MXR Distortion +

Discussion in 'Effects, Pedals, Strings & Things' started by cob666, Oct 3, 2008.

  1. cob666

    cob666 Member

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    Last year I purchased a new MXR Distortion + because I believe that was most likely the first pedal I bought in the late 70's and I had always liked the sound of it.

    Needless to say I was NOT impressed at all with the way they sound now. Kind of thin and mushy.

    A friend of mine (Jim) recently purchased an old Ampeg amp and they guy he bought it from tossed him a rather nasty and dirtly Distortion +. Jim had no use for it and gave it to me and told me the guy he got it from said it didn't work and he was just going to throw it away.

    So, I replaced the battery, plugged it in and WOW! I can't believe how much better it sounds than the 'New and Improved' ones. It's not as thin, not mushy at all and is actually quite articulate and sounds more fuzzy than the newer ones. :AOK

    The date codes on the pots put it at the 8th week in 1979 so it's pretty close to when I would have bought my first one.

    Anybody else using an old D+?
     
  2. TerrorTwilight

    TerrorTwilight Member

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    Usually I don't really believe people when they say an older pedal is better than a reissue. The difference to me is slim at best. But, I recently got to A/B a new Distortion+ with an older one. WOW, the difference is HUGE. Almost like they designed the new one to sound thin compared to the old one!
     
  3. pullagnm

    pullagnm Member

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    Last week I picked up a Distortion + from my friend. It's pots date to 1980. The only reason I bought it was Randy Rhoads used one, so I thought for 30.00 why not have it for cenimental value. It sounds really good with the distortion around 1 o'clock. Beyound that it gets to edgy. I can see using it for a low to med overdirve.
     
  4. ungarn

    ungarn Member

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    Old 'uns are fun...especially for those Crazy Train moments...
     
  5. jay42

    jay42 Member

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    I think I bought mine in '78 or '79. I recall I didn't like it into an Ampeg or a Music Man, so it collected dust for an eon. When I got into Marshalls, it suddenly had some value.

    It's really simple, so I don't know why a new one wouldn't sound right unless they used surface mount diodes. I cannot imagine that there are any Germanium SMD parts. My notes say those should be 1N270's. Since the op amp is only used for gain, it can be improved. I've got an NE5534 in mine. Someone like Mark Hammer was into piggybacking those, but I couldn't get the box closed, so I removed the socket and soldered one in.
     
  6. TerrorTwilight

    TerrorTwilight Member

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    yeah, he used it to hit the front end of his already-overdriven marshall. It's a good stacking pedal.
     
  7. Lolaviola

    Lolaviola Supporting Member

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    I have a Tele that pairs relly well with that distortion. Mmmm...
     
  8. Dog Boy

    Dog Boy Member

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    My Drummer had a script Dis. + and a script Dynacomp in the back of an old Peavey in his garage. I recently discovered them and was knocked out by the tone.....no he wouldn't sell them.:BITCH I told him to at least take them inside the house.
     
  9. wildschwein

    wildschwein Member

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    Although it's the same circuit, there are differences in construction and some components between the old and RI Distortion +'s. BTW: I'm a Rhoads follower from way back and have always been interested in the Dist +.

    For one, I'm pretty sure the RI's don't have germanium diodes in them which gave the older models lower output but a warmer sound. Silicon diodes - which I think are what is utilized in the current RI's are louder but colder sounding. The RI's have a different board layout too - the old Dist +'s had traces that looked like they were devised during an acid trip - the new ones have pots and switch mounted to a board. The same board is apparently also used to make the MXR Microamps on too but that's just construction stuff and probably shouldn't affect the sound all that much.

    There are some useful mods for the pedal. Changing out the 10K volume/level pot for a 100k Audio pot gives you a lot more volume boost - the stock pedal is not very loud. You can also change out the diodes for LEDs which give an even louder but slightly harsher tone - this harshness is somewhat negated if you're putting the pedal in front of an already overdriven amp where the natural compression will smooth it out a bit. It's probably also possible to set up a 3 way switching system to switch between germanium diodes, silicon diodes and LEDs - that would be cool. The op amp is a LM741 - a 40 + year old design which is notoriously noisy - a good and quieter replacement is an LF351. Socketing the IC allows you to test out different op amps.

    The circuit is relatively simple and cheap to build from scratch and it also is very close to the DOD 250 OD and I have seen some people suggest that you could make a pedal that allows you to switch between a DOD 250 OD and a MXR circuit - all in the one unit.

    Here are some useful links if you want to have a play around with the electronics:
    1978 board layout:
    http://www.aronnelson.com/gallery/m..._MXR_DISTORTION_VINTAGE+STYLE+LAYOUT.GIF.html
    Strip board layout if you want to make your own:
    http://www.aronnelson.com/gallery/m..._0/album17/album06/mxr_dist_plus_001.jpg.html
    Strip board layout for DOD 250 OD if you want to make your own:
    http://www.aronnelson.com/gallery/m...7/album06/DOD_OVERDRIVE_250_VERO_001.gif.html
     
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2008
  10. bwc3000

    bwc3000 Member

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    I got a '76 or '77 block-logo MXR D+ in 1993 from Brian's Guitars in New Haven, Connecticut and used for years with a Rickenbacker and later with a Les Paul Studio (you can hear some of those sounds in my old band The Confessors here: www.myspace.com/theconfessors). It was great live for generating a really warm, full distortion, especially in a trio setting, and I was able to use it for controlled feedback by overloading a solid-state Fender Deluxe 112 (coupled with a Peavey half-stack). I got it for $40 because I had heard Bob Mould from Husker Du used them. When I got it, I realized I could also get Ace Frehley's sound on Rock and Roll Over, not to mention all kinds of My Bloody Valentine and Smithereens-like tones, so I was in love...:dude
    Recently I got a 1980 D+ and a 1980 Boss CE-2 in trade for my old DS-1 and a Carbon Copy...best trade ever! The 1980 is a little smoother sounding and the previous owner got rid of all the decayed foam on the inside and replaced it. The D+ and the CE-2 sound perfect together...
    Now that I play in a duo I use the D+ more for recording but it's still one of my favorite pedals of all time. The only pedal I've ever found that sounds as good with my Tele is one of Bill Harnden's Flaming Skull Boosters...just an amazing pedal made with germanium transistors he got from his grandfather...! Check it out here...I'm looking forward to using it at our next gig next weekend...
    http://www.hardenengineering.com/distortion.asp
     
  11. Balok

    Balok Member

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    I was wondering how overdriven the Marshalls actually were. If you drive the amp into distortion, his delay tone would have been cleaner than the dry tone, and that sounds pretty bad. Since he was not using an effects loop to solve that problem, I suspect most of his gain was from the MXR, and that switched off, he sound was pretty clean.
     
  12. gururyan

    gururyan Member

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    I've been using a vintage D+ on my board for well over a decade. I'd be willing to bet that the D+ is the next MXR Custom Shop reissue.
     
  13. Crikey

    Crikey Member

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    I bought a Distortion + used circa 1979 (my first pedal, too). I always thought it sounded thin and nasty. Since I started getting into pedals again, I have some pretty cool modern OD/distortion boxes. I keep thinking I need to find that old D+ and see how it compares. Thanks to this thread, I'll probably dig it out and give it go.
     
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2009
  14. MERCYFULFATE

    MERCYFULFATE Member

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    imo when it comes to Vintage MXR and Dunlop/MXR there is no comparison. i do like the Carbon Copy but Vintage MXR pedals are amazing. i have been using them since the 70s.
     
  15. MERCYFULFATE

    MERCYFULFATE Member

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    you are correct.:agree
     
  16. rsm

    rsm Member

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    I was a kid in the '70s and couldn't afford the amps I wanted, so I bought many pedals mostly EH, but I have a MXR Distortion+ and Micro Amp, probably a few others. They are packed away in my parent's house, and I keep meaning to dig them out when I go there to see what they sound like today. They have all the original boxes too. I remember preferring my EH Big Muff Pi though, and I used the MA to boost for leads. I have a few other pedals from that era too, Small Stone, Screaming Bird, Golden Throat II, probably a few others I've forgotten. I hope they haven't rusted or rotted away, its been decades since I've seen them!
     

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