New from MXR for bassists this year are an overdrive – due out in March – and this subtle analogue chorus. Review by Gareth Morgan
MXR is probably best known for the Phase 90 pedal, the swooshy classic which Eddie Van Halen used on the first two ground-breaking VH albums. The company was founded in 1973 and produced a wide variety of pedals until going bust in 1984.
Since 1987 MXR has been under the stewardship of Jim Dunlop and in the last 10 years have released a clutch of excellent bass stompboxes in their Bass Innovations series, including the superb Bass Auto Q and the stunning Bass Octave Deluxe. This month we’re checking out the most recent addition, the Bass Chorus Deluxe.
The BCD is a traditional MXR unit, presented in a basic oblong metal box measuring 64mm wide, 110mm deep and 52mm high including sockets, switches and controls, and finished in a rather appealing sea green colour. There are no new-fangled digital processors here: all the internal machinations are fired by analog bucket brigade technology, with five controls in two rows on its face catering for your shaping needs.
Here's a demo video of the pedal in action!
The pedal has two switchable modes, chorus and flanger, and the parameters are set via Intensity (which controls the amount of modulation in chorus mode, regeneration in flanger mode), Rate, which sets modulation speed, and Width, which dictates the range of modulation sweep.
You can cut or boost lows and highs to unspecified amounts via the Bass and Treble controls and, as many modulation-type effects tend to suck the bottom out your sound, MXR have added a X-Over (crossover) button which decreases the amount of effect applied to this frequency zone.
There’s also a red ‘on’ LED next to the stomp switch which blinks at your chosen modulation rate, providing a handy visual representation of the intensity of the effect.
Accessing practical versions of either flanger or chorus is easy: just plug in with all the controls at 12 o’clock and select your desired mode. The X-Over button works really well, allowing you to soak your bass tone in shimmer and gurgle or use it more subtly with the FX focused on higher melody notes. Obviously, it’s a shame you can’t change the X-Over parameters, but the BCD is a small stompbox and you can only cram so much in.
It may not be packed with digital trickery but the BCD is scrupulously silent when you don’t play – there’s not even a hint of the ‘whooshing’ noise that can be a bit of an issue with cheaper chorus/flangers. Sounds-wise, it’s all here from subtle shimmers to Hammond-like pseudo tremolo effects (just wind Rate to maximum – you’ll love it), and you can add a subtle thickening by boosting Bass or a little extra bite courtesy of Treble.
Increasing Rate to halfway in Flanger mode or Rate and Width in Chorus mode gets you a slightly synthetic but undeniably three-dimensional sound tone that would work (with a pick) for the bass sound in Journey’s ’80s classic Don’t Stop Believing. Enable X-Over and increase Intensity and Width in chorus mode and it proves excellent for sweet melodic or chord work; flip this over to Flanger mode for a swampy warble. So, lots of fun to be had experimenting, and plenty of practical sounds available.
This MXR bass pedal is well-thought out and highly musical. It’s easy to access top-notch chorus or flanger modulations with a minimum of fuss, and the X-Over feature makes it very multi-purpose. As with all MXRs the price approaches the upper end of affordability, but you get what you pay for. Recommended.
Jim Dunlop unleash their new MXR Bass Chorus Deluxe for the new year
Emerald green with a rugged design and powered by pure analogue bucket-brigade technology, this new four string bass pedal is the business…
MXR state that this new stomp box offers 'shimmering, liquid chorus and swooshing, metallic flanger effects while preserving the punch and fundamental of your low end'.
The pedal features a Flanger mode, and an X-Over Mode, where modulation in low frequencies is decreased at 100Hz%u2015ideal for the top end of the neck while maintaining tuning stability at the low end.
"With Bass and Treble controls you can cut or boost lows and highs and shape the tonal character of the effect. For a wide stereo sound, select the TRS (tip-ring-sleeve) Stereo Hardwire Bypass Mode via an internal switch. In this mode, you can use a TRS to TS (tip-sleeve) Y-splitter cable to send the effect signal to two different amplifiers, allowing the modulation to move from left to right."
It's not arriving in the Uk until March, giving effects nuts the chance to save up the £179 needed to purchase one!