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 Post subject: REVIEW: MXR Blowtorch
PostPosted: March 18th, 2008, 9:59 am 
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Joined: March 9th, 2008, 6:01 pm
Posts: 66
Location: Santa Clara, CA
The Blowtorch is my favorite fuzz pedal, to-date. Users be warned - it's not your typical fuzz pedal, and you probably haven't used anything that sounds like it! MXR advertises it as an overdrive/distortion pedal, but it really can't do that - it's a fuzz, no doubt.

SIZE: 4.75" x 3.75", more or less (like the SansAmp, EHX XO series pedals, etc.). Seems a little "meatier" than most pedals of this size because of the weight and large knobs.

POWER: Special 18V adapter or two 9V batteries. It also works fine with the Dunlop DC Brick's 18V output, or with the proper Y-cable used with the Voodoo Lab Pedal Power II. The power requirements and weird battery doors make this a bit of a pain to power, and just as much of a pain to mount on a pedalboard.

CONTROLS: The Blowtorch has 6 knobs (Volume, Bass, Midrange, Treble, Blend, and Gain) and 2 switches (Mid Shift and Torch). The Mid Shift allows you to shift the frequency center of the Midrange control from 250Hz to 750Hz to 2KHz. The Torch switch is mounted on the side of the pedal, allowing for an easy-access gain boost.

THE EQ: It only affects the distorted tone! I tried various degrees of blend from all-clean to all-dirty, and surprisingly, the blend is nothing like the one you'd find on the popular SansAmp BDDI - the EQ does not affect the clean sound. In this sense, it's more like a "bi-amped" setup, so you really can't use it as a clean EQ. Weird, huh? I think it's a great thing.

SOUND: Some people who have used this complain about the buzziness and fuzziness of the tone, but IMO, with the right settings, this pedal rocks!

The Blend knob is surprisingly effective in mixing the clean and dirty tones, but you won't need to use it if you want full-on distortion with generous low end. The Bass and Treble knobs are standard in function, as is the Level knob.

The Gain knob has a good range - it doesn't just jump into high gain, and has some nice gritty overdrive settings. At higher gain, you get some crunchy fuzz with great definition. If you want even more gain, simply engage the Torch switch, and then the Blowtorch really flares up!

The Mid Shift is a very useful switch for changing the tone. The 250Hz setting is nice, but not what I was looking for in a fuzz sound; it gets boomy when boosted, but when cut, you can get some interesting tones. The 750Hz setting is great - aggressive but still smooth mid-focused fuzz that would please many bassists looking for something mid-heavy but still "vintage" sounding. The 2KHz setting is interesting... Depending on how you set it, it can be buzzy or synthy at low gain. On high-gain with the Torch switch on, it rocks as a punchy, synth-like fuzz that cuts the mix like fresh bread with a hatchet!

Overall, the tone is on the bright side, and its midrange flexibility is promising for cutting through a band mix. You can get tones similar to the Z.Vex Woolly Mammoth and the EHX Big Muff, but the beauty of the Blowtorch remains in how different it can sound than any fuzz pedal on the market. For some, that might be a bad thing, but I have a fondness for pedals that sound different than the mainstream - not just an improvement, but a different beast entirely.

SCORE: :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :|

Bassist: Letters to Ruin
EBMM Stingray | GK Fusion 550 | GK Neo 212
MXR Blowtorch | MXR Carbon Copy | EHX Stereo Electric Mistress

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