1980 MXR Six Band Graphic Equalizer

Model Description:

Back in the 1970s, graphic equalizers were all the rage where sound ‘quality’ was concerned. That craze also extended to their use in the guitar world. The original MXR Six Band Graphic Equalizer (6BGE as it was known by the company) was introduced in 1976 and stayed in production until about 1982, two years before MXR went out of business. The company also released a mains powered Ten Band Graphic Equalizer to give even greater control, as well as rack‑mounted EQs for the really committed. The six frequency bands cover the 100Hz to 3.2KHz range with boost/cut of ±18Db. While compact EQs were fashionable, they had a boost in popularity when they were used by major artists like Eddie Van Halen and Joe Perry. EQs have their advantages, for instance in adjusting frequency balance to cater for variable acoustics in live venues, to minimise the risk of unwanted feedback, to balance partnering equipment or to compensate for other factors in the signal chain. For instance, EVH said he used the EQ to counteract the ‘thin’ tone of his Floyd Rose‑fitted guitars. From the 1980s onward, the demand for EQs diminished greatly. However, after Jim Dunlop relaunched the MXR brand in 1987, he saw fit to reissue the 6BGE as one of the ‘classic’ line of MXR pedals. Updated versions of the 6BGE are part of the current MXR line up (in black or silver and including a footswitch) – now called the Six Band EQ. Unsurprisingly, EQ pedals like the 6BGE are a bit of a niche product, so they are neither numerous nor highly collectable. They do, though, have a part to play in the vintage effect pedal landscape and will continue to beguile users of vintage analogue gear who want to tweak their tone in the old school way. The 6BGE’s relative scarcity means that finding a good one at a reasonable price involves a degree of tenacity and patience. For info, there was no early ‘script’ version of the 6BGE – all have the 2nd generation ‘block’ logo.

Pedal Description:

Here is something a bit leftfield and a welcome contrast to more familiar, ubiquitous effects. For your perusal is a neat 1981 MXR Six Band Graphic Equalizer (MX‑109) in classic blue and white. The date of manufacture is ascertained by the standardised coding on the CTS‑made slider array in the same way as for a normal pot, which is just as well, as MXR’s serial number system doesn’t help to determine its age. Early MXR pedals have their downsides including battery‑only operation and this one is no different. Without a footswitch, the ‘effect’ is ‘always on’ when in use. This means that, if you want a radical change of tone mid‑performance, the 6BGE really needs to be switched externally as part of an effect loop. The pedal’s impact on a guitar’s tone can be as minimal or as pronounced as you want, with massively versatile amounts of cut and boost at well‑chosen frequency intervals including the all‑important 800Hz band for guitar. Some users say that the analogue circuit can be noisy (no surprise if all faders are maxed out!), that there aren’t enough bands (in which case, go for the 10‑band EQ!) and that there is no master gain setting (erm… OK). What surprised me is that there are some really great sounds to be had from what is a simple and very effective piece of kit. You can either experiment to your heart’s content or set it to your meet your needs and forget it. The 6BGE is easy to use and it does just what you would expect it to, all with minimal fuss. This robust little stomp box is in superb all‑original condition and doesn’t show its age at all. To add to its authenticity, this one even comes in its original cardboard box with the matching serial number – bonus. While it’s probably not a mainstream or a ‘must have’ pedal, it is pretty darn cool, typically quirky and also relatively rare, especially in great condition. The 6BGE is fun to have and can be useful as part of your broader sonic arsenal.


  • Made in Rochester, New York, U.S.A. in 1981
  • MXR ‘block’ logo
  • Six slider controls used to boost or cut specific frequency bands (100Hz, 200Hz, 400Hz, 800Hz, 1.6KHz, 3.2KHz) by ±18Db
  • No footswitch or LED status indicator
  • Standard ¼” input and output mono jack sockets
  • No DC power supply input (9V battery only)
  • Original box with matching serial number but no instruction manual or warranty card

Detail Gallery:

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