M104 Distortion Plus review by MXR

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  • Sound: 9
  • Overall Impression: 10
  • Reliability & Durability: 10
  • Ease of Use: 10
  • Reviewer's score: 9.8 Superb
  • Users' score: 6.9 (28 votes)
MXR: M104 Distortion Plus
1

Price paid: $ 59.95

Purchased from: Unknown

Sound — 9
I have been running this pedal with a Epiphone Valve Junior and either a unbranded strat copy and a Vintage VS6 (sg copy) with a DiMarzio super distortion in the bridge. At a low level of distortion the pedal has a unusual yet flavorful crunch tone on the single coils and adds a lot of bass to the tone, with the humbuckers the crunch is very thick but the tone isn't lost in the increased bass. Then towards half way on the distortion the pedal begins to get into metal levels of distortion and begins to be slightly less bass heavy but the single coils begin to lose definition and the humbuckers lose almost none. With the distortion maxed out lovely harmonics begin to cut through and the pedal really begins to make sense, this point gives a huge lead metal sound I cannot honestly compare to any other pedal. Surprisingly although the single coils seemed to have little definition at mid distortion they begin to give a nicer sound at the higher distortion levels with better note definition but still losing most of their normal tone. The humbuckers still maintain their definition and tone at the highest level of distortion and sound wonderful.

At low levels I cannot compare this pedal to any artists but at mid to high level of distortion this pedal is very similar to the Randy Rhoads tone with a slightly dirty amp sound before adding the pedal really bringing it close to the tone. This pedal being a 30 odd year old pedal has no true bypass as an after note but I do not feel it has much of an affect on tone when in a chain without other old fashioned bypass pedals.

At low distortion sound is about a 6 but at mid to high definitely a 10 and I feel it would be unfair to give it lower than a 9 because what it does at high distortion is simply unbelievable.

Overall Impression — 10
I enjoy a blend of music including things from Clapton some metal and have a love of the early Ozzy era of metal so I do think this pedal is a good match for me. However I only have it on long term loan from a friend so would more than likely have to sell a kidney if it got stolen so I could replace it and more than likely buy myself one (if I got a good price for my kidney).

Must say my favorite feature is the wonderful screaming tone that comes from the pedal with the distortion maxed out. My least favorite feature is the diodes that are no longer produced which means the reissue pedal sounds dreadful so I cannot simply buy one of those.

Sorry if you feel this review should not have been so highly rated but I feel this pedal honestly deserves these ratings.

Reliability & Durability — 10
I would say this pedal has to be highly durable first because it has lasted for over 30 years without any part needing replaced or even the nuts on the jacks being tightened and secondly because when I opened up the box to map out the circuit board and check the component values I saw that the box was padded over ever component to ensure that no parts could even budge and there was padding wrapped around the circuit to ensure even the components could not be moved in the slightest.

Ease of Use — 10
This pedal is unbelievably easy to use, two pots, one for volume and one for distortion and as you might have guessed a switch to turn it off and on.

Would just like to state here to avoid any confusion this is one of the original distortion+ stomp boxes and is not a reissue and the manual explains the nobs and gives values for the gain, input noise and output level and states it's list price at $59.95 however I think it is worth slightly more now.

13 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Megadeaf
    jodogg wrote: Everyone knows the ultimate distortion pedal is a Robert Keeley-Modded Boss MT-2 Metal Zone. Very flexible with its sounds. Mild to wild.
    I have a mod that makes a Metal Zone sound better. You will need a hammer and a strong arm. Smash pedal repeatedly.
    kagekiyo
    Megadeaf wrote: I have a mod that makes a Metal Zone sound better. You will need a hammer and a strong arm. Smash pedal repeatedly.
    +1
    Krackula
    As a person who can't stand what metal turned into since Ye Greate Downtune Craze of the 90s, saying the Dist+ won't do today's tones is high praise. Nice raunchy classic 80's tone, lets your playing style show through, nice harmonics and good chug. I like this pedal a lot. I can release my inner Jake E Lee and such a thing makes me happy.
    swordsofplague
    jodogg wrote: Everyone knows the ultimate distortion pedal is a Robert Keeley-Modded Boss MT-2 Metal Zone. Very flexible with its sounds. Mild to wild.
    Your argument is invalid
    Sudsy100
    Megadeaf wrote: I have a mod that makes a Metal Zone sound better. You will need a hammer and a strong arm. Smash pedal repeatedly.
    +1 and +1 again. I'm not a tone snob in the least, but I don't know WTH I was thinking when I first got an MT-2 and thought it sounded good. I've got about 50+ pedals I've picked up along the way, and I find myself using a cheap Fab Metal pedal for heavier tunes instead of the MT-2. Come to think of it, I may have gotten a good sound out of the MT-2 once, but accidentally moved one of the knobs a nano-millimetre and it's gone now. I think the MXR Distortion+ sound pretty darn good for what it is. Doesn't suck the low end out. Same goes for the MXR GT-OD. Both very useful pedals. Not mainstays, but a great deal for the price, and you'll never butcher a song by stomping on one.
    EpiExplorer
    kagekiyo wrote: Basic. o.o I'm sure you could play any mainstream metal/rock stuff up till 1985 without a problem, but new music today would put it out of place. Boss ML-2 is better for that. i disagree that the ML-2 would suit music today more, IMHO after playing through both a boss ML-2 and the original MXR distortion + i think that the MXR is more flexible in the tones that it can provide
    Would it still sound good playing The Fathomless Mastery? I highly doubt that. ML-2 is the best all rounder for extreme music. This MXR is for more vintage tones.
    EpiExplorer
    Basic. o.o I'm sure you could play any mainstream metal/rock stuff up till 1985 without a problem, but new music today would put it out of place. Boss ML-2 is better for that.
    kagekiyo
    Basic. o.o I'm sure you could play any mainstream metal/rock stuff up till 1985 without a problem, but new music today would put it out of place. Boss ML-2 is better for that.
    i disagree that the ML-2 would suit music today more, IMHO after playing through both a boss ML-2 and the original MXR distortion + i think that the MXR is more flexible in the tones that it can provide
    kagekiyo
    Would it still sound good playing The Fathomless Mastery? I highly doubt that. ML-2 is the best all rounder for extreme music. This MXR is for more vintage tones.
    ok, it probably wont get that tone on its own, but it's not aimed to be that style of pedal, but not everyone want's to play one style of music, "extreme" or not it's a good sounding pedal.
    ProgFolk12
    Agreed. I like the distortion+, but it's hardly voiced for modern tones. But tbh, I don't play anything modern or heavy, and if I did I'd always use amp gain. Decent review as well, although 10, 9, 10, 10? Optimistic marks I think
    jodogg
    Everyone knows the ultimate distortion pedal is a Robert Keeley-Modded Boss MT-2 Metal Zone. Very flexible with its sounds. Mild to wild.
    JFRules
    I haven't tried this pedal but I have a Boss ML-2 this is not for all styles it is good for new metal. It is very heavy sound.