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Musings on Mu-tron Three musical heavyweights on the importance of Mike Beigel’s innovative designs.
Producer Tony Visconti (David Bowie, T. Rex, Paul McCartney, Iggy Pop)In the ’70s when we first heard the Mu-tron on records, it was such a fresh new sound—a “gotta have it” sound. I didn't yet know much about envelopes, attack, decay, etc., so it was all new. When I got my Mu-tron, I just turned the knobs and had a ball. I played recorded instruments through it and especially liked what it did to drums and bass. We would have used one while tracking David Bowie’s Young Americans, but we couldn't get one fast enough in Philadelphia when we were making the album. I put Willy Weeks' bass and David Sanborn’s sax through the pedal right at the mixing stage.
Guitarist/vocalist Cheetie Kumar (Birds of Avalon) We were recording Outer Upper Inner and I was totally stumped on a guitar part. That was the first time I plugged into a Mu-tron III. Instantly, the part was done! I realized then that sound can often trump notes. Thus began a (perhaps unhealthy) pedal habit. Shortly after, I received a box of old pedals with “issues.” A friend and I immediately fixed up the Mu-tron Phasor and it stayed in my effects chain for years. I’ve since started taking other, less-precious phasers out to tour, but nothing tops the Mu-tron.
Producer Mitch Easter (R.E.M., Pavement, Ben Folds Five)The Mu-tron Bi-Phase came into my life around 1985, when my band Let's Active was touring. Our tech, John French, sourced this machine from a pawnshop. I had seen the ads in rock magazines, but not an actual unit. The majestic size and obvious top-drawer build quality made quite an impression! Although I had never owned a phase shifter before, I knew that henceforth this device would be a major part of my sound. With a foot-controlled phase shifter, I could achieve something like the random sweeps of tape-machine flanging*#8212;which, of course, is a sound I want as much of as possible. After nearly 30 years of use, the Mu-tron recently needed repair. It turned out to be nothing more than a wire that needed to be reattached in the foot pedal connector. Whew! After using one of these, nothing else will do.