M115 Distortion III Review

manufacturer: MXR date: 03/12/2009 category: Guitar Effects
MXR: M115 Distortion III
Built with a heavy duty case, quality input/output jacks and the tactile feel of the switch are hallmarks of MXR.
 Sound: 8.7
 Overall Impression: 9.7
 Reliability & Durability: 9.3
 Ease of Use: 10
 Overall rating:
 Reviewer rating:
 Users rating:
reviews (3) pictures (1) 1 comment vote for this gear:
overall: 9
M115 Distortion III Reviewed by: Jefferson_One, on march 12, 2009
3 of 3 people found this review helpful

Price paid: $ 80

Purchased from: Railroad Bazzar

Ease of Use: To me, MXR build quality is top notch! This M-115 Distortion III is no exception. Built with a heavy duty case, quality input/output jacks and the tactile feel of the switch are hallmarks of MXR. These pedals are made to last. Even the box it comes in is quality. There are output, tone, and distortion knobs - Eddie Van Halen actually uses these MXR knobs to replace those on his Fender Wolfgang guitars. Some pedals are plastic, others have crappy jacks - there really is nothing on build quality that I can deduct for on MXR products. // 10

Sound: Marketed as a distortion pedal it may be worth the time to actually listen to it - it sounds very different on a solid state amp versus a tube amp. Connected to a solid state amp you can get some pretty decent crunch and slight metal tones out of this - on my 40 watt Fender Hot Rod Deluxe Python Edition amp things were a bit surprising.

This amp is not known for having a 'metal' sound to begin with but it is all tube and very clean - and very powerful. Played with a Fender Stratocaster with Seymour Duncan pickups on the clean channel, the MXR Distortion III really does not give even the slightest hint of 'metal' tones even with the distortion knob on the pedal cranked. The pedal has the ability to add significant volume with it's own volume knob so some balancing between it and the amp is in order. With the amp pumping out about 110db @ 3 feet distance, the MXR Distortion III can really throw some authoritative 'crunch' tones for rhythm playing, for example. There was little if any coloration, noise, or anything distracting about the sound. It just wasn't what I would consider a 'distortion' pedal - more like an Overdrive pedal perhaps. That's not a bad thing though, if you are looking for AC/DC, Cinderella, or Dio type sounds. The tone is balanced I would say - not thin or boomy but retains all of the bass, mids, and highs I get with it in the bypass mode. By comparison, I played an Electro-Harmonix Nano Pocket Metal Muff with the same amp and the two distortion pedals are worlds apart in sound - EH Nano for 'metal' ( a bit thin though) and MXR Distortion III could be considered a high quality crunch pedal. I personally think should not be Distortion III, or Overdrive III, but perhaps a Crunch III would be more accurate - particularly with tube amps. The sound gets more edgy with solid state amps.

I hate to do it, but because one might expect 'distortion' similar to other pedals and it is marketed as such, I'm going to have to knock off a few points to bring it down to the 'crunch' level. It is still a superb pedal, but you should know going in that it is warm, organic, and different that any digital distortion pedal. // 7

Reliability & Durability: I really think MXR builds quality stuff - plain and simple. Eddie Van Halen, Dime Bag, Zakk Wylde seem to think so as well. True hardwire bypass preserves your tone, the cast case is built like a tank, and all knobs and switches are sturdy and have a great feel. I would not hesitate to use this in a gig without another backup pedal - there are no cheap parts on MXR products. It should last decades. // 9

Overall Impression: I play a Fender Stratocaster through a 40 watt Fender Hot Rod Deluxe Python amp - mostly 80s metal/rock such as Dio, Iron Maiden, Kiss, Great White, Dokken. With the tubes cracked pretty good and the distortion on the pedal wide open I can get a great sound for all but perhaps Iron Maiden, and even then, it's not that bad - not harsh edgy metal sound but more like a smooth tube Overdrive - but better. This has a sound character of it's own, and I have other distortion pedals, but I couldn't think of not having this Distortion III on hand.

You should consider what type of music you are going to mostly play and then listen to this with the type of amp you play though the most (solid state or tube) - it is going to sound a little different on each. Harmonic content, tonal balance and tube-crunch are what I think are the strong points about this product. I've had this pedal for at least six months and I've found it's place - all 'distorion' pedals are not created equal and nor are they intended to cover all pallets of rock or metal music. Overall I am very pleased with this pedal and the company. // 10

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overall: 9.8
M115 Distortion III Reviewed by: unregistered, on october 06, 2010
2 of 3 people found this review helpful

Price paid: A$ 138

Purchased from: Turramurra music

Ease of Use: Its really easy to use with three knobs including a Tone, Output and Distortion. It comes with a brochure for all MXR and JIM Dunlop prducts ( JIM Dunlop owns MXR ) big knobs so it is easy to change and the knobs are not stiff. Great effects pedal for a Killer performance. // 10

Sound: I have an Epiphone Les Paul and a Marshall MG50FX with these and my Vox Wah Wah pedal it is the perfect combination to rock and meatl. It is very versitial in that there is so many combinations for a mild distotion and Heavy distortion. It does need a noise gate when using it because its pretty noisy. // 10

Reliability & Durability: It has a metal case and is really strong so you can drop it but the paint rubs off really easily so if you want the colour to stay red be carefull. Solid knobs and solid toggle (on and off switch)switch pugs don't fall out of the in put and output. I would defienatly rely on this pedal. // 9

Overall Impression: Overall it is a great pedal and I was comparing it to a BOSS DS-1 and I liked the MXR's sound better and it felt nicer and the MXR was more versitle although I am a Boss freak and love them the MXR is a worthy opponent to the Boss. And I am glad I bought this pedal. // 10

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overall: 9.5
M115 Distortion III Reviewed by: Slayer66JeffRIP, on december 10, 2014
1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Price paid: $ 89

Purchased from: Grayson's Tune Town

Ease of Use: Very easy to get good sound out of it. Great tone and very bright. The manual has only 3 sample sounds, so I would suggest going on YouTube and looking up how people got good sounds, or even better, just experiment yourself! It can only help you just to sit down and play with the damn thing. It has a lot different sounds that you can extract from it. Just play around with it for a while and you will find that it is an exceptional deal for a pedal. I would definitely recommend it for beginning players who have been playing for a little bit. // 10

Sound: I mostly play metal and I do not have a "metal" amp and guitar. I have been playing for a year and I have had this pedal for six months. It sounds good for metal. It can do anything from provide a slightly distorted overdrive, to a heavy metal sound. I really like the distortion it gives, but I would like more. IF you play heavy metal I would recommend something much heavier, such as the Dime Distortion or the Boss Metal Zone and stuff like that. Like it says in the product description, it does keep your guitars tone and clarity. // 9

Reliability & Durability: Very durable, brought it to school to perform once and I dropped it taking it out of my bag, not even a chip in the paint. Very reliable, just make sure you have a battery in it for backup in case your cable shorts out, which happened to me once. Battery lasts a long time if you unplug the patch cable on the input side. As long as you don't have Sebastian Janikowski come and kick the thing, it should last a while. Pointers on the knobs are glow in the dark which is really cool because sometimes I will wake up in the middle of the night and see three glowing lines on the floor and it makes me think of playing guitar and it helps me sleep. // 10

Overall Impression: I mostly play metal (Slayer, Metallica, Anthrax, Pantera, etc.) and it is an okay match for the genre. It would be a better match for hard rock stuff like the cult and AC/DC and that stuff. I use a crappy Squier Strat and the crappy Fender Frontman 15G. I just don't have enough money to get better stuff and I haven't been playing that long. It doesn't have quite enough gain for dark heavy metal. When I say dark I mean stuff like Slayer and Pantera and other dark stuff. It was my first pedal, and it was a great purchase. // 9

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