The MXR Distortion + is a distortion pedal that produces a range of sounds from a very mild distortion to a tube overdrive sound to a crunchy sustained fuzz. The pedal is used for a variety of guitar styles in the rock and metal genres.
Picture of the MXR Distortion +
History of the MXR Distortion +
The MXR Distortion + was introduced in 1973. The most sought after versions of this pedal are the ones that were produced during 1973 and 1974 which features cosmetic differences from later versions as the metal casing of the originals were outsourced to another company. The company went on to become one of the biggest effect manufacturers in the world during the late 70s and 80s. The early 1980’s saw another version of the pedal being released by MXR. This version has many circuit board has slight changes and many components are from different manufacturers than the original 70’s versions. Due to these changes, the sound of this version of the pedal changed significantly from the original versions. During the 80’s, MXR also produced new versions of the Distortion + pedal including the Commande series, and the 2000 series. Dunlop bought the MXR company in 1987 and promptly reissued the original MXR Distortion + pedal (Model: M-104). This version of the distortion pedal is quite similar to the original circuit design but has a bit of a higher end sound and can be a bit crispier. It also has a small amount more gain than the original. The original versions of the MXR Distortion pedal have been played by musicians as varied as Randy Rhoads, Jerry Garcia and Bob Mould.
Features of the MXR Distortion +
The MXR Distortion + has a very simple control set with only an Output and a Distortion knob. Surprisingly, between these two knobs, you’ll find a variety of distortion and overdrive levels. The distortion knob turns up the level of the distortion which is created with one op-amp and two germanium diodes that clip the signal producing distortion. The distortion knob also seems to make the sound brighter as it cuts some low end from the signal. The MXR Distortion + pedal does not have a tone control knob.
Sound Quality of the MXR Distortion +
The MXR Distortion + produces sounds that are bluesy when the distortion knob is set lower. When its set higher, you can get higher gain sound that can be used for rock and heavy metal playing. It was used on the first two Ozzy Osbourne albums which are considered some of his most classic work producing hits like Crazy Train, Mr. Crowley, Over the Mountain and Flying High Again featuring the great guitar playing of Randy Rhoads who almost exclusively used MXR distortion pedals. Dave Murray of Iron Maiden also uses the MXR Distortion + for his lead playing. Having gone through many changes since the early 70s, the oldest units are known for being more warm sounding than the newer versions. The pedal does not include true bypass switching so it can introduce some noise into the signal when not activated.