Bryan Kehoe in repose. (Dunlop stock photo)
Dunlop Chief Tonechaser Bryan Kehoe is a member of the official Custom Badass team, and has used the MXR Custom Badass ’78 Distortion and Modified O.D. in myriad settings, more than any pro on staff here at Dunlop. We asked him to let us in on some of his favorite setting secrets when using these two pedals, individually and together…
Enter to win an MXR Custom Badass ’78 Distortion & Custom Badass Modified Overdrive: Read the following piece, and use the comments section below to tell us about your favorite settings for distortion, overdrive, or using the two in tandem. We’ll choose one winner at random and announce tomorrow, then we’ll post a new opportunity to win in Dunlop’s 12 Days of Custom Badassmas Giveaway!
Before I jump right into this, please note: There are many ways to set up effects pedals — just as many ways as there are ears. There’s no textbook “right” way to do this, so I’m just presenting what generally works best for me. Oh, and you should know that I like it LOUD!
To demo some of the sounds possible from these two great effects, I set up in the Dunlop sound room with an early ’60s Fender Blonde Bassman head running through a 2×12 closed back cab loaded with Celestion Vintage 30s, and I set all the amp’s knobs at noon. This rig with these settings has a great tight response via the solid state recitfier, a nice understated kerrang, and cleans up nicely with the guitar’s volume turned down. It’s not very distorted, but it’s definitely not a pristinely clean sound either, especially using a stock Epiphone Les Paul. The whole signal chain and setup is a nice solid base at which to play with these pedals and dial in some favorite settings.
This amp just ate up the MXR Custom Badass Modified O.D. at these settings…
- Tone: 11 o’clock
- 100hz: 1:30
- Output: 5 o’clock (all the way up)
- Gain: 5 o’clock (all the way up)
- Bump: On
This particular setting has a great AC/DC type “crunch.” It’s articulate in the chords, allowing all of the notes to ring through clearly, and it’s nice for single note lead playing too. A very open and natural setting, it sounds very much like the amp itself with all the knobs dimed out.
With the Custom Badass ’78 Distortion, here are the settings I like best:
- Output: 1 o’clock
- Dist: 5 O’clock (all the way up)
- Tone: 9 o’clock
- Crunch: On
This setup achieves great, almost scooped-mid tone that’s very early thrash metal sounding — not too over-the-top with distortion, but a very pleasing punchy and crunchy distortion that really shines when playing a galloping rhythm, and provides a really nice, searing saturated lead tone as well.
When hooking up both the MXR Custom Badass pedals in tandem, I almost always prefer to have the least gain at the end of the chain — so I set up the ’78 Distortion before the Modified Overdrive. I like the openness of the O.D. after the bigger, more square wave signal of the Distortion. This way I can use the O.D. as a boost plus dirt. The Distortion pedal’s signal contains a lot of frequency information, and I’ve found that the subtle tonal information of the OD gets lost in the Distortion.
However, a lot of players like the OD to slam into the input of the Distortion to give it more girth, which is not a bad way to go. I just prefer it the other way around.
These Custom Badass effect settings work for me with almost every rig I play through. I set up the Blonde Bassman much like I set up my own Dr. Z and Plexi because these are comparable rigs. As for amps like Mesa Boogie or Bogner, these are most often two-channel amps, and the types of players who use these are more apt to use the dirt from the amp and less likely to use a dirt pedal. However they may be inclined to use the Custom Badass Modified Overdrive just to get over the top, by using the OD to boost the output: Set the Gain at around noon, keep the 100hz flat at noon, and dial in the tone to taste. This way, the pedal provides a bit of a boost with some gain, and more importantly, focuses the mids to punch through the mix on solos or single note lines.
The 12 Days of Custom Badassmas Giveaway fine print: This giveaway is open only today, Thursday December 20, only to players in the United States. One (1) winner will be chosen each day during this promotion. Only one (1) entry will be accepted daily from each individual entrant. Each day’s winner will be chosen at random and announced the following day. This giveaway promotion will end on Monday December 24th, we will announce the final winner, and any other pending unannounced winners, on Wednesday December 26th.