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MXR M78 Custom Badass '78 Distortion Pedal Reviews

4.5 stars based on 27 customer reviews
Questions about the MXR M78 Custom Badass '78 Distortion Pedal?

Questions about the MXR M78 Custom Badass '78 Distortion Pedal?

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  • from Alameda Ca. November 27, 2016

    Nothing beats it, period.

    After consulting my rep Andy about two or three pedals, I went for the '78. Four years and several pedals later and I'm still in love with this thing. What you probably don't see in the pictures, when you open the box, you see what appears to be a brushed metal enclosure finished with clear cherry red lacquer - pretty darned classy. This is for people who already love the sound of their guitars and amps but want an "11", or even a "15" setting for your amp whether you have channel switching or not. No tube Screamer mid bump, so if that's your bag, look elsewhere but this does have a subtle tone coloration, more of a "sheen" than a boosted frequency - hard to describe, but it makes it hard at times to turn it off instead of just back the guitar's volume down. The "crunch" button doesn't seem to do anything at all, although I've read different explanations of what it actually does, but as far as I'm concerned it just engages an obnoxious blue L.E.D. (I hate those) that makes it impossible to see your settings. And yes, there is a hint of a "'78" Marshall tone coloration, just to add a bit of garlic to the sauce but not enough to get in the way, not like the boutique pedals designed to imitate classic amps and BE your tone. It's okay at doing the clean boost thing, but that's not what it's built for - don't forget it says "Distortion" right on it. A great, great pedal.

  • from Fort Wayne December 24, 2015

    I love it

    I've never owned a distortion pedal, really have never had any effects pedals. I have a crate gfx65, and the distortion on the amp itself is either not enough on crunch or wayyy too much on overdrive. This pedal through the clean channel is what I'm after, good, articulate distortion without taking it too far. Nice thing about having Sweetwater within ten minutes of the house, I can buy and play the same day!

  • from Wichita Falls TX October 20, 2015

    Really Rocks!!!

    This pedal rocks sounds so good plays everything bluesy and hard rock from ACDC to ZZ TOP it really makes the sound come alive rather than some pedals don't sound like a plexi amp

  • from Omaha, NE September 16, 2015Music Background:

    Just as it's name implies!

    Before this pedal, my favorite mxr drive/distortion box was the GT-OD. I really hated this pedal at first. I could not quite get a good sound out of it. As I am leaning towards getting a Blackstar HT METAL 100 amp, something was beckoning me to just break out the red badass in front.

    Turns out this is a monster of an overdrive/distortion pedal! There is a learning curve with this, though. As you increase the drive, it is best to turn down the tone. It's kind of a balancing act, but once you get used to it this pedal will sound great. Otherwise, it will sound very shrill, unmusical and piercing! It's meant to be a more amplike version of the distortion +. The addition of the crunch knob definitely cuts down on the fizz and adds much more body to the tone.

    Needless to say, I am impressed with this lil red hot rod. It will now be my main overdrive pedal, as it just screams when you are playing leads and solos. This is, by far, one of the best distortion pedals I have ever demoed and it will definitely end up on my board and replace the GT-OD!

  • from Oklahoma City, OK July 1, 2015


    I have used literally every overdrive/distortion pedal on the planet. I can say without a doubt that this pedal is full of nasty gritty grungy sort of distortion in other words in ROCKS!

  • from Jefferson,OH USA August 2, 2014Music Background:
    little bit of everything

    pretty versatile

    This is my first distortion pedal and I must say this pedal is outstanding for the money.With the Tone knob at 1:00 , the Dist. knob at 10:00 , Output at 8:00 and the amp's settings all at 12:00 sounds like a really good OD pedal.Now the Dist. knob all the way the Tone knob turn back to 9:00 and the thing ROARS!!! I've had this pedal for about a month and half to get different tones out of it,but when I received it on very first day I was blown away.

  • from Hercules, CA December 16, 2013Music Background:

    Just like the name it's "Badass"

    This was exactly what I was looking for in a distortion pedal. It has the growl and the punch and is one of the pedals that inspires.

  • from BKLYN, NY April 4, 2013

    Harmonically Rich!!!

    The '78 Distortion pedal is one if the best distortion pedals made by one of the best pedal makers. It has a very harmonically rich sound that warms up beautifully on the low end of the tone. The high trebly part of the tone spectrum is pleasantly high without losing tonal character or becoming shrill. Turning on the "crunch" button takes away some of tonal transparent qualities of the pedal and replaces it with a bit of a boost (not too much) and adds a lot of tonal color. This pedal sounds great with humbuckers and single-coils alike. For me, the pedal sounds especially well with the tone at 10 o'clock with a maple neck, alder body strat. It brings out a beautiful warm "woody" character. The distortion turned all the way up is very very smooth without "flattening" or squashing the tone. The construction of the pedal is solid. It's a nice looking pedal too. I have owned and played several distortion pedals over the years and this one is one of the best and is a really great value for the money!!

  • from Miami, Fl. USA January 9, 2013

    Badass '78 Distortion Pedal

    My boyfriend loves everything retro so this was an ideal gift for him. He loved it!

  • from Caracas, Venezuela October 18, 2012Music Background:
    Playing guitar for 6+ years

    This is crunch

    This is the best distortion pedal that ever pased through my hands, and lately i have the chance to compare this to a zvex distotron, a digitech hardwire valve distortion and another mxr, the GT-OD and this one beats them all, (and if you compare the prices is even better) if you want to get classic rock, hard rock distortion or just some boost ... this is it !!!!

    Thanks to Jorge Fernandez, my sales engineer for the fantantic job that he does, he was always there to answer the questions that i have

  • from Philadelphia, PA August 18, 2012Music Background:
    Drummer, new guitar player.

    Billy B. "Doc" Brice

    I am not real big on distortion and my Mesa amp does the job.
    But wow, this little, and inexpensive pedal blows you away with the
    great distortion sounds and ease of adjustment to dial in exactly want
    you want and need. No-brainer, look no further...get one.

  • from July 26, 2012Music Background:


    If you like Blues or southern rock this pedal is sweet.

  • from West Chicago IL December 8, 2011Music Background:
    Active muusician, Blues and Rock to Jazz and Country to.

    A True Sound Maker

    I have been playing for over 30 years and this is the first Distortion pedal ive found that really gives you a sound you can make your own any overdrive you put in front of it will help to add o the badass sound. Or go it alone without and you still will make a sound all your own this pedals controls are very reactive to change. Move the tone up and you get a screeeming lead tone move it back and your in blues love land. The badass is the first pedal where every control really makes a different. The price is very good not low like the boss ds1 which i still think is like playing thru a tin can and if thats what you want thats fine. But when your ready to move up to a pedal that will help you shape your own sound this is it. I cant wait to see what else MXR has in line but they have done a great job here dont spend 200 or 300 on pedals that will leave you broke and asking where the sound the Badass is the pedal for you give it a try you will like great job MXR keep it up.

  • from United States November 30, 2011Music Background:
    Recording Engineer, Pro Musician - 28 Years

    Fantastic Tone!

    I've spent too much money on pedals just trying to find the right tone for myself. I know the typical pedals that sound great, but wanted to try something unique. I am very particular about my tone. This pedal literally blew my mind man! It doesn't matter what your settings are! There are so many tonal options with this pedal it's fantastic! I bought this and plugged it into a '48 Gibson Amplifier with a '52 Telecaster and it smoked! Next, I used the Gibson SG - and it smoked! If you play nice and soft, the pedal responds nice and soft. Really get into your thing and the pedal will sing for you! I'm more of an overdrive guy, but this is definitely worth having! I think it's a must for anyone for any style. Dig it man!

  • from New Mexico October 28, 2011Music Background:
    New Student.

    Great little Pedal...

    This little pedal is great, Gives great tones. It nails ac/dc to van halen to def lep. Has real clean tones to dirty but not to muddy higher gain distortion tones. A versatile pedal too But stays in check on your lower notes also. Plays great with seymour duncans. Or any les paul style guitars. It's not a metal zone type pedal or a fullbore. It is a little more inspired by old school distortion sounds on countless records. I was playing bad company all the way to early style whitesnake with ease. It's another pedal where they nailed the distortion sounds of early rock and roll. Thin Lizzy would be proud! I love it, it's fun and different! If your a strummer it is great for chords! It is gaining ppopularity and has great reviews in most mags and online shops!

  • from Novi, MI July 7, 2011Music Background:
    Hobbyist, Semipro Musician

    Blown away at a very reasonable price

    This pedal does what it needs to do and more. I own at least 6 OD pedals and have never been able to click with a Distortion, but this one gives me so much control I can go from blues to full blown distortion rock with the twist of a knob. The price coupled with the versatility makes it a must have pedal for any tone junkie like me.

  • from Ladera Ranch, CA USA June 17, 2011Music Background:

    Very Versatile

    There is a tremendous amount of versatility with this pedal. Each adjustment can have a significant impact on the overall tone and effect. From classic rock to 80's metal, this pedal can cover it.

  • from June 14, 2011

    Great pedal and great service!

    Great sounding pedal! I bought it to get that Randy Rhoads plexi type of tone out of my little Classic 30. I did more then that! This is like having all of your favorite tones ever at your feet. Sweetwater is also the only place I will buy from now! They got this to me in a week, and even a thank you note/pamphlet in the box with it, along with free candy! Thank you!!!!!!

  • from Alameda Ca. June 6, 2011Music Background:
    Gigging guitarist, bassist, vocalist for 40 years

    Who'da thought?

    I'v been trolling the net for a distorton/overdrive because I have two pedal boards. One, "The Mothership", with large fairly pricey pedals, some with two footswitches etc. and a small one, "The Spaceshuttle" with mostly MXR sized suff that fits into a lap-top bag. This one had an Electro Harmonix LPB-1 as a lead button and it worked real well with my Vox AC30C2 ut was very noisy. Also I wanted to add some OD to the boosted signal. The MXR '78 is a GREAT pedal that left my expectations i the dust! With a strat and Les Paul special with P-100's it lays itself down beautifully in the sound of the Vox with more fire power than I'll ever use. People these days expect a dist/OD to also searve as a clean boost which is silly. If it says "distortion" right on it, so judge it as one. Well this box does that too - I consider that a bonus. The distortion sounds natural as can be whether the Vox is crunchy or clean. On an almost clean setting on the vox and the '78's dist at 4:00, tone at 12 and output at 9:00-careful, there's a bigger jup in volume with a clean amp-my Les Paul really get that '70's Brit tone in spades. Add more amp crunch an "5" the knobs for a great Americana Strat grind, only with a juicy power pnch for leads that supports that tone instead of changing it. On a dead clean '78 Deluxe Reverb - yep the CBS engineers got to it by then, sadly - crank the Dist for a satiny overdrive that sounds like a real amp. Maybe just leave it on for the whole gig but careful, this got some volume and treble that'll take your head off. And it does all this wit a minimum of noise (applause....)!! I was prompted to buy this 'cause of the Dunlop video, and it sounds 20 times as good in person - and the price is half of a Fulltone OCD or Plimsoul. Who'd've thought I'd be nuts over an MXR when I never look at thier stuff twice, never cared for any of thier old stuff. They say it's first of the Badass series? I CAN'T WAIT to see what comes next. STELLAR job, MXR!

  • from New England May 15, 2011Music Background:

    The next step up from the Yellow MXR Distortion+!!!!!

    Two years ago, I bought the yellow MXR Distortion+ which I love, but I often felt it was a little anemic. When I heard that MXR was introducing the Custom 78 I was very intrigued by it. I plugged it in today and WOW! I hit a power A chord following one of the suggested settings in the manual (with the crunch button off) and it was like my yellow Distortion + box was finally pushed the way I always wanted it to sound. Add the crunch button and I was pushed into the stratosphere. The only thing I noticed is that with the crunch button on, my EVH wah pedal tends to be drowned out, but without the crunch button, the wah wah really sings. I think I might have to adjust the tone knob a little to make it go the way I want but I know anything is possible with all my other MXR pedals (EVH wah, Classic Overdrive, EVH Phaser, EVH Flanger, MicroChorus) to make it work!

    Everything about the pedal from the candy apple red box to the name lives up to the stellar MXR standard! If you are looking for classic tight hard rock distortion along the lines of vintage VH, Aerosmith, KISS, Guns N Roses, Thin Lizzy, vintage Ozzy (think Rhoads) Dio era Black Sabbath (think Mob Rules) and a countless list of other bands of the seventies and early eighties, then this is the pedal to get!

  • from Kalamazoo, MI June 14, 2012Music Background:
    Recording Engineer

    Fantastic Pedal

    It is like two of the best distortion pedals in one box.
    Just using the basic controls you get a great buttery distortion,
    perfect from adding a bit of dirt to your rhythm parts to a singing
    lead tone. String to string clarity is amazing and chords sound
    full and powerful, not muddy. Add the drive button and your dynamics
    really pop and leads really have a full bodied tone. This pedal isn't
    priced like a boutique item, but it could be. It is a great pedal.

  • from north pole September 12, 2011Music Background:
    i am suppose to ay

    A Reiussed classic tone, not in every pedal.

    This badass fits its name. In a world were everyone wants a fat srv tone, its approachable here. Typical guitarist will tend to view it as a regular sounding OD. But if you really compare it to the greats you can hear a hot rodded maxon OD808. Now this Isn't one of those dist boxes that is super smooth; dial in water tone u can think of (typical guitarist that wants one pedal to do everything). IT'S A COMPLEMENT DIST BOX. Not to mention if you have a CLEAN AMP!!!!! You can sure get nice Tubey stray tones by tweaking your amp and this pedal. The crunch button is phenomenal if used right don't be cliche and try dimeing the help out of it, you'll get a fuzz arbiter thin sound OD sound. Overall it's Good at what it does compliment your tone by giving you a full stack sound.

  • from Huntington Beach, CA USA August 20, 2011Music Background:
    ex-Pro musician, nowadays a serious hobbyist

    Great pedal for low price

    This pedal sounds alot like a Keeley-modified Boss DS-1, but with a little more botom end. With the crunch mode on, it's like flipping the switch to the Ultimate mode, with the increased volume and bottom end. The drive knob goes a long way before you start getting the super-saturated sounds, there are a lot of inbetween settings before the knob is turned all the way. Sounds good going into my Fender '59 Bassman RI and really good feeding into my '80's Fender Super Champ, with the mid-boost on on the normal channel, gain on 5-7, so the amp is just staring to break up. In any case a wide variety of usuable tones in this box, amp-like breakup, killer 70's distortion tones.

  • from Lewistown, PA January 30, 2015Music Background:
    Music teacher, weekend performer


    It does what it says it will do. Well made. Lots of fun to use

  • from San Antonio, TX April 1, 2014Music Background:

    MXR '78 Distortion

    I use distortion sparingly, and this pedal is perfect for anyone who does not have to have death metal. It gives you what you want without muddying your mix. Really well done pedal, and yes, if you want, it can blow you away. Great controls, great response. Well done, MXR!

  • from May 10, 2017

    Expected better

    Don't buy if you use high output pickups, stack another pedal before it or expect higher gain specially on a clean amp. Compresses/creates whammy like sound if input is driven hot (very sensitive) and its one of those pedals that hands single-coil much better than humbuckers.

    Boosts a pedal or amp very well (good harmonics), has a nice od sound when dist. knob set around 10.

  • from May 3, 2015

    nothing special, definitely not "badass"

    The videos made me think this pedal would be nothing short of amazing, but I was very disappointed when I plugged this pedal in. Looks pretty cool, good price, crap in a metal box. I had to have the distortion set from 3 o'clock to dimed out to get in the territory I was after. You know, the territory they got into in the demos. If I were to crank my amp to the point of breakup and then engage this pedal, it might actually be "badass" but I'm running all my pedals thru a clean amp with zero breakup, so this won't work. I would've given it 1 star, but I did get a nice sound out of it, just not what I was after. I wanted this to be my heavier overdrive. oh well. I went with the mesa throttle box. Now that is a "badass" distortion pedal that can be as tame as the eagles and bad company all the way to metallica.

Questions about the MXR M78 Custom Badass '78 Distortion Pedal?

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