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M84 Bass Fuzz Deluxe: [MXR]

Last Updated 6/27/2012 7:20:28 PM

By: Paul Barrel

M84 Bass Fuzz Deluxe

I’ve been a fan of bass distortion for a long, long time … probably since my virginal ears were deflowered by John Entwistle many, many moons ago. And, over the last 30 or so years, I’ve only come to appreciate the effect more.

As many musicians, I find myself chasing tone more often than not. Many of us are never satisfied, always trying out new equipment (guitars, amps, effects, etc) in hopes of finding that sound in our heads.  More times than not, we’re only temporarily satisfied with the gadgets we’ve acquired.

MXR are doing some great work these days. Recently, on the guitar side they’ve released a couple pedals that are, hands down, a tone chaser’s dream come true (Custom Badass Modified O.D. and the Custom Badass ’78 Distortion).  Now, adding to that successful run is the M84 Bass Fuzz Deluxe. It’s based on a rare vintage fuzz circuit but modified for today’s bassist. How, you say?

I’ve tried various bass distortions in the past (and even hooked up a guitar distortion a time or two) and I’ve never been truly satisfied with the results. Typically, there is a loss of low end, or even the original signal, once the pedal is engaged. Not so with the M84.

The modified circuit emulates the sound of a bass being run into two separate amps … one clean and one dirty. Yeah, you heard me. With separate “Wet” and “Dry” controls on the sturdy metal case, the original bass signal remains intact and you can blend clean and dirty using these two magical buttons to your heart’s content. Plus, the “Tone” control affects only the fuzz signal. The direct signal remains untouched. As a bass player for more than 20 years, I found it to be groundbreaking and innovative.

I tested the M84 with three basses … a ’78 Rickenbacker 4001, an ’87 Fender Precision and an ’81 Ibanez Musician all through an ’86 Gallien-Kruger RB400 head and Mesa Boogie ’15 cab. I also A-B’d the pedal against a Boss Bass Overdrive (OBD-3). In all instances, the MXR M84 was the winner. Enhancements to the midrange on the Ric were astounding. It even gave a boost to the bottom end that I was not expecting. Similarly, on the Precision and Musician, the bottom end boost was a pleasant surprise without being overwhelming. I won’t even discuss the comparison between the MXR and the Boss. As a longtime fan of Boss pedals and out of respect for that particular company, my only comment is that I wish them continued success in producing kick ass guitar effect pedals.

The unit retails for $219.99 … don’t despair, there are deals out there. Most online vendors are selling them for $129.99 or less. Heck, I found a motivated seller on eBay, a local music store, that sold me mine for $108.00 with free shipping. Good hunting. You will not be disappointed.

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