Saturday, October 17, 2015

Review: MXR Wylde Overdrive

Hello and welcome to this week's article! 
Today we are going to speak about one of the most iconic overdrives ever made: the MXR Wylde Overdrive!
The first version of Wylde overdrive was developed by Mxr, a legendary stompbox brand, which later was acquired by Jim Dunlop, so today the actual name of the latest version of this pedal is Jim Dunlop Berzerker Overdrive, but besides the different name the hardware part is identical.

When designing this pedal Zakk Wylde, the guitarist of a good part of the Ozzy Osbourne solo career and singer and guitarist of Black Label Society, he took as a base a Boss SD-1 (Super Overdrive) and made his own tweaks, increasing the gain and making it true bypass, while keeping the same controls: Tone, Gain and Output (which in the original Boss Sd-1 is called Level). 
The resul is an overdrive that can be used to add warmth and grit to a clean channel, like all the other overdrives, while mantaining a certain level of dynamics, but that is even more suited for its main purpose (the way it's used by Zakk Wylde): to boost the distorted channel of an amplifier to add attack and to scoop the mids, in order to obtain a very aggressive heavy metal tone, Black Label Society or Pantera style. 

How does it compare to a classic Tubescreamer, the most famous booster in the world? 
The Zw44 is brighter (like its Boss original overdrive) and more aggressive, and when pushed it can acquire a character which sounds almost like a fuzz, in terms of gain style. This gives to the guitarist a wide range of sounds to play with, even if after a few tweaks it becomes clear the true vocation of this stompbox: to be used in a hard rock-heavy metal environment, rather than in a blues/jazzy one, since it is more about giving the player a huge amount of gain rather than the subtlety and the dynamics of the smoothest overdrives on the market.

The final thought is that if you are looking for an overdrive to boost your crunch channel to play heavy metal this stompbox is almost unbeatable, also because it's true bypass, so when turned off it doesn't eat your guitar signal.
If you are looking for a very subtle overdrive that underlines the nuances of your clean playing, instead, maybe is better to look somewhere else.

SPECS Taken from the Jim Dunlop / Mxr Overdrive:

Input Impedance 1 MΩ

Output Impedance 7.5 kΩ

Nominal Input -22 dBV 

Noise Floor* -88 dBV

Bypass Hardwire

Current Draw 2.2 mA

Power Supply 9 volts DC

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