MXR set the standard for phase pedals with the release of the Phase 90 in 1972. That little orange box went on to become the sole iconic example of its effect category, and it has been used by the world’s greatest guitar players—such as Jimmy Page, David Gilmour, and Eddie Van Halen—to record some of the most iconic songs ever cut to vinyl.
Several Phase 90-based phasers have been released since then, and this year, we’re introducing the Phase 95—it packs the evolution of the Phase 90 circuit into a single housing, and at half the size of its forebear, it’s the first ever mini pedal from MXR. The Phase 95 is the most versatile phaser we’ve ever produced. Before we get into the how and why, let’s look at the MXR phasers that brought us to this point.
It all started with the Phase 90, created by engineer Keith Barr after he decided that he could build a more reliable and better sounding phaser than the bulky and poorly built options on the market at the time. The resulting pedal’s compact size, superior construction, and refined sound put MXR on the map, and it set the standard by which all other phasers are judged.
A couple years after MXR released the Phase 90, the Phase 45 was born. In contrast to the Phase 90’s 4-stage phasing, the Phase 45 was designed with a mellower 2-stage circuit that is favored for its ability to easily blend into a band’s mix.
As MXR transitioned from script logo to block logo housings, MXR’s engineers added a feedback resistor to the Phase 90 circuit. Whereas the first Phase 90 circuit—now called Script—had a subtle and more subdued swoosh, the feedback resistor gave what is now called the Block circuit a dirtier, more pronounced phasing sound. A small number of early Block logo housings contain the original Script circuit, so it’s not always accurate to rely just on the pedal’s housing when identifying a vintage Phase 90.
In the late 1970s, MXR released the Phase 100, which has an altogether different circuit from the Phase 90 and Phase 45, with a different range of sounds. Along with the Speed control, it features a 4-position rotary switch that selects between four different intensities.
MXR went out of business in the early 1980s, but Dunlop resurrected the brand toward the end of the decade. The first pedals to be released under Dunlop’s stewardship were the Distortion+, the Dyna Comp® Compressor, the Blue Box™ Fuzz, and of course the Phase 90, all in Block form with the on/off status LEDs and AC power jacks that MXR eventually added. Since then, Dunlop has re-released each of MXR’s original phasers and has continued to develop new ones along the way.
Our first Phase 90 innovation came in the form of the EVH Phase 90.
When Eddie Van Halen expressed interest in recreating some of his classic MXR pedals, Dunlop engineer Bob Cedro thought of the spacey swirls and hypnotic warbles heard on early Eddie’s early recordings and pulled out his original 1974 script logo Phase 90. Using that as his base, Bob built a prototype Script-style Phase 90 that he hot-rodded for increased headroom and dynamic range. For testing purposes, he included a switch that Eddie could use to toggle between the two sounds for comparison. Eddie loved it, but he wanted to keep the Script/Block switch so that he could have both circuits in hot-rodded form.
The huge success of the EVH Phase 90 led Bob back to his original 1974 Phase 90. He used it to create the ’74 Vintage Phase 90, which features a hand-wired board with select resistors and hand-matched FETs and comes housed in the classic orange finished box with the unmistakable Script logo. For further authenticity, this box has no LED and can only be powered by a battery. For those who wanted a Script version with modern upgrades such as the on/off status LED and an AC power jack, Bob and the MXR team created the Script Phase 90.
To date, Dunlop has only produced one standalone version of the Phase 45: the ’75 Vintage Phase 45, a reissue of the original built to exacting specifications. As with the Vintage Phase 90, it features hand-matched FETs and a hand-wired circuit board.
Now let’s talk about the incredibly versatile Phase 95. First, you get both the mellow two-stage phasing of the Phase 45 and the more intense four-stage phasing of the Phase 90, with a 45/90 switch to toggle between the two. Once you select between those two iconic MXR phasers, you can choose to go with the lush, subdued sound and clarity of the original Script circuit or the light harmonic distortion and accentuated swoosh of the modern Block circuit thanks to the Script switch. As always, the familiar Speed control sets the rate of the effect.
What you’re getting with the Phase 95 is four different pedals in one: a Script Phase 45, a Script Phase 90, a Block Phase 45—which has never been offered before—and a Block Phase 90. Oh, and as we mentioned, it all comes in a mini housing that takes up a fraction of the space occupied by a standard pedal. Here’s how it looks on a mini travel board with a Germanium Fuzz Face® Mini Distortion and a Cry Baby® Mini Wah:
Overdrive pedals are rad. They’re one of the quintessential components of any guitar player’s pedalboard. But are you getting the most out of yours? That depends on what your sonic goals are. For a lot of players, just plugging in, cranking the gain, and kicking the switch is all they need to get the job done. But that’s not all there is to using an overdrive pedal.
In this article, we’re going to look at three of the most common ways guitar players use overdrive pedals and discuss some important things to consider when using your overdrive pedal with certain types of pickups and amplifiers.
But first, we want to introduce you to the MXR Double-Double Overdrive. It combines a classic Japanese overdrive circuit, famous for its rich, fiery midrange, and a modern American overdrive circuit known for its abundant supply of gain and greater emphasis on high and low frequencies. The result is a versatile array of overdrive tones that are designed to enhance the sound of your guitar and amp setup. Rather than a simple tone control, the this pedal features separate Treble and Bass controls for greater control over the tone of your overdriven sound.
We’ll be using the Double-Double Overdrive to help explain some of our points below.
What do you want your overdrive pedal to do for you?
Boost. Sometimes, all you need is a touch of boost with a little bit of color. In other words, you want to bump up the output of your guitar signal so that it’s mostly clean, but it has just a slight bit of tonal coloration. Like getting the sound of a blackface type amp on “10” but at a lower volume.
Getting this colorful boosted sound would go something like this: Set your amp to your preferred clean setting. Using the Double-Double Overdrive, choose the Hi or Lo setting for your preferred tonal profile and keep the Drive knob nearly fully counterclockwise. Then use the Treble and Bass controls to shape the sound of your signal and the Level control to set how much you want to boost it. Obviously your taste will vary, but that’s a place to start.
Complement. Players often use overdrive pedals to enhance or complement an already overdriven amplifier. One reason might be to boost the signal with a little bit of color. Another reason might be to fill in or focus specific frequencies for a sound that better cuts through the mix. Or maybe you just want a bigger and more intense sound by adding a whole new gain stage to your signal chain.
Set your amp to your preferred level of overdrive. From there, it’s all up to your experimentation with the pedal’s controls. The Double-Double Overdrive provides plenty of options with its two different OD circuits and separate Treble and Bass controls—tweak until you find a sound that works well with your amp’s natural overdrive.
Replace. Sometimes the sound of your overdrive pedal is so good that that’s all you want to hear. This is pretty much the “plug in and go for it” approach, but if you have a tweakable pedal such as the Double-Double Overdrive, you should take some time to figure out the breadth of options available to you. Since you’re starting with a clean amp, you’ve also got a clean slate. Set your amp the way you want it and tweak the pedal to your heart’s content.
Pickup & Amp Considerations
Your overdrive pedal is just a small part of your tonal recipe. A number of other factors can affect your sound depending on how elaborate your setup is, but we’re going to focus on two components that every electric guitar player has in common: pickups and amplifiers.
Pickups. Most players use single-coil pickups or humbucking pickups. Generally speaking, single-coil pickups produce a greater tonal range (more highs and lows) with a lower output, while humbuckers sound more focused in the mids and low mids and produce a higher output. What does this have to do with overdrive pedal settings? Well, a setting configuration that sounds great with single-coil pickups may not sound that great with humbuckers, and vice versa.
Take the Double-Double Overdrive as an example. To get a good baseline, set the Volume at noon, the Drive very low, Bass off, and Treble at noon. Listen to how everything sounds and adjust as necessary. If you need beef up your single-coil signal, choose the Hi setting, you’ll want to turn up the Drive, roll off the Treble, and add some Bass. If you want to tighten up your humbucker signal for a more focused lead tone, try the Lo setting with Bass off, Treble at 2 o’clock, and Drive to taste. Ultimately, it depends on what your goals are: do you want the overdrive sound to complement the tonal profile of your pickups or give it something it may be missing?
Amps. Two of the most popular amp styles are the plexi and the blackface. Plexi-style amps generally have more mid-focused gain, whereas blackface-style amps have a cleaner, more scooped sound. The same question applies here as it does with pickups and any other piece of gear: what sound do you want?
If you’re running a guitar with single-coil pickups through a blackface-style amp and your overdrive signal sounds a bit thin, try turning up the Drive and Bass on the Double-Double Overdrive. If you’re running a guitar with humbuckers through a plexi-style amp, you may want to accentuate and boost the mids for a searing solo that cuts through the cacophony of the band. Try a lower Bass setting and bring the Drive down while letting the amp providing most of the distortion.
A quick note on blackface-style amps: they have a lot of headroom. Cranking them into overdrive territory can result in unusable volume levels. So how do you combine the natural overdrive of a blackface-style amplifier with that of an overdrive pedal? Use the pedal’s volume control—it’ll make the amp work harder than it normally would at usable volume settings, and you’ll get the best of both worlds.
Dialing in Specific Tones
Now let’s look at how all those factors might come into play to create a specific sound.
For a classic rock sound, you’ll want a guitar with low to medium output humbuckers and a plexi-style amp that’s already pushing into overdrive territory. Try the setting the Double-Double Overdrive to its Lo setting with the Treble control around 1 o’clock, the Bass around 11 o’clock, Level around 1 o’clock, and Drive around 12 o’clock.
For a Texas blues rock sound, use a guitar with single-coil pickups and a blackface-style amp turned up loud. Set the Double-Double Overdrive to its Lo setting, with Bass set low, Treble turned up, and Drive to taste (but not too much).
For a classic thrash metal setting, use a guitar with active humbuckers and a high-gain 6L6 blackface-style amp that’s already overdriven. With the Double-Double Overdrive’s Lo setting selected, set the Bass knob low, Treble around 12 o’clock, Level around 2 o’clock, and Drive about 11 o’clock.
Remember, these are just guidelines. Your gear and sonic needs may require different pedal settings, but hopefully you have a better understanding of some of the ways that an overdrive pedal such as the Double-Double Overdrive can interact with your guitar and amplifier. Always use your ears to dial in the sound you want, not your eyes.
Click here for our MXR demo featuring the Double-Double Overdrive.
From time to time, the MXR design team likes to invite guest designers to collaborate on pedals. It’s one of many things we do to keep a fresh and forward-thinking perspective, serving MXR’s ultimate mission to provide players with innovative, practical stompboxes that will stand up to the rigors of the road. In 2014, we worked with Italian pedal designer Carlo Sorasio to create the Il Torino™ Overdrive, and in 2015, we worked with Fuzzrocious Pedals’ Ryan Ratajski to create the MXR Bass Distortion.
This year, we worked with Shin Suzuki, Japan’s most celebrated pedal designer and the owner of Shin’s Music, where he also builds custom amps and guitars for artists. He leant us his intimate knowledge of a legendary boutique amp to create the Shin-Juku™ Drive, a pedal that provides smooth, wide open overdrive with tons of sustain and incredibly fast response time to every playing detail. The Shin-Juku Drive’s simple three-knob interface allows you to call up a wide range of sounds, from an organic boost to full on grinding overdrive, with a Dark switch to cut high frequencies for a darker, mellower sound.
During a recent visit to the US, Shin sat down to tell us a bit about himself and the Shin-Juku Drive.
How did you get into the pedal-making business?
Shin Suzuki: I first became interested in building pedals when I was in middle school. By the time I was in high school, I was already building pedals for my musician friends. Basically, I taught myself how to repair and modify equipment as well as build new equipment from scratch, and one day I decided to do it for a living. Today, many Japanese artists and even some famous American artists use equipment that I have made or modified in some way.
What was your goal when you designing this pedal?
Shin: I wanted to create a pedal that would match the big, wide open sound, the smooth overdrive, and the fast response of a particularly mythical style of boutique amplifier. I know the style very intimately because I have not only played and listened to them, but also repaired them. I think that the resulting pedal, the Shin-Juku Drive, really nails it. Not only the sound, but also the feel and response to your attack.
It’s not simply an overdrive—it’s like an amp in a pedal box. At certain settings, the Shin-Juku Drive is perfect to use as an “always-on” effect to put the finishing touch on the tone coming straight out of your guitar.
How were you able to achieve that sound?
Shin: Well, I knew exactly what sound I wanted, and as I said, I am well-acquainted with the inner-workings of the amp that produces that sound. I had a good idea of where to start the design process. I chose a bunch of different parts that I thought would get me close to the sound of that legendary amplifier, and then I made a pedal. I tested the pedal again and again, changing parts as necessary, until I matched the sound I wanted. This is the same process I go through for most of the pedals I design.
What does the Dark switch do, and why did you include it as a feature?
Shin: I included the Dark switch to give players the option of a slightly warmer sound. Pushing the switch cuts some of the high end, which is perfect for taming the brightness of silverface or blackface-style amps, or for when you just want a smoother, mellower sound.
Look for the Shin-Juku Drive at your favorite online or brick-and-mortar retailer today.
The Echoplex® EP-3 tape machine was the secret ingredient in some of the most iconic tonal recipes from the ’60s and ’70s. Top guitar players loved its deliciously warm, organic modulation and sweet musical voice of the preamp so much that they’d use it as a tone-sweetener with the delay effect turned off.
The problem for modern players is that the original EP-3 machines are expensive, temperamental, and larger than a VCR. They require a ton of maintenance, and it’s increasingly difficult to find the correct tape cartridges. So even if you can find and afford a perfectly running EP-3, a single gig can take quite a toll on the machine as well as wear out your precious tape.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t have the EP-3’s sonic mojo for yourself. We created the Echoplex line of pedals to give you that sound in a convenient, pedalboard-friendly form that you can take on the road. Last year, we came out with the Echoplex Preamp. This year, we’re releasing the second component of the EP-3’s signature sound in the form of the Echoplex Delay. Like the Echoplex Preamp, it’s the size of a Phase 90, and it delivers the EP-3’s legendary tones with a simple control interface and a hi-fi all-analog dry path.
If you’re not an advanced tonechaser, you may never have heard of the Echoplex EP-3. But you’ve definitely heard what it can do. Eddie Van Halen is known to have used them religiously in the early days, even taking his units on tour. Jimmy Page, who originally used the Echoplex EP-2 unit, switched over to the EP-3 as soon as it came out, and it remains an essential part of his rig. Brian May had his EP-3s modified to extend delay time. Eric Johnson has used them for years, even putting them directly on his pedalboard on occasion. And that’s just to name a few.
To get at what made the EP-3 so appealing to these and other guitar greats, we had to focus on the EP-3 in two separate elements: the preamp and the delay effect.
There’s nothing transparent about the EP-3. If your signal goes through it, your tone changes—even if you don’t use the delay effect. Turned out some guitar players loved that tonal seasoning. It’s all thanks to EP-3’s preamp.
The Echoplex EP-1 and EP-2 machines sounded rich and warm thanks to the tubes in their preamp sections, but their repeats tended toward muddiness. The EP-3, on the other had, uses a solid-state preamp—providing much needed clarity—with a Field Effect Transistor (FET) supplying depth and warmth in place of tubes.
The Echoplex Preamp sweetens up your sound in the same way. Its circuitry follows the exact same signal path as the EP-3, including the FET circuit, so when you kick it on, you’re adding the same secret ingredient to your tonal recipe that was favored by the aforementioned guitar greats. The Preamp’s single Gain control sets the pedal’s volume and can boost your signal up to +11dB. At higher settings, you’ll hear slight asymmetrical clipping for some very smooth and organic grit.
The charm of the EP-3’s delay effect is that each repetition is unique. When you play a note, it’s recorded onto the tape and played back. The first repeat is clear, but because of the slight pitch changes inherent to tape machines that are imparted onto the signal, it’s not identical. That slightly imperfect first repeat is itself recorded for the second repeat, which now includes new imperfections in addition to the old ones.
We created the Echoplex Delay pedal to provide that same charming “copy of a copy” magic and more. Rather than just recreate the sound of a pristine EP-3, we wanted this pedal to give players the full range of tones available from an EP-3 machine throughout its lifetime.
To start, we gathered up seven different EP-3 units. These machines are 40 or so years old by now, so quality and condition are all over the place, and we wanted to be sure we had a good selection of units to evaluate. We chose five of them to be serviced and calibrated, and then we picked the best sounding one—the one with the least wow and flutter—to be the default sound.
We used the other machines to dial in the range of sounds for the Age control, which allows you to “age” the delay signal from clean and clear to dark and distorted. Tape echo machines have a lot of moving parts, and over the years, they lose functionality and break down. This can add gain, distortion, and wow and flutter while darkening up the tone—characteristics that many guitar players have come to love about their maturing EP-3s. We simulated those changes so you can use the Age control to make your repeats sound like a brand new EP-3 or one that’s been sitting in your garage for a few decades. Taking the Age control fully clockwise can take you into freakout territory, beyond the aging effects found in any of the units we worked with.
With the Delay control, you can set the time between repeats to anywhere from 40ms to 750ms, but the Echoplex Delay can be connected to an MXR Tap Tempo Switch to set delay time up to 4 seconds.
COMBINING THE ECHOPLEX PREAMP AND ECHOPLEX DELAY
Combining the Echoplex Preamp and the Echoplex Delay pedals allows you to condition your guitar tone as an “always on” effect with the preamp and kick on the delay effect as you need it.
All you need to do is put the Echoplex Preamp in front of the Echoplex Delay in your signal chain. While the Echoplex Delay’s effect signal is already conditioned with the tonality of the Preamp, putting the Preamp in front of the Delay ensures that the “dry” signal going through the Delay is also sweetened up by the Preamp.
It’s like having the full EP-3 on your pedalboard, but instead of having to dial the delay function up or down with a knob, you can step in and out of it with a footswitch.
Since we came out with the Cry Baby® 105Q Bass Wah, it’s been the #1 choice for bass players who want to sweeten up their grooves with the rich expressiveness that only a a Cry Baby Wah can deliver. With a specially designed potentiometer and custom EQ circuitry, the 105Q applies the wah effect to the mids and highs only, leaving your low end big, full, and round.
We took all that funk and functionality that made the 105Q the go-to for the world’s top bass players, and we put it into a housing that’s half the size and made from lightweight-but-sturdy-aluminum.
The Cry Baby Bass Mini Wah may be small, but it doesn’t skip on a single detail. Just like the 105Q, the Bass Mini Wah has Volume and Q controls to fine-tune your wah sound. Stepping in and out of the wah effect to sweeten up fills and solos is simple and seamless thanks to convenient auto-return switching. Players of downtuned and extended range guitars, take note—this little beast will sound great with your rig, too.
With such a small footprint, the Cry Baby Bass Mini Wah will fit nicely on your downsized travel board. Take a look…
We picked out four effects to stick on this Pedaltrain Nano board—the MXR Bass Octave Deluxe, the Cry Baby Bass Mini Wah, the MXR Bass Fuzz Deluxe, and the MXR Bass Preamp—that will cover your tonal and utilitarian needs while still allowing you to travel light. The first three effects take you all over the musical landscape, from funk and R&B to hard rock and heavy metal, while the Bass Preamp lets you shape your overall sound and run your signal direct to FOH.
Pick up a Cry Baby Bass Mini Wah at your favorite online or brick-and-mortar retailer today. Travel light and groove heavy.
The John Petrucci Primetone® Jazz III Pick is a whole new take on one of our most popular pick designs: the Jazz III. As the man himself describes it, “this pick’s custom bevel is based on the edge of one of my own well-worn picks. It’ll glide off your strings like glass with a loud, bold sound thanks to its super durable Ultex® material. The Jazz III tip provides precision and clarity, while the custom grip ensures ultimate control.” John’s new pick comes in two colors: tried-and-true Black and the new and appropriately badass Oxblood.
In order to to get this pick right, we had to build on John’s preferred shape and material. “I’ve always found the original black nylon Dunlop Jazz III size and shape to be perfect for getting the most clarity and articulation out of my playing,” John says. “That’s why it was important to me that we began with that proven design when creating my second signature Dunlop pick. Several years ago, I discovered that picks made from Ultex had a louder sound, a smoother attack, and a greater level of stiffness than a nylon pick, as well as a more precise pick response.”
Armed with John’s preferences, we started out by making him a black version of our Ultex Jazz III pick, but John wanted to check out our newly released Primetone Jazz III. Primetone Sculpted Plectra feature bevels sculpted onto the pick’s tip for increased speed and accuracy when playing fast rhythms and solos. We sent him some samples, and he immediately fell in love. But we wanted to take that a step further for John. We asked him to wear out a pick while on tour so that we could copy that natural bevel onto his new pick.
It ain’t easy holding onto one pick through all the moving between hotels and venues and playing onstage for a whole tour, but John pulled it off. He used a single pick for four weeks, providing us with exactly what we needed to make him the perfect customized pick. “This unique bevel,” he says, “is a result of my forward and downward angled picking technique and really adds to an effortless picking experience with no drag felt on the strings.”
The custom bevel is a bit steeper than that of the standard Primetone Jazz III pick, but the result is even greater speed and precision. Shredders usually hold their pick at a steeper angle in order to reduce drag as much as possible—the steeper the angle, the less drag you experience. But too much angle can trip you up, and it takes years of experience to find the right balance. Thankfully, John did all that work for us.
The next issue was the grip. John tried a variety of types, from Max Grip and Primetone to the standard raised lettering found on the Ultex Jazz III picks. After some experimentation, John felt most comfortable with the raised lettering. He feels that it’s the perfect balance between having a solid grip while being able to move the pick around if needed.
John Petrucci Primetone Jazz III Picks are available now. Go get yourself a pack. Shred on.
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.