Analog Originals from Japan
For well over 40 years, Maxon has been renowned for its effect pedals, in fact the brand has a close relation with the history of the electric guitar and the use of electronics in music creation.
While having a fascinating history in the world of effects, the brand continues to innovate.
From overdrive, fuzz and distortion, a world of analog delay pedals or eq and compressors to a plethora of analog chorus, phaser, flanger and filter pedals, every new and classic product from Maxon is tried and tested by experienced players to ensure they not only inspire creativity, but sound and operate perfectly.
When top-recording artists as diverse as Killswitch Engage, Gin Blossoms, Sum 41 and Slipknot, to name but a few, use Maxon pedals, you can bet they boast a high level of quality. It’s easy to tell that Maxon effects are designed by experts who are passionate about what they do. The simple truth is that the brand takes pride in giving you the tools to let your imagination fly while playing your instrument, so it’s really no wonder why their effects units are sought after by musicians in the know the world over.
A little piece of history
Founded in Japan as Nisshin Onpa in the mid-sixties, Maxon first specialized in the manufacture of pickups for electric guitars, although in 1969 they started designing effect pedals. These however were not under their own brand, but were sold under other well-known brand names (OEM) such as Ibanez™. The commercial relationship between the two firms grew stronger in the beginning of the seventies, to a point that Ibanez™ became Nisshin Onpa’s most important client.
In 1979 Nisshin Onpa developed the legendary Ibanez™ overdrive Tube Screamer TS-808©, while also selling it under its own brand as the Maxon OD-808 Overdrive. This pedal became a worldwide success and was seen on pedal boards everywhere. Stevie Ray Vaughan used two of those in series on his board, plus other famous guitarists like Gary Moore, Eric Clapton, Santana and even Rory Gallagher, Steve Stevens, Marty Friedman, Buddy Guy and many more were using it too.
Maxon successfully manufactured the entire line of effect pedals for Ibanez™ from 1974 to 2002, notably the “9 series”. However, Ibanez™ cancelled all partnership with Nisshin Onpa once Maxon’s patents fell into the public domain. Ibanez™ then re-created their own line of cloned ‘vintage’ effect pedals, being clearly inspired by the pedals that became legendary for over 30 years.
Today, Maxon have reissued the vintage classics, but not just by cloning. They use original and now hard to source components, such as analog delay lines and the double op-amp (operational amplifier) JRC 4558 (which also contributed to Ibanez™ and Maxon’s original success). However the company has also released new and imporved versions of many pedals, so isn’t just resting on it’s laurels!
Distortions, Drives and Fuzzes
Whatever your tone goals, there is bound to be a Maxon drive pedal to suit.
For nearly 40 years Maxon’s legendary “808” overdrive circuit has been an essential ingredient to achieving great guitar tone. Whether it’s used as a booster to drive an amp, as a Dirt box for crunch and extra sustain or as an EQ to shape the tone of a high-gain amp, the 808 in its many incarnations has shown up in more rigs and on more recordings than anyone would care to count. However, all original vintage 808 units were extremely susceptible to microphonic noise due to static electricity build-up on the chassis. To improve the pedal’s performance, especially with the world of computers, smart phones and the like, the positions of these output resistors on the reissue OD808 Overdrive have been reversed and their values increased in order to reduce noise levels. Maxon’s circuit change on the reissue makes no audible effect on the sound of the pedal, apart from reducing those noise levels. The OD808X Overdrive Extreme takes this further adding extra Drive, Level and High frequencies to create a versatile, amp-like overdrive with excellent note clarity that won’t get lost in a mix, while the D&S Distortion & Sustainer is the easiest way to replicate classic 70’s and 90’s guitar tones without selling your soul for a vintage Big Muff.
Although the OD808 may have been the first overdrive circuit of its kind, it was the OD-9 that cemented this sound in the history of Rock & Roll guitar. A true-to-spec reissue of the legendary 1980’s OD-9/TS-9 circuit, Maxon now adds true bypass switching for clean, uncolored tone when bypassed. OD-9 Pro+ offers all the classic sounds of the original OD-9 as well as 9/18 volt operation and a Mid Boost switch that adds increased versatility to its performance.
There is also a large range of other types of Maxon drive pedals available.
From the OSD-9, a true-to-spec reissue of the original Maxon OD880 Distortion in an improved chassis and at a fraction of the cost of a vintage unit, the OOD-9 modern-day take on that same circuit that provides a similar distortion character to the original and reissue yet with more presence in the upper frequency range, to the SM-9 Pro+ Super Metal. Specifically designed for high-gain distortion tones, SM-9 Pro+ flexible saturation circuit can churn out everything from classic NWOBHM crunch through to the throaty chunk of today’s drop-tuned metal extremes.
The TOD-9 takes Maxon’s classic OD-9 circuit and adds a tube gain stage at the front end to create an ultra-compact, tube-driven tone machine. While with independent Overdrive, Distortion, Boost and Noise Gate circuits all under one hood, the RTD800 may be the last “dirt” pedal that you’ll ever need. By combining various solid-state clipping stages with a real dual-triode tube, the RTD800 offers a massive array of saturated guitar tones. From traditional tube overdrive through full-on gated metal distortion, no other drive pedal offers this degree of versatility in a single package.
If you’re a fan of classic 60s and 70s fuzz tones, and it is hard not to be as fuzz has left an indelible mark on the history of rock guitar, then look no further than Maxon’s Fuzz Elements range. From Fire to Water, to Air to Earth, seven distinct models have been designed to reproduce the classic and unique sounds of the World’s most desirable vintage fuzz pedals. Using state-of-the-art software technology, Maxon has modelled and mapped the complex elements that make up the core sounds of these legendary pedals, reproducing them using advanced analog circuitry that is as accurate as it is stable.
Analog Delay Heaven
While digital delays can be extremely versatile, there is nothing like the warm and organic nature of a real but high quality analog delay unit. These take your basic tone and fuses it together with the repeats in a rich, yet gooey way, but with a smooth, furry texture when clipped. In short, when the echo signal comes out the other end in less-than-pristine condition, for many musicians it often actually sounds better than it does going in.
Of course, getting a good idea of how trusted Maxon effects are is as simple as exploring the many top-rated items in this section, with four current analog delay pedals to cover most styles, all with a careful selection of classic, genuine or custom Bucket Brigade ICs and the best signal path to give superior sound quality that just doesn’t ‘get in the way’ of your precious tone.
From the minimalist, yet powerful AD10, the classic and improved AD-9 Pro and the AD999, to the AD999 Pro which combines two of Maxon’s most advanced delay units into a single compact pedal, these powerful stompboxes produce the pure warmth of analog delay with low-noise circuitry.
Responsive, versatile and easy to use, Maxon delay pedals are ideal for live and studio applications.
Analog Chorus, Phaser, Flanger and Filter pedals
Analog modulation effects are renowned for offering a lush tonality that actually fits, blends and doesn’t fight with your essential tone. Maxon’s take on these pedals all provide full-frequency effects that simply sounds massive and unbeatable. At the heart of many of these pedals circuits is the legendary Panasonic MN3207 bucket brigade IC. No longer in production, but stockpiled by Maxon, these chips are coveted for their flawless operation and superior sound quality. Becoming harder to find with each passing year, MN3207’s currently command a premium price on the obsolete electronic components market.
The deviously simple ASC10 Chorus lets you add a touch of lush analog chorusing to your rig at an affordable price. CS-9 Pro’s circuit features the Panasonic MN3207, so the “straight-outta ’79” chorus effect is bold and resonant without sounding harsh. Unlike the somewhat sterile sounds of its 80’s predecessor, the CS-9 Pro has an edgy, almost grainy quality that keeps your tone articulate and prevents wash-out. CS550 takes this one step further and adds AC power and mechanical bypass switching with the highest quality buffered ins/outs instead of TBS switching. While the PAC-9 with its modern professional-grade ICs, typically reserved for high-end-audio applications, brings classic 80s chorusing into the 21st century, with a new spin on an old classic, bringing contemporary features and improved sound quality.
With its single knob, the PT999 Phase Tone looks deceptively simple. However, packed into this tiny blue box is a host of THE most authentic 70’s-era phasing effects available in a current production unit. A wide variety of expressive phasing nuances can be coaxed from the pedal, all of them whisper quiet and amazingly transparent, working equally well to spice up clean or distorted sounds. The secret behind the PT999’s timeless tone, lies in the fact that its circuit is exactly the same as it was when first introduced in 1974. While many “reissue” effects are far from true to the original designs, Maxon has taken great pains to keep the Phase Tone unchanged for over 40 years. If you demand classic phase shifting effects without compromising your guitar’s signature tone, the PT999 Phase Tone has no equals.
Designed in homage to classic 70’s distortion modulators such as the Flying Pan and Jetlyzer (both of which Maxon designed and built), the VJR-9 Vintage Jet Riser creates a Doppler jet effect so realistic you can almost feel the wind in your hair. While the current-production Maxon FL-9 Flanger, much more a reissue, brings classic 80’s flanging into the 21st Century and provides all the icy time-based modulation effects as the original, but with a lower noise floor and superior construction quality. While the original FL-9 (and current Ibanez™ reissue, for that matter) used low-grade components to meet price-point targets, the Maxon reissue spares no expense to bring you the ultimate analog-flanging tone. Everything from shimmering chorus and vibrato through hollow, metallic overtones to thick, jet-like flanging sweeps are attainable with just four interactive controls.
Maxon’s take on the legendary Mu-Tron III, the AF-9 Auto Filter uses special optical circuitry to reproduce the liquid, shimmering, vowel-like envelope filtering that made the Mu-Tron a staple of 70’s Funk and Soul music. The AF-9’s intuitive user interface makes it easy to dial in the effect – slider pots are used for Threshold and Peak controls to allow for quick changes to the response and tonality of the filter. From simple Wah to funked-up Outer Space explorations, the AF-9 provides the most delicious, delightful, diabolical wah filter effects available in a compact, user-friendly package.
Compressor and EQ Pedals
Every guitarist loves the idea of a compressor, until they plug one in and find that it colours their tone, ruins their pick attack and is noisy as hell. Maxon’s lineup of compression pedals are the perfect solutions for those players who just need a compressor that doesn’t get in the way of their tone.
With its natural picking response, transparent effect and low-noise operation, the CP101 is the perfect compressor for players who hate using compressors! Its 4:1 optical compression ratio is so subtle that it’s easy to forget that it’s on (that is until you turn it off!). Moving through the range, the CP-9 Pro+ provides studio-grade compression in a portable stompbox format circuit that gives a very smooth, transparent, almost “glassy” compression with an extremely low noise floor, even at maximum settings. While the RTC600 model goes one step further by adding a dual-triode tube that is positioned pre-compression. This gives classic valve warmth to the signal without increasing noise levels.
Whichever Maxon compressor model you choose though, you’ll wonder how you ever played without it!
EQ’s may not be as sexy as some other pedals, but when used properly they can add a wide variety of useful new colours to your existing guitar rig. The GE601 Graphic Equalizer definitely will fit that bill and by adjusting the simple controls, the pedal can be used to fine tune your sound in an infinite variety and in many useful ways.