Review: MXR Double-Double Overdrive Pedal

(Image credit: Jim Dunlop)

GOLD AWARDOverdrive is the one effect that guitarists feel very passionate about—pick any one and read the multitude of forums dedicated to just that overdrive—mostly because its sonic stamp is what ultimately determines the shape of your tone, especially if you’re looking for more gritty crunch or creamy, smooth sustain.

MXR is aware of this, which is why they offer nearly eight pedals, all with varying degrees of overdriven heat. From the Custom Badass Modified O.D. to the GT-OD Overdrive, I have used nearly all of MXR’s available dirt boxes in one form or another on my numerous pedalboards.

Their latest, the MXR Double-Double Overdrive exercises your gain options twofold: by brilliantly combining two very popular overdrive circuits housed in a single stompbox.

There is nothing complicated about the Double-Double Overdrive, it’s understandably clear-cut with four controls for bass, treble, level and drive. A Lo/Hi gain switch selects between two overdrive circuits, which to my ears sound closely related to a venerable green-painted Japanese OD and a hot-rodded California boutique OD.

The only thing to note is that you can only select one at a time, which means you can’t cascade the gain stages into each other. Lo gain boosts mids with a smoother low-level drive, while Hi gain pushes the overdrive threshold into super crunch territory and emphasizes both the high and low frequencies. The Double-Double is true-bypass and operates with either a nine-volt battery or AC adapter.

I don’t think I’ve heard an overdrive that sounds bigger and bolder than the Double-Double. I’d go even further to say it would be the kind of overdrive that I’d leave on all the time as a base-line foundation to my tone and then add an additional overdrive if I needed more gain. It’s that clear and transparent. I particularly loved the sweeter tones I got in Lo gain mode with the volume and treble up past twelve o’clock, bass rolled down to nine o’clock and drive around two o’clock. Here, the overdrive sounds focused and smooth with slight compression and a midrange emphasis that softens pick attack.

Setting the toggle to Hi gain mode did exactly what I expected—a wide-open sound with plenty of ballsy crunch and top end slice, perfect for soloing and tight rhythm playing. The bass control really interacts with the gain knob here, adding bigger bottom end and hotter drive, so you’ll have to find the tonal sweet spot by rolling the bass down and the gain up or vice versa.

The MXR Double-Double Overdrive is twice the fun by combining two classic overdrive circuits into a single housing for seductively smooth gain or huge crunchy drive.

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Paul Riario

Paul Riario has been the tech/gear editor and online video presence for Guitar World for over 25 years. Paul is one of the few gear editors who has actually played and owned nearly all the original gear that most guitarists wax poetically about, and has survived this long by knowing every useless musical tidbit of classic rock, new wave, hair metal, grunge, and alternative genres. When Paul is not riding his road bike at any given moment, he remains a working musician, playing in two bands called SuperTrans Am and Radio Nashville.