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Troubleshooting your MXR Smart Gate Pedal

Updated on February 8, 2011

How to get what you want.

I, like many other serious guitarists, own an MXR Smart Gate Pedal. To me, it is one of the most important pieces of gear in my rig, next to the guitar and amp themselves.

One thing that bothered me, was on a popular equipment retail website, one dissatisfied customer claims that his MXR was a piece of garbage and "didn't work".

That's the purpose of this hub, to dispel any rumors or uncertainty about this fantastic pedal that no guitarist should be without.


The main reason to buy a noise suppressor/gate is to eliminate 60-cycle hum, feedback, and awful hissing noises caused by A/C disturbance and high-output components. The reason why any noise suppression system would seem "ineffective" or "a piece of crap" is because either a) It IS a piece of crap, or b) the "guitarist" has no idea what their own intent is or what they are doing due to amature-based ignorance.

High-watt amplifiers and sound systems are obviously for big sound. Once you creep up the scales of different classes of amps and rigs, the more interferance you are going to have from all the power you are handling.

QUALITY amplifiers (especially valve-state) have effects loops channels installed on them. If you simply toss a noise gate somewhere in your effects chain (even if it abides by the proper "order" of pedal placement), you may actually have a weakened or barely decreased the nuisances to the desired sound of your rig. THIS is where most amature guitarists start getting let down. If you buy a $200 noise gate for a $50 12-watt amp with an 8-inch speaker, you have indeed over-shot your priorities and should probably go back to the drawing board.

By running the noise gate THROUGH your amplifier's effects loop, you get to the root of the problem, and get optimum performance out of the gear. In the below photo, I have used 2 different types of cables, to eliminate confusion, to insert into the jacks on the amplifier.

From effects loop "send" to pedal "input", then from effects loop "return" to pedal "output" (on this particular model, a Marshall G100R CD).

The MXR Smart Gate has the "hi-trigger" button on the top-left. This is mostly handy to open the gate quicker, and keep it open longer, for all you sustain junkies out there.

Notice that I have the trigger level turned to the "two o'clock" position. Even when using really distorted settings, like through my Boss Metal Zone MT-2, this is a sufficient amount of suppression to fit my needs, especially since I use a lot of overhead effects like chorus and analog delay.

This next photo is an example of amp settings used in conjunction with the pedal:

The "Loop Level" is set to the "in" position, to avoid the -20db drop that sucks down the strength of the noise gate. The effects level knob is set to "9", mainly to avoid overkill by zapping it at "10" to still let some of the natural signal gain to push through. You of course will need to test yours and try alternate settings to suit your needs.

I hope this Hub has snuffed out many of the rumors and comments made based on consumer negativity due to amature-level guitarists that spoil themselves with random gadgets.


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    • profile image

      Karma 4 years ago

      Hello danny ,

      I've got one too i just have a problem that whenever i turn my mxr super comp on the noise does not cut off i just hope u would help me out....thank u

    • profile image

      Tim 6 years ago

      Thanks so much... this is exactly what I've been looking for. Every master was an amateur at one time. Thanks to your very clear guidance here, I can move forward and one day pass it on to the next 'new guy'.

      I appreciate it!

    • profile image

      Anders 6 years ago

      Hi Danny D

      i'm rather new at this FX loop thing :), i allso have just bought the MXR smartgate, but i'm running it infront of the amp right now. besides the MXR are there any other pedals that are worth running from the FX loop ?


      The guy from Denmark.

    • Danny Decay profile image

      Danny Decay 7 years ago from Winter Park, Florida

      Thanks Mark, if you ever have any questions just ask!

    • profile image

      Mark Boggs 7 years ago

      This was one AWESOME hub. I never really used Hubpages before, but after looking up a million places to find an HONEST review on this pedal, I THINK I'VE FOUND IT!!! Keep up the good work, Danny!!!

    • Danny Decay profile image

      Danny Decay 7 years ago from Winter Park, Florida

      Well Steve, that's a mighty fine observation, especially if that's how you do business. But to tell the truth, I personally don't run ANY effects through my effects loop. I follow the "standard" effects chain, however with "room to breathe" for experimental modes. For example, I might place a delay pedal at the end as WELL as the beginning of my effects chain, and even throw a whammy pedal on either side, and operate that in conjunction with my wah-wah pedal (rudder style!). It's an interesting way to get some drone patterns, especially when you have a moderate dose of feedback in the mix. Toss in a ring modulator and a tremelo bar, and that's how I might develop some really cool overlays on a rhythm track, or just over some well-defined, sustained keyboards.

    • profile image

      Steve 7 years ago

      What about all your pedals you normally run through the effects loop? I guess that's out with this option?

    • Niteriter profile image

      Niteriter 7 years ago from Canada

      I work (a very loose employment of the term) in the music business at the retail sales level. I truly appreciate your effort here to "snuff out" ill-formed opinions published by amateur musicians who "spoil themselves with random gadgets".

      Once again you've put together a very entertaining Hub. This time you even found a way to insert a chunk of useful information. Since I've never been able to get useful information to insert successfully into my Hubs, I'm starting to regard you with an awe usually reserved for a god... or at least a guy who can down a can of beer in one swallow!

      Good work. Cheers!