NOTE: This website is frequently updated. Article written 2007. Last update March 2020



Shown above - David Gilmour's Power Boost settings from Pink Floyd's 1977 tour rehearsal (left) and his recording
studio Power Boost (middle and right) seen in 2013-2017 with a Cornish master volume box connected

DAVID GILMOUR POWER BOOST TONES - David Gilmour of Pink Floyd used several overdrive pedals throughout his musical career, with the 18v Power Boost and BK Butler Tube Driver being his favorites. Nothing has quite that same classic Pink Floyd overdrive tone like the Colorsound Power Boost/Overdriver, especially through a Hiwatt amp like the Custom 50 or Custom 100. However, what most people do not realize is that the Power Boost is also a fuzz pedal, and David often used it as such. In fact, I think what most Gilmour gear enthusiasts think is a Fuzz Face pedal on many of those classic 1970s Pink Floyd guitar solos is actually the Power Boost.

David used the 18v Power Boost from 1972 to late 1977 on such tracks as Shine On You Crazy Diamond, Have A Cigar, Sheep and many other mid to late late 1970s Pink Floyd songs. Although he had a Power Boost in 1972 there is no documentation of him using it for the recording of Dark Side of the Moon, but can be seen in the '72 photos of the Obscured by Clouds recording sessions and heard in several places on that album. I happen to think it was used in conjunction with the Fuzz Face for the Time and Money solos from DSOTM, and I hear it in Brain Damage and the early mixes of Eclipse. You can even hear David using it in the studio clip of him playing fills for Brain Damage on his Lewis guitar from the Pink Floyd Live at Pompeii film. It is also THE overdrive used on the albums Obscured by Clouds, Wish You Were Here and Animals, and can be heard prominently in nearly every song.

David also used the Power Boost heavily on Pink Floyd's 1972-1977 Pink Floyd tours. The full-on overdrive fuzz sound of the Power Boost can be heard very prominently all over the bootleg recordings from Pink Floyd's 1977 tour. The Big Muff was also used on that tour, but I beleive much of the high gain distortion tones may have simply been the Power Boost running at full power.

mp3 Obscured by Clouds slide guitar extraction - I believe this is the 18v Power Boost with the treble and volume set to maximum

mp3 Brain Damage outtake from Live at Pompeii film - I believe this is the 18v Power Boost with the treble boosted and volume set to maximum

mp3 When You're In guitar extraction - I believe this is the 18v Power Boost with the volume on zero and treble on maximum into a Fuzz Face.

mp3 Colorsound Power Boost Samples from the WYWH album

mp3 Sheep Isolated Guitar - from Gilmour performing Sheep live on January 29, 1977 with the Colorsound Power Boost

The Colorsound Power Boost or Overdriver can be used for light to heavy orverdrive with the volume/drive knob set anywhere from 12:00 to 3:00. It can also be set for a light drive and placed before or (or after, depending on settings) a Fuzz Face or Big Muff pedal to EQ and increase the sustain and dynamics. I use it for the clean tone and many of the overdrive tones for songs from Dark Side of the Moon and Wish You Were Here, and as a light boost and EQ before my fuzz pedals like the Analogman Sunface BC108 Silicon fuzz. Where the 18v Power Boost version shines is as a fuzz pedal though. When the volume knob is set to maximum, the treble set to 3:00 or higher, and bass to 12:00 or lower, it can nail the solo tones in Obscured by Clouds, Have A Cigar, the slide solo in Shine On You Crazy Diamond, the Pigs solo, and the dry solo in Dogs, among others. The Power Boost alone, or blended with a Big Muff, can recreate the huge distortion tones David Gilmour used for Pink Floyd's 1977 Animals/In the Flesh tour, and on the 1978 Columbia Records promotional videos David made for his first solo record. The treble-boosted fuzz from the Power Boost is very distinct when used with the Big Muff in this way.

David Gilmour's 18v Colorsound Power Boost (left) used in Pink Floyd's Obscured by Clouds recording sessions in 1972
and a Gilmour's Power Boost (right) on stage with Pink Floyd in 1972. Note the missing bass knob.

David Gilmour using the 18v Colorsound Power Boost on stage with Pink Floyd in the Netherlands in 1972.
Note that the Power Boost is first in line after the guitar and it is missing the bass knob.

Colorsound Overdriver beside David Gilmour's pedal board used for the the La Carrera Panamericana
soundtrack recording sessions at Olympic Studios in December 1991

WHICH IS THE BEST, THE POWER BOOSTER OR OVERDRIVER? - That all depends on which original or which reissue version you have. I list all the versions I know of on the previous page. For basic boosting EQ and light overdrive, practically any of them will work. For the high gain lead fuzz tone heard in places like the Dogs dry solo and the Have A Cigar solo, I think only an original Colorsound 18v Power Boost, or Colorsound Vintage Series 18v Power Booster reissue nails that sound. The Standard Series 9v reissues just do not cut it. They do not have enough distortion and are missing that amp-like fuzz quality, but they can get close if you use high output pickups like the Seymour Duncan SSL-5 or DiMarzio FS-1. The only 9v version I have played that comes close to the 18v sound with regular Strat pickups is the Colorsound Vintage Series Overdriver made my Stu Castledine for Macaris. Stu also makes the Vintage Series 18v Power Boost for Macaris (still being made when I updated this in 2019). None of the Power Boost/Overdriver clones I have tried nail that sound either, although a few get very close, like the Buffalo Power Boost.

USING THE POWER BOOST/OVERDRIVER WITH A HIWATT - The pure Colorsound 18v Power Boost sound is all over the Obscured by Clouds and Wish You Were Here albums, so I have experimented with various settings on my Hiwatt amps and Power Boost /Overdrivers to replicate those tones. The PB is finicky when the volume pot is dialed into maximum overdrive fuzz, and some amp settings do not work very well with it. The settings that sound best to me are David's mid 1970s Hiwatt settings, taken from a photo of his amps in 1974. Keep in mind that if you run the PB as a fuzz at maximum volume like this, you cannot run the Hiwatt master volume too high or it will go into uncontrollable feedback. I have to keep the master set 9:00-10:00, or lower, to keep it right on the edge of feedback.

my Reeves Custom 50PS settings for a mid 1970s Gilmour tone

my Hiwatt Custom 100 settings for a mid 1970s Gilmour tone

Also, keep in mind that when David used the PB in the studio in the early 1970s, his guitar typically went straight into the PB, then into his Binson Echorec, then into the amp. There were not lots of buffered pedals before and after the PB in his signal chain like on our modern pedal boards. Buffers are not necessarily a bad thing, but they do affect the tone and amount of distortion generated by the PB. There was actually an input buffer in the Bison Echorec, so you are hearing the sound of the PB through a buffer already in most of those Pink Floyd recordings. I explain how buffers affect the circuit on the previous page, but suffice it to say, a buffer following the PB can actually make the PB overdrive sound a bit smoother. I do not like the sound of a buffer before the PB however, so when I use it, the PB is always first in line after the guitar.

Below is an example of the guitar going straight into Power Boost - no buffers.

mp3 Power Boost - no buffers

Below is an example of the Power Boost with a buffered pedal in front of it. Note that the tone has changed and become more nasal sounding.

mp3 Power Boost - buffered pedal in between the guitar and Power Boost

The Power Boost and Overdriver settings that work best vary depending on which version of the pedal you have. I have found that the settings on the Colorsound Standard Series 9v Power Boost and Overdriver do not correspond to settings on the Vintage Series 18v Power Boost reissue, or the original 18v Power Boost like David used. I suspect that is due to the larger headroom of the 18v version. With the drive pot set to maximum, the Vintage Series versions and originals also have a richer and more amp-like distortion than the Standard Series versions I have used. It's like a mix of fuzz and overdrive, where the the Overdriver reissue is missing the "fuzz" part of the sound. The Vintage Series Overdriver settings are close to my Power Boost settings below. Some Standard Series reissue Overdrivers have a different drive pot value, so settings on that version may not match what I show here. Below are the settings I use that have a matching tone on each.

overdrive settings for 18v Power Boost and 9v Overdriver

When starting off using the Power Boost/Overdriver for overdrive, I suggest setting the volume/drive pot on the pedal to maximum, with the treble high and bass low, then dial your guitar volume down slightly to get the level of overdrive you are trying to match. If you want it smoother, dial the volume/drive pot on the pedal down slightly. Dialing the guitar volume down slightly gets into the overdrive slide guitar tones heard in Burning Bridges, Childhood's End, the rhythm and lead overdrive tones heard in Childhood's End, Syd's theme (SOYCD Part II) and the chorus and verse sections (SOYCD Parts III, IV, VII), as well as the rhythm overdrive tones heard in Pigs, Dogs, and Sheep from the Animals album.

maximum fuzz settings for the 18v Power Boost

For that classic Pink Floyd lead fuzz tone - heard in Obscured by Clouds, the Have a Cigar solo, the slide guitar from Shine On You Crazy Diamond (SOYCD Part VI), the Dogs dry solo, and Pigs solo - set the volume pot to maximum and treble to 3:00 or higher. I set the bass to 12:00 or lower, but adjust it to the level needed for the particular tone. Set your guitar volume to maximum or just below to hit the sweet spot. That will vary depending on how hot your pickups are. As stated above, you need an 18v Power Boost for this, but some 9v versions may work if you use high output guitar pickups, which compensate for the lower headroom gain of the 9v circuit.

mp3 Pigs outro solo cover - This is the 18v Power Boost with the volume set to maximum, treble set to 3:00 and bass set to 11:00. The rhythm chords are also played with the Power Boost, volume set around 3:00. Strat with SSL-5 bridge pickup into a Reeves Custom 50 through a Hi-Tone Eclipse cab with Crescendo A speakers. I use a short 90ms slapback delay and a 340ms delay, low in the mix.

mp3 Obscured by Clouds Power Boost Tone Sample - This is the 18v Power Boost with the treble and volume set to maximum, bass on zero. Strat with CS-54 bridge pickup into a Reeves Custom 50 through a Hi-Tone Eclipse cab with Crescendo A speakers.

mp3 Obscured by Clouds/When You're In cover - My cover of the 1972 Pink Floyd classic from the Obscured by Clouds album. The Colorsound 18v Power Boost is in the right channel and 9v Vintage Series Colorsound Overdriver in the left. The Power Boost is blended with an Analogman BC108 Sunface (Fuzz Face clone) for the When You're In section, beginning at the 4:55 mark. Strat with CS-54 bridge pickup into a Reeves Custom 50 through a Hi-Tone Eclipse cab with Crescendo A speakers.

(left) Gilmour during the Obscured by Clouds recording sessions with a Power boost and Fuzz Face. (right) One of several Fuzz Face pedals owned by Gilmour in 1972.

The Power Boost/Overdriver can also be blended with a Fuzz Face (or clone based on that circuit like the Analogman Sunface) through a Hiwatt to replicate the lead solo tones on heard in songs like When You're In, The Gold It's In The..., Free Four, Time, and Money. You can also use just a Fuzz Face for those tones, but I have found I can get closer to the album sounds when blending the two pedals and using the PB to EQ the tone. This works best with regular output single coil pickups, like the type in Gilmour's Strats at the time. High output pickups like the Seymour Duncan SSL-5 are more difficult to control. The sound you get can aso vary quite a bit depending on the fuzz pedal used. The Power Boost or Overdriver needs to be first in line after the guitar, followed by the fuzz. Guitar volume is the key to controlling this setup, and the guitar on full is often NOT the best sound. Dial the guitar volume to 5 or 6, set the Power Boost volume to zero and distortion level on your fuzz pedal to zero. Dial the fuzz distortion up to the desired level (about 12:00 on my Sunface), then adjust the guitar volume until you hit the sweet spot. Some of the fuzz tones on the Obscured by Clouds album, like When You're In, have the treble boosted high on the Power Boost. I dial it to maximum for those songs. You can get some very smooth lead and overdrive tones blending both pedals this way, although it can be a bit noisy.

Sometimes there is an impedance mis match between the PB and some fuzz circuits, causing the tone to sound too harsh and trebly when blending the two. This can often be fixed by adding a buffered pedal in between the Power Boost and the fuzz pedal. Any pedal with an always-on buffer will work, like a Boss pedal. Using a buffer like this can also make the disortion more controllable and smoother. That is my preferred setup for bledning the PB with a fuzz, and what I am using in the clip below.

mp3 When You're In - Colorsound Power Boost > buffered pedal >Analogman BC108 Sunface (Fuzz Face clone) - Strat with CS-54 bridge pickup into a Reeves Custom 50 through a Hi-Tone Eclipse cab with Crescendo A speakers. I turn on a Deluxe Electric Mistress about halfway through.

............Mistress Mystery Page. .... . .

HOW DID DAVID GILMOUR USE THE POWER BOOST LIVE? - One of the major drawbacks to using the original 18v Power Boost is the massive volume boost when activated. It is so loud that it is impossible to make it have a unity volume with other pedals or effects in a typical pedalboard signal chain, as it will always be louder than practically everything else when engaged, even with the volume/drive knob at its lowest setting. The 9v master volume versions of PB and Overdriver are better, but also too loud to work on a modern pedalboard unless both the volume and drive knob are dialed to zero. If you set the Hiwatt master volume high like David did live in the early 1970s, it is practically impossible to use the stock PB as a fuzz pedal in a live situation. There is so much headroom and volume from the PB slamming into the DR103 preamp that you get nothing but uncontrollable feedback. I have have to set Hiwatt master volume to around 9:00 or lower to make it work, and even that is still right on the edge of feedback.

One of David Gilmour's original Colorsound Power Boosts. This is one of the later production without the "Hit It" arrow graphic, circa 1972

So how did David Gilmour use the Power Boost in his live rigs from 1972-1977? David only had a few pedals in 1972-73 - a Power Boost, Fuzz Face, Vox Wah, Uni-Vibe, and a DeArmond Volume Pedal, in that order. If you run the PB first in line with the volume at 12:00 or lower and set the Fuzz Face volume close to maximum, both pedals are at unity volume, as are all the pedals that follow when either one is switched on. The PB was an alwasy-on pedal for his overdrive or clean tones, and he used the volume knob on the guitar to go from clean to light overdrive. I happen to think this 'always-on' method is exactly how David used the PB during that '72-75 period. When he wanted to use the PB for heavier overdrive in a song, he just had to dial the guitar volume up, or switch the PB off and switch the Fuzz Face on while dialing the guitar volume down. For fuzz leads, he would dial the guitar volume up, switch the PB off and Fuzz Face on, or run both at the same time. Becasue of it's massive headroom, he could never dial the PB volume up to use it as a fuzz pedal in this setup, but he had the Fuzz Face for that.

Shown above - David Gilmour's custom integrated pedalboard (maker unknown) with built in Colorsound Power Boost from 1973-75.
This style of integrated pedalboard was later adopted by Pete Cornish in his pedalboard builds

In 1973 Gilmour had a Power Boost circuit incorporated into a custom made, integrated pedal board that he used when performing live. The PB was placed in the signal chain after the Cry Baby WahWah pedal and before the Uni-vibe. If you set the PB for slightly dirty boost, turning the Uni-vibe on with it creates an overdrive-like distortion. Dial the Uni-vibe Intensity knob to 50% or less, so the vibe effect is minimized, then switch on a Fuzz Face with fuzz knob dialed down to around 40% and you have vintage 1974 Pink Floyd tones. You can hear this exact sound during the Time solo performed at the the Empire Pool, Wembley concert in London 1974, found on bootlegs and the live concert from the Dark Side of the Moon Immersion Edition.

mp3 Time solo - Empire Pool, Wembley 1974

One other way to make the PB work live is to modify it with a master volume pot or a fixed resistor to reduce the level to a more manageable unity volume. Effects builder Pete Cornish incorporated a Power Boost circuit into a large integrated pedalboard that he built for David in 1976, for use on Pink Floyd's upcoming 1977 tour. The PB followed the Uni-vibe and came before the Wah Wah pedal in that signal chain. Cornish would have modified the PB circuit so the level was in unity with the bypassed volume and balanced with the other effects in the signal chain. Based on the numerous bootleg recordings of Pink Floyd's 1977 tour, David used the PB often, could turn it on at off as needed, and it was clearly at unity volume with the other effects. Cornish even made his own version of the Power Boost with a master volume mod in late 1977, the ST-2 Treble and Bass Booster. It actually replaced David's Colorsound unit when his pedalboard was updated in October 1977, according to Cornish (Guitar World magazine 2006). Pedalboard photos from Gilmour's Medina studio in 2017 show a 10k master volume pedal in line after the PB. It was built specifically by Pete Cornish to allow the PB volume to be brought down to unity.

Animals Rehearsal Board

Shown above - David Gilmour's 1977 Pete Cornish made pedal board with built in Colorsound Power Boost from Pink Floyd's '77 tour rehearsal

There are very few photos around showing David's PB settings. Pedalboard photos from Gilmour's Medina studio in 2017 shows a volume setting of 12:00. One photo from the 1977 Pink Floyd tour rehearsals shows the PB treble set to 1:00, bass at 2:30, and volume knob set almost to minimum, for a lightly overdriven clean tone. However, most of the high gain distortion heard during the tour sounds like the PB at maximum fuzz overdrive volume. It has that distict treble-boosted fuzz sound, but you can also get that sound by running the PB into a Big Muff. It was a noticeably hotter sound than the previous tours, which I think was due to the DiMarzio FS-1 bridge pickup in David's Black Strat in at the time. The FS-1 had a much higher output than the stock pickup he had been using previously. I cannot get the Power Boost to sound that intense with my standard Strat pickups, but I definitely can with the hotter FS-1 or Seymour Duncan SSL-5 pickups.

One of the most popular guitar tones among Gilmout tone enthusiasts like myself are his high gain lead tones form Pink Floyd's 1977 tour. Below is a 9 1/2 minute medley of Gilmour's guitar work from those concerts. A few of these clips are the Power Boost running into a Big Muff, but I believe most are just the PB.

mp3 Exampes of the Colorsound Power Boost from Pink Floyd's 1977 concert in Oakland, California

Below is another example from the 1977 tour. The Power Boost is first, then David switches on the Big Muff with the Power Boost at the 23 second mark.

mp3 Pink Floyd 1977 Tour - Pigs solo with Power Boost and Big Muff

Below is a sound clip from Pink Floyd's 1977 tour where you can first hear the Colorsound Power Boost set for moderate overdrive, then David turns on his Big Muff at the same time and the sound explodes. The Power Boost is clearly set to a lower volume than the Big Muff/Power Boost combined, and would sound close to unity if we were only hearing the Big Muff alone. This is something not possible with the stock Power Boost unless the circuit has been modified to bring the level down.

mp3 Pink Floyd 1977 Tour - Shine on You Crazy Diamond solo with Power Boost and Big Muff

Below is an example of my 1977 lead tone setup. This is a Strat with an SSL-5 bridge pickup, 9v Colorsound Overdriver running into a Ram's Head Big Muff, through a Fender Twin Reverb. The Overdriver drive pot is set to nearly maximum gain and the Ram's head sustain is set around 60%.

mp3 Shine on You Crazy Diamond part 3 solo with Overdriver and Big Muff

I have to point out that there is no documentation of what songs David Gilmour used the Power Boost on for Pink Floyd's 1973-75 concerts or the 1977 tour, or how he used it. It is documentedd that David had a Fuzz Face and Power Boost in his pedalboard from 1973-1975. He also had a Cornish made Big Muff clone built to his 1977 pedalboard, along with an Electro Harmonix Big Muff connected via the send/return jacks. After the 1977 tour the the PB in the Cornish board was replaced with a Cornish ST-2, which was a modified Power Boost clone.

It is generally assumed that the Power Boost was used for most of David's overdrive sounds in that 1973-77 period, but it is also possible to get overdrive tones from the Fuzz Face by dialing the guitar volume down and dialing the fuzz level down on the pedal. Add in modulation effects David used like a Uni-vibe, phaser, Electric Mistress flanger, or rotating speaker cabinets like the Leslie or Yamaha RA-200, and it becomes very difficult to identify what we are hearing. That said, there is a signature sound to the Power Boost through a Hiwatt that is different from a Fuzz Face or a Big Muff, so it is sometimes easy to identitfy which is which when there are no modulation effects being used. David also used a Cornish custom tone pedal in his '77 pedal board that was essentially a Telecaster tone circuit wired to a Cry-Baby wah wah chassis. It is unknown if or how he used this pedal, but that is another possible element of his tone to unravel.

CLONES - There have been numerous, less expensive clones made of the Power Boost/Overdriver over the years that include built in master volumes. Too many to list or keep up with, but always has a good llist of the alternatives available. A few clones I have tried that sound good are the Throbak Overdrive Boost, Vick Audio Overdriver, Buffalo FX Power Booster, Vintage FX Colordrive, and Prescription Electronic RX Overdriver. Most of these sound like they were inspired by the originals and do not sound exactly like the Sola Sound pedals I own, but are very close. The 18v Buffalo FX Power Booster is one of the better ones. A Boss BD-2 Blues Driver also gets in a similar tone territory.

Below are older sound clips from a previous version of this webpage.

Soundclips of Pink Floyd's David Gilmour using the Colorsound Power Boost
Gilmour Power Boost Sound Clips - Examples taken from the Shine on You Crazy Diamond studio track, April 1975 concert, June 1975 concert, 1977(?) concert, July 1977 concert (last show), and for comparison, several non-Colorsound examples from DSOT live CD, Pulse live CD, Remember That Night live DVD, and the Live in Gdansk CD, in that order.

SOUNDCLIPS - Clips below are played with a 2008 American Standard Strat, Fender CS69 neck pickup and SSL-5 bridge pickup, into a '65 Fender Twin Reverb RI.

Colorsound Overdriver Rhythm Demo - Pigs
Three clips of the rhythm part from Pigs. First is a mild boost, then heavy boost, then full overdrive.

Pigs rhythm part with artificial double tracking to simulate the sound heard on the Pigs studio track.

Colorsound Overdriver Demo - Shine On You Crazy Diamond
Three clips with an overdrive setting - first is the Colorsound only, second is the Colorsound with a Boss CS-2 compressor added, and third is the Colorsound with MXR Dynacomp compressor added.

Colorsound Overdriver Demo - On An Island
Trying a modern Gilmour overdrive tone with the first On An Island solo.

MORE SOUND CLIPS - Fender strat with SSL-5 bridge pickup into Overdriver, MXR Carbon Copy analog delay, and Fender Twin Reverb.

Colorsound Overdriver Sound Clip 1 - Colorsound on light boost playing Money bass line.

Colorsound Overdriver Sound Clip 2 - Colosound on light overdrive playing Time solo.

Colorsound Overdriver Sound Clip 3 - Colorsound on maximum overdrive playing Time solo.

NOTE - I have listed the gear and settings I use in most cases, for reference, but note that the tones may not exactly match your rig, depending on which amp you use, your guitar, and pickups, and fingers :)




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