TYMEXAR "St Paul Distortion" part 2

This version of my TYMEXAR is to pay homage to the band that got me into the MXR Distortion plus in the first place. I'm positive that thousands of guitarists around the world got into these for the same reason ........ Because Bob Mould used one in Husker Du.

His guitar tone is one of those "moments" that for music fans is why we listen to music. (I've had quite a few of them over the years.) It's not the songs that instantly grabbed me, although Husker Du had GREAT songs. The first time I heard "that" guitar sound was on New Day Rising. That intro to that song, first song on the album of the same name was like a hot chainsaw through the head. It's like the stereo suddenly had no bass and was distorting badly, but that was the way it was supposed to sound.


After playing the hell out of New Day Rising for months I found a copy of Metal Circus on 12" and I was hooked, forever. These two records are still my favorite to this day. Husker Du were a revelation to a kid who had taken up hardcore (mainly Minor Threat and the Dead Kennedys) as the only thing I'd listen to because Husker Du were part of the hardcore community even though they had smatterings of psych and lots of pop. They could write a catchy song, and while their early stuff was FAST, they had slower songs, while still being part of this scene, like the ballad Hart wrote about a young girl from point of view of a serial killer on Metal Circus.

One thing Husker Du always had, right through from early recordings to major label releases was Bob's guitar tone. It was ........... Aggressive, abrasive, nasty. It was wrong somehow, and yet it worked so well.


Once I learned that Bob used a distortion plus, I wanted one. It seemed like a an achievable thing somehow ? This wasn't a rare guitar I thought I'd never get (Johnny's Mosrite) or some rare, unheard of amp or effect that only the right people could get hold of. This was a cheap, mass produced little stomp box. The very reason Bob used one to start with.

After years of making versions of this great little distortion, and reintroducing myself to how much I loved it recently, I though it was time I made a version to show how much I love it and just as importantly, why. After some research it seems Bob walked into a music shop in about 1979 and bought what was there, a stock MXR distortion plus. His is a "block logo" version and he has used it ever since all through Husker Du, Sugar and his solo stuff, right through to today.

This Tym version is built around two originals I now own. One's a '79 and the other is an '80. They're both standard silicon diode "block logo" MXR Distortion +'s and they're both identical in component values and tone, and now there's my own version made specifically with this band in mind.



Plug this into a solid state amp like a Roland JC120 or a Yamaha 100, with a hot humbuckered Flying Vee (an SG will get you close) and use Bob's tuning with the "two finger drone" chord and you'll hear that tone. Then all you've got to do is learn how to play guitar and write songs like Bob, get yourself a great rhythm section and you'll be part way there.

Tone had trouble with this artwork until I said "I kinda like the “wasteland” imagery that Husker Du had. I love the backwards writing on Metal Circus " ........... and there it was. Amazing.

I don't know how many of these I'll make or if anyone even wants one or cares ? I know I do. This is to say thanks to Bob (and Greg and Grant) for writing and recording some of the most important music of my youth. Music that still matters today.


Back to blog