MXR M-181 Bass Blowtorch

(Click here to see this pedal on Guitar Center’s Website)

If you need some serious dirt for your bass, the MXR M-181 is the pedal for you. This is a no-nonsense, heavy distortion pedal engineered especially for bass.

This pedal features plenty of tone shaping options including Volume, Bass, Mid, Treble, Blend and Gain knobs as well as the very cool “Torch” switch on the right side of the pedal.

Features include:

  • From traditional tube-like growl to full-blown high-gain distortion
  • 18V performance for increased dynamic headroom and clarity
  • Low-noise performance at loud volumes
  • Active 3-band EQ with 3-position mid shift for precise tone sculpting
  • Distortion and direct signal blending
  • Real-world tested by world-class touring bassists
  • Tough die-cast housing
  • True hardwire bypass


From Dunlop’s Site:

“By focusing the overdrive in the midrange frequencies, the Bass Blow Torch Distortion lets you retain low end thunder and high-end sizzle while distorted mids blaze a path through even the densest mix. An active 3-band EQ with 3-position mid shift lets you zero in on an incendiary tone, while the Blend knob lets you balance your distortion with direct signal to taste. And the Bass Blow Torch Distortion burns as clean as it does hot, with 18 volt performance for increased dynamic headroom, clarity, and low noise even at lethal volume. True hardwire bypass circuitry means that when you switch the distortion out, it’s really gone.” (

A Drive Focused Pedal

Let’s just call it how it is. This is a pedal for bass players that want a lot of drive and distortion. Honestly, any pedal that has a “Torch” switch is not focused on that nice easy overdrive.

Speaking of the Torch switch, that is the switch that takes this pedal to the next level of distortion. Essentially giving you a second distortion tone to go to with the kick of a switch. The bummer is the position of the switch is interesting at best. If you actually want to use the switch and use a pedalboard, you will have to be careful about where you place the pedal to make sure you can still get to the switch. This is really the only downfall of this pedal.

Is this pedal for you?

If you need a pedal that offers a ton of dirt for your bass, the answer is the MXR M-181 pedal will be an awesome addition to your rig. If you are looking for a more subtle overdrive, take a look at the EHX Bass Soul Food instead.

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