Review: MXR Super Badass Distortion Pedal

It’s one thing to describe a pedal as super badass, but to actually name it Super Badass takes cojones muy grandes.

However, after guitarists play MXR’s new Super Badass Distortion, they’ll find it hard to think of any other words to describe this phenomenal pedal. It may be the best distortion pedal ever in the company’s long and illustrious history.


The first hint that the Super Badass is going to live up to its name is its totally classy silver metal-flake finish, which glitters but isn’t gaudy. But the most important feature—and one that takes the Super Badass into a league of its own—is its active EQ section, which provides separate bass, mid and treble controls that are tuned to frequency ranges ideal for almost any style of music. The distortion and output knobs let you dial in any tonal texture, from clean boost to super-saturated dirt.

The Super Badass also offers true-bypass switching, a jack for a center negative nine-volt DC adapter or power source, and mono 1/4-inch input and output jacks.


While most overdrive and distortion pedals provide only one or two really good sounds, the MXR Super Badass delivers an encyclopedia of incredible tones that are perfect for rock, blues, metal, punk and much more. With the distortion control all the way down and the output control at 12 o’clock and higher, the pedal produces a bold, beefy clean boost. The tone gets more crunchy as the distortion control is turned up to about 10 o’clock, and from there it proceeds into the glory and roar of harmonically rich, saturated distortion.

The EQ section is brilliantly voiced, providing an impressively vast range of tones with nary a bad sound to be found. Boosting the bass control makes the tone bigger but never flabby or farty, and when it’s turned down it never gets wimpy or too thin. The treble control covers a palette from dark (but not muddy) to razor sharp (but not piercing).

The mid control is where the magic resides, providing wonderfully boxy, vocal-like tones without annoying nasal overtones (think Brian May’s classic treble booster solo tones). With the distortion and mid controls all the way up and the bass and treble at noon, the pedal nails classic Boston tones, while maxing the bass and treble and minimizing the mid delivers Dimebag dementia. Even maximum distortion settings clean up as the guitar’s volume is backed down, and extraneous noise is nonexistent.

List Price $169.99
Manufacturer MXR,

Cheat Sheet

The EQ controls deliver an impressively wide range of tones, from classic-rock midrange crunch to scooped-mid metal roar.

The output control provides significant amounts of boost, while the distortion control offers a range of textures, including clean boost, tubey blues-style overdrive and sizzling saturation.

The Bottom Line

With its versatile EQ section and responsive, dynamic gain circuit, the MXR Super Badass is possibly the best distortion pedal that MXR has ever offered.

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month**

Join now for unlimited access

US pricing $3.99 per month or $39.00 per year

UK pricing £2.99 per month or £29.00 per year 

Europe pricing €3.49 per month or €34.00 per year

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Prices from £2.99/$3.99/€3.49

Chris Gill, Video by Paul Riario

Chris is the co-author of Eruption - Conversations with Eddie Van Halen. He is a 40-year music industry veteran who started at Boardwalk Entertainment (Joan Jett, Night Ranger) and Roland US before becoming a guitar journalist in 1991. He has interviewed more than 600 artists, written more than 1,400 product reviews and contributed to Jeff Beck’s Beck 01: Hot Rods and Rock & Roll and Eric Clapton’s Six String Stories.