Plucky The Bassist
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MXR M85 Bass Distortion

4.3/5, 4.3 from 3 reviews
The MXR Bass Distortion dishes out big gnarly tones with all the low end your bottom-dwelling heart desires. Working closely with indie pedal phenom,
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Recent Reviews

  1. Andii Syckz
    Rat with a twisted tail
    4/5, 4 out of 5, reviewed Mar 14, 2022
    Build Quality:
    5.00/5,
    Features:
    4.00/5,
    Value:
    4.00/5,
    Pros
    • + Solid build
    • + Tweakable tone
    • + Good distortion
    Cons
    • - Hard to get subtle overdrive
    • - Not the best balance on meat & bite
    • - Clean blend volume is a weak link (explained below)
    There's lots of praise for this pedal & collab. Am not entirely familiar with Fuzzrocious themselves, but heard great things. & I knew this was a take on the famous RAT circuit with its own distinction, however some of my own findings are based on the unit I own (not to be taken as a whole as i've no chance to compare multiples of the same effect).

    While the distortion itself is very nice & rat esque, between both the SIL & LED modes (silicon has more oumph where LED is hairier). The one grippe i've got with the unit i own is; with the clean volume engaged makes the unit sound like two separate signals rather than one in unison. I've had experience with mxr's bass overdrive & it's what made me enjoy their blend capabilities for bass fx (over most where the blend is either clean, 50/50 or dirt on a single knob.)

    Maybe it's my unit which has a defect in the clean blend signal not acting as one with the dirty side. However, if i just rate it on the distortion - it's pretty good. Kinda difficult to obtain that RAT overdrive tone sadly, it's much more geared towards distortion/fuzz, as opposed to the all aroundness of a RAT (again, am not ubber familiar hands on with any Fuzzrocious products, am going solely based on the proco rats i've played). There's an internal volume for the LED mode to balance out with the SIL mode. perhaps also differs from units, but if set as factory (clockwise to +7.5db), i did back mine off about half way to get a nice balance between both modes volume wise (even though LED was perceived a smidge louder, probably cause it cuts through more than SIL mode).

    Overall distortion side of thing, pretty good. I'd recommend if you're more inclined to having a mid-heavy distortion. I'd suggest testing out the clean volume balance - maybe your unit won't have the problem i've experienced with mine.
    Price Paid:
    130$ CAD Used
  2. Miles_ONeal
    A genius partnership
    4.75/5, 4.75 out of 5, reviewed Oct 1, 2020
    Build Quality:
    5.00/5,
    Features:
    5.00/5,
    Value:
    5.00/5,
    Pros
    • + Serious distortion
    • + Broad tonal flexibility
    • + Built like a tank
    • + Designed by the best
    Cons
    • - Not much range of subtlety (but that's not what it's for)
    MXR partnered with Fuzzrocious himself, Ryan Ratajski for this. From the proCo Rat came the Fuzzrocious Rat Tail (nee Cat Tail), and from that, the M85. In your face distortion is the pedal's forte. While it lacks the clipping adjustment controls of the Cat Tail, the Wet and Dry level pots provide great control of the overall sound. It's also cheaper than the Cat Tail, but of course doesn't offer the mods and custom paint. If you don't need those but want a serious, durable distortion pedal, this is a great option.
    Price Paid:
    $70 (used)
  3. Plucky The Bassist
    It's a Dirty Rat Deep Inside
    4/5, 4 out of 5, reviewed Jun 4, 2015
    Build Quality:
    5/5,
    Features:
    4/5,
    Value:
    4/5,
    Pros
    • + Dry and Wet knobs make for excellent flexibility and tweaking - Good distortion range - Internal trimpot for LED volume is super helpful - Excellent-sized pedal, won't take up much space on the board - Gets very loud - Uses Boss 9v adapter
    Cons
    • - - Hates active basses - No input pad - 9v adapter plug on side
    This pedal is the collaboration of Ryan from Fuzzrocious and MXR to create an amazing Rat clone specifically for bass players. I'd say they did a dang fine job it, the pedal is exactly what they say it is. There's a certain character to it that gives it the Rat vibe that many guys are looking for. Of course you will always have naysayers, but I say this does a pretty good job.

    My biggest complaint, and this is common with distortion pedals for bass, is how they reactive with higher output basses. I use the term "active basses" as they are typically much higher output than regular passive basses. I tested this with passive basses first, two stock Squier bass (CV P and VM J) and my Ibanez SRX3EX w/ a 3-band Bartolini preamp in passive mode. Using these basses, it sounds fantastic. It's very full, the distortion range is great, and it adds some gnarly hair onto your tone.

    Switching my Ibanez to active mode just ruins the whole thing. I adjust the volume and distortion on the pedal to no avail, it just can't handle that much input signal. This is a "problem" (at least in my opinion) with other pedals as well. The EHX Bass Big Muff Deluxe resolved this problem beautifully by simply adding a -10db switch onto the pedal. No matter what bass I use with it, it sounds great. The Blower Box and MXR M85 are pedals I'd LOVE to use with my active basses, but I'm restricted to only passive due to their lack of an input pad. I don't want to affect the tone of the instrument by rolling down the volume, not to mention keeping my place should it get moved would be a serious pain. I'd deal with a larger size box just to have this option.

    My only other gripe is that the 9v adapter plugs into a hole right underneath the 1/4" input. This is a pain and I often wonder why they don't just put it on the top like so many other pedal manufacturers. It gets in the way of my patch cables and just seems stupid.


    If you play passive basses and aren't bothered by the adapter port, this is most assuredly a great pedal to have. Make sure you like the Rat tone or try one out before buying. It's not for everyone, but for those who do like it, this is a Godsend.
    Price Paid:
    $139
    El-Bob likes this.

Item Details

  1. Pedal Type:
    Distortion
    Batteries:
    9v
    Price:
    $139
    Features:
    Based on a classic distortion circuit famous for its nasty sound
    Separate Dry and Wet level controls
    Select between Silicon and LED clipping diodes

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