By: Rob Cavuoto
The MXR Custom Badass ‘78 Distortion pedal is the first in a line from MXR that is designed to roar like a huge stack as well as sound like a worn-in vintage tube amp. MXR claim to have hot-rodded this distortion pedal for over-the-top soaring leads and rich saturated rhythms. I think they succeed. This pedal packs quite a punch!
It’s pretty easy to use with only three knobs; Output, Tone, and Distortion, you can dial up endless options. Your dream distortion is at your fingertips with this pedal. It’s great on rhythm with bar chords so you can a get nice full crunch without the mud yet it’s smooth on leads and harmonies. I was able to pull off a spectrum of distortion from the warm fuzz of Aerosmith blues to the super crunch of James Hetfield.
Armed with my San Dimas Charvel, my Epiphone SG and my GK amp I went to town on this pedal. I was able to get that Marshall stack by putting the Output at 12 o’clock, the Tone at 3 o’clock and the Distortion at 1 o’clock. The first thing that struck me was how bright it sounded and instinctively started jamming out to Kiss and Judas Priest. It was very reminiscent of that big commercial metal band sound that I grew up listening to.
On a lower distortion setting than I mentioned above, I was able to get some velvety smooth sounds that would make you think you were sitting in an old Louisiana bar listening the delta blues without compromising any tone.
By pressing the CRUNCH switch I was able to really push the envelope of a dirty distortion – the pedal then became a very powerful beast. I had to go back to brighten up the tone on my amp in ordered for it not to get too muddy. Think ‘80s Trash Metal like a Slayer. I really prefer the non-CRUNCH mode as I think the pedal offered a wide variety of tones and distortion options that I didn’t need to go there.
After a little fiddlin’ with the knobs and my amp I was able to get a really rich thick sound that fit in the sweet spot of all my playing yet provided me with some individuality and uniqueness.
Like all MXR pedals the Badass ‘78 is extremely rugged and sturdy. It should last a lifetime or until someone steals it from you. I really recommend checking out this pedal and cranking it up! For the money around $80 you can’t go wrong.