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MXR M-181 Bass Blowtorch Overdrive Distortion Pedal

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The M-181 MXR Bass Blowtorch bass overdrive pedal is made to deliver the hottest sounds this side of Hades--from a tube-like growl to full-blown dist...Click To Read More About This Product

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OVERVIEW

A revolutionary concept in bass overdrive.

The M-181 MXR Bass Blowtorch bass overdrive pedal is made to deliver the hottest sounds this side of Hades--from a tube-like growl to full-blown distorted madness. Because the Bass Blowtorch's overdrive is focused in the midrange frequencies, you'll retain your low-end thunder and high-end sizzle while the overdriven mids cut through any mix. An active 3-band EQ with a mid shift switch provides precise signal balancing, while the Blend knob lets you balance the distortion with the direct signal for the exact tone you're after. 18-volt performance equals increased dynamic headroom, clarity, and low noise no matter the volume level, and true bypass circuitry means it's really off when you want it off, leaving your signal completely unaffected.

FEATURES
From traditional tube-like growl to full-blown high-gain distortion
18V performance for increased dynamic headroom and clarity
Low-noise performance at loud volumes
Active 3-band EQ with 3-position mid shift for precise tone sculpting
Distortion and direct signal blending
Real-world tested by world-class touring bassists
Tough die-cast housing
True hardwire bypass

Your guitarist will burn with envy. Order now!

Reviews
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Review Snapshot

by PowerReviews
MXRM-181 Bass Blowtorch Overdrive Distortion Pedal
 
3.8

(based on 17 reviews)

Ratings Distribution

  • 5 Stars

     

    (9)

  • 4 Stars

     

    (2)

  • 3 Stars

     

    (1)

  • 2 Stars

     

    (3)

  • 1 Stars

     

    (2)

Most Liked Positive Review

 

Amazingly versatile

Despite what some people have written with regard to the Bass Blowtorch, I will speak from my own personal perspective...

I have now owned 2 MXR Bass Blowtorches. The...Read complete review

Despite what some people have written with regard to the Bass Blowtorch, I will speak from my own personal perspective...

I have now owned 2 MXR Bass Blowtorches. The only reason I purchased a second is that I relocated a great distance and found the need to reduce what I was moving to only the bare essentials. After I settled down, I recognized that this pedal WAS a bare essential, and purchased another.

While this product is appropriately described as a "bass fuzz" [and it does the job with aplomb] it can also be used in more "restrained" and musically usable ways. I have only one bass...a Zon Sonus Special fretless IV...and I play it through the SWR Baby Blue II...and while this core rig is both tone-ful and warm, there are times when I want another color on my palette; one that is a warmer hue of brown, with tubey complexity and nice little overtones. This pedal can absolutely do that, and it does that well. It is extremely musical with subtle settings, and has a very powerful EQ for further tailoring your tone. If you need extra juice, the blowtorch switch is to the right of the pedal and only a tap of the toe away.

With regard to some people's concern with the longevity of the pedal, in my experience, this thing is built like a tank. The switch has a positive tactile click, and has never failed me. The aluminum chassis is as aesthetically pleasing as it robust.

As for some of the other features, I have not used the "thru" jack for amplifying respective effected and clean signals...that being said, I appreciate the design being in place should I ever choose to do that. I use the mid shift feature set to 250Hz most of the time [for a bit more presence in an ensemble setting] but I will use the shift to 750Hz for increased harmonic presence in solo situations. I do not use the 2kHz feature as I feel those frequencies are largely unpleasant, in particular on fretless bass - those frequencies introduce too much string noise and give the notes more of a "pointy-ness" that sacrifices the "bloom" and "mwah" that I seek in my tone.

To give my review proper perspective, I've played bass for 25 years....the last 15 of which have been exclusively fretless. Not only do I play on a semi-professional basis, but I am also a music educator specializing in theory, relative pitch ear training, and improvisational skills. I am a self confessed music nerd, and I am a tone junky. I do not have a big pedalboard [although at one time I had 14 pedals at my feet]. I currently run an NS2 Noise Gate, the MXR Blowtorch, an MXR Bass Envelope Filter, an MXR Bass Octave Deluxe, and a Boss CE3 Compressor. I also run reverb, subtle delays and chorus as necessary through a TC Electronic G Major rack unit.

In my estimation, this is an amazingly versatile unit. It gives me warmth when I want it, and has more gas in the tank if it becomes necessary. It isn't as crunchy as a Big M#ff or an El Grande Bass Fuzz [which I also own, respectfully], but if you want a diverse pedal that can cover lots of ground, or you just like having a few varieties of bass fuzz pedals on your pedal board, this is really the value leader.

VS

Most Liked Negative Review

 

NOT AN OVERDRIVE PEDAL!!!

before you buy this, be aware that it is a fuzz pedal, not an overdrive pedal. i bought it and was extremely disappointed when it arrived, because i could achieve nothing but fuzz...Read complete review

before you buy this, be aware that it is a fuzz pedal, not an overdrive pedal. i bought it and was extremely disappointed when it arrived, because i could achieve nothing but fuzz sounds with it.the idea and construction of the pedal is excellent, but all it gives you is various degrees of buzzy noises. even with the blend knob, you can never get rid of the fuzz. it sounds similar to a Big Muff Pi with the tone knob cranked all the way up, only you can color the sound with more low end, etc. i'm sure some people will like this pedal, and even possibly find a practical use for it, but the 18-volt power requirement and pure lack of sound options to me make this not worth the time or money.if you are into fuzz/distortion sounds, check out the big muffs. if you are looking for an overdrive pedal, stay away from this one.

Reviewed by 17 customers

Displaying reviews 1-17

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(5 of 5 customers found this review helpful)

 
5.0

Amazingly versatile

By IHateUniqueMusicNames

from Columbus, OH

About Me Experienced

See all my reviews

Ask me a question

Pros

  • Excellent Sound Quality
  • Good Selection Of Effects
  • Responsive
  • Robust Build
  • Versatile

Cons

    Best Uses

    • Performances
    • Professional Recording
    • Warming Up Tone

    Comments about MXR M-181 Bass Blowtorch Overdrive Distortion Pedal:

    Despite what some people have written with regard to the Bass Blowtorch, I will speak from my own personal perspective...

    I have now owned 2 MXR Bass Blowtorches. The only reason I purchased a second is that I relocated a great distance and found the need to reduce what I was moving to only the bare essentials. After I settled down, I recognized that this pedal WAS a bare essential, and purchased another.

    While this product is appropriately described as a "bass fuzz" [and it does the job with aplomb] it can also be used in more "restrained" and musically usable ways. I have only one bass...a Zon Sonus Special fretless IV...and I play it through the SWR Baby Blue II...and while this core rig is both tone-ful and warm, there are times when I want another color on my palette; one that is a warmer hue of brown, with tubey complexity and nice little overtones. This pedal can absolutely do that, and it does that well. It is extremely musical with subtle settings, and has a very powerful EQ for further tailoring your tone. If you need extra juice, the blowtorch switch is to the right of the pedal and only a tap of the toe away.

    With regard to some people's concern with the longevity of the pedal, in my experience, this thing is built like a tank. The switch has a positive tactile click, and has never failed me. The aluminum chassis is as aesthetically pleasing as it robust.

    As for some of the other features, I have not used the "thru" jack for amplifying respective effected and clean signals...that being said, I appreciate the design being in place should I ever choose to do that. I use the mid shift feature set to 250Hz most of the time [for a bit more presence in an ensemble setting] but I will use the shift to 750Hz for increased harmonic presence in solo situations. I do not use the 2kHz feature as I feel those frequencies are largely unpleasant, in particular on fretless bass - those frequencies introduce too much string noise and give the notes more of a "pointy-ness" that sacrifices the "bloom" and "mwah" that I seek in my tone.

    To give my review proper perspective, I've played bass for 25 years....the last 15 of which have been exclusively fretless. Not only do I play on a semi-professional basis, but I am also a music educator specializing in theory, relative pitch ear training, and improvisational skills. I am a self confessed music nerd, and I am a tone junky. I do not have a big pedalboard [although at one time I had 14 pedals at my feet]. I currently run an NS2 Noise Gate, the MXR Blowtorch, an MXR Bass Envelope Filter, an MXR Bass Octave Deluxe, and a Boss CE3 Compressor. I also run reverb, subtle delays and chorus as necessary through a TC Electronic G Major rack unit.

    In my estimation, this is an amazingly versatile unit. It gives me warmth when I want it, and has more gas in the tank if it becomes necessary. It isn't as crunchy as a Big M#ff or an El Grande Bass Fuzz [which I also own, respectfully], but if you want a diverse pedal that can cover lots of ground, or you just like having a few varieties of bass fuzz pedals on your pedal board, this is really the value leader.

    (4 of 4 customers found this review helpful)

     
    5.0

    very versatile fuzz from MXR...

    By Edgars

    from Texas

    See all my reviews

    Comments about MXR M-181 Bass Blowtorch Overdrive Distortion Pedal:

    The distortion produced by the MXR Bass Blowtorch has a very distinctive character. With high gain and blend settings, the sound is a very compressed synthy fuzz. Sounds almost like a chainsaw. Backing off the blend and gain, it is easy to find a gritty or tubey overdrive.The availability of controls like the 3 band EQ, mid freq switch, blend knob, and Torch intensity switch allow the user to craft an immense variety of tones and textures.I am impressed with everything about the construction except plastic Torch switch which seems kind of delicate. Still, I have had the pedal for six months, and it has performed perfectly during practice and gigs.I would highly recommend getting the Dunlop 18v power adapter with this pedal. It helps ensure the proper electrical performance of the unit. Don't mess with the double battery thing.

    (2 of 2 customers found this review helpful)

     
    4.0

    Useful Addition to Fuzz Arsenal

    By Sparella

    from Tennessee

    Comments about MXR M-181 Bass Blowtorch Overdrive Distortion Pedal:

    The MXR Blowtorch is a BASS FUZZ PEDAL. Whoever decided to include "overdrive" or even "distortion" in the description should be fired. It has been a fixture on my pedal board ever since I purchased it several years ago. My findings: Even at minimum gain, the fuzz is present and goes on up to massive from there. The frequency switch affects the tone so subtly, its not really worth having, but it doesn't hurt either. The 3-band EQ is quite capable of sculpting one's sound to taste. I've never found the "torch" mode useful nor is it accessible. I'd think twice before kicking that plastic switch mid-gig. I particularly like the blend knob. I use this pedal after another fuzz pedal and then blend the two sounds together, creating a wall of fuzz so thick... well, you can imagine. Build quality is good other than the battery compartment and torch toggle. Unless you're sponsored by a battery manufacturer, this pedal basically requires an 18 VDC adapter. Many bass pedals run on higher voltages to allow for increased headroom, and this is just another one of them. No big deal.

    (1 of 3 customers found this review helpful)

     
    2.0

    WHY?

    By MagdaMax

    from Sawtooths

    Comments about MXR M-181 Bass Blowtorch Overdrive Distortion Pedal:

    Why did I waste hard earned money on this thing? I am an obsessive tone tweaker and have never been more disappointed(with acception of BassBalls..blech)in a pedal in my 15+ years of playing. At best it gives you watery hollow sound when engaged. Buy the MXR Bass DI (rocks!) for distortion and coloration and skip the blow torch...it blows all right.

    (1 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

     
    5.0

    Look No Further!!!!

    By bassdaddy-AaE5f

    from tennessee

    Comments about MXR M-181 Bass Blowtorch Overdrive Distortion Pedal:

    Got this thing on a Wed. took it out of the box on Fri. at a gig, plugged in and made a few eq adjustments the next thing I know the hair on the back of my neck was standing on it's end. This thing is awesome. Super fuzzy and I hit the torch on switch just to see what happens and this thing was screamin!!! Just go get one right now, it's built like a tank , sounds like a lightsaber, and is very easy to operate. Another great MXR pedal.

     
    5.0

    Sweet Pedal

    By Vypor

    from Arkansas

    See all my reviews

    Comments about MXR M-181 Bass Blowtorch Overdrive Distortion Pedal:

    This pedal rules.. The big con is that it needs an 18volt power supply and those are really hard to come by around here, and the fact that it drains two nine volts in about 3 hours is kind of disapointing too. Everything else about this pedal is amazing, You keep all your lows and highs but you control the mad distortion that cuts through the middle. It IS a fuzz pedal but its different, like a distorted metal fuzz. I wouldnt recommend just buying it though, try to find somewhere local so you can play on it first to see if you like it, from what I've exceprinced, you ethier love it or you hate it.

     
    5.0

    Hands down, best out there...

    By SVTKING

    from San Francisco, CA

    See all my reviews

    Comments about MXR M-181 Bass Blowtorch Overdrive Distortion Pedal:

    Big, fuzzed out bass sound, without losing low end or definition. Sure, lots of fuzz or distortion units for bass sound great in the store or in your bedroom, but this is the first one where you can actually hear the fuzz above the "bass" sound. Think Big Muff pi without the excess noise and more punch, clarity, and low end.

     
    1.0

    not good for long use

    By anonymous-EGNSZ

    from maryland

    Comments about MXR M-181 Bass Blowtorch Overdrive Distortion Pedal:

    right after i bought this pedal, the blowtorch knob fell off. during band practice the pedal worked fine, but after an extended time the pedal would be hot and cut in and out. finally, the pedal broke, after about 4 months. the light is always on, and the pedal will not kick in, i don recommend this to any traveling musician

     
    5.0

    Hard Rockin' Smile Maker!

    By Pappy-DOVVU

    from Towson, MD

    Comments about MXR M-181 Bass Blowtorch Overdrive Distortion Pedal:

    I recently bought the MXR Blowtorch at my local retailer and immediately fell in love with it. The EQ, mid adjust, and "blowtorch" switch all work great. The best is the blend knob, where you can add as much or as little fuzz as you want. On low blend settings, it's almost as if you have 2 channels running at once because the lows are still very audible and strong while the mids and highs are fuzzed out. my favorite tone for the blowtorch is adding just enough drive and mild fuzz for that "Mississippi Queen" sound. The pedal is very heavy and requires 2 9v batteries that die quick. Also, when you bring up the heavy distortion and boost the treble for a lead, the solid notes come through, but the hammer-ons and pull-offs are somewhat muted and can make you sound sloppy. All in all a great pedal though.

     
    5.0

    This pedal does it all

    By Anonymous

    from Undisclosed

    Comments about MXR M-181 Bass Blowtorch Overdrive Distortion Pedal:

    I got this pedal and loved it from the first day I received it, the pedal has a blend nob that lets you control of your overall distortion, so thats cool, but I love everything about it espically the 3 eq part of the pedal lets you control your sound.Cant say enough about the pedal.

     
    4.0

    excellent sound but...

    By solarmax

    from Tempe, AZ

    See all my reviews

    Comments about MXR M-181 Bass Blowtorch Overdrive Distortion Pedal:

    I have owned this for three months now and use it for fill during guitar solos in our 3 piece band. It sounds great once adjusted to taste. The bottom is by far the best I've ever used and I tried more than 2 dozen units in my search. The settings cover everything except a biamp feature to mix the lows and highs wet signal independantly. The master wet-dry mix works pretty well though. My first unit crapped out in only one week but the replacement has served me well so far. It is built very rugged except for the hyperdrive little red button on the side. I don't ever use it on the fly but it is awkwardly placed and flimsy at best. The only other weakness is the absolutely cheap p.o.s. battery compartment. I expected better from MXR, much better. My unit is kept in a bombproof SKB ps-45 and is wired via 2 9v adapter wires so I don't use the battery compartment. But this kind of cost cutting myopia will be a problem for battery users unless corrected. Bottom line is it's near perfect for my use and keeps that nasty hollow thing out of our guitarists solos.

     
    2.0

    MXR Blowtorch

    By Ollie Zamm

    from New Zealand

    Comments about MXR M-181 Bass Blowtorch Overdrive Distortion Pedal:

    I feel obligated to disagree with the other reviewers on this product.I cannot easily put into words how much it bites, horrible tone and a weird limiting compression thing happens if you crank the gain and blend to high, it loses any attack that was previously there.

     
    2.0

    NOT AN OVERDRIVE PEDAL!!!

    By idontliketosleep

    from Cape Cod, MA

    See all my reviews

    Comments about MXR M-181 Bass Blowtorch Overdrive Distortion Pedal:

    before you buy this, be aware that it is a fuzz pedal, not an overdrive pedal. i bought it and was extremely disappointed when it arrived, because i could achieve nothing but fuzz sounds with it.the idea and construction of the pedal is excellent, but all it gives you is various degrees of buzzy noises. even with the blend knob, you can never get rid of the fuzz. it sounds similar to a Big Muff Pi with the tone knob cranked all the way up, only you can color the sound with more low end, etc. i'm sure some people will like this pedal, and even possibly find a practical use for it, but the 18-volt power requirement and pure lack of sound options to me make this not worth the time or money.if you are into fuzz/distortion sounds, check out the big muffs. if you are looking for an overdrive pedal, stay away from this one.

    (0 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

     
    1.0

    Flatulence in a pedal

    By Anonymous

    from Undisclosed

    Comments about MXR M-181 Bass Blowtorch Overdrive Distortion Pedal:

    I was really excited about this pedal when I heard about it. I went to a store to play it, and only spent about 2 minutes with it. I figured that with some tweaking on my system I could get a good sound out of it. I decided to take it home and mess around a little more. When I got home I found out that the very limited sound I got in the store was about all this thing was capable of. The blend function is just about worthless. The distortion sounds like it is only mixed in at the very extreme clockwise position. It basically made my bass sound like it had too many beans the night before.

     
    5.0

    Finally, distortion that does'nt cut the bass!

    By LeeSklar40

    from UK

    Comments about MXR M-181 Bass Blowtorch Overdrive Distortion Pedal:

    I have been trying to find a disortion/fuzz that does'nt sound crap on the bass for a while now, which has been such a mission. With this pedal I can have a more full on bass sound with a fuzz sound backing it up, or, with the torch on, a full on but very controlled distortion sound.there is a great EQ too, which really helps with dealing with different amps and gear. And I don't know where alot of these guys have bought one of these from but I got a power supply with it!!! so it depends on where you order it from really.Overall, the best distortion pedal out there for the bass at the moment, its a really pro sound that sound monsterous anywhere!

     
    3.0

    Just don't last that long....

    By Bass Masher

    from Grand Rapids, MI

    Comments about MXR M-181 Bass Blowtorch Overdrive Distortion Pedal:

    ok, I've owned this pedal for about a year and a half. I really like the sound that it puts out. But in that year and a half, it just broke on me for the second time. As much as i love the tone, I'm a professional musician. I can't have it breaking down on my all the time.

     
    5.0

    just what i needed

    By MetalShredder89

    from everywhere

    See all my reviews

    Comments about MXR M-181 Bass Blowtorch Overdrive Distortion Pedal:

    I'm in a three piece band and one thing everyone in the band has to do is sound bigger. I've been looking for a distortion just like this. It maintains your low end and distorts the midrange. When we recorded one of our heavier tracks i turn the torch on and my bass sounded like a bass and a rythm guitar behind my guitarist solo. This pedal isn't for people that want to sound like Lemmy Kilmister, or solo like cliff burton. You have to be careful about the bass and mid knobs, if they go past about 4 your sound gets boomy. And be sure to mess with the blend knob to get the perfect ratio of disto. and clean. All and all this is a good pedal, i just wish it came with a power supply.

    Displaying reviews 1-17

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