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MXR Noise Clamp Pedal Review

MXR Noise Clamp Pedal Review

The Noise Clamp detects the amount of noise present in your bypassed guitar-tone, and lowers the hiss and extremities to that level when pedals in the Noise Clamp’s effects loop are engaged.

MXR pedals need no introduction. The stamp the company put on the music world with the Distortion+, Phase 90, Dyna Comp, and others is enormous. So as veterans of the pedal business, it seems only natural that MXR would explore ways to control the noise and hiss that can drive some pedal users to madness. One of their newest pedals—the Noise Clamp—is designed to eliminate those annoyances without sacrificing the tone of your guitar or amplifier.

Clamp On, Clamp Off
The Noise Clamp was designed for players with a lot of pedals in their signal chain—especially where overdrives and distortions are stacked on top of one another. The Noise Clamp doesn’t operate like a traditional noise gate, which cuts the background noise of a whole chain, often at the expense of the guitar’s tone. Instead, the Noise Clamp detects the amount of noise present in your bypassed guitar-tone, and lowers the hiss and extremities to that level when pedals in the Noise Clamp’s effects loop are engaged.

Using the Noise Clamp could not be easier. Simply chain your more unruly effects into the pedal’s Send and Return jacks, and connect your guitar and amp to the Input and Output jacks. Normally, the loop is always active, even when the pedal is off. Though you can set the loop to work only when the pedal is engaged by flipping a little switch inside the pedal. A knob to control the volume threshold of the gate is the only control on the Noise Clamp’s face.

I’ll Use the Clamps on Ya!
Using a 1978 Gibson Les Paul Custom into a 2011 Mesa/Boogie Multi-Watt Dual Rectifier, I connected a Fulltone OCD overdrive, Big Muff NYC reissue fuzz, and a Strymon El Capistan delay and played my guitar dry for a few notes. After stomping on the bypass switch, I gradually brought up the Trigger knob and tried to find the sweet spot where the noisy feedback of the OCD juicing the Big Muff disappeared, but the delay’s trails continued to come through smoothly. It was really quite miraculous how well the Noise Clamp pulled out the screeching feedback. But I had to be careful not to set the Trigger control too high with this high-gain setup—at around 3 o’clock, individual notes were subject to a little latency. Higher settings caused the notes to die out with a strange squelching sound.

To see just how well the pedal would handle an even noisier rig, I setup a Fender ’65 Twin Reverb reissue with a 2011 Fender Standard Stratocaster, and ran a Boss Metal Zone in the pedal’s loop. The Noise Clamp didn’t cut out the natural 60-cycle hum of the Stratocaster’s pickups that much—a beautiful thing. But it tightened up the tone of the Boss’ pedal considerably. If pickup noise is part of the noise that bugs you most, you might be better off with a dedicated noise gate. But it’s remarkable how well the Noise Clamp can selectively squelch noise elsewhere in the chain.

The Verdict
MXR’s new Noise Clamp is a great choice for players looking to reign in the feedback and noise issues that are inevitable from stacking overdrive units. It isn’t a typical noise gate, so it won’t quiet down a noisy amplifier or pickups. But if you’re less affected by the inherent noise of your guitar and favorite amplifier, the Noise Clamp can do wonders.
Buy if...
you like to stack drive and fuzz pedals, but can’t deal with wild feedback problems.
Skip if...
you need a traditional noise gate to cut out background hiss from a noisy amp.

Street $79 - Dunlop Manufacturing, inc. -

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