In the world of rock guitar, you can never have too many effects pedals. Especially distortion pedals. Guitar players talk about distortion the way wine drinkers talk about wine. One pedal has “a brittle edge with a sweet undertone.” Another features “boosted mids and a smooth top-end.” One pedal pairs well with a vintage tube combo amp, while another goes better with a modern head and half-stack. Some players prefer the mystery and mojo of vintage gear, some the promise of the latest technology. Boutique (think craft-brewed) or mass-produced? It’s all part of the quest for that often elusive quality guitar players call “tone”— an admittedly vague word for that “just right” mix of sound, vibe and feel that gets heads banging, fists pumping and goose bumps, um, bumping.
The folks at Dunlop Manufacturing understand this all too well, and in a moment of perfect product positioning have responded with the aptly named Custom Badass line of pedals: an ever-expanding lineup delivering custom-shop sounds at a reasonable cost. Last year saw the release of the ’78 Distortion, a deliciously mysterious name that alludes to either a vintage pedal from that year or the 1978 debut of Edward Van Halen’s now legendary “brown sound”. Either association is good, and most reviews say the pedal lives up to its cagey moniker. Following in the ’78’s footsteps is the Modified Overdrive, again offering custom shop allure on a mass-market scale. Of course, great sound ultimately comes down to the player, but one thing players of every skill level share is a love of new gear. Kudos to Dunlop and MXR for not only knowing their market, but for positioning their products so perfectly within it, from design to naming to final execution.