MINI-REVIEWS: MXR Carbon Copy, MXR El Grande

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by JanusZarate, Jul 8, 2008.

  1. JanusZarate

    JanusZarate Low End Avenger

    Feb 21, 2006
    Boise, ID, USA
    I had the opportunity to meet up with TBer Brad Barker yesterday, and I took him with me to the local Starving Musician in Berkeley. I took a bit of time to demo two new MXR pedals that I've been itching to try out for a while.

    MXR Carbon Copy (Analog Delay)


    PRICE: Around $150.00 USD new.

    SIZE: Same as the MXR Phase 90 - TINY!

    POWER: 9VDC or 9V battery. Your typical Boss-standard plug will do fine.

    INPUTS / OUTPUTS: Mono in, mono out. No stereo outputs or inputs on this particular pedal.

    LED: Two bright, piercing blue LEDs - one for the bypass switch, and one for the modulation button. :D

    CONTROLS: Regen (for controlling repeats/feedback), Mix (for controlling the wet/dry mix), and Delay (for controlling delay time). There's also a small "Mod" button to engage delay modulation, and two trimpots inside to control Width and Rate for the modulation.

    The Mix knob is interesting because it goes from 100% dry to an equal mix of wet and dry. With the EHX digital delay pedals I've used, you could get repeats that were louder than the dry signal, or even dial out the dry signal entirely. The Carbon Copy's Mix knob, however, is just like the Level knob on the DD-6.

    SOUND: It sounds really good - it's an analog enthusiast's dream. The delays are warm yet defined. Short delay times allow for clearer repeats. However, it's easy for the Carbon Copy to go nuts - it doesn't have a lot of headroom, so as you crank the knobs, some muddiness is inevitible (it comes with the territory). I guess that's the appeal, though - it behaves like its ancestors. The feedback and oscillation possibilities on this pedal are pretty cool and fun to toy with.

    The stock modulation settings on the Carbon Copy are subtle - you can tell it's affecting your repeats, but it's most appreciable if your tone is on the brighter side of things. I might buy one in the near future and mess with the modulation trimpots to see what it can really achieve.

    VOLUME: No drops! That's a relief. That has tended to be the issue with the Blend knobs on EHX pedals that I've used. With this pedal, however, your dry signal level never drops.

    SUMMARY: If you're looking for a simple analog delay that can get crazy with feedback, this is the first one I'll direct you to. It's inexpensive and it's GOOD! If you want tons of features and brighter tones, look elsewhere.

    MXR El Grande (Bass Fuzz)


    PRICE: Around $100.00 USD new.

    SIZE: Same as the MXR Phase 90 - TINY!

    POWER: 9VDC or 9V battery. Your typical Boss-standard plug will do fine.

    INPUTS / OUTPUTS: Mono in, mono out. Nothing out of the ordinary.

    LED: Two bright, piercing blue LEDs - one for the bypass switch, and one for the Deep button. :D

    CONTROLS: Volume (for volume... duh!), Tone (for tweaking the tone of the fuzz), and Fuzz (for controlling distortion/gain). There's also a small "Deep" button to kick in a major bass boost.

    SOUND: It's... uh... not quite what I'd hoped it would be, but it IS something I didn't expect it to be. ;)

    I'm enamored with the tight, controlled fuzz of the MXR Blowtorch... so it took me a few minutes to really appreciate the El Grande. The El Grande can get crazy gain-wise, but it has a large amount of "control" over its fuzzy madness, unlike the Big Muff (which is absolutely insane on bass when cranked).

    The Deep switch isn't all that useful to me. It gets really bass-heavy, which I guess could be useful, but it seems like overkill. The El Grande retains your low end VERY well; a bit is lost at higher, brighter Tone settings, but it's nothing you'll miss, and the Deep switch can help you if you really want some low-end rumble back.

    Now, this is where it gets interesting. In terms of tone, it reminds me of a Tonebender. In fact, I suspect that's what it was probably based on... because they seem to have a lot in common sound-wise, and the controls behave similarly.

    To you TBers who have a Colorsound Tonebender... do us a favor and A/B it with this one. I'm curious to see how alike they truly are... because to my ears, the El Grande sounds like a compact, modern replacement for the Tonebender!

    SUMMARY: The El Grande is a thick, bassy fuzz with Tonebender characteristics. Not to be confused with a Big Muff or a Blowtorch - these pedals are nothing alike!
  2. karter2000

    karter2000 Supporting Member

    Aug 21, 2005
    Nowhere land
    If any of my local music stores ever get an El Grande in, I will be the first to try one out. I have my DIY tonebender which I can compare it to.

  3. rcubed


    May 8, 2008
    San Diego, CA
    I have a Carbon Copy and the only thing I was unimpressed with was the mod button. Good to know there are some trim pots I can now play with.
  4. SpankyPants

    SpankyPants That's Mr. SpankyPants to you.

    Aug 24, 2006
    Brooklyn, NY

    I wasn't way impressed by the Carbon Copy, but I still want to try out the Grande.

  5. Valerus


    Aug 4, 2005
    Austin, Texas

    Nice review Boo, thanks for sharing!
  6. JanusZarate

    JanusZarate Low End Avenger

    Feb 21, 2006
    Boise, ID, USA
    Record some clips of the results if you can! I'm especially curious about high-width settings with low and high rates.

    If the modulation can indeed be more intense, it may be enough to sway me into getting one for myself...
  7. Rumor has it that the modulation settings are more extreme on the newest batch of Carbon Copies... can anybody confirm?

    I got rid of mine for what it's worth, and modulation wasn't the issue. I found it darkened my tone too much for my liking - not unusual for an analog delay, but I prefer brighter reproduction.
  8. Bryan R. Tyler

    Bryan R. Tyler TalkBass: Usurping My Practice Time Since 2002 Staff Member Administrator Supporting Member

    May 3, 2002
    Reviewer: Bass Player Magazine
    Thanks for the review- I'm interested in comparing the El Grande fuzz with the new EHX bass fuzz.
  9. And this is why there are three hundred and thirty six thousand different fuzz pedals out there....I love my Blowtorch too, for the same reasons that 'Boo does, but it took me only a few seconds to find a tone I liked out of the El Grande. Admittedly, MysticBoo is likely five times the bass player I am and I still have a guitarist's ear so things sound differently to me....

    Finally had the opportunity to play through a (Russian) Big Muff on bass and to be honest, they don't have many similarities. But I do love the gain on the El Grande.

    And I, on the other hand, love the deep switch. Likely because of my gui**** ears adjusting the tone to be brighter overall.

    And I wouldn't disagree with any of that.
  10. OptimusPrime


    Mar 30, 2008
    So eventually having both a Blowtorch and El Grade wouldn't be redundant?
  11. Oh no. No, no. Not at all.


    They compliment each other well in my opinion.
  12. JanusZarate

    JanusZarate Low End Avenger

    Feb 21, 2006
    Boise, ID, USA
    Eh, I'm a decent bassist and not much more. Don't believe the hype or the gig reviews. :D

    It's easy to dial in great tones with the El Grande, but I actually sat there thinking for a minute or so at a time on each setting, trying to figure out if it could be useful. :D

    Eventually, I decided that the Deep switch was just getting in the way...

    Nope. They're very different pedals.

    But the question really should be: do you need TWO flavors of fuzz on your board?
  13. Joe Gress

    Joe Gress

    Dec 22, 2005
    Pueblo, CO
    Nope, at least six. :D
  14. Man cannot live on vanilla ice cream alone!
  15. JanusZarate

    JanusZarate Low End Avenger

    Feb 21, 2006
    Boise, ID, USA
    Big Muff / Pickle
    Fuzz Face

    There's really only about seven flavors, and then a lot of redundancy. :D

    And rusty, you're right... vanilla ice cream couldn't possibly satisfy us...

    That's what toppings are for. ;)
  16. I really want to try a Brassmaster/clone one of these days. The hype is killing me.
  17. Joe Gress

    Joe Gress

    Dec 22, 2005
    Pueblo, CO
    Yeah, me too. But so is the price.
  18. Im really into my Germ Assmaster... I'll get some clips up soon.

    Thanks for the mini reviews Boo. Im interested in getting hold of an El Grande to A/B with my Tonebender. As most already know, I have the Jumbo Tonebender... Colorsound weren't kidding, its HUGE! A Phase 90 sized one would be great!
  19. OhThePeacock


    Sep 15, 2007
    Wausau, WI
    The only Shin-Ei fuzz I could find with a quick google search was the Shin-Ei FY-2. Was that the only Shin-Ei fuzz ever produced?
  20. Shin-ei is also responsible for the Univox Super-fuzz, famously used by (among others) the Beastie Boys on Sabotage.