NPD - Reverend Drivetrain II (N.O.S.)

Discussion in 'The Stomp Box' started by Metaltwanger, Mar 15, 2015.

  1. Metaltwanger

    Metaltwanger TDPRI Member

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    Got a N.O.S. Reverend Drivetrain II off eBay a couple of weeks ago.

    Yesterday I tested it against my Fulltone Fulldrive 2 (pre-mosfet, powder coat blue version) and T.Jauernig Sweet POI (overdrive side of his Gristle King Overdrive v.3), as both pedals are TS-derivatives. Guitar used was a Heritage H-150 with Duncan ‘59’s (I find it harder to get overdrive pedals to sound nice with humbukers).

    The FD2 is my reference pedal, since it sounds nearly identical to an 2001 Ibanez TS9 I used to own.

    The Sweet POI was bought because I wanted a TS-type pedal that could handle humbuckers and had some sort of bass control.

    I find them both very good, and the reason I got ‘em is because I find that tube screamers sound good with my Fender ’59 Bassman RI, better than other types of fancy circuits. I’ve had other amps that were much more forgiving of overdrive pedals, especially a VOX AC30HH, but bills keep coming so I’m thinning the herd, but keeping the BMRI for now because it’s the one that sounds good at low volumes so it’s the better one to play at home.

    I’m mostly a rhythm player but the mid hump in my older pedals never bothered me. The slight bass cut on the FD2 really comes in handy when the Bassman is cranked, taming the obvious excess bass of the amp, by which time it’s hard to distiguish what’s the amp’s own overdrive and what’s the pedal’s. However, I don’t get to play my amps cranked very often..,

    The Sweet POI sounds less like a pedal than the FD2 to my ears and has a LOT more gain on tap, making it closer to a distortion pedal than a “proper” overdrive pedal. It has two types of diode clipping to be chosen from and a pre-set bass boost toggle that’s really nice. The one thing that I struggle with this pedal though is the tone knob. I find it really hard to find the “sweet spot” where it will keep some warmth and still have enough sparkle on the tone. Also, the 3 control knobs are quite interactive, so any new adjustment on one has to be compensated on the other two.

    Enter the Reverend Drivetrain II. At the first stroking of the strings, they all sound similar, but the Drivetrain has more output, is quieter and smoother than those other pedals. It doesn’t emphasize the mids as much, even less than the FD2 set to “FM (flat mids)” mode.

    More (good) surprises came when I started turning the eq knobs, first on the manual’s recommended settings, than at random. Those controls have a good range to them but they’re never over the top and maintain the smooth character of the pedal throughout their entire spectrum. The eq circuit does behave more like an amp’s tone circuit than a pedal’s. You can increase the lows, but they are felt as if you were increasing the bass on the amp and not on the pedal. Very interesting... So, instead of a “dry” bass boost or knob found in some pedals, the increase of low frequencies was even, smoother and embraced the whole tone. Similarly, you can also cut those bass frequencies, which is really a necessity if one is to play a cranked ’59 Bassman RI.

    The treble knob also works very well both cutting and adding highs to the tone. Even at higher settings the sound was never harsh and always pleasing to my ears.

    Next, I tried the Drivetrain II against the FD2 doing the Steve Ray Vaughan “thang” (i.e. cranking the volume with just a hair of drive). The Drivetrain II is simple yet versatile; it can be used as a “clean” boost with the drive knob at minimum, with the added bonus of having control of the low and high frequencies. It sounds really pristine. I could get the FD2 to sound almost the same as the Drivetrain II using the same trick, but I’d have to turn the tone knob all the way counter-clockwise to tame excess highs. I didn’t try the FD2 in “comp-Cut” mode against the Drivetrain II because I understand it would be an unfair comparison because the comp-Cut mode removes the clipping diodes out of the circuit.

    I’ve read about these Reverend pedals since the late 90’s, but at the time curiosity was never high enough to encourage me to bite the bullet, but this was a blessing, because I only learned about how overdrive pedals and vintage-style tube amps work together very recently, so, if I had bought a Drivetrain years ago I would’ve dismissed as being a bad pedal. The “boutique” trend came in strong in the mid-2000’s and I bought the hype: all my stompboxes are of the premium-priced with true bypass variety...

    I’ve always struggled to find an overdrive that complemented my BMRI. This amp has gorgeous cleans but doesn’t overdrive nicely as, say, a Marshall or a VOX, and most pedals I put in front of it can’t seem to get along. The Drivetrain sounds less than a pedal than other overdrives I’ve tried and smoothes out the harsh, brittle corners of the Bassman’s own overdriven sound. I’m a Reverend /Visual Sound Garagetone Drivetrain believer now.

    Amen!

    P.S.: I’d like to thank you fellow TDPRI members for sharing your experience and knowledge about stompboxes, with a special thanks to .11 Gauge; I couldn’t have made a better educated purchase without it! Cheers!
     
  2. dgabbear

    dgabbear Tele-Meister

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    Congrats on the NOS Drivetrain. I have had the II model since production. It has been on my pedal board for 11-12 years. I love this overdrive/boost pedal. I love the clarity, the way the highs pop out, and the flexibility with the added bass and treble controls. I also like the bit of compression you get with the Drivetrain. I also own the 1st version, but I prefer the 2nd version. To my ears, the 1st version doesn't have the clarity of the 2nd version. From what I understand the new Visual Sound V3 series Route 66 (overdrive portion)is a clone of the original Reverend Drivetrains. The Visual Sound Garage Series Drivetrain is a close approximation of the original Drivetrain as well. Enjoy your Drivetrain. If you haven't had the opportunity to play their guitars, Reverend guitars aren't too shabby either.
     
  3. Metaltwanger

    Metaltwanger TDPRI Member

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    Thanks dgabbear!

    It just works! Hope Visual Sound will never stop making the Garagetone version, because this circuit is really something else!

    I tried the old, semi hollow Reverend guitars in the past and almost bought a Rocco! Haven't played the newer ones though!

    The thing that I regret the most is that I didn't try/buy one of their amps at the time they were still being made. I knew very little about tube amps back then. John Naylor seems to really know his stuff!

    Cheers!
     
  4. dgabbear

    dgabbear Tele-Meister

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    The new Reverends are really of high quality. I sold my Strat because I never touched it again after purchasing a Reverend Jetstream 390. The Reverend Amps were good, but the original Naylor amps are really special. I too regret not buying a Naylor Super Drive 60 several years ago used for very cheap. Naylor does know his stuff and his designs are very functional and offer lots of versatility. In no way do I find his guitars to be one trick ponies. One gets a lot for the buck with Reverends.
     
  5. Metaltwanger

    Metaltwanger TDPRI Member

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    Thanks for making me hip about those newer Reverends! I'll keep that in mind when I'm in the market for a new axe!
     
  6. 11 Gauge

    11 Gauge Doctor of Teleocity

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    The Drivetrains are very clever in that the tone controls are actually somewhat 'scaled' from the Bassman, just minus a mid knob (it's hardwired to a certain amount, like with many other Fender amps). So you've basically got the whole shebang just in pedal form (with the tone circuit, including a Bassman-like slope resistor value).

    Visual Sound/Reverend actually borrowed from Marshall for the tone circuit, as it is what was used in the Shredmaster (I'm NOT talking about the contour circuit, though). The important difference is that the SM and most things derived from it tend to use 100K pots for at least the bass (including VS's own J&H). The Drivetrain has either 20K or 25K pots, so it's more like the "range" that you'd have with the later Fender amps.

    I have to admit that for the longest time, I referred to the Drivetrain (II in particular, because of its extra gain vs. the I) as a poor man's Xotic BB Pre. But the BB uses active Baxandall tone circuits for the treble and bass - lots of folks may find them to be usable, but I'm simply not a big fan. IMO, part of the issue is that many of these pedals have a hardwired mid-emphasis, so the Bax can be hard to really integrate around that.

    So the DTII is really much more like a somewhat simplified Shredmaster, but it has the clipping diode arrangement like a TS as opposed to a distortion, which is obviously important. The Shredmaster also has the contour control and some other things going on.

    I forget who scribbled out their tracing of the DT (I and II!), and that's basically what it is - just a scribbling. And I could kick myself for misplacing it for awhile. Anyway - I am SO grateful. I think they put in at least some of the component values, and (if not) I cracked mine open and filled in the rest. It's also cool to have the handful of differences in values w/the I vs. II.

    ...Anyway - part of this extended rambling is just intended to add that if VS ever stopped making the Garagetone DT that a Shredmaster clone kit could be bent to match the DT (with some ingenuity). It may not be the most elegant solution, but at least it's another option!

    The one downside with reworking a clone kit is that VS incorporated their cool "neutral bypass" into the Drivetrain, which IMO can give it an edge over true bypass...for SOME users.
     
  7. pcampbell

    pcampbell Tele-Holic

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    I recently picked up a visual sound garage tone drivetrain at a clearance price of just $29, and this pedal, as I understand things, is pretty close to what metaltwanger is describing. I'm still getting to know it, but I'm very pleased. A small amount of money spent for a lot of good product.
     
  8. Metaltwanger

    Metaltwanger TDPRI Member

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    I bow to your knowledge and generosity for sharing all this hard-earned knowledge with sloppy playes like me! Thank you!

    I'd love to have a bit more drive on tap on the Drivetrain II but I think that would be asking for too much. If it's not broken I'm not gonna try to fix it! Besides, if I ever play in higher volumes with a band again the amp's own overdrive will come to play.

    Now all that we need is John Mayer starting to use a Drivetrain II for all the boutique builders to come up with their own versions. I'm hip to VS's XO overdrive (which may have the DTII circuit on one side), but I would be paying for a bunch of features that I currently don't need.
     
  9. Metaltwanger

    Metaltwanger TDPRI Member

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    How lucky!! Congratulations! Hope it'll work out great for you! Thanks for the comment!
     
  10. chrisgblues

    chrisgblues Tele-Afflicted

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    The old DT2 and the VS Garagetone DT are almost exactly the same sonically. I know because I own both and I've gigged with both. I prefer the smaller footprint of the GTDT but the knobs are a bit flimsy.
    Sonically however the DT2 has a bit more natural breakup which I prefer...but it's so close you'd have a hard time spotting the difference between the two in a blind comparison. It's more of a "feel" thing which is especially noticeable on chords or multiple strings as opposed to single notes.
    Having said that...either of these two pedals are far superior as a BASE OD than say a TS if for no other reason than the sweep of the bass knob. They can also work well as a lead boost because of lots of gain on tap but then the sonic differences are minimized when used as a boost (sounds like any other decent boost).
    Keep in mind I play single coils through a BF Fender Concert FWIW.
    I can't recommend the Drivetrain enough...it's that good an OD.
    JMHO. YMMV.
     
  11. 11 Gauge

    11 Gauge Doctor of Teleocity

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    I think a bit more drive could be squeezed out of it, but then it might be better just to mostly stick to the original Marshall Shredmaster template.

    I think this is another instance where we really don't need anything twiddled with - I think Visual Sound really did their homework with this one, and I'm guessing that Naylor had a LOT of input WRT what he did and did not want. After all, VS didn't offer their own version for the longest time - the Hyde in the J&H is just a mildly tweaked Shredmaster (but it obviously served as some form of template or starting point).

    Anyway - I've seen BOTH the "contour" circuit and the tone circuit used in some rather spendy distortion boxes, with the component values sometimes 1:1! :eek:

    ...I REALLY think it was smart of VS/Reverend to reduce the bass pot value - the DT would have gotten muddy/boomy sounding pretty quickly!

    There's now a sort of loose project in the Burnt Fingers forum - the intention is just with the idea to take a Shredmaster clone kit and use it as the starting point to end up with a Drivetrain. It's not intended to be a full-blown project with layouts or references to specific vendors' kits, but I do intend to add schematic snippets here and there.

    http://www.tdpri.com/forum/burnt-fi...train-i-ii-garagetone-workaround-project.html

    ...Probably the best thing to do would be to marry a TS'ish front end to the Shredmaster tone circuit and output stage back end. Anyway - FWIW...
     
  12. Metaltwanger

    Metaltwanger TDPRI Member

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    Thanks for shedding some light on the differences between the Reverend Drivetrain II and the VS Garagetone! I'm talking all my friends to go out and buy a Garagetone Drivetrain ASAP!
     
  13. Metaltwanger

    Metaltwanger TDPRI Member

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    Thanks 11 Gauge! I'll be following this new thread for sure!

    I was just reading this thread when I friend came over with his amp to pickup some power tubes and asked me to show my overdrive pedals to him. I set the Fulldrive 2 and the Drivetrain II for him to try and he initially liked the former better. After I tweaked the treble and bass controls on the Drivetrain II to show him how smooth they sounded he started to like the Drivetrain II better.

    I noticed that my Drivetrain really is very low gain. I read some discussions with some folks saying that it had plenty of drive but then I remembered that there were two revisions during the production run of the pedal. The first one was marked with a dot on the white arrow that points to the battery compartment, in the back of the pedal; the second revision has two dots. Mine has only one dot and old style knobs. I wonder if the second revision included added drive. I found a post on Reverend's website about those mentioned revisions, but the links to the schematics no longer work (not that I am capable of reading them):

    http://forum.reverendguitars.com/drivetrain-ii-dots-mods-knobs-sound_topic10490.html
     
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