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Reviewfer Twofer: MXR El Grande, Maxon PH350 Rotary Phaser

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by Smurf-o-Deth, Jul 25, 2008.

  1. Smurf-o-Deth

    Smurf-o-Deth ¡No me gustan mis pantalones!

    Oct 2, 2007
    The state of denial.
    Since I've been asked for my thoughts, musings, and soundclips on both of these pedals in other threads, I thought I'd just do the damn thing here for accessibility's sake.

    Level 1: the MXR El Grande Bass Fuzz

    Simply put, I find this to be a great-sounding, vintage-style kind of fuzz. With the Deep switch, the bottom on this fuzz is very fat (and controllable from the inside via trimmers), and with the right knob-twisting, can lead to some heavy sludge (if that is what you want). Because it is a vintage-sounding fuzz, note definition is pretty well lost; however, with the Deep switch engaged, blending in some clean signal changes the tone of the fuzzed-up signal very little, only adding in some definition and attack (until you add in too much clean, obviously). This fuzz also has a sh'load of gain available, with around 7:45 being what I'll call "unity bottom," that being the sound of the low-end with the Deep switch engaged matching the low end of my clean signal, just with the fuzzed-up toppings added on. Also, the fuzz cleans up very well with the volume knob on your bass, essentially rolling off fuzz as if you were twisting the fuzz knob.

    Level boss: In summary, if you are looking for a vintage flavor of fuzz, at $100 and in a tiny enclosure, this seems like a great choice. With only minor nits for me to pick at, like the DC in being on the side, I feel confident in giving the El Grande 50 coins and a Gold Star.

    Bonus round: sounds for the earhole
    For these clips, I'm playing an American Standard P5, into the El Grande, then compressing it with an Opto Stomp so it won't overload my soundcard. Then it's Markbass LMII to the Mac to Audacity. Also, sorry for the kinda off-mcwall site these are posted on; Putfile was being contrary and this was the first site that I Googled that would play the file without a download, and my patience extends no further.

    Clippos magnificos numero uno: this is a clean reference for the other clips. Tone knob is at about 25%. Suck knob may be higher.

    Clippos magnificos numero deuce: this is the fuzz range. Tone stays in the middle, and Deep is on at all times. From start to stop, it's minimum fuzz, 9 o'clock, noon, 3 o'clock, and maximum fuzz.

    Clippos magnificos numero third: tone range. I give you full counter-clockwise, noon, and full clockwise, each with Deep off, then on.

    Clippos magnificos numero IV: the power of the blend. For this clip, I'm slappin' with the tone knob on my bass at about 50%. First clean, then fuzz, then fuzz with some clean signal added in with the good ole LS-2. Fuzz settings are tone at noon, fuzz at 10 o'clock, Deep on.

    Clippos magnificos numero fiff: the gift of the volume knob. Here, I have the fuzz cranked to 3 o'clock, tone is at noon, Deep is on. First, I play with the fuzz at 3 o'clock, then at noon, then at 9 o'clock, then I go back to 3 o'clock on the fuzz, and I roll back the bass volume knob to about 66%, then 33%, to show how nicely things clean up.

    Level 2: the Maxon Vintage Series PH350 Rotary Phaser

    There's a lot of phaser in this here orange box. With the 4, 6, and 10 stage settings, forward and reverse feedback, and wide rate and depth ranges, there is everything from subtle warmth to wide, watery shimmer to be found, all of it lubberly. The frequencies that are swept are higher-spectrum, somewhere in the midrange on up (as a point of reference, on my P5, I need to have the tone to at least about 50% to hear the upper width of the phase sweeps), so the overall sound is bright--perfect for funky sounds. There is an internal, un-adjustable mix set to 50/50, so the notes will come through as well as the phasing; this may be good, if like me you want to keep note definition. However, if you want 100% swoosh, this may be a drawback. That said, there is plenty of deep, chewy swoosh to be had. On top of it all, when the feedback is twisted fully in either direction, serious noise ensues. As in, your dog will eat your face to make it stop serious noise.

    Level boss: I love this thing. I had been looking for a more pronounced, watery phaser, and struck gold here. The construction is sturdy, 9v DC powers it just fine, and the huge knobs are easy to toe-twist. Outside of a little white noise (it's analogue, so no shocker), I can't find much to gripe about. For wide, liquid, bright phasing, as well as more subtle, classic varieties, this puppy wags in all the right places. 50 coins, a Gold Star, and the ever-elusive All Clear Bonus.

    Bonus round: son of sounds for the earhole
    For these clips, I'm playing an American Standard P5, into the PH350, then compressing it with an Opto Stomp so it won't overload my soundcard. Then it's Markbass LMII to the Mac to Audacity. Also, my tone knob is at about 50% for these clips.

    Clip to the one: phasing stages. I have the speed, depth, and feedback all set to about 3 o'clock for these, to make it easier to hear the difference. I play my little groove noodle (groodle?), then slap a simple line to showcase the differences, from 4 stages, to 6 stages, then 10 stages.

    Clip to the two: phasing speed. I left the depth and feedback at 3 o'clock, 10 stages, then play with the speed at minimum, 9 o'clock, noon, 3 o'clock, and maximum.

    Clip to the three: depth. Speed and feedback at 3 o'clock, 10 stages, depth at minimum, 9 o'clock, noon, 3 o'clock, maximum.

    Clip to the four: feedback. This knob can do some crazy junk, so I kept away from the completely nutso settings. Speed and depth at 3 o'clock, 10 stages, feedback at 9 o'clock, 10:30, noon, 1:30, 3 o'clock. At 9 and 3, you can hear some of the craziness creep in around the edges.

    Clip Trek: The Final Frontier
    Aaaaaand, since I reviewed them both together, and I know some people are wondering it, here's the fuzz into the phaser, with me butchering Phantom of the Opera. I listened to it a couple of times, then played it, so I'm sure I effed up some parts, plus I know my soundcard cried on a few notes. The El Grande is on tone noon, fuzz 10 o'clock, deep on, and the PH350 is on speed 2 o'clock, depth 3:30, 10 stage, feedback 12:30. The tone on my bass is at 50%. Enjoy. Or don't. Whatevs.
  2. Valerus


    Aug 4, 2005
    Austin, Texas
    Thanks for the Grande review!
    I can't wait to try it out.
  3. Smurf-o-Deth

    Smurf-o-Deth ¡No me gustan mis pantalones!

    Oct 2, 2007
    The state of denial.
    Added the last El Grande clip and a bunch of PH350 clips.
  4. Thank you for doing this. It sounds amazing with the deep on. Before i buy it do the open strings ring very loud like the big muff?
  5. Jared Lash

    Jared Lash Born under punches

    Aug 21, 2006
    Denver, CO
    I'm still a bit torn on whether I'm keeping my PH-350 or not. I need to hear it in a full mix before I decide.
  6. SpankyPants

    SpankyPants That's Mr. SpankyPants to you.

    Aug 24, 2006
    Brooklyn, NY
    I'm just on my lappy right now, but I'm pretty disappointed by the El Grande. Maybe I need to try it on better speakers?
  7. Smurf-o-Deth

    Smurf-o-Deth ¡No me gustan mis pantalones!

    Oct 2, 2007
    The state of denial.
    Well, with any fuzz, you'll need to mute your strings or they'll ring. As long as you aren't Slop McSloppytown, I can't forsee any problem.

    Kinda depends on what part disappoints you. If it's bass response, then yes, listen through better speakers, because this sucker thunders. If it's the tone, meh, who can say? That's just subjective beyond belief.

    P.S. I added another clip, with the two together, because I'm sure someone wants to know.
  8. RickenBoogie


    Jul 22, 2007
    Dallas, TX
    Nice review, thanks. I'd be on the fence with the MXR, but the Maxon rocks. I have yet to hear a Maxon pedal I don't like.
  9. wdinc01


    Nov 19, 2005
    Jacksonville, FL
    Good stuff! A review of two pedals I've been looking at! But your clips didn't really sell me (at least, not on the El Grande). Oh well, I'm still glad to see someone take the time to review these.
  10. yeah the EL grande clip on the dunlop website is the best thing EVER but the clips here put me in serious doubt
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    Primary TB Assistant

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