The following is a guest review by Chad Beeler of BassEFX.com . If you are interested in guest posting, please contact me!
The sheer number of effects pedals for bass players is mind-bogglingly vast. Bottom dwellers are using all manner of effects for bass these days. Of these effects, the category generating the biggest buzz? Bass fuzz pedals. Players want them and builders are filling the demand.
A pedal creating a big “fuzz buzz” since its release is the new MXR M84 Bass Fuzz Deluxe. It’s the latest release by the “Bass Innovations” group at MXR. And no, they are not rehashed, rebranded guitar boxes. They are designed and built from the ground up with solely the bass player in mind. I had a chat with my friend Darryl Anders, Bass Products Manager of the Bass Innovations team at MXR. He was quick to point out that all of their bass pedals are built to leave the fat fundamental untouched yet incorporate whatever effect you stomp on. With regard to the Bass Fuzz Deluxe he had this to say, “…we have a lot of classic fuzz sounds and pedals that we like. We want to stay true to that classic fuzz we dig and build on that by making better pedals for bass players that won’t kill the low end when you step on them.” And really, that’s what bass players want, low end maintained. So I grabbed a new M84 Bass Fuzz Deluxe and got busy:
Opening the box is a treat. It’s packed with useful lit, including a fat mini catalog of all the MXR pedals so you can jones over what to buy next. Also included is a bitchin’ little tri-fold quick reference guide. The guide has a concise layout, it’s easy to understand, and includes some sample settings, (Prog, funk, and hard rock,) to get an idea on the range of this fuzz box. Once I emptied the box and got to the pedal I was greeted by the classic, circa early ’70’s Gran Torino brown metal flake finish of the Bass Fuzz Deluxe. (cue up “Kashmir” on the Audiovox 8-track blaring through Kraco speakers to complete the vibe) Anyhow, time to plug in my trusty Nash PB63. (…really a P-Bass, my favorite)
Set with all knobs at 12 o’clock, as the manual suggests, I click the Bass Fuzz Deluxe into gear: Fundamental? Intact. Low end? Right where I left it, solid. Okay, now that that’s out of the way, I notice that the straight up setting sounds great: furry, articulate, gnarly. Dialing everything way back leaves a nice suggestion of the effect in the background. As I fiddle with the knobs individually, (Dry, Wet, Tone, and Fuzz,) I find the Bass Fuzz Deluxe does such a good job at keeping the uneffected tone of the bass so intact that it almost sounds like the signal is split between two amps. That is, you really are adding the fuzz to your tone rather than making your tone fuzzy. The range of this fuzz box is rather broad. I was able to coax out Geddy-ish stuff, classic Larry Graham funkiness, pegged VU meter hairiness, and full on noise. Through all of which, the low end was unharmed. I even let a power chord ring out and was treated to almost infinite fuzzy sustain with nice harmonic overtones. Feedback wars with the guitar player? I’m in!
Lastly, it’s important to note that I tried the MXR M84 Bass Fuzz Deluxe pedal through an amp with a 2-way horn selector, either on or off. For testing sake, I kept the horn on. A fuzz through a horn usually sounds like a circular saw cutting pavement , ear-splittingly brutal. But the M84’s blendability and Tone knob takes care of that. That means that you can keep the sparkle of your cab in use for slapping and such, and kick in the Bass Fuzz Deluxe for a super useful tone departure without the harsh result.
The MXR Bass Innovations group has nailed a classic fuzz pedal design that would be a welcome addition to any bass player’s pedal board. Is it the be all end all fuzz pedal for bass players? No pedal does it all, and tone is subjective. Your style and technique play a big part too. But, if you want to add a vintage fuzz tone to your arsenal without compromising fatness, the MXR M84 Bass Fuzz Deluxe is a solid choice.
UPDATE. I was just contacted by Chad Beeler and he let me know there is a special going on with this pedal! Here are the details!
“Buy Any MXR Pedal from Bass EFX now until March 15 and get a free set of Dunlop bass strings” There’s no coupon code necessary.
About the author:
“I created BassEfx.com because the bass community clearly needed a place that would consolidate all the best effects pedals in one place. BassEfx.com gives bass players – and only bass players – a resource that showcases what’s available, offers the best advice and gets you the right effect. My background: I co-founded Bass Northwest, the world’s largest bass-only retail operation, and ran it for 15 years, (1994-2009.) In 30 years as a bass player, I’ve seen, heard, and played just about every amplifier, bass, cabinet and effect pedal imaginable.”