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Here at Radial, we have been messing around with distortion pedals for about 40 years. Our first tube distortion came in around 1976 and we often joke how bad it was. But this was the beginning that set the stage for the Tonebone Classic and Hot British, two of the most successful tube distortion pedals of all time.

During our quest to find the ultimate distortion for bass, we discussed the problem with a number of world class players including Billy Sheehan. Known for his work with Steve Vai and Mr. Big, Billy became the undisputed champion of adding distortion to the bass signal. During these discussions we found out that traditional guitar pedals took away all of the natural sound of the instrument and reduced the frequency response. For example, when you turned on a distortion pedal, the mids sounded great but the bottom end was gone.

The reason for this is simple: guitar pedals are designed for guitar. When you try to distort a bass, the sound energy shifts from lows to mids and highs as harmonics are generated. You lose the distinctiveness of each note and you end up with a swarm of bees.

We asked ourselves... what if we could build a pedal that worked more like a mixing console where you could actually blend in the desired amount of effect to suit? The Mix is basically that... a single channel effects send & receive bus for hi-Z instruments.

So, how does this work?

The BigShot MIX lets you send the original 'dry' signal of the bass or guitar to the amp and then lets you blend in the desired amount of distortion from your pedal board. A special wet-dry circuit was created that lets you adjust how much of the wet signal you would like to introduce into the dry signal path. In other words, it is not merely an on-off switch like a traditional loop, but a wet-dry blend function more like what you would use in a recording studio.

To properly mix two hi-Z instrument signals together, you must buffer the signal. To ensure the natural sound of the instrument is maintained, the MIX employs the same buffering circuit that is used in the award winning Radial JD7 Injector which is used by artists as diverse as John Petrucci, Carlos Santana and Buddy Guy. As a unity gain buffer, whatever signal goes in will come out at the same level.

Another important feature we added to the MIX is the 180⁰ polarity reverse switch. What few people realize is that when you plug guitar pedals into each other, the relative phase is often reversed. In other words, pedal manufacturers rarely pay attention to absolute phase and to be honest, why should they? Most guitarists plug into a pedal, then another and then another without worrying about phase cancellation as there is only a single audio path. But when you mix two audio paths together – as with the MIX – you may be mixing an 'in-phase' signal with one that is 'out of phase'. Everyone knows that combining +1 with -1 = 0. By adding a polarity reverse on the effects return path, we can bring the offending circuit back into phase.

Parallel Processing

The latest buzz these days in studio recording is parallel processing. How this works is simple: You take a signal, split it into two stems, process each one separately then mix them back together. Imagine taking a lead vocal, adding delay and reverb to the main body while adding a touch of distortion to the top end.

With guitar, bass or electric violin, you can use the MIX to do the same thing. You can setup a series of pedals such as reverb or delay on your main signal path and then add other effects such as maybe a fuzz via the Mix's wet-dry effects loop. You can then combine the two 'in parallel' to create something totally unique. This is the real magic that is hidden inside the MIX.