Driver and other similar pedals are pre-amps and they interact with your pickups, playing technique and amp. I find that I really need to spend a great deal of tweaking with these pedals to find the sweetspot. The Power Boost in perticular can sound pretty nasty but once you find the right balance on the pedal’s controls and the amp, it’s dead on those classic tones. Same goes with the tube driver.

      There aren’t any bad tones but you need to hit the nail on the head to find THAT tone so although a clip like what you’re suggesting would be somewhat useful for many I’m sure, it wouldn’t be a good reference because only I can get the tones I get based on my gear. It’s a little different with pedals like a Tube Screamer, which is kind of designed to capture all that tube and pre-amp interaction in one pedal.

  33. Jeff says:

    Great piece Bjorn! I’ve always been a big fan of the Colorsound Power Booster for that vintage 70’s tone. I use it quite a bit for that purpose and not just for Gilmour tones.

    • Bjorn says:

      Thanks! The Power Booster is great for many things. It has that unmistakable vintage flavour but you can easily use it for lots of different tones and genres.

  34. Spencer Landreth says:

    My theory is the transparent boost craze has your site to thank for its existence. I always love the info on the colorsound and clones.

  35. Robert Mosack says:

    Great stuff, as usual! Very cool to get some confirmation that the Power Boost and Overdriver were basically the same circuits in different colored boxes (albeit some changes along the way: voltage, master volume).

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