M78 Custom Badass '78 Distortion review by MXR

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  • Sound: 7
  • Overall Impression: 8
  • Reliability & Durability: 8
  • Ease of Use: 8
  • Reviewer's score: 7.8 Good
  • Users' score: 8.1 (38 votes)
MXR: M78 Custom Badass '78 Distortion
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Price paid: $ 79.99

Purchased from: Guitar Center

Sound — 7
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).

Overall Impression — 8
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.

Reliability & Durability — 8
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.

Ease of Use — 8
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.

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