If MXR has plenty of something, it’s unusual solutions that work. To be more specific, their MXR M85 Bass Distortion is one of the best dist boxes you can get for bass. Even thoughit doesn’t look like much, there’s a lot more to this pedal than meets the eye.
If you follow MXR, you probably know that they very rarely go for complex pedal chassis designs. It simply not their thing. Additionally, when you have a reputation such as that of MXR, you don’t really need to attract users with flashy exteriors. All of this explains why MXR M85 looks like it was released 40 years ago. It comes in a standard MXR chassis that is painted in dark brown. Aside from its solid color, the only thing that breaks up the monotony are labels and the logo of the pedal, all of which share the same features. The chassis is built like a tank. We expected nothing less from MXR considering their past applications of this same body. Lastly, when it comes to supplying the pedal with power, you have the two standard choices. You can either use a 9V battery or a DC power adapter.
The overview of controls reveals a few interesting details. From a far, MXR M85 looks like your regular dist box. As you come closer, that tends to change rather quickly. One of the most interesting benefits of this model is its separate wet and dry control. These are followed by a Tone and Dist knobs which are fairly self explanatory. However, in the middle of those there is a switch. It is labeled with LED and SIL. As many of you have probably guessed by now, MXR M85 comes with two clipping diodes. One is a standard LED and other is a silicone unit. By manipulating the switch, you are able to select which diode you want to use. In all fairness, MXR M85 isn’t the easiest pedal to master, but it becomes pretty intuitive once you spend a few hours playing around with it.
When it comes to performance, MXR M85 is pretty straight forward. The whole point of this pedal is to deliver that no-nonsense juicy dist into your signal and that’s exactly what it does. In many ways, it can be used as an overdrive since it plays well with low gain levels. However, if you decide to turn things up a bit, rest assured that M85 will follow you without missing a step. One of the more surprising things about M85 is its range. It single-handedly disproves that old misconception that bass dist boxes are too linear. Not this one. This pedal can take you anywhere you need to go and do it in style. As expected,the response to input is instantaneous and yields tangible results even when you are making really fine adjustments to your tone. Once you pass the initial familiarization, M85 is very easy to master.
Simple, elegant but powerful bass distortion pedal that simply works. Not only did MXR deliver their classic consistent performance, but they have done it in a way that gives some versatility to the bass community. If you are after a great bass distortion pedal, this MXR will do very well.