Gear Review #4 – MXR Blue Box

Blog - MXR Blue Box.JPG

For those of you that follow me on twitter, facebook or instagram you’ll know I recently picked up an MXR Blue Box. One of out local music shops closed down last year and much of their stock has ended up in the local pawn shops so it was a bargain. On a side note I may take another trip to pick up either a Boss MT-2 or MXR Prime Distortion, let me know if you’d like to see either on the blog.

The Blue Box combines a fuzz effect with a two octave down pitch shift. The most famous use of this pedal is Page’s guitar solo on Led Zeppelins ‘Fool In The Rain’ (definitely check that one out). The pedal has two simple controls, an output (which controls the overall level leaving the pedal) and a blend (that blends between the basic fuzz sound and the pitch shifted). To power this pedal you will need either a 9v battery or a standard boss style mains adapter.

The fuzz is sound is preset to a fat, warm tone. As a simple fuzz I found it lacks a little bite and mid-range so I found running a Ibanez TS-9 in front helps it cut through. Setting the blend to just the pitch shifted signal gives a sub heavy synth like tone. That sound is very interesting as you need to change the way you play to suit the overall tone.

The tracking of the pitch shift is a little slow at times so doesn’t suit top speed shredding but given the pedals late-70’s roots I didn’t expect it to. That said using a neck pick-up with delicate and consistent pick attack helps a lot. It’s a big ugly sounding riff machine plain and simple.

Here is a quick youtube video of me playing my trusty Stratocaster through the Blue Box and a Yamaha THR10 (into Logic Pro X). The final sound is my preferred application with the TS-9 boosting front of the pedal and a Boss DD-3 for some ambiance.

Conclusion

It is without a doubt one of the least versatile effects in my current arsenal. That being said it does it’s own thing beautifully. The sub driven texture of the pitch shifted tone makes it great for popping into riffs and getting those Jack White inspired lead tones. I can’t see myself using this effect constantly but I could easily see it becoming central to a bands sound especially in garage rock and psychedelic circles.

Ever tried one? I really like a good fuzz tone any other fuzz pedals you want to champion? As always leave your comments below and hit like if you found it useful.

 

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2 thoughts on “Gear Review #4 – MXR Blue Box

  1. Thank you for you review, when you say ”so I found running a Ibanez TS-9 in front helps it cut through” you mean you put the TS-9 before the blue box in the signal chain, right? For instance you plug the guitar to the TS-9, then it goes to the blue box and then the delay, correct?

    • Hey, yes that exactly right. The mid boost of the TS9 really restores the note definition. I imagine most tube screamer or SD-1 type overdrives would work well, or if you want a avoid changing the tone an EQ pedal might restore some of high mids. Hope that helps, keep picking them strings!

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