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MXR Distortion+ vs DOD250 (or how to save $200) Effects Pedals, Units & Accessories
Old 23rd December 2010
Lives for gear
MXR Distortion+ vs DOD250 (or how to save $200)

As many of you may know, MXR came out with the D+ in 1973, followed shortly by DOD's version the 250. At the time DOD spent most of it's time copying MXR pedals, and the circuit is almost identical down to the brand of FET fed op-amp. Original D+, script logos sell in the $200 range, original grey 250s sell in the $300-400 range. DOD ran thru a series of changes starting with the second "Yellow Box" from late 81-82, including a different op-amp and the addition of a capacitor to tame the high end.

I've owned my Script Logo D+ for several years, recently picked up a late 81 DOD 250 (thanks Parkerbro), and there's a guitar store with an original Grey box 250 near me, as well as the Whirlwind replica. Obviously, time for a shootout! These are very simple boxes and the drift of one cap or resistor value by 10% can make a big difference in sound, so take this all with a grain of salt.
Guitar was a 70s Tele Thinline with buckers, and amp was the Mesa Transatlantic, clean channel.

First off, it's clear that these pedals are all related, the basic raspy distortion is the same, EQ is sort of in the same ballpark. These are not what you'd call transparent, any guitar played thru one cranked up is going to sound similar. They can roll back to a fairly clean tone, and could be used as a slight boost, but none of them have enough clean gain to be a big help that way.

D+: 741 op-amp, original "Made by Musicians" fibreboard circuit. Kind of dark compared to the other two, boosted low end a bit, slightly lower gain.

250 Grey: the highest gain of the 3 old ones, less bass than the D+, less treble than the yellow, nice balance and fairly smooth.

250 Yellow: brightest and most open sounding (in spite of the "feedback cap" that's designed to roll off high end). Mid range for gain.

The Whirlwind sounds basically mid-pack in every way. So, what can I conclude from this? Well, it's not a sound I'm looking for every day, but if I DO want it I'd say the Yellow version at around $100 on Ebay is the best choice. It's cheaper than the Whirlwind and WAY cheaper than the other two. If the EQ thing bothers you, drop an EQ afterwards and boost the lows and the overall volume just a hair (like 10% of the volume knob's travel). Or, if you find a Whirlwind version cheap, tweak the 1 meg feedback resistor and feedback cap to get the response you're looking for. Or build a BYOC. I can't see spending $400 on the grey one...
Old 31st December 2010
Lives for gear
Bob - you probably know this, but the Whirlwind pedals aren't replicas but actually re-issues of the original MXR pedals, since Michael Laiacona, co-founder of MXR, heads up Whirlwind. I tried their orange pedal and it was better than my Phase 90; may upgrade when I have a chance.

I have a Distortion II (the Distortion+ big brother with 4 knobs and an AC power cord) that I do love for certain sounds.
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