One of the coolest things about using effects is all the different ways you can combine them to create entirely different tonal palettes, so we put together a handful of our favorite MXR Bass Innovations combos. We’ve given our preferred order for these combinations, but your mileage may vary, so feel free to experiment.
Bass Compressor + Bass Octave Deluxe
Running the Bass Compressor into the Bass Octave Deluxe makes for a tighter, more focused octave effect with an even thicker sounding thump. We can’t say for sure, but a lot of bass players are convinced that Pino Palladino used the compressor+octave combination to get his iconic tone for Paul Young’s “Tear Your Playhouse Down.”
Bass Octave Deluxe + Bass Envelope Filter
Combining these two pedals is the perfect way to get funky synth sounds without having to double up on keys. Run the Bass Octave Deluxe into the Bass Envelope Filter for best results. Check out this clip of the great Tim Lefebvre demonstrating the great range of deep, expressive tones these pedals are capable of when paired:
Bootsy Collins used this effect combination quite often—listen to the song “Bootzilla” for another great example.
Bass Octave Deluxe + Bass Fuzz Deluxe
Combining the Bass Octave Deluxe and the Bass Fuzz Deluxe is all about subterranean chainsaw grind. Putting the octave pedal in front of the fuzz pedal can fill out the sonic space, fattening up and adding some depth to your signal. Check out “All the Love in the World” from Nine Inch Nails or “No Hassle Night” by the Dead Weather to hear how the octave/fuzz combination sounds when done right.
Bass Envelope Filter + Bass Fuzz Deluxe
This combo is all about liquid, percolating funk with a more aggressive attitude. Just run the Bass Envelope Filter into the Bass Fuzz Deluxe and pluck away. Bootsy Collins liked to use this combination a lot, as does Les Claypool.
Bass Octave Deluxe + Bass Envelope Filter + Bass Fuzz Deluxe
This combination gives you thick, funky synth-like tones that cut through with hard-charging authority and dynamic expression. Just run the Bass Octave Deluxe into the Bass Envelope Filter into the Bass Fuzz Deluxe. Bootsy strikes again with this one, just listen to “What’s the Name of this Town.”
Bass Distortion + Bass Chorus Deluxe
Combining these two pedals—Bass Distortion into the Bass Chorus Deluxe—gives you the dark, spectral sounds chorus pedals are known for, but the distortion adds a whole ’nother level of texture and attitude. For a subtle but effective use of this effect, listen to Puscifer’s “Galileo.” Type O Negative’s “IYDKMIGHTKY (Gimme That)” has a more obvious example.
There’s a ton of other effects combinations available to bass players, but we feel these are the the most basic, foundational combos you should get to know as a bass player. Line ’em up and dig in.
Reverb is that sense of place and depth you hear when sound is reflected off of solid surfaces. Architects have been designing concert halls and other enclosed spaces to enhance this effect with live music for more than a hundred years. Recorded music, however, can sound flat and unnatural if it doesn’t sound as if it actually exists in a physical space, so musicians and producers have relied on a number of methods to recreate the sonic characteristics of playing in acoustically rich environments.
The MXR Reverb offers players the history of these methods and then some in a standard MXR box, featuring six distinct high end styles exquisitely crafted and tuned by the award-winning MXR design team. It’s got a simple three-knob setup, a hi-fi analog dry path, and a massive 20 volts of headroom thanks to our Constant Headroom Technology™ so that it plays exceptionally well with distortion, modulation, and other effects.
Musicians have a number of utilitarian and creative needs that the MXR Reverb handily addresses. If your recorded signal sounds dull and flat, for example, the MXR Reverb can give it a sense of place and atmosphere, making it sound more natural and alive. The same goes for an acoustically dead venue—adding some reverb can open up a room and breathe some life back into your signal. The MXR Reverb also adds a whole new range of tone-shaping options, whether binding the different elements of your sound together or creating atmospheric, otherworldly environments for your compositions to move and breathe within.
The MXR Reverb’s six different styles can help with all of these uses and more. We encourage you to experiment with all of them, but here’s a quick explanation of what each can bring to your sound.
With the advent of recorded music, one of the first solutions to the “flat sound” problem was to play music inside of an enclosed space with a microphone sending the signal to a mixing board. The first of these “reverb chambers” was a bathroom, but specially designed rooms were eventually built into the recording studios themselves.
The Room setting captures the sound of those reverb chambers, adding subtle body and projection to your guitar tone at shorter decay times while longer decay times yield rich organic space that doesn’t wash out. Think old blues and jazz recordings. This setting is also great for livening up a dead recording sound.
Plate-based reverb—which creates its effect through the vibration of large, thin metal plates—was the next step in studio reverb evolution. It became the standard for recording studios because of its clean, bright sound, and, while quite heavy, they could actually be moved around.
The Plate setting provides a shimmering smooth wash of space that’s a go-to choice from the studio recording world. Use this setting to give your signal a classically lush, “hi-fi” sound, make up for dead venue acoustics when playing onstage, liven up a flat recorded sound, or bind all of the elements of your tone together.
Spring-based reverb as we know it today uses a transducer to vibrate one or more springs while a pickup transmits the generated sounds. Whereas plate units were large and expensive, spring units were small enough to put into amplifiers, and their low cost meant that the average guitar player could afford them. This style became a crucial component of old school surf rock tone.
Use this setting to recreate the classic bounce and twang of classic amp-style reverb. Like the Room and Plate styles, Spring style is great for revitalizing a flat recorded sound, and like the Plate style, works great as a “tone binder.”
The Epic setting sounds like you’re playing in a large, voluminous space such as a cathedral or a cavern. Think Pink Floyd. This setting is perfect for creating atmospheric, otherworldly environments.
The Mod setting combines smooth plate reverb with richly organic modulation in the feedback path. Use this setting to get classic shoegazer tones, liven up a dead recording, or create fluid, ethereal textures.
The Pad setting generates long synth sounds with a unique combination of sub-octave and octave-up with echoes mixed with synth/organ modulation and reverb, unlocking an expressive tonal palette that’s perfect for creating rich, arresting soundscapes.
Look for the MXR Reverb to hit stores in April—check with your favorite retailer to see if you can preorder yours now.
The JP95 John Petrucci Cry Baby® Wah provides unprecedented tonal tweakability. With its huge and expressive sound, this pedal is the culmination of legendary shredder John Petrucci‘s years-long quest to hone and fine-tune his perfect wah sound. John sat down with us to talk about the tonechasing that led to the JP95’s creation as well as his introduction to the wah effect and how it fits into his songwriting process. Check it out.
How were you introduced to the wah, and who influenced your use of it?
John Petrucci: My introduction to the wah was gradual. I kept hearing it on all these songs, and I couldn’t help wanting to find out what it was when I was learning to play as a teenager. At that time, I was a big fan of Iron Maiden, and I’d listen to how Dave Murray used the wah.
But it was Joe Satriani’s Surfing with the Alien that really changed everything for me, though. The way that he uses it as an extension of the expression of his playing, and the way he shapes the notes to make them envelope or be more mellow or more open or sustain or get feedback—that’s probably the biggest influence on the way that I use the wah today.
How do you incorporate the wah into your own playing?
JP: Using the Cry Baby Wah is like bending, or sliding, or using vibrato on your guitar. It’s a way to add more expression and dynamics to what you’re playing. If you get the hang of it, you can really control where the note blossoms. Generally, I use that expressive character to shape my leads, but there are certain situation where it does become an integral component of the songwriting.
I remember when the 535Q first came out, with the adjustable Q and frequency range, when we were writing the Scenes from Memory album. I dialed in the perfect sound with that pedal, one I’d never really heard before. We wrote this song “Home,” which has this big wah riff to it. The wah simply accentuates the riff, but it created a unique sound that’s crucial to the impact of the song. If you play that riff without the wah, it just doesn’t sound the same.
Another way I like to use my Cry Baby Wah is to take an aggressive lick to the next level, opening up the notes and getting them to scream and feedback. The combination of playing hard, playing fast, and stepping on the wah really sets the whole thing on fire.
How did you refine your Cry Baby sound over the years?
JP: I’ve tried many different wahs over the years, all of them Dunlop Cry Baby Wahs—I’ve never played anything else. It was the 535Q that really got me fine-tuning and honing my Cry Baby sound. I had never heard that kind of depth in a wah before, and I was immediately able to lock into a sound that I knew I would use a lot.
But because of the types of venues we play, I try to put any front end pedals in the rig and then manage them onstage with a controller. That way, the audio signal only travels a short distance. That’s how I got turned on to the Cry Baby Rack Wah. It has so many options, and that allowed me to dial in the same sound I was getting with the 535Q. I never changed it after that.
How did the JP95 come about?
JP: When I step on a wah and it has my name on it, I want it to be the sound that I use. When you take it out of the box, plug it in, and step on it, you know it’s going to be the sound that I cultivated throughout over the years. The same boost level, the same tonality, the same sweep—no options to get lost in. That was the focus for developing this Cry Baby Wah.
So we started with the settings on the Cry Baby Rack Wah. Since we’ve been in the studio, Dream Theater engineer Rich Chycki—who has a great ear—helped me fine tune it a little bit more to get it even more hi-fi and bring it to the next level. It sounds huge and badass like an angry, screaming monster with the ultimate expressive range—it‘s perfect for shaping single notes or manipulating growling, heavy chords.
What can you tell us about the JP95’s features?
JP: If you’re a tinkerer and you want to hone your own Cry Baby sound just like I did with the Cry Baby Rack Wah, this pedal has all the controls you need to do that. Just take off the bottomplate, and you’ll find the same controls the Rack Wah has—Volume, Q, and six different EQ controls to boost or cut a whole range of frequencies from 100Hz to 3.2KHz. Since it’s all on the inside, you don’t have to worry about it if you don’t want to.
We also added LEDs because I always have an issue knowing whether or not the wah is on. There are blue lights on the sides that create a glow around your foot so you know for sure that the wah pedal is in fact on.
As far as the look goes, I wanted the pedal to have a classy look but also appear very strong, badass, and sleek. The smoked chrome and shield tread give me that. This pedal has a really cool look to it, on the pedal board and on its own.
We had another great NAMM show this year, and everyone who came to see us was stoked about the new gear, from the MXR® Reverb and the Echoplex® Delay to the John Petrucci Cry Baby® Wah, the Way Huge® Overrated Special™ Overdrive, and more. We also had an awesome crew of Dunlop artists come through, including John Petrucci, Devin Townsend, Eric Gales, and MonoNeon just to name a few.
Check out the photo gallery below for a look at some of what went down at the 2016 NAMM Show. For more information about 2016 releases, including availability, keep up with us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and right here at www.jimdunlop.com.
The 2016 Winter NAMM Show kicks off today at the Anaheim Convention Center in Southern California, and we’re showing off a ton of great new gear. Here’s a sample of what’s coming in 2016:
Are you going to be there this weekend? If so, come on over to booth #4568—you’ll be able to demo our new electronics, as well as some of the classics, and catch some great performances and signings from Dunlop artists.
Here’s the Dunlop booth artist performance schedule:
Winter NAMM 2016 Artist Appearance Schedule
Thursday Jan 21st
Friday Jan 22nd
Saturday Jan 23rd
If you can’t make it to the show, be on the lookout for NAMM demos and previews from your favorite gear sites. As always, we’ll be serving up a ton of content we release these products, including our famously cool video demos, informative content on the Dunlop blog, and a whole lot more. Keep up with new releases by following us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and of course, right here at www.jimdunlop.com.
Keep your instruments pristine and protected with Dunlop’s new Platinum 65™ Premium Care System of professional grade instrument care products. We took a cue from the automotive care industry, harnessing Montan wax—its latest innovation—as the Platinum 65 line’s key ingredient. Montan wax is a fossilized plant wax prized for its ease of use and deep glossy shine.
The Platinum 65 System optimizes Montan wax for the maintenance of musical instruments so that you can both clean your guitars or basses and dress them with a protective barrier. Platinum 65 products take less time and less effort than any other wax-based care product—there’s no need to wait for drying, and there’s no need to wear your arm out trying to even out the surface coating.
Platinum 65 care comes in two forms. For quick and easy everyday care, there’s the 1-step Cleaner-Polish. For weekly use, or whenever more thorough care is necessary, we recommend the Deep Clean and Spray Wax two-step process. Both Deep Clean and Spray Wax are silicone-free.
To show just how simple and effective Platinum 65 products are, we put together a step-by-step pictorial for each process. Check it out below.
USE CLEANER-POLISH FOR DAY TO DAY MAINTENANCE
Platinum 65 Cleaner-Polish is just its name says—a high quality two-in-one cleaner and polish that’s ideal for day to day maintenance of your guitar or bass. Let’s see how it works on this gunked up Les Paul.
First, take a clean, dry cloth such as the Platinum 65 Microfiber Cloth and spray 1 to 2 pumps of Cleaner-Polish onto it. Note: Do not spray Cleaner-Polish onto or around finish chips, cracks, or checking.
Next, wipe the cloth gently over the surface of your instrument and repeat as necessary until clean.
After you’ve gotten rid of the gunk, turn the cloth over to a clean, dry side and gently buff out your instrument’s surface until its nice and shiny.
See? Nice and shiny.
If you have to do a more thorough cleaning and a heavier polish, we suggest you try the two-step Deep Clean/Spray Wax process.
USE DEEP CLEAN & SPRAY WAX FOR MORE THOROUGH CARE
First, we’re going to clean the surface of our guitar with Platinum 65 Deep Clean. Once its gunk-free, we’ll give it a nice protective polish with Platinum 65 Spray Wax.
As we did with the Cleaner-Polish, spray 1 to 2 pumps of Deep Clean onto a clean, dry Platinum 65 Microfiber Cloth. Note: Likewise, do not spray Deep Clean onto or around finish chips, cracks, or checking.
Wipe gently to remove fingerprints and grime, repeating as necessary.
Now it’s time for Platinum 65 Spray Wax—spray 1-2 pumps directly a clean, dry Platinum 65 Microfiber Cloth. Gently buff your instrument to a nice glossy shine, turning the cloth as needed. Note: Again, don’t spray onto the surface of your instrument, especially if there are any finish cracks, chips, or checking.
And there you have it—ready for the showroom floor.
You can get Platinum 65 products by the individual bottle or in the following combo packs: the Platinum 65 Twin Pack includes Deep Clean, Spray Wax, and two Microfiber Cloths, while the Cleaner-Polish Pack features a bottle of Cleaner-Polish and a Microfiber Cloth.
The Carbon Copy® Analog Delay has been the world’s bestselling delay pedal in the world since its release in 2009. Its warm analog sound, ease of use, and healthy reserve of delay time made the pedal a hit with guitar players everywhere, weekend warriors and recording pros alike.
We sat down with the masterminds behind this modern classic—veteran MXR engineer Bob Cedro and Way Huge founder/delay guru Jeorge Tripps—to talk about the this pedal’s origins as well as the development of the newly released Carbon Copy Bright Analog Delay, a collaboration with the guys at Pro Guitar Shop that provides brighter, more refined repeats.
How did you guys conceive of the Carbon Copy Analog Delay?
Jeorge: When I started at Dunlop, the first thing I wanted to do for MXR was create a delay pedal—the line hadn’t had one since the old days, but players kept asking when we were going to fill that void. So I sat down and made a list of all the things I wanted in an MXR delay pedal: analog circuitry, 600ms of delay time, modulation, a Phase 90-sized housing, and the option to run it on battery power.
Bob: Coincidentally, I already had a design for a 600ms analog delay pedal—it was one of my first projects at Dunlop—and we almost went into production with it in 1997. Unfortunately, the BBD IC (bucket brigade device, integrated circuit) we used went out of production at the last minute, so we had to call the whole thing off.
After Jeorge joined the Dunlop team, we had many conversations about creating a new MXR delay analog pedal, but without the parts needed, it stayed on our “Wouldn’t it be great if…” list. A short time later, though, I learned that the particular BBD IC needed to create my dream delay pedal was available again. We got to work right away.
Was it inspired by any previous circuit designs?
Bob: The Carbon Copy circuit was a new design. It was a culmination of my experience both designing delay pedals as an engineer and using them as a player over the years. Back in 1979, I designed my first chorus/delay rack unit for my own personal use. It used a Reticon R5101 charge-coupled device analog delay line, and it had more knobs and meters than a power plant. The first analog delay pedal I actually bought was a Boss DM2, which I used for pretty much everything—live guitar, recorded vocals, drums, and so on.
Later, while working as a design engineer for SR&D—the company that created the Rockman product line, now owned by Dunlop—I used the Rockman Analog Delay, which had this great, warm analog sound. The problem was that it was housed in a large, half rack box with an AC power cord tethered to it, and its control setup was way too complicated.
By the time I came to Dunlop, I had grown to love the more straightforward MXR approach. I decided that Regeneration, Mix, and Delay controls were all I needed in a delay to make me happy. After that, I concentrated on putting it all into an Phase 90-sized box.
What was the collaboration process like between the two of you?
Jeorge: I drew up a graphic representation of the pedal, including Bob’s Regen, Mix, and Delay controls, but I added the Mod (modulation) switch to simulate the wow and flutter of a vintage tape delay unit. Bob put it all together, adding the modulation circuitry to his own 600ms delay design, and the result was incredible.
Can you explain the Carbon Copy’s control setup and why you designed it that way?
Bob: We agreed to keep it simple, with just three knobs on the front of the pedal. At first, I was concerned that the modulation feature would complicate the pedal a bit too much, but the switch seemed to be a perfect solution. It allowed us to maintain the simple three-knob setup on the face of the pedal, and we put the modulation Speed and Width controls inside the unit as“set it and forget it” tweaks.
How does the Mod switch simulate an aging tape echo unit?
Bob: Engaging the Mod button places a slight pitch shifting movement on the delayed signal, which is reminiscent of tape echo wow and flutter. The internal controls are factory set to best simulate those subtle effects, but they can be adjusted for a much more pronounced and intense chorusing sound.
Jeorge: The modulation was a very important aspect of this pedal—it adds depth to the repeats and makes them sound bigger and more full. Very few delay pedals had that feature at the time.
How does it compare to past MXR delays?
Jeorge: The Carbon Copy Delay is a completely different circuit from the old big green MXR Analog Delay. That unit used a Reticon R5101 BBD, and it didn’t have modulation. I think it did about 450ms? It was also very noisy.
Why do you think this pedal is still the bestselling delay six years later?
Jeorge: The market was missing a delay designed according to the MXR ethos, which emphasizes great tones, ease-of-use, and rugged durability for a reasonable price. We filled that gap, and we couldn’t be happier that it’s become the “go to” analog delay pedal.
What spurred the development of the Carbon Copy Bright Delay?
Jeorge: Well, the standard Carbon Copy Delay is famous for its dark, rich warmth. There are a lot of tone guys out there, though, who wanted to hear how it would sound if it was tuned to bring out more of the high end in the repeats so they could have more than one Carbon Copy flavor. Working with Aaron Miller and the Pro Guitar Shop team, we designed the Carbon Copy Bright with those players in mind.
Bob: Pro Guitar Shop’s customer base is very much centered around that type of player—the guys who love to find just the right sound for each application—so we thought they were the perfect partner to work with on this project. We passed a few prototypes back and forth until we found the sweet spot, and it really sounds great.
How exactly is the Carbon Copy Bright Delay different from the standard Carbon Copy Delay ?
Jeorge: The Bright functions exactly the same as the standard version, but it’s tuned differently. Because the higher frequencies are more pronounced, this pedal’s repeats are more defined, and the modulation shimmers a bit more. It’s a great contrast to the standard version’s darker, warmer repeats.
Bob: If you’re into tone crafting and all that good stuff, there’s definitely room for both Carbon Copy pedals on your board.
It doesn’t matter what style you play or how you play it—if you’re a guitar player, you want to stand out in the mix. Super Bright™ Guitar Strings put you right up front with brightness, clarity, and a balanced fundamental. And thanks to our combination of material and design techniques, Super Bright Guitar Strings generate a greater amount of complex harmonic content for a sound that’s rich and musical.
We asked a handful of Super Bright artists to tell us why they dig Dunlop’s newest addition to the guitar string family. Check out their responses below.
Tim Henson / Polyphia
“Not only do the Dunlop Super Bright Strings feel awesome, they sound awesome too. After testing many other strings, we found that Super Bright Strings give us the smooth, bright tone we like—a very versatile tone that allows for clarity in all pickup positions.”
Lee McKinney / Born Of Osiris
“For so long, I really thought guitar strings were just guitar strings, give or take a bit of difference in longevity. But Super Bright Strings are really a breath of fresh air. Not only do they sound unique and much better tonally, they also give me an extra show—sometimes two!—out of each set. Any traveling musician knows how crucial that is and how it can really lighten the load of work on you and your guitar techs. Off tour, without the heat of the venues, sweat, humidity factors, and so on, they last forever. I’m super excited about this new product, and I’m happy to be on board.”
Josh Martin / Little Tybee
“Stringing up with a fresh pack of Super Bright Strings is like taking a blanket off of your tone. They’ve got tons of bright, snappy low end for the 8-string players out there. No flabby bottoming out that I usually get from other brands. I highly recommend them.”
John Browne / Monuments
“The new Super Bright Strings from Dunlop are ace. They have that ‘gnnnaaannng’ bright tone to them—perfect for the cutty guitar tone I love.”
“Tone, durability, and feel are the 3 things I look for in guitar strings. Dunlop Super Bright Strings deliver on all counts.”
If your music demands crystal clear notes and fluid, dextrous picking, get yourself a pack of Primetone™ Sculpted Plectra. Made with Ultex® for superior tonal definition and durability, each pick is burnished by hand so that its sculpted edges glide smoothly off your strings like a broken-in pick.
Tone. Grip. Edge.
We developed these picks to have the elusive sound of tortoiseshell, and this is the closest we’ve ever gotten. Because tortoiseshell was infamous for being slippery, we gave every Primetone pick a grip with enough traction to give plenty of control but low-profile enough so you can still shift it easily in your hand. If you prefer a smooth surface, all models except the Jazz III are available in non-grip form, which have also been designed to have a slightly warmer tone. Check out the grip.
The beveled edges were inspired by guitar players’ high mileage celluloid picks, whose edges have been worn into a natural “sweet spot” bevel that makes playing practically effortless. Some players even go as far as using emery board or sandpaper on their picks to get the same effect. We decided to save you all that time and effort and just sculpt that sweet spot right onto the pick so you have it straight out of the package. Here’s a closer look—each pick’s edges are hand-burnished to further break them in and then inspected by one of our pick technicians.
Bottom line—whether you’re strumming a riff or ripping on a lead, a Primetone Sculpted Plectrum in your hand will help you do it with more flow, clarity, and precision than you’ve ever experienced.
Get ’em in a variety of shapes and gauges…
Primetone picks are available in five different shapes. Let’s take a look at what each can do for you as a player.
With a beveled edge, the tried and true Standard shape gets the smooth, quick release of a well-worn pick. The standard’s shoulders are also beveled for players who like to turn their pick around for a different sound. Gauges: .73, .88, .96, 1.0, 1.3, 1.5mm.
The Triangle shape gives you three beveled edges and a wider gripping surface for greater control. Great for bass players. Gauges: 1.4, 1.5mm.
The Small Tri is a shape that’s been gaining in popularity. Like the Primetone Triangle, the Primetone Small Tri features three beveled edges, but its smaller profile really lets you choke up and dig in with greater control. Gauges: 1.3, 1.4, 1.5mm.
The quick-release Primetone edge enhances the Jazz III’s famous control, speed, and precision. Only available with the low-profile Primetone grip. Gauge: 1.4mm.
The warm and mellow sounding Semi-Round shape features three beveled edges and two different playing tips so you can easily change up your attack and your sound. Gauge: 1.3, 1.5mm.
What do the pros say?
We asked a handful of Primetone Sculpted Plectra players a couple of questions about why they’ve made the switch. Here’s what they had to say.
How does the Primetone Sculpted Plectra affect your technique and the way you play?
Tosin Abasi (Animals as Leaders; custom AAL Jazz III XL with grip, .73mm: It’s really the perfect combination of material, shape and dimension. The beveled edges make picking feel fluid and unobstructed.
Zach Blair (Rise Against; Triangle with grip, 1.5mm): I play hard, so I need a pick I can depend on not to break or wear down. I know that Primetone picks will stand up to everything I put them through.
Scott Fore (National Flatpicking Champion; Small Tri with and without grip, 1.4mm; Standard with and without grip, .88mm): The grip and bevel allow me to greatly vary my tone with subtle changes in the pick angle, and the beveled edge allows a greater string to pick contact area, which gives a much fuller tone. The grip surface prevents the pick from unwanted movement, but I also like the non-grip picks. Their darker tone allows for a big, fat, clear tone on even the brightest of guitars. Perfect picks for all styles of playing. The Ultex material doesn’t get scratchy or noisy from wear, which is another great benefit.
Jude Gold (Jefferson Starship; Editor, Guitar Player; Standard with grip, .73mm): They have the classic vibe of celluloid picks, but they don’t break and they don’t slip or get sweaty, especially with that center grip. The beveled edges give you a bit of that comfortable, broken-in feel, and I love that. A broken-in pick has songs in it.
How do Primetone Picks open up your tonal possibilities?
TA: When the pick glides off the string, it produces a beautifully full and articulate tone. You can hear it even when the guitar isn’t plugged in.
ZB: I’ve come to expect a certain tone out of the Primetone pick, one that’s dark and well rounded. It’s affected my playing and overall style immensely.
SF: The Primetone picks offer the best tonal possibilities of all pick materials available, even the revered tortoise picks. They sound full and clear, producing an open, balanced tone from the lowest note to the highest note.
The M238 MXR Iso-Brick Power Supply is designed for the demands of the stage and the rigors of the road. With ten fully isolated outputs and a lightweight, pedalboard-friendly housing that’s built like a tank, this potent piece of hardware will keep your pedals running with quiet, consistent power gig after gig.
Why does having isolated outputs make a difference? We asked the MXR design team to explain that and more, including several questions on how to get the most out of this wonderful power box. Get inside the Iso-Brick Power Supply below.
What are the advantages of fully isolated outputs?
When power outputs are fully isolated, there is no common electrical connection between them. This provides ground isolation between power sources, eliminating noisy ground loops and making high gain signal chains quieter. It also prevents one pedal from corrupting the power supply of the other pedals if something goes haywire.
Basically, having isolated outputs is like powering all of your pedals with high quality batteries.
Is there anything else in the M238’s design that helps to reduce noise?
Yes—aside from isolating the outputs from each other, we’ve ensured that each fixed voltage output receives a stable, low-noise voltage source by using linear regulators. The variable outputs are regulated by a hybrid design consisting of an adjustable buck regulator and two LC filters—which block switching noise—to simulate the smooth output of an adjustable linear regulator. This was done to minimize heat and power loss in the circuitry while preserving the output characteristics of an adjustable linear power source.
How do fully isolated outputs provide more protection to pedals than non-isolated outputs?
If pedals are powered from just one source—that is, if they aren’t isolated—they can potentially suffer damage if one of the effects experiences an overload or other voltage problem. With an isolated output, that potential damage source is kept from the rest of your pedals.
Is there anything in the design to prevent overheating?
We built in thermal protection for each output, so the M238 will automatically turn itself off if it reaches unsafe operating temperatures. The outputs are also protected against short circuiting via foldback current limiting.
Which types of pedals can be used with the Iso-Brick Power Supply?
You can use almost any pedal—digital or analog, positive or negative barrel—as long as it takes DC power and meets the voltage and current requirements of the M238’s outputs.
How can players make sure they’re matching pedals and outputs correctly?
It all depends on the voltage and current requirements of your pedals, and you need to know both before you ever connect a pedal to a power source. Digital pedals require more current—measured in milliamps (mA)—than analog pedals, so keep that in mind when allocating your outputs between the two types.
The M238 has six 9V outputs: two at 100mA, two at 300mA, and two at 450mA. The 100mA outputs have more than enough current—by far—for pretty much any 9V analog pedal, but many 9V digital pedals require more current. In that case, the 300mA and 450mA outputs will be more than enough for most digital pedals. If you’re only using analog pedals, it doesn’t really matter which output you use as long as the voltage matches.
The two 18V outputs and the two variable 6V–15V outputs adjustable are rated at 250mA, which is still enough juice for most digital pedals. The vast majority of digital pedals are designed to run on 9V power, however, so you’re likely to use the 18V outputs for analog pedals. If you have odd voltage requirements—up to 15V—or you want to “sag” a 9V analog pedal, then use the variable outputs.
How can I make sure the variable outputs are set to the right voltage?
The easiest way is to measure at the end of a connector cable with a multimeter. First, make sure the power supply itself is plugged in, and then plug one of the connector cables into one of the variable outputs. Set your multimeter to measure DCV; if yours doesn’t automatically detect voltage, select the 20 DCV setting. Set the voltage control about where you want it.
Next, use one of your multimeter’s probes to touch the inside center of the plug’s barrel, and use the other probe to touch the outside of the barrel. Your multimeter will then display the output’s voltage. Use the variable control to adjust as needed. Note: whether the number shown on the multimeter’s screen is positive or negative depends on which probe touched which part of the barrel, but that doesn’t matter for our purposes. The value will be accurate either way.
What is voltage “sag”? Which pedals can be “sagged” below 9 volts, safely and with good results?
“Sag” refers to the effect of a dying 9V battery. As batteries get used up, their voltage level goes down, and this changes the sound of certain 9V analog pedals. This effect is called voltage sag, and a lot of guitar players back in the day loved it so much that they would purposely use dying batteries to get it.
The variable outputs allow you to achieve the same effect without the hassle of managing a constant supply of under-powered batteries. Overdrives, distortions, fuzzes, and wahs tend to benefit the most from voltage sag, but you won’t hurt your pedal by under-powering. Feel free to experiment.
Can the M238’s outputs be combined?
Any output may be combined with any other when stacked in series. When combining outputs in parallel, however, you need to make sure that the outputs match each other in voltage.
Are there any features to help players troubleshoot problems?
Yes—the M238 has LEDs to indicate a good or bad connection on both the input and each of the outputs, which allows you to quickly identify the source of a problem.
What precautions should players take when using any type of power supply?
First and foremost, make sure the voltage and current specs of your pedals are compatible with the voltage and current specs of your power supply’s outputs. Ignore this information at the peril of both your pedals and your power supply.
As a general rule, don’t give your pedal too much voltage—for example, by plugging a 9V pedal into an 18V output—and don’t force an output to give up more current than it can handle—for example, by plugging a pedal that draws 250mA into an output that only has 100mA on tap.
BONUS: Are you a Pedaltrain Pedalboard user who wants to know if the new MXR Iso-Brick Power Supply will fit on your Pedaltrain board? Our friends at Pedaltrain sent us this reference sheet for the Pedaltrain models that can accommodate the Iso-Brick, as well as a handy step-by-step guide to mounting the Iso-Brick to the bottom of your board. Click the link below to view/save/print the guide…