What is an EQ pedal? A tone shaper, surely. But they can be much more than that.
MXR® offers two great options: the Six Band EQ and the Ten Band EQ. Modern classics, both feature noise-reduction circuitry, true bypass switching, brighter LEDs for increased visibility, and a lightweight aluminum housing. The Six Band covers all the essential guitar frequencies, from 100Hz to 3.kHz, while the Ten Band EQ gives you control over a wider range, from 31.25Hz to 16kHz—perfect for bass players and extended range guitar players.
With these pedals in mind, we talked to the gigging and recording musicians on our team and collected a list of compelling reasons that show why you should have an EQ pedal at all times.
MATCH UP WHEN YOU MAKE THE SWITCH
If you use multiple instruments during a show, or even during a recording session, having an MXR Six Band EQ or MXR Ten Band EQ can save you a lot of time you’d otherwise spend reconfiguring your settings every time you make the swap.
Let’s say you’re switching from an active bass to a passive bass. Or from a guitar with single-pickups to a guitar with humbuckers. Or even from an electric guitar to an acoustic one. That’s going to change up the overall sound of your signal chain.
But with an EQ pedal, you can adjust the frequencies—and input and output with the MXR Ten Band EQ—as needed to keep a consistent sound. Just set the sliders where you need them to make the second instrument match, and then kick the pedal on when it’s time to make the switch.
The tremolo effect is a rock ’n’ roll staple. Varying the volume of a signal up and down at regular intervals, it has been used by many crafty songwriters to add texture and motion to their pieces, creating countless hits that feature the effect as a signature, defining element.
The MXR Tremolo welcomes the beloved effect back into its ranks, and it comes equipped with six different waveforms and a bevy of features for advanced players, from stereo operation to tap tempo and expression pedal functionality to attack-sensitive envelope tremolo. It all comes in a single MXR housing.
Check out the MXR Tremolo in action below.
The MXR Tremolo’s six waveforms represent the most popular methods used over the years to produce the tremolo effect—and then some.
The MXR Tremolo’s first setting is an exact recreation of the M159 MXR Stereo Tremolo. Originally designed to emulate the tremolo of vintage amplifiers, the rich tone and organic pulse of that pedal became a sought-after sound in its own right.
If you dig tremolo with a healthy side of distortion, then you’ll be well-served by the MXR setting. In this clip, we’ve paired it with the very versatile, highly responsive MXR Super Badass™ Distortion—listen to how those vibrant pulses respond to high-gain, rock-ready harmonic content.
Gain pedals such as overdrive, distortion, and fuzz are staples of the modern player’s pedalboard. The range of tones and textures that they produce can be heard in just about every form of music, and they each have their own way of saturating your tone with rich harmonic content at varying degrees off combustibility. But what happens when you stack—or combine—them together? With the right pedals and settings, you can create a whole ’nother spectrum of shades and overtones that’s greater than the sum of its parts. This article will explore some of the ways that you can do just that, complete with examples to feast your ears on.
First, Some Tips
Gain is an unruly beast that’s always looking to break free. With multiple sources in your signal chain, you’ll need to be more attentive to various other elements wrangle the best sounds possible from your setup. A clean amp will make your job easier, for example, so that you can control all of the gain at the pedal level. And some pedals are just sound better together than others—if you find yourself spending hours trying to make two specific pedals play nice with each other, it might be time to swap one of them out and try a different combination. When you do find pedals that sound great together, remember that the last pedal in the gain stack is going to have the biggest impact on your tone and volume level.
Combining Overdrive with Distortion
Overdrive and distortion is the go-to combo for guitar players who like to stack gain stages—but not all players who combine these two effects put them in the same order. Let’s talk about the difference between what happens when you run OD into distortion versus distortion into OD—and why you might choose to go one way or the other.
Overdrive into Distortion
Most players run their overdrive pedal into their distortion pedal. Simply put, this gives your distortion pedal an extra gain stage, allowing you to slam the distortion circuit with more gain for a harmonically richer sound. It will also be much more dynamic and responsive to your attack with increased sustain.
Switching the pedals around, the distortion pedal sends its heavier clipping and increased saturation into the overdrive pedal, which can then shape the distorted tone. If you want high gain tones with a thicker body and smoother edges, this is the way to go. Keep in mind that, because of the compression added by the overdrive pedal, the distorted sound will be less responsive to your playing dynamics.
Here’s what it sounds like when we run the MXR Super Badass Distortion into the MXR FOD Drive.
Combining Overdrive with Fuzz
Fuzz is a different beast from overdrive and distortion, both in sound and circuit design, so choosing the right pedal combo takes a bit more discernment. With the common low-to-high-gain arrangement of overdrive into distortion, you might think that the obvious choice is to do the same with overdrive into fuzz. But it ain’t necessarily so. Here’s why.
Overdrive into Fuzz
Running an overdrive pedal into a fuzz pedal is an unwieldy arrangement, but it can sound crushingly awesome with the right pedals and settings. The overdrive pedal should provide a nicely warmed up and boosted signal for the fuzz pedal to work its manic magic on, producing a super aggressive, super saturated sound that’s perfect for everything from heavy riffing to experimental noise.
Putting a fuzz pedal in front of an overdrive pedal makes it much easier to dial in a usable sound, so it’s almost certainly the much more common arrangement. This allows the fuzz to spit hellfire with the overdrive pedal smoothing out the aggressive edges while also adding warmth and sustain. The result is a heavy, high-gain tone that’s clear enough to make individual notes pop—perfect for supercharged leads.
Check it out in this clip as we flip the order, with the MXR Super Badass Variac Fuzz running into the MXR FOD Drive.
All Together Now
Combining overdrive, distortion, and fuzz all at the same time is an exercisein experimentation. There is no right or wrong. Only fun and chaos. Here’s what our pedals sound like all at once, from overdrive to distortion to fuzz and then fuzz to distortion to overdrive. Enjoy.
Overdrive into Distortion into Fuzz
All three pedals, from low gain to high gain: MXR FOD Drive into MXR Super Badass Distortion into MXR Super Badass Variac Fuzz.
Fuzz into Distortion into Overdrive
Now from high gain to low gain: MXR Super Badass Variac Fuzz into MXR Super Badass Distortion into MXR FOD Drive.
Use Your Ears
Stacking gain pedals is rad. Try it. See what you can conjure up. It’s worth spending some time to dial in the right sounds—spend it smartly, though. Everything we’ve written here is a suggestion. Every pedal has its own voice and attitude. So does every rig. The only real rule is this: if it sounds good, then it is good. But let your ears, not your eyes, tell you what sounds good.
Phaser, flanger, and chorus effects are staples in just about every form of music. They infuse musical compositions with motion and texture, and pedals that create these effects offer musicians an easy way to add new dimension or completely transform the vibe of a song. Think Anthony Jackson’s soupy bass groove on “For the Love of Money,” Eddie Van Halen’s jet-like riff on “Unchained,” or Kurt Cobain’s dreamlike rhythm on “Come As You Are.”
All three effects fall under the modulation category. What that means is that they all modulate—or cyclically change—some aspect of your instrument signal. What distinguishes one from another is which part of your signal they change and how they change it.
Effects pedals may be designed with a particular instrument in mind, but we’ve always felt that a quality effect in the hands of a discerning tone crafter will sound great on any instrument, whether guitar, bass, didgeridoo, or even vocals. Bass players had to learn this lesson many years ago when pedals specifically designed for their instrument’s frequency range were a scarcity. Today, bass players have just as wide a range of amazing stompboxes available to them as guitar players do, and many of them sound incredible with guitar. We put a list together of bass pedals that every guitar player should seriously consider adding to their arsenal.