The widely-praised MXR Custom Badass team has added a groundbreaking new member to its ranks: the Super Badass Distortion. The Custom Badass line’s previous designs—the award-winning ’78 Distortion and Modified O.D.—are suped-up versions of classic circuits for players who want a premium, high quality take on those specific tones. The Super Badass is a different beast entirely.
With a completely new circuit design and specially-tuned Bass, Mid, and Treble controls, the Super Badass is a distortion pedal that provides unparalleled versatility to players who want a more personalized sound.
So how does this distortion pedal stand apart from the rest? Check out our interview with Dunlop Senior Engineer Bob Cedro and Dunlop guitar gurus Bryan Kehoe and Frank Aresti about conception and design of the pedal.
What goal were you trying to achieve when you started this project?
Frank Aresti: We wanted a distortion pedal that could run the gamut from ’70s rock to modern day metal, and we wanted it to nail every sound in that spectrum. Bob Cedro made that happen and then some. This is not a generic-sounding “jack of all trades, master of none” pedal. It’s a different kind of distortion pedal—different from anything we’ve ever done and different from anything else out there.
Bob, how did you make that happen?
Bob Cedro: The Super Badass owes its versatility to two elements: its gain circuitry and its EQ section. It’s got a ton of pre-distortion circuit gain on tap—up to 60dB. At lower gain settings, the pedal’s circuitry reconfigures the frequency response to bring out the presence and clarity of your guitar tone. Lower settings give you an organic, dry-like overdrive. Crank it and you get super saturation.
Bryan Kehoe: Yes—that versatility blew me away. I haven’t seen any pedals out there that display this wide of a range. Cleanish boost, bluesy overdrive, all out metal—the Super Badass sounds like it was specifically designed for any sound you dial-in.
BC: Exactly, that was the idea. And that brings us to the other important element: the EQ section. Rather than a single Tone control, I went with separate Bass, Mid, and Treble controls and tuned them for a very high level of sensitivity.
FA: Each of of those controls is completely responsive across its entire range. The Bass knob goes from tight and focused to huge and pounding, and the Treble goes from smoky to searing while always sounding musical. The Mid control perfectly complements both. These controls really let you give the distortion your own character and personality.
BK: And that’s really what this pedal is about. Can you use it as a multi-purpose distortion box? Absolutely, but it’s so much more than that.
What type of player would be most interested in this pedal? Blues? Hard rock? Shredder?
BK: Roots guys and rock guys, metal guys and country guys, blues, indie and shoe gazing guys—they’ll all dig it.
FA: Weekend warriors in cover bands, aspiring guitar heroes, the Super Badass is for players of any level and playing situation. It gives you a high level of control, but it’s also very easy to use.
What’s the best way to use this pedal? Any particular guitar and amp setup? Will it sound good with active pickups?
FA: We tested the Super Badass with both single coils and humbuckers, with Strats and Les Pauls, and with active and passive pickups. We made sure it sounded great with any combination.
As for amps, we designed this pedal with a clean amp in mind. It sounds great as a clean boost in front of a dirty amp, but mostly we wanted to give players massive control at their feet, where they can tweak each variable to their tastes, independent of any amp grit.
BK: I’m really digging this pedal with a Les Paul through a pushed Marshall type amp. Slamming the input with a bunch of gain and volume, pushes the amp to a great gain stage, a la EVH!
Check out our awesome demos of the MXR Super Badass below, and then go get one for yourself and put the whole range of distortion at your feet, from organic amp-like overdrive to full-on saturation.