Pedal Review: MXR GT OD
By Ian Garrett
The Pedal: MXR M-193 GT–OD
The Point: A simple to use overdrive that won’t break the bank
The Price: $84
Find it at Proguitarshop.com
The MXR GT-OD is one of those overdrive pedals that’s easy to overlook. It’s been around for a while, overlooked in a market where there are hundreds of similar pedals. Most are more expensive, and many have more versatile tone control options that can give you a myriad of different tonal palettes. But if what you’re after is a simple inexpensive overdrive, then this should be on your list.
The GT-OD has a cool, almost iridescent green finish. In my sample pedal, I did find the pots didn’t have a nice, smooth feel to them. In fact, they were a bit rough. This might annoy me in a $200 pedal, but less so in a sub-$100 one.
Live or Living Room?
Anyone on a tight budget will
appreciate the MXR M193 GT OD
If you’re a gigging musician, you undoubtedly wonder from time to time whether or not the audience can hear the subtle nuances of that amazing new overdrive pedal you’ve been lusting after. The sad truth is they probably can’t, or don’t care in the first place as long as they have a cold Bud in their hands and you’re not out of tune. The GT-OD has two things going for it right off the bat: At under $100 it’s easier on the wallet to replace if someone spills his beer on it. Another reason to have this on your gigging board is it’s simple to use with just a volume, gain, and tone knob.
For the home player two things spring to mind. One it has a ton of volume, which is great for driving your amp with the band, but less desirable in the home/studio when you don’t need so much added oomph. Also, the gain structure is not overly refined. The tone control can give you different shades of overdrive, but if you’re looking for a lot of versatility in an overdrive, and one that can be dialed in to give you different distinct tones, there might be better choices.
In the Shop:
I tried the GT-OD with a couple different guitars, using a Gibson SG and a Fender Custom Shop Telecaster through a Vox AC15. With the gain knob all the way down, tone at noon and volume around noon or a bit less, unity is achieved. Crank the volume past noon, and you get a fairly clean to slightly dirty boost. With this pedal I like to keep the gain fairly low, tone control just right of noon and volume at noon or more. It adds a nice bluesy type of overdrive, especially on the neck pickup.
Once you turn up the gain control a little bit past nine o’clock, you quickly get to the true character of this pedal – a nice hard-rock crunch. I do wish there was a more gradual transition between not much gain and a whole lotta gain. With the telecaster, I did find I got more variation. Once the gain is past noon, you get mostly more compression, with the overall gain structure remaining pretty much the same. It isn’t a super sophisticated tone, just a good crunch – that tone you’ve heard on hundreds of recordings. Think early Def Leppard, High and Dry’s “Saturday Night.”
Sometimes I like to set an overdrive for a heavier tone then roll back the guitar’s volume control to clean it up. Using the SG, it didn’t really clean up that well; it just reduced its overall impact. It cleaned up better using single coils. With the right guitar, you could keep this pedal on at a gig all the time and just roll back on your volume pot when you want a cleaner tone.
As far as the overall tone goes, I did find the mids a bit more prevalent than some other overdrives, though not quite as much as a typical tubescreamer. It certainly isn’t a bad thing, as a major part of the guitar’s tone is in the midrange. And the tone knob makes a significant difference, too. Turn it clockwise and you get more of a bite to the gain, and a bit more volume, too. Turn it counterclockwise to reduce the brightness, and add more low-end thump too. I found in most cases I didn’t like the tone control much past noon in either direction.
Overall the GT-OD is a capable overdrive that’s easily overlooked – even within the MXR stable. But it can yield some good tones both as a booster or as a fairly aggressive overdrive. It doesn’t have a ton of different tones to it, but what it does, it does well.
Rating: 3.5 / 5
5 – Tremendous product; among the very best
4 – Great value overall; exceeds expectations
3 – Definite contender, but look closely at the competition too
2 – Average at best; probably better choices exist
1 – Not ready for prime time