MXR Distortion III(2)

This new offering from MXR has little in common with the Distortion+ of yore. Rather than the square-wave raunch of the ’70s classic, the Distortion III ($130 retail/$80 street) dishes out smooth, dynamic overdrive that gets into the singing distortion realm when cranked. Even at the lowest gain settings there’s always a little bit of grit, so it’s not a clean boost per se.

This little red beast proved capable of a semi-clean bluesy wallop all the way up to a saturated rock tone when hitting the clean channel of my Marshall combo. Into the Marshall’s dirty channel (with the Marshall’s preamp gain at about 10 o’ clock), the MXR provided a great boost and tons of gain for a righteous lead tone. A clean Mesa/Boogie Lonestar was also a great vehicle for the Distortion III’s dirt. The sweetly voiced Tone control made it easy to compensate for any amp or pickup setting. Compact, simple, and packed with tuneful distortion textures.

Dynamic, natural-sounding distortion.


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