M-78 Custom Badass '78 Distortion Review

manufacturer: MXR date: 06/02/2014 category: Guitar Effects
MXR: M-78 Custom Badass '78 Distortion
This thing is one of the best pedals I've ever used - it has three knobs, tone, output and distortion, and it's really easy to get a great tone out of it.
 Sound: 7.7
 Overall Impression: 7.6
 Reliability & Durability: 8.7
 Ease of Use: 8.1
 Overall rating:
 8.1 
 Reviewer rating:
 8 
 Users rating:
 8.1 
 Votes:
 36 
reviews (11) pictures (4) 12 comments vote for this gear:
overall: 7.8
M-78 Custom Badass '78 Distortion Reviewed by: unregistered, on june 10, 2011
3 of 4 people found this review helpful

Price paid: £ 79.99

Purchased from: GuitarGuitar

Ease of Use: First of all, this thing is one of the best pedals I've ever used - it has three knobs, tone, output and distortion, and it's really easy to get a great tone out of it. The one thing I will say is don't have the tone past 11 o'clock, as it creates a very fuzzy, weird sound. But other than that it's simple and easy to use. // 8

Sound: I'm using this through a Marshall AVT100, with a Gibson Les Paul Studio and this pedal is like the icing on the cake, I'm in a hard rock band and we play music in the style of Guns N' Roses, Led Zeppelin, Aerosmith etc. And this pedal can give me the sounds we look for. If you get the settings right, you can enhance your riffs and solos and have them sounding very balls to the wall rock n' roll, although it doesn't have much variety and isn't advised for anything outside of rock/hard rock. It also has a crunch option, which adds a crunchy rock n' roll sound to your playing. // 7

Reliability & Durability: As with most MXR pedals, this is built like an absolute tank. I've gigged with it and it's stood up to everything I've thrown at it, I can't comment on how durable it may be in the future as I'd never purposefully damage any guitar gear to see how reliable and durable it would be, but so far it's held up very well. // 8

Overall Impression: As I said earlier I mainly play rock and hard rock, and for that this pedal is awesome, I've tried other pedals trying to get the sound this one does (MI Crunch, Boss Distortion etc.) but none of them can hold a candle to this one. When I went to buy it from GuitarGuitar, the guys in the shop had said they'd never heard anything replicate a true 70's tone than this, and I'm willing to bet they hear/play alot of pedals. If it were lost or stolen I'd defintely buy it again, no questions asked. // 8

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overall: 9
M-78 Custom Badass '78 Distortion Reviewed by: The Interceptor, on june 20, 2011
0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Price paid: A$ 130

Purchased from: Guitar World (WA)

Ease of Use: This has the usual dirt box pots of level, tone and gain (distortion) which should be familiar to everyone. In addition there is the crunch button which gives to pedal a kick in the pants. I tested the pedal with everything set to 12 o'clock and it sounded great immediately. // 9

Sound: As mentioned above, I got a great sound as soon as I plugged this thing in. I should say that I use a Gibson Les Paul Studio and a Fender Hot Rod Deluxe. Unlike many pedals I have owned, I immediately loved the tone and didn't have to spend a few days getting used to it. By way of comparison, the pedal sounds very similar to a Keeley Modified DS-1 (the SEM/Ultra mod). When I a/b'd the Keeley and the MXR, I found the MXR to have a fuller sound. That said, the Keeley DS-1 wasn't far behind. The MXR '78 tone has plenty of bottom end but feels tighter than the Keeley DS-1. Compared to the MI Audio Crunch Box, the MXR '78 has less mids. For my ears and my setup, I'd take the MXR '78 over both the Keeley DS-1 and the MI Audio Crunch Box. // 9

Reliability & Durability: Looks and feels rock solid, just like most MXR pedals. The crunch button is a little bit dinky but I can't see that being a problem. The pots feel nice with just the right amount of resistance. The Switch is not too notchy. What else can you say about a 3-pot pedal in a bulletproof aluminium housing? // 9

Overall Impression: I just love this pedal; I am inclined to say that my search for the ultimate dirt box is over. It is very flexible and will cover tones from mild dirt all the way up to early heavy metal (e.g. Maiden etc) but not thrash. I'm tempted to buy a second one as a spare and/or to run one pedal at low gain and another at high gain. On top of all that, the price is very competitve. Highly recommended. // 9

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overall: 8.5
M-78 Custom Badass '78 Distortion Reviewed by: unregistered, on july 05, 2011
0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Price paid: $ 89

Purchased from: Guitarcenter.com

Ease of Use: It's very easy easy to set up, adjust the tone and amount of distortion and you're set! The tone knob works really well and there are many different tones you can get with the turn of a knob. It sounds great no matter how you set it up all though it doesn't fit every genre. // 10

Sound: I have a Marshall MG100HDFX with a Fender Strat, Epiphone Les Paul Custom, and an Ibanez S Series. With the strat it sounds ok, the Les Paul sounds great, and the Ibanez is alright. With the distortion cranked, you get a glorified Overdrive basically. It's good if your playing songs that don't require a great amount of dist. But for me it could have used a little more umf. It sounds amazing as a amp stack tone, if it had more distortion it would be the only pedal I would need. One bad thing is that with my Wah pedal all the way down it gives this really bad high pitched and loud feedback. I would say it's a deal breaker. Although its hard to find a pedal that doesn't. // 7

Reliability & Durability: It seems really durable and I don't see any need to have a backup. It's build to last for sure. It's an MXR for god sake's! I've only used it for a few months but I can tell it will last a while. It has a metal housing the you could throw at your asshole singer and still use it cranked up so you don't have to hear him cry! // 9

Overall Impression: I play everything from blues to heavy-a-s metal (Emmure, Molotov Cocktail) and its good from anything from Air Supply up until Nirvana. Anything heavier... Go with something else. If I lost it I would look for something else but if fits your genre of music, GET THIS PEDAL. // 8

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overall: 8.8
M-78 Custom Badass '78 Distortion Reviewed by: ne14t, on october 20, 2011
0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Price paid: C$ 80

Purchased from: Long and McQuade

Ease of Use: The '78 Custom Badass is a simple three knob distortion pedal with knobs controlling your Output level, Tone and Distortion level. There is also a push switch to control an optional level of crunch, with an extremely bright blue L.E.D to let you know when the crunch mode is activated. This pedal is pretty idiot proof and will make good sounds right out of the box without adjusting any of the knobs. 9/10 This pedal is seriously simple, but great sounding for its ease. // 9

Sound: The '78 Custom Badass sounds like a fuzz type distortion, it is fairly versatile, it can do crunchy classic rock distortion, 80's thrash metal distortion and if you crank it up all the way it will sound almost like a fullbore metal or line6 on its insane setting (not really appealing but tons of distortion on tap) but still cleans up really well with the guitars volume pots. It has your basic tailorable distortion sound, its nothing super fancy but for $80 it certainly fills a lot of holes in an effects chain. I use this pedal for playing Zeppelin, Megadeth, Metallica, Deep Purple as various other bands of similar genres and it fits well it may not be an exact match but its close enough to get you by. 8/10 Great distortion, wide range of uses; however only distortion not a fancier distortion/fuzz, distortion/octave or anything of the sorts like that, but again... $80! // 8

Reliability & Durability: 10/10 MXR pedals are built to take an ass kicking there is no doubt about it. Everyone I have owned has been in a metal case with extremely rugged components. Very reliable and safe to use without a backup, I honestly don't think its possible to ruin a MXR pedal without pouring water on it or something really stupid. Probably why MXR pedals are a little more pricey but I think the solid lifetime of use you should get out of em is worth it. This is the fifth MXR pedal I have purchased and they have all been the same quality. To boot the hotrod red finish on the '78 Custom Badass makes it look well badass! // 10

Overall Impression: I play classic rock to metal and everything in between, and this pedal can hang in there pretty good. I was slightly unsure of how well it would suit me as my amp has great ability to distort itself; however it was lacking that crunchy flavor to it, I snagged this pedal as it was one of the cheapest distortion pedals on the shelf and well I have not been let down by it yet. If this pedal was lost or stolen I would definitely replace it, I really dig its tone. If your in the market for a cheaper distortion pedal that can handle a wide variety of genres definitely put the '78 Custom Badass on the list of pedals to check out. 8/10 Awesome pedal, but nothing out of the ordinary or nothing to rave extremely about. // 8

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overall: 7.8
M-78 Custom Badass '78 Distortion Reviewed by: horser4dish, on december 12, 2011
0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Price paid: $ 79.99

Purchased from: Guitar Center

Ease of Use: To start off, this pedal is dead simple to get a good sound out of. It has three knobs: output, which changes how loud the pedal's signal is; tone, which lets you adjust from a warmer/treble-less sound to a bass-less screech; and distortion, which goes from a crunch to some decent metal levels. The '78 has two buttons/switches on it: the main on-off that is tied to a red LED, and a second, smaller one labelled "Crunch" that's tied to a blue LED near the top. The crunch switch, from my experience, gives the pedal a mid boost which also increases the volume a bit. Nothing digital here; the knobs stay where you put them, as do the switches. While not a mindblowing variety of options, you can tweak the sound pretty decently. // 8

Sound: Generally, my signal chain is guitar, Crybaby Classic wah, this pedal, Electro-Harmonix LPB-1 boost, and then all that into a Jet City JCA20H/112. I either play a modified 2009 Fender Standard Stratocaster HSS or an Ibanez Artcore AS73B (355-like semihollow). I've found the pedal to be a bit noisy when paired with the LPB-1, but that's just the boost's noise amplified. On its own, the '78 is free from humming, although at high distortion levels it'll make noise if you so much as look at your guitar strings. Setting-wise, I go for a RHCP-style distortion, with my output just above 9 o'clock to match the clean signal level, the tone around 10 o'clock so it's a bit warmer than clean, and then my distortion right around 3 o'clock; not maxed out, but enough that one string on its own has a good amount of crunch to it. I also adjust it to play some heavier stuff as well: GN'R can be achieved with a slightly higher tone (12 o'c) and distortion (4 o'c), and it can do decent Metallica as well (higher output to get some Overdrive from the amp, and then tone around 1 or 1.5 o'c, and distortion maxed). You can also get some more overdriven sounds out of it by dropping the distortion to minimum backing off the tone, while cranking the output. However, there's no way for the pedal to function as a clean boost; even with the distortion all the way to the left, it adds a fair amount of crunch. My only real complain is that there's not a big change in distortion from that point to about noon, at which point it acts like you expected. Some people claim that is pedal does not play well with Wah pedals, but that's not true. It does drain the dramatic change from heel to toe when the crunch switch is engaged, but it's never to the point that it negates the wah. Overall, I like the versatility of the pedal, and it plays well with all of my other gear. I'm a big fan of the distorted tone it gives, which is very, very similar to my amp's tube distortion, which is why I picked it up (basically to add a second channel to my single-channel amp). // 7

Reliability & Durability: It seems like a solid piece of work. I don't gig, so I can't say one way or the other, but nothing's fallen off yet despite being thrown around and stomped on. The crunch button is plastic and small, which makes it nearly impossible to turn on with your foot, but it's not hard to push down if you're dead-set on that. // 8

Overall Impression: I play all music from a variety of genres: Metallica, Guns N' Roses, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Tab Benoit, Trans-Siberian Orchestra, some Lamb Of God, and Brad Paisley, to name a few. This pedal fits the bill for anything I need a lot of distortion for, on top of the edge-of-breakup sounds I usually use. I'm happy with how it reacts to playing; obviously not like real tubes, but it sounds close enough that it doesn't matter to me. I don't have any issues with my other equipment, and it's not a tone suck as far as I know. I was comparing it to some other pedals that do the same sort of sound: Fulltone OCD, MXR Distortion III; but this was my favorite because of the variety and the "classic" kind of sound it gives. // 8

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overall: 5.3
M-78 Custom Badass '78 Distortion Reviewed by: samhurley7, on january 05, 2012
0 of 2 people found this review helpful

Price paid: $ 80

Purchased from: guitar center

Ease of Use: It took about 45 committed minutes to get any kind of tone out of it, after looking at the manual I figured out after skimming it that the crunch button doesn't make it have a crunchy tone the button only makes it louder. The manual only goes over its specks and it doesn't tell you how to get a good tone (trust me I looked). I never tinkered with the pedal or send it in I just busted it out and played with the knobs. // 4

Sound: My set up concisest of a Vox VT50 valvetronic amp, a custom Fender Stratocaster with Texas specials. The pedal gets loud and can give a kick ass blues tone but the worst hard rock/metal distortion tone I have ever heard. The "crunch" button doesn't give the pedal more crunch it only makes it a bit louder sadly. If you turn the knob up that says DISTORTION it becomes a very bass sound like if you turned your amps bass knob all the way up along with the gain. If you turn the volume knob up it actually changes the sound which isn't what a volume knob is supposed to do. Lastly you can get a great Clapton sound out of it but if you want a harder tone you are out of luck. Bottom line if you like blues go ahead get it only for that if not avoid the pedal!!! (The only reason this gets a 7 is for the killer blues tone). // 7

Reliability & Durability: This pedal is very durable and light weight which makes it a better pedal to carry around. It is also very small so there is more room on your pedal board. If I was a blues player I would use this for a gig and recording. If I was at a gig with no back up what so ever I wouldn't use this because it doesn't have much versatility. // 7

Overall Impression: I play metal, in the church band and I play jazz with friends not the best match. I have been playing for 3 1/2 years. I have a Wah Wah pedal and a Boss tuner and I love them just not this one. If I could go back and asked can it go past the year 78 and sound a bit more modern with the right tinkering? I would. I love its Blues tone but HATE its harder distortion. The coolest thing about it is that it gets super loud just with the volume knob. If you want modern distortion like all your metal bands get the Boss metal core pedal or the Ibanez tube screamer. The only thing that could make this pedal better is a killer hard rock distortion but sadly it doesn't. // 3

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overall: 8.3
M-78 Custom Badass '78 Distortion Reviewed by: ApocalypseNigh, on august 01, 2013
0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Price paid: C$ 50

Purchased from: Some guy

Ease of Use: Be careful with this pedal. It is a pedal which needs to be played through your amp and fingers in order to make a sound judgement. I tried this pedal at a local music store through a Fender solid state. It sounded thin, harsh, brittle and unusable. A month later I decided to take the plunge and buy it off some guy. I tried it through my amp and it sounded fantastic. There are three knobs and a crunch button. It took no less than 10 seconds to find a good usable tone. I prefer the crunch button enabled. The tone knob is very sensitive and not really usable anywhere above noon. The output is ridiculous. I have that knob turned up only at ten o clock. The only reason why I don't give a perfect score is because it didn't sound perfect without adjustment. // 9

Sound: I use a CV Telecaster into a Custom Comp into this into a Randall G3. The pedal is a bit bass heavy, and there is no way to adjust that. Obviously with single coils and a distortion pedal will be noisy as hell. I expected more noise though. It's only noisy at the highest gain setting. With the gain turned down to about 9 o'clock, the distortion is a bit fizzy but magically cleans up with more gain. You can get some pretty decent hard rock tones and early '80s metal with this. I give it an eight because individual mid, bass and treble tones should have been included as well as being bass heavy. // 8

Reliability & Durability: The on off button seems a bit weak. I'm a guy who likes a hard to push on off button. The crunch button should be a metal toggle switch. It feels like a cheap plastic cylinder on a spring. Regardless I believe it will last a good 20 years or so. I give it an 8 because of these two things. I've only had one MXR crap out on me due to shoddy building, so it's not a common thing. Considering this was previously used for a number of years, I don't think I have a piece of crap. // 8

Overall Impression: I play stuff like Rush, Alice Cooper, Iron Maiden, Rammstein, Dream Theater and King Diamond. Been playing for 15 years and have owned a buncha pedals and amps over the years. I'd buy this pedal again if it were lost or stolen, although at the price, I don't see anyone stealing THIS pedal. I love how your picking dynamics Shine through. There is a low mid punch which is great. Note clarity is good with this pedal. I hate the lack of tonal control. They should have done the "bass" "mids" "highs" control section. This pedal sounds more dynamic than a Boss DS-1. It sounds more organic and a little less fizzy. It is also smaller and better looking. I really which it had a metal toggle for the crunch setting. // 8

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overall: 7.8
M-78 Custom Badass '78 Distortion Reviewed by: jfduncan, on may 08, 2014
0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Price paid: £ 86

Purchased from: Thomann

Ease of Use: In theory its a very easy to use pedal, four knobs controlling output, gain, 100hz and tone with a switch labelled "bump" for a mids boost. Not the easiest pedal to try and get a decent tone out of the box really, found myself tweaking it for ages, still tweaking it in fact after a year in fact, always sounds too bass-y. But I guess when you do find the tone you like you can just keep tape the knobs down. Other than that the device is easy, simple on/off footswitch (true bypass) with status LED, backplate unscrews to get to the battery compartment, could be a pain for battery users but the power draw is quite low so you probably don't need to access it too often. // 7

Sound: I needed an overdrive pedal and after trying numerous pedals I wasn't all too impressed by I settled on the modified OD after hearing raving reviews of it and getting some decent tones out of it in a shop. Maybe it's just me and my style but I can't see what the big fuss is about, I get some good overdrive sounds out of it but it's nothing amazing in my opinion. I've spent far too long adjusting the tone and 100Hz knob with and without the bump switch to try and get the "perfect" tone. Don't get me wrong this pedal does a wide variety of overdrive sounds very well, I just can't get the EQ to sit perfect for me. I find OD to be much more of a personal effect than fuzz or distortion though so try it yourself! Still use it for all my blues stuff up into rock and stacks GREAT with my MXR '78 distortion pedal. // 7

Reliability & Durability: In terms of build quality you can never go wrong with MXR. I've never had one of their pedals break on me, they're sturdy compact metal boxes that sure can take a beating. Absolutely no complaints here, nothing but minor scratches on the casing after a year of use. The only thing that looks like it could potentially break on the entire thing are the knobs which are just standard plastic. Everything else could probably survive an atomic blast. The finish isn't painted on either, it's a beautiful gold brushed aluminium (unless you got the special edition with gold flakes on it, can't speak for that). // 10

Overall Impression: I usually play a wide variety of music from blues to metal and obviously as an OD pedal this doesn't really cover the latter of those two genres but it does stack nicely with my distortion pedals to give an over the top sound nonetheless. The pedal does give you a large degree of freedom over the EQ with two controls and a switch. The tone is pretty standard although I find anything below 12 gets muddy pretty quickly, the 100hz knob is a nice feature allowing you to control the bass/mids range and the bump switch increases volume and mids really. The 100hz knob is a bit unorthodox and maybe works with some people but I can't get it to sit right, even at 12 where it's neither cutting nor boosting, I don't know I just think it might have been better to put a standard 3-band EQ in but a lot of people seem to love it so I guess it's a personal affair! // 7

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overall: 9
M-78 Custom Badass '78 Distortion Reviewed by: coffe_amarett, on june 02, 2014
0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Price paid: € 75

Purchased from: http://www.guitarshop.ro/

Ease of Use: As I mentioned, it is very easy to use and is ready to rock with just a few tweaks. As I noticed, it does sound considerably different with every amp, but you will get good rocking tones. Best tones so far I got out of tube amps (like Orange Tiny Terror and Vox AC30) it comes in an elegant black box with good information and presets, all kinds of catalogs and infos on how to set it up. What I like most about it is how present it is and how it cuts in the mix with the whole band. Thick, mean, clear distortion. // 9

Sound: I play a mix between alternative, post-rock and psychedelic music and it suits the heavy parts of my playing perfectly. I've been using it with a variety of amps, both solid state, tube amps and hybrids. From what I've heard and experienced with this pedal, the richest and most pleasant response you get is when combining it with tube amps (Orange, Vox, Marshall, Peavey etc). Again, that is a personal observation, it seems like the transistor amps I used it with tend to add a lot of mid-range frequencies that aren't always very pleasant (I'm talking about power chords, strumming and rhythmic parts - again, a personal favor). I wouldn't say it's noisy, but it Will feedback loudly on highest gain setting when being close to amp. // 9

Reliability & Durability: Although its light weight, the aluminum casing seems and is pretty sturdy, it will withstand shocks and/or drops (have experienced light drops, works perfect). It's a straight-forward simple pedal with tree knobs and a switch - Volume, Tone, Gain and a Crunch button. It's loud, mean, but clear and will give aery wide range of distorted tones, from mellow overdrive to heavy distortion. I would rely on it, either in terms of functionality, sound, hardware and I would consider buying another one if it were stolen. // 9

Overall Impression: Again, it's a good match for the style I play - somewhere between alternative, post-rock and psychedelic. I'll post a link with how it sounds with the full band below this section. I don't think it ever let me down ever live or while rehearsing. The only two problems I noticed where the led's. The main red one, two or three times in two years stayed on even though I shut the pedal down. This short incident didn't last long so I don't think it is a reason for worry. The second aspect is the second blue led that is very bright and powerful and might become a slight problem on dark stages, as it can obstruct the view of the control knobs. This problem can be solved by exposing the pedal to a light source so the light sensitive material on the knobs can be charged (very helpful btw). // 9

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