When you’re playing guitar, despite what your parents might say, it’s not just noise.

But noise can creep up and ruin our entire performance if we’re not careful. It can distract, and more importantly, detract from your music if it’s not under control.

Noise gates are an essential tool in the fight against background noise, hum, and hiss. They are the soldiers on the frontline.

Today we’re looking at the MXR Noise Clamp and how this soldier protects your tone!


When it comes to noise gates it’s not really about how it impacts your tone, but how it doesn’t. Gates should be effects that you don’t notice, and when they’re performing their job properly no one should know they’re even there.

The MXR Noise Clamp fits the bill. It’s only on the higher settings that you start to really notice the gate kicking in, and more than anything it’s likely just to give that extra range in extreme cases – or to please those who are into the very mechanical, robotic on/off guitar sound of some modern progressive metal bands. Either way, you’ve got the option.

The attack and release of the gate are dialed in extremely well, which is what allows them to get away with only a single knob. The easier it is to get a good sound, the happier I am.

Build Quality:

MXR’s build quality is phenomenal. The word “tank” comes to mind instantly. They are built to stand the test of time and the Noise Clamp is no exception to that. Not much needs to be said here. The LED indicators are extremely bright which is a must-have for outdoor gigs. Too many LED’s are bright enough on a dark stage only to become invisible in the sunlight.


Minimal. It’s a pedal with one knob, which isn’t necessarily a good or bad thing, at the end of the day it comes down to the overall design of the pedal.

More knobs offer more versatility, fewer knobs make it easier to use. In the case of a noise gate, I want fewer knobs. With so many factors in guitar tone, I have enough things to tweak on my amp, overdrives, reverbs etc. that I really don’t need my gate to be another source of endless tweaking.

I want a more/less knob, and that’s exactly what I’ve found here.

It is worth noting that my number one demand for noise gates is to separate the affected signal from the tracking. In short, a noise gate with only an input and output is going to listen to the signal coming in and gate your signal based on that.

The problem with those gates is that the way it tracks your playing will be less accurate if you’re placing your gate after your effects or in the effects loop of your amplifier because it’s no longer “hearing” the raw signal from your guitar. It’s like trying to hear what someone is saying while there’s construction outside – you’ll probably mishear a few words here and there.

The Noise Clamp has an input you can use at the very beginning of your pedalboard to track your raw signal perfectly while using the send/return to choose where in your signal chain you want that noise gate to work. Whatever you put in the send/return loop is what your gate will work on, whether it’s your amp or just some noisy pedals.

Final Thoughts:

It’s a simple pedal that lets you keep your signal clean. It’s built well, the attack and release are extremely well tuned, and the loop allows for the most accurate tracking possible. If you’re looking for the best gate on a budget, you’ve found your new pedalboard partner.

About The Author