Of the Big 3 Pedal Makers - Boss, Electro-Harmonix and Jim Dunlop (CryBaby / MXR / Way Huge) - only Dunlop / MXR really has gone down the Mini Pedal route. Admittedly there are a couple of EHX Minis - the 2020 Tuner, and the Cntl Knob - but certainly none for Boss.
MXR now has a core of 8 really great Mini Pedals - 12 with the relatively recently discontinued Jimi Hendrix ’69 Psych Series with beautiful enclosures designed by UK design crüe ’ILOVEDUST’.
I first featured that quartet in my 2019 Summer NAMM coverage - and always had the intentions of getting all 4 - while various other commitments and priorities kind of got in the way until now. In fact I got somewhat caught out when doing this very selection - where I spotted that the Hendrix Psych series had been discontinued in the latter months of 2020. I obviously had not had my eye on the ball - and when I checked on availability - the only Fuzz Face and Uni-Vibe variants remaining were in France! One of each at two different boutiques. So it was literally the last-chance saloon for me as those tw seem to be gold dust nowadays!
The Band of Gipsy Fuzz and Octavio Fuzz still have a few remaining in distribution - and I was able to snag two of the last ones available at Andertons - to complete that formidable quadfecta.
The only other Mini here I’ve acquired to date is the Phase 95 Mini - which has been in my collection pretty much since it first came out. The Overdrive game here is particularly strong - with brand new Eric Gale Raw Dawg Signature Overdrive - and particularly impressive Sugar Drive (Klone) and Mini Timmy.
All of these are really very decent - also the Mini Booster, Carbon Copy Analog Delay, Classic 108 Fuzz, and Dyna Comp. I will for sure be picking up the 3 overdrives at some stage - and possibly the Mini Carbon Copy, 108 Fuzz and Dyna Comp. I actually have other preferences for Boost and Compressor in the main - so less likely to pick those up.
Seems to be something for everyone here - and it’s a shame that the Psych Series got discontinued - I guess that was always intended for limited status - while those are such smart executions - everyone should really have a set!
Here follow the further details on each - arranged alphabetically as before :
Controls - Volume, Tone.
As mentioned in the intro there is no shortage of ingenious Mini Booster pedals - I personally have the TC Electronic Mini Spark, and Xotic Effects Modded EP Booster which serve me fine. I would still quite like to snag a long-discontinued Becos FX Mini Solo Boost and Analog.Man Mini Beano Boost. The 2-knob MXR Booster is pretty great too, but not on my list of priorities. Will suit many though!
Controls - Mix, Regen (Feedback/Repeats), Delay (Time), Modulation : On/Off.
The MXR Carbon Copy and Boss DM-2 are the perennial favourite BBD Analog Delay Pedals - and the fact that MXR has a mini version of its super successful delay is just genius - that exact same flavour in a tiny box. If you're getting a Mini Analog Delay - this is most likely your best choice - while Pigtronix and Xvive have cool varieties too based more on the profile of the EHX Memory Man. Ibanez also make a superb Analog Mini Delay - while I think that the Mini Carbon Copy is probably the pick of the bunch in many ways!
Controls - Output, Fuzz, Buffer : On/Off.
Very simply a Mini version of MXR's much-loved 108 Fuzz. A lot of the early Fuzz Circuits were really simple - so the Mini Format can easily accommodate those in full as such. A worthy Mini Fuzz addition - while I largely have other preferences in that area - including the trio of Hendrix Psych Series Mini Fuzzes - also featured here below!
Control - Output, Sensitivity, Attack On/Off.
The Dyna Comp Compressor is legendary and as such owns the red enclosure from its earliest days. This is a compelling Mini Compressor - while I probably have other preferences here. I own the Wampler Mini Ego and Xotic Effects Modded SP Compressor. While the current king of the Mini Comps is undoubtedly the Becos FX CompIQ Mini.
Controls - Speed, Type : 45/90, Script : On/Off.
This was my first MXR pedal and it's totally genius - both Phase 45 & 90 varieties in the same tiny enclosure - also with vintage optional Script voicings. Another enclosure colour that MXR totally owns - as Orange is absolutely The colour associated with the Phaser Genre - based on those earliest Phase 90 varieties. This is still my favourite Mini Phaser - everyone should have one. The Pigtronix Moon Pool Tremvelope Phaser is another compelling option / alternative - while the Phase 95 is absolutely the classic Mini Phaser still!
Controls - Output, Tone, Drive.
Eric Gale's Signature Overdrive is essentially a Jeorge Tripps evolved TS808 style overdrive 'with more bite'. So perfect for delivering those dynamically accentuated Eric Gales signature bluesy tones. There are so many mini Tube Screamers on the market now - authentic / traditional and evolved - where my current preferences are probably slightly in favour of the more versatile Becos FX Ziffer Overdrive, and Function F(x) Clay Jones Overdrive.
Controls - Volume, Tone, Drive.
This is another area where I have an all-out favourite in the shape of the Decibelics Golden Horse - which is definitely the high water mark for a Klone. Function F(x) also makes a decent Mini Klone - and this Sugar Drive would then likely be my third choice - still compelling - and the right choice for many.
Controls - Bass, Clip : Asymmetrical w/ Comp / Symmetrical Min Comp / Symmetrical More Comp, Gain, Volume, Treble.
I obviously have a full-size Paul Cochrane Timmy - so the Mini version is less of a priority for me. Would probably have got that at the time had it been available when I acquired my compact Timmy. This is pretty much every bit as good as the original - with all the same quirky controls. For sure will add this to the collection some day!
Controls - Output, Tone, Fuzz.
The Band of Gypsys fuzz is basically the Octavio/a minus the Octave element and with the added Tone control. There are some other part variances - but that's generally the gist of the Bandy of Gipsys circuit - in that it is definitely derived from the original Octavio. This is one of the great Hendrix flavours - but tends to be typically overshadowed by the Fuzz Face and Octavio! This Fuzz contains a complex mix of 8 transistors - one full size - BC560C, and several SMD types - 1AM, 6YZ and WIR varieties - mix of 2N3904, 2N2222 and BC550 equivalent values as far as I can determine!
Controls - Volume, Fuzz, Transistor : Silicon / Germanium, Buffer : On/Off.
An incredible engineering feat - this contains proper pairs of authentic NTE158 Germanium Transistors and BC108B Silicon Transistors which you can switch via Button. You also have an optional Buffer switch to help make the pedal more accommodating to pedalboard placement and interplay with a Wah Pedal. And then of course you have the Volume and Fuzz controls. Would have been nice to have at least a Germanium Bias - but all things considered - this really is a fantastic execution of both original Fuzz Face types! Definitely The Mini Fuzz Face to have!
Controls - Level, Fuzz, Octave : On/Off.
The solo tone from 'Purple Haze' based on the Roger Mayer original Octavia. This was another classic Hendrix fuzz variety used on a number of his studio albums. Obviously the octave effect makes it slightly edgier and more cutting - which makes it stand out better in the band mix. This is another great execution of a fuzz classic where a push-button allows you to engage and disable the octave effect. This fuzz contains a cool mini transformer, one full size BC549B Transistor and a combination of 6YN, 1FN and W1R SMD Transistors.
Controls - Speed, Level, Depth, Mode : Chorus / Vibrato.
The Mini format is too small to incorporate a proper Bulb / Photocell circuit - but then again MXR has always gone down a slightly different electronic path to create that Uni-Vibe warble. This incredibly utilises 5 x 2N5952 Transistors within a complex array of components. MXR has done a fantastic job with these mini circuits and each is a classic in its own right. For sure there are more authentic Uni-Vibes out there - but this sounds incredible too - and uses a number of high quality THT components.
I was a touch surprised when I cracked open the Psych Series in particular - as to just how well made these were - and the fact that they included so many full-size THT components - including of course those great metal can Germanium and Silicon Transistors in the Fuzz Face variety.
After rationalising this listing - the ones that stand out for me are definitely the Phase 95 and the entirety of the Psych Series. With the Mini Timmy and Mini 108 authentic must-haves. The Mini Carbon Copy is another pretty high calibre varietal - while as mentioned the Xvive Echoman and Pigtronix Constellator are also compelling.
The Booster, Dyna Comp, Raw Dawg and Sugar Drive are all pretty cool too - but I have other preferences in those areas as mentioned.
Generally though I don't think you can go wrong with MXR Minis - particularly if space is tight on your board. These are all quality executions that most should be well satisfied with.
Which of these do you favour yourself?