MXR’s new ’78 Bad Ass is a dammed good distortion pedal that offers true bypass and a warm sound, at a very reasonable price.
OK, this thing is pretty good. The kicker is that it retails for under $100. At that price range, true bypass and warm analog distortion is definitely a feature set that should impress anyone. Of course this is all very subjective. You have to factor in your setup, taste, and playing style. That said, all things considered, it’s a strong pedal. I’m not too sure what the ’78 stands for. I guess I don’t really care, but I am curious.
The feature set is pretty standard stuff: Drive, Tone, Level. Done. There is a “Crunch” button that pretty much just gives you a noticeable amount of increased drive. There’s good interplay between drive and level, and you can get a kind of “plexi” drive with the level way up and the drive down a bit. This setting offers more headroom and clarity, yet less of the juice. For a more saturated sound, do the opposite: more drive and less level.
Anyone who knows anything is aware that with the exception of those early ’80s plastic jobbies, MXR pedals are built like howitzers; stomp on ’em all you want; they hold up just fine. This company could certainly sit back on its heels and coast a bit as they are one of the bigger names and have a solid reputation. But, they’re smart; they keep up with the times and have just released a new distortion pedal that for its price range, is pretty damned solid.