It’s really hard to name the exact time when brands become legendary. It can be a different thing for individual manufacturers, but I think they share one moment after which everything changes. And that moment hits when their customers start trusting their products and truly believe in the quality they’re going to receive. Such turning points redefine the history of those brands and basically guarantee them lifelong success (unless they screw up so bad nobody looks their way). What should they do to earn devotion from musicians? The answer is pretty clear – they should cater to every market and cover the needs of guitarists and bassists equally. If that’s possible, they should even stretch to other instruments. But they should make an effort and create spectacular pedals. Otherwise, all their attempts to become legendary will be in vain. Today we’ll talk about the manufacturer who succeeded in everything I’ve described above. MXR has created countless unique stompboxes along with Dunlop, and their bass line is truly ethereal. One of the best examples is M287 – a unit that combines bass with fuzz and adds sub octave on top. The sound of this one will awaken your inner growl and turn your music into a real masterpiece. Want to find out more details? Then stay with me and dive into this article with me. Let’s begin!
Would we speak highly of M287 if it didn’t have a multi-faceted feature section? – I don’t think so. I’m sure you already suspect that we’re dealing with a real beast here, but if you’re patient and wait a bit, you’ll see that you don’t even have an idea just how great it is. Okay, I know, I’m teasing you too much so I’ll cut to the chase and start revealing all the secrets of this fella. The most important feature here is that M287 combines legendary fuzz circuitry from MXR with a sub octave – resulting in something that can shatter windows with its fierce sound, throw a person or two with its strong waves or simply blow you away. Sub octave features Growl section of renowned Bass Octave Deluxe, which says a lot about its tone. Add the distinctiveness of the fuzz and you’ll understand the monstrosity hidden beneath the surface.
What’s more, the fuzz itself has two different voicings: the first one is subtle and warm, while the second one is a bit more aggressive. This adds up to the versatility and submerges you in waves of endless possibilities. Octave can be activated with the help of a dedicated footswitch, meaning that you can travel from one world to the other on the fly. True hardwire bypass is a simple addition that makes a lot of difference in the process and completes the package. The most typical part of this unit can be found in the powering options: you can either insert a single 9V battery or connect an adapter. After everything we’ve discussed above, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone when I say that M287 is really close to perfection. It isn’t faultless, but its virtues are outnumbering its flaws.
MXR M287 wouldn’t be so wonderful if its control section wasn’t configured the way it is. The brand did a really good job designing the panel that would encompass everything we’d need to tame the beast or express its character fully. I, personally, can’t think of an encoder that is missing here. Everything is laid out intuitively – each of the knobs force you to play with it interminably until you reach the limit of its potential. What else could we ask for?
You’ll take a full control of the unit, since all the controls are at your service. Let’s start with tonal controls: Bass cuts or boosts lower frequencies, while Treble performs the same way but it affects only the higher range. Moving on to the fuzz section, we have Gain, which adds intensity to the effect, Fuzz (encoder), which alters the volume of fuzz signal and Fuzz (button) that lets you switch between two available voicings. Sub Octave section has only Level control. The last part of this pedal is dedicated to your original signal. Dry attenuates or amplifies unaffected sound, while Mid + Level adjusts the amount of added boost. We also have Bypass (self-explanatory, isn’t it?) and Octave footswitches (toggles the effect on an off) that let you activate the circuit on the fly.
MXR M287 is extremely powerful in terms of sound. You might have already guessed that it would be versatile, but you can’t even imagine how strong it is. As you start off with subtle settings, you hear the gnarl crawling slowly in your bass signal. It thickens the low-end and adds a touch of character. As you increase it more and more, you start hearing the true nature of the fuzz. When its cranked up, it can swallow anything, however, it still retains the clarity of notes. It might raise the noise with extreme settings, but a noise-gate can be a really clever solution. The second voicing focuses its attention on the tightness of the bottom-end and completely removes midrange. It might drop volume, but dedicated fuzz level knob will take care of the problem. Sub octave has wonderful tracking and response both clean and distorted, and can yield interesting results with bass guitar. M287 offers all the shades and flavors of fuzz in a single package – and when paired with sub octave, it can turn your world upside down. As I have mentioned above, it isn’t perfect, but it comes really close. After all, we’ve all seen that its flaws can easily be corrected.
What else can I say? MXR M287 is a must-have for everyone who wants to own a versatile fuzz box for their bass. This puppy is so powerful that you might need a short leash, but I’m sure you’re strong enough to control it. Don’t be afraid of its screaming character – take a risk and let its craziness surround your performance. Good luck!
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