One of the great joys of any guitar journey is stumbling on happy accidents. Tom Morello has made an entire career of turning those accidents into timeless riffs and signature “non-guitar” sounds. So it’s no surprise that Morello’s signature MXR Power 50 Overdrive, which is ostensibly built for Marshall-in-a-box tones, delivers those sounds with a twist.
For decades, Morello has relied on the same Marshall JCM800 2205 50-watt head he acquired in 1988. At the time, he wasn’t that gear savvy and, unconventionally, routed all his pedals through the effects loop. Morello dug the sound and has kept the signal flow the same ever since. The Power 50 is built to approximate that amp’s topology and his unorthodox application of the effects loop.
MXR Tom Morello Power 50 Overdrive Review by premierguitar
Though the Power 50 is built to do unconventional things, the primary controls will be familiar to any Marshall player. There’s a sensitive and interactive 3-band EQ, gain, volume, and a tiny knob for presence control. But it also comes with the effects loop that’s critical for capturing the most authentic Morello sounds. You just route your effects through the loop, plug into nearly any amp, and—boom. Instant Rage.
Even if you don’t employ the effects loop the crunchy Marshall-style tones sound and feel authentic.
And though the range of gain isn’t as wide as you might find on some other overdrive pedals, I think that’s totally ok. The Power 50 was designed to cop a very specific sound, not be a rainbow of different dirt tones. And it’s refreshing to hear an overdrive that can deliver a singular signature sound while encouraging unusual approaches to getting new ones.
Test Gear: Fender HSS Stratocaster, Schroeder Chopper TL, Revv D20, Fender Hot-Rod Deluxe