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Some notes on MXR 80 distortion channel...

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by Magman, Jan 19, 2006.

  1. Picked up an MXR 80 off ebay recently. Was looking for a preamp for my sansamp BDDI to get more grind - I like the BDDI overdrive circuit a lot: its fat and crunchy and lets the strings come through, but not enough gain. Was unhappy with a boss bass eq - just seemed a bit lacklustre somehow.
    For higher more saturated gain I have 3 overdrive pedals kicking around which do the job well (tech 21 XXL, tech 21 Double Drive, marshall Jackhammer)

    Anyhow, the MXR80 - fits the bill well and the 2 channels are v useful: I can now have 3 switchable levels of gain goining into the sansamp.

    The distortion has been called 'thin' before - a crucial thing to note is that the circuit is NOT run through an amp simulation/speaker simulation circuit so 'raw' its buzzy and harsh. The manual says the 'color' circuit is on, but I suspect the actualy clipping is occuring after the color circuit.

    If you run any distortion pedal raw into a mixer - its going to sound bad with far too many highs and upper mids.

    So - going into a normal amp/speaker setup (sans tweeter)or sansamp with the MXR80 solves the problem and you will get a much better sound out of the distortion channel.
    Presuably if recording or going raw into mixer you can EQ to tame it.

    The distortion channel itself cleans up well, which is good. Its goes to what I would call medium gain: not highgain saturation.
    Use a guitar on it and you get early 80's or 70's metal type tones.

    Its not too fuzzy, but a bit fuzzier than the sansamp drive. Theres no 'squishiness' either that you can get from the better overdrive simulators. For adding meat and potatoes grind or helping overdrive another amp, it will probably work pretty well. Of pedals Ive owned, the dist. circuit sounds closest to the tech21 comptortion.

    At the moment, the MXR is in no danger of toppling the BDDI as the king of my boxes, though it looks to be a robust and useful tool - though in my case perhaps I could have found an overdrive pedal with decent eq and boost capability for cheaper.
    (I'm curious about the Nobels bass overdrive )
  2. the low one

    the low one

    Feb 21, 2002
    If you turn the blend all the way to clean on the distortion channel then you can tell the color is always on when the distortion is in use, which is fine as I use the color for the clean channel as it does fatten things up nicely.

    As much as I love fuzz bass I don't get much chance to use it, so the blend control and the "not over the top" gain means I can dial some distortion in without upsetting the guitarist.
  3. prismacolor2


    Nov 6, 2003
    I really dig my M-80 but I never use the second overdrive circuit for anything but a little colored boost. I hate the distortion circuit but still like the MXR more than the SABDDI because it seems to add less compression.
  4. the low one

    the low one

    Feb 21, 2002
    If the blend is set all the way down so that it's only a clean signal does the gain on the M-80 become inactive? What I'm wondering is can I use the distortion as a clean boost, and if so will it actually be a totally clean boost, or wil the gain be change the tone at all?
  5. Jack


    Sep 6, 2003
    Newcastle, UK
    If the blend is set all the way clean, the gain doesnt do anything. There are seperate volumes for both channels so you could use the second channel as a boost.
  6. Rock City

    Rock City

    Apr 8, 2001
    It's not a clean boost because the distortion channel automatically engages the mid scoop. I wish it were clean.
  7. the low one

    the low one

    Feb 21, 2002
    I know what you mean. It forces you to use the color on the clean channel if you then want the distortion channel to be a similar sound but with just a hint of boost or distortion.