Jul 31, 2014

When Boss introduced their line of new pedals last year with “Multi-Dimensional Processing” (MDP) technology, I admit I was a bit skeptical. The technology, created in tandem with Roland, sounded like flashy marketing but based on the verbiage alone it wasn’t entirely clear what MDP actually did. To paraphrase Boss’s description, “MDP analyzes audio signals in many dimensions and applies ideal effects to each to create bold, all-new sounds with a previously unattainable range of expression.” Sounds interesting, sure, but is that a real innovation or just jargon?

In the case of the MO-2 Multi-Overtone pedal, it’s definitely the former.

For background, the new line (introduced in January 2013) includes three pedals: the DA-2 Adaptive Distortion pedal which is designed to dynamically adjust the level or distortion to the attack and register of the playing, the TE-2 Tera Echo which is a versatile echo effect, and the best of the bunch, MO-2 Multi-Overtone pedal is a harmonic overtone pedal .

In terms of pedal type categorization, the Multi-Overtone is technically a harmonizer. It peels out the harmonics from each note or chord and applies a wide variety of tone contorting effects including octaves, detuned pitch shifts, shimmer, and modulation. Relative to other harmonizers though, this pedal doesn’t need to know what key you’re in to avoid sounding brown and it doesn’t require any skill to use like the Digitech Whammy, so it’s quite useful in comparison.

Basically what you get with the MO-2 is an affordable guitar synthesizer capable of giving the guitar elephantine thickness. As evidenced by the demo below, the pedal sounds great as a tool for fusion jazz leads, psychedelic classic rock rhythm backdrops, and fat sawtooth type leads that are well-suited for guitarists in electronic type outfits. In the wrong hands, this type of pedal can be cheesy, but in the right hands it’s a beast.

Beyond the uses described above, the coolest application for the pedal is to fatten up single note melodies on the wound strings. This provides a highly useful effect for making bands guitarists powerful on stage without relying on overdrive or distortion. Reference points musically would be Dan Auerbach, Wolfmother, and some of the more synth sounding Pink Floyd riffs. Wolfmother essentially bases the entire sound of the band around this type of tone.

In terms of price, the pedal retails for around $160 which isn’t cheap at face value, but when you consider that to get these type of harmonizer tone, you’d need to spend around $500 on an Eventide H9 or Electro Harmonix HOG2 it’s a steal.

Overall, this pedal is an attention grabber that is a lot of fun to play and highly capable of beefing up the sound of a band with a stylish and differentiated tone. – Ryan Dembinsky

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