Nothing sounds sweeter than a thick, grinding low end groove. Enter the MXR Bass Overdrive, the latest offering from the award-winning MXR Bass Innovations team. A Bass Player Editors Award winner, this stompbox delivers warm, harmonically rich overdrive while keeping your low end big and focused. We asked Bass Product Specialist Darryl Anders and Senior Engineer Bob Cedro to tell us how they approached the Bass Overdrive’s design.
The Bass OD has a Clean control that blends in a “pre-tuned Clean signal” rather than a totally dry signal. Why not stick with the dry signal?
Darryl Anders: After the success of the Bass Fuzz Deluxe, which does have a purely dry signal, we decided to use the same approach for a bass overdrive. It didn’t sound quite right—the signals sounded too distinct.
With fuzz, it makes sense to run a totally dry signal alongside a fully saturated signal because the lows from the dry side and the top end sizzle from the fuzz complement each other. Your dry bass signal can really fill out a well-tuned fuzz effect.
On the other hand, combining overdrive with a clean bass signal gives you two sounds that are competing rather than complementing each other. When you drive a tube amp, you’re not getting separate wet and dry signals. Overdrive is all about top to bottom saturation—in other words, the dirt should be sprinkled through your whole tone.
Pre-tuning the Clean signal ensures that when you blend it with the overdrive signal, the interaction between the two is complementary and organic.
What exactly does “pre-tuned” mean? Does the Bass Overdrive retain any of the dry tone’s character?
Bob Cedro: It may seem counterintuitive, but pre-tuning your dry signal actually ensures that the character of your bass can come through. The M89 doesn’t replace your tone—it prepares your dry bass signal for mixing with the overdrive signal by optimizing certain frequencies. Bass overdrive is all about the tuning.
How did you tune the M89’s overdrive section?
BC: We tuned the overdrive effect in two stages: pre-overdrive and post-overdrive. Before your bass signal goes through the overdrive circuit, its harmonic content is enhanced. After going through the overdrive circuit, the M69 balances the fundamental bass frequencies with harmonics generated by the overdrive circuit. But that’s just for the overdrive section—you can then dial in your pre-tuned Clean signal to give your sound even more clarity and punch.
What kind of player is the MXR Bass Overdrive for?
DA: The range of the Drive control and the ability to blend in the Clean signal both make this a very versatile pedal, but I think rock guys will love the aggressive potential of this pedal. You can dial in warm, organic grit just as easily though—at lower settings, it works great as a second “channel” or a second tone that you just leave on.
Want to hear the MXR Bass Overdrive in action? Check out this awesome demo with Mars Volta/Racer X bass man Juan Alderete…