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MXR M78 Custom Badass 78 Distortion

The MXR Custom Badass '78 Distortion roars with huge amp stack tones and old school distortion. We took a classic distortion circuit and hot-rodded it to deliver over-the-top soaring leads and rich, saturated rhythms. With only three knobs, dialing in a badass tone is a cinch. Engage the CRUNCH button to boost the harmonic content of the distortion. Under the hood,...

Price: $35 to $74 at 12 stores
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Worth the eighty dollars featured

Ease Of Use The unit is a straightforward distortion pedal, with the standard output, tone and distortion controls. Added is a crunch switch, which changes harmonic overtones. So, it's quite easy to dial in some tones.

Sound Guitars used are a JEM7VWH with Evolution pickups and a UV777BK with Blaze pickups. The amp is a Hughes & Kettner Attax 200 2x12 combo. It should be noted that this amp is a hybrid, meaning the pre-amp section is tube and the power amp section is MOSFET. The amp also has two independent channels, clean and lead, and the clean channel has a separate volume knob for a boosted crunch setting.

With the amp on the clean channel and using just this pedal for distortion, I was able to dial in a variety of tones. I found that this pedal sounded best when used more as an overdrive. From coloring the clean, to a nice blues tones, this pedal sounds great with the distortion set anywhere from 1 o-clock or below.

With the distortion at its maximum, the sound was a bit brittle, giving the classic diode clipping sound. I should also note that I preferred the crunch switch on this pedal engaged, although it sounds good without, as well. I imagine this is a preference thing.

Used with the crunch channel on the amp, the pedal did not sound as good. The best setting for this was just a slight boost for a nice blues/rock tone. Anything beyond was too muddy.

Used with the lead channel on the amp, this pedal really sounds great. Again, it seems this pedal sounds best with its distortion at 1 o-clock or below. So needing a great lead sound, I combined this pedal with the lead channel. I backed the distortion levels off of both the amp and the pedal, and got a wonderful, warm lead tone. Again, it sounded better to me with the crunch switch on the pedal engaged.

One other note about the sound of this pedal, I liked how it responded to different dynamics of playing. Pick softly to keep the sound cleaner or dig in to get more drive. The pedal reacts much like an amp, in this regard.

Reliability The electronics are housed in the classic small MXR metal box. It seems the pedal is well constructed and the foot switch seems solid.

Customer Support I have had no problems so I have had no contact with Dunlop/MXR

Liked about it Great tones for the money
Nice reaction to playing dynamics
Well constructed

Didn't like Sound too brittle when distortion at maximum

Overall satisfaction:

By therightjem
Sep 10, 2012
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More "nice" than "great". featured

Ease Of Use The MXR M78 Custom Badass '78 Distortion comes in the standard small MXR housing, in a very nice deep red colour.
Jack in and out on the sides, footswitch, a crunch button which gives a less compressed and more harmonic distortion and three knobs; Output, Tone and Distortion.
All knobs are rather sensitive and even the smallest adjustments of the tone knob can change the overall sound.

Sound Sometimes you believe the hype enough to think "if this is only half way as good as they say it will be kick-ass!". Which is exactly what led me to order the MXR Custom Badass '78 Distortion. The reviews were raving, the YouTube videos sounded like a compilation album af everything from early Van Halen (co-incident?) through the entire catalog of 80's and 90's metal (well, not Slayer and the likes) and I assume my expectations were difficult to meet.
Playing through a 20 watt solid state amp was a walk in the park. Dialing in different signature tones was both easy and fun.
But when I put it to the test and let it drive a 100 watt tube head with 4x12 speakers it fell through, both via hot and medium hot humbuckers (EMG 81, Seymore Duncan JB and DiMarzi Mo' Joe). In a band setting it would disappear in the mix even if I put it louder than the other instruments. Also the Crunch option became more muddy than uncompressed.
I continued to experiment with it's use, as I really wanted this pedal to deliver. This time I tried it as an overdrive, rolling back the gain and supplementing my amps overdrive. I found this to be a difficult task, as the pedal and my amp behaved like oil and water. The sound wasn't bad, but it was nothing close to what I wanted to hear. I kept trying to squeeze a bit more dirt out of it without mudding up the tone but I eventually gave up. My solution was the Triple Wreck by Wampler.

MXR Custom Badass '78 Distortion (video)

Reliability Quality throughout every aspect of this pedal. Gain wise also versatile enough to be the lone distortion pedal of a guitarist of an 80's metal-coverband (if it fit's your set up and tone).

Customer Support Not dealt with Dunlop/MXR.

Liked about it - Good variety of gain and tone.
- Pedalboard friendly size.
- Lovely colour.

Didn't like - Crunch function not foot-switchable.
- Not enough gain on tap to drive a big tube amp.
- Power input to close to the Jack in.

Overall satisfaction:

By hp29
Dec 06, 2011
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