Bass Octave Deluxe
BY STEVE COOK
First of all, they started the same way they
did with the Phase 90 pedals, in a compact,
solid housing, built for years of service.
That’s about where the similarities stop,
however, because one look at this and you’ll
know it’s not like the other pedals on your
board. The housing is painted in blue sparkle; just funky enough, but not too much.
The controls, Growl and Girth, sound like
seventies tag-team wrestlers. The clever kids
at MXR don’t miss a trick. When you plug it
in, the pure funk starts.
First, the highlights: analog tone, a true
bypass, a Mid+ switch (an internally-adjustable EQ that punches the low-mids
at 400Hz or boosts the mids at 850Hz), two
independent octave voices, and MXR’s constant headroom technology, which produces
18 volts of headroom from a single 9V
battery. The design and layout are simple
enough to get great tone right out of the
box; with a little adjustment, it can produce
tone for the most discerning of players.
I decided to run this pedal through its paces
in a few different configurations. I used two
different amps, one vintage and one modern,
as well as a Fire Wire interface into recording
software. The basses were also vintage to
modern, with a Fender Bass VI and an electric
upright thrown in for good measure. I tried
to emulate what the majority of us do: take
it out of the box and plug it in with blatant
disregard for the instructions. Only after I had
played through it for a while did I read about
some of the previously mentioned features,
but at that point, I was already sold.
When the letters MXR are spoken, thoughts
of the first two Van Halen records instantly
come to mind. There’s a “where was I when
I bought my first Phase 90?” moment. We
cannot go back in time (nor do we really
want to), but fortunately, Jim Dunlop is
carrying on the MXR torch, keeping the classics available but introducing new products
as well. The MXR Bass Octave Deluxe is one
of the new offerings. Oddly enough, when
you hear it, it takes you back in time to the
funky seventies. Now how did they do that?
With everything at 12 o’clock, the pedal produced some really nice tone, and after about
three minutes of trial and error, I was playing
every funk lick I knew in D minor (that seems
to be where the hands always go for funk).
After a while, my hands started branching