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June 30, 2010

The MXR Blue Box

The first MXR effects pedal was the M-101 MXR Phase 90, widely used on the first two Van Halen albums[1]. A milder version of the effect was also released, the MXR Phase 45, and a programmable version, the Phase 100.
Each of these enclosures had 4 screws attaching the bottom plate. A 9V battery powered these effects; to change the battery, one had to unscrew the bottom plate. There were three distinct periods through out the years of the reference series. The script logo, the box logo with out an LED and power jack, and a box logo with LED and power jack. Script boxes often had carbon resistors and are highly sought after by collectors and vintage gear hounds. Some of the earliest Script logo pedals were actually made by hand in the basement shop and feature hand applied silk screen lettering. Also, early on in the script logo phase, BUD boxes were used. They were made with aluminum, and are much lighter when compared side to side with a die cast box. The BUD Box Company was out of Willoubhy, OH. Script logo boxes included the Blue Box, Distortion +, Dyna Comp, Phase 45, Phase 90, and the Phase 100.

This unassuming little box shovels out enough low frequencies to scare a blue whale. It takes your guitar signal, fuzzes it up, then duplicates it two octaves down. You control the output and the mix between the dry signal and the effect. Using it 100% wet is quite an experience, but more recognizable sounds appear as you dial In more dry signal. The Blue Box is known for having a chaotic personality that can make each session a totally unique experience! Power: Single 9 volt battery or Dunlop ECB-002 AC adapter - Controls: Footswitch toggles effect on/bypass (red LED indicates on) Output knob sets total output gain Blend knob adjusts ratio of dry (clean) with wet (effects) signal.

This fiesty little fella has been wisely re-issued to save us all from collectors prices and all those empty handed pawnshop outings. It's here and it's just as mean as ever. The tracking on this unit is very random so don't ever plan on predictable results. Expecting sheer madness when stomping on this is a whole lot of fun and the experience is refreshing compared to the safe sonic trips we all end up taking with most of our effects. The Blue Box will twist and pulverize your riffs and notes into something very sick and, at times, very synthy . Need a little sanity? Try backing off the blend knob and things get a little more manageable. Everyone needs a secret weapon in their rig and this one is the perfect candidate. As used by Thurston Moore, J Mascis, Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck, Trent Reznor, Frank Zappa, Buzz and many many more.
This is a Tym guitars favorite and the Blue Box and all the other MXR pedals are available now at Tym guitars.


  1. This pedal rules. It's actually a little bit too much for No Anchor on the bass...but a little bit too much is fine I reckon. I used to use it for when an OC2 into a Big Bottom into a Big Muff just wasn't nasty enough...that's when I stepped on the Blue Box.

  2. It is an underrated pedal. Maybe a little too early for it's time ?