If you dig the crunchy Marshall-inpsired tones of such music as Bad Company, Thin Lizzy, AC/DC, and Van Halen, then you’d be hard pressed to find a better pedal than the ’78 Distortion.
It would be easy for the Dunlop-owned MXR to simply use their name to rest on past accomplishments. After all, this is the company that gave us the Dyna Comp, Phase 90, and Disortion +. Not merely content to live in the past, though, MXR is pressing on with some exciting new designs that are inspired by the past, not just attempts to relive it. Such is the case with the Custom Badass ’78, which is a distortion pedal based on an era, not such much a specific pedal. This is a pedal meant to provide tones reminiscent of AC/DC, UFO, and Van Halen.
Enclosed in a standard MXR enclosure, the ’78 Distortion sports controls for Output, Tone, and Distortion, as well as a “Crunch” switch. The pedal offers a single input and output, on/off LED, and true bypass switching. The ’78 features a TI TLC2264 op amp, which is perhaps largely responsible for the pedal’s rich tones. I tested the ’78 with a reissue Fender Twin and a reissue Marshall JCM800 and was impressed with the pedal’s performance with both amps, but especially the Fender. It was like adding a rich distortion channel to an already loud and powerful clean tone. Engaging the Crunch switch further enhanced the pedal’s harmonic qualities, providing ringing overtones and improved definition. The pedal is wel balanced, with full midrange, tight lows, and sparkly highs. The Crunch switch only enhances the pedal’s already positive qualities.
If you dig the crunchy Marshall-inpsired tones of such music as Bad Company, Thin Lizzy, AC/DC, and Van Halen, then you’d be hard pressed to find a better pedal than the ’78 Distortion. It captures the raw energy of a raw era and squeezes it into a hot-rod red pedal.