The Bad Monkey Overdrive pedal by Digitech, is probably one of the most famed and well-known cheapo pedals out there, but funnily enough it polarizes a Lot of guitarists, and in some cases quite vehemently too.
The problem with the Digitech Bad Monkey is that, for about $45 or so, it actually sounds very, very good! You see, because some guitarists invest $200+ on a boutique pedal, they often feel obliged to defend their investment (who can blame them?) and the Tone Wars continue!
Digitech used to be known as DOD and they do have some pretty cool gear, but unfortunately they are not known for being a high-end company.
Perhaps having ‘Digi‘ in their company name doesn’t help, making them sound all digital and cheap or something, maybe if they changed their name to, ‘AnalTech‘ it might make them sound all Analog and high-end and pure…;-)
Okay, enough waffle… The Digitech Bad Monkey is a pretty straight forward pedal, finished in green, with controls being…
So straight up this is a TS9 Tube Screamer type pedal with the usual mid hump that you get with these pedals. But the thing is with this pedal, it gives you some extra tone sculpting features so you can raise the Lows a bit, or give the Highs a bit more sparkle which can help iron out that hump that some guitarists don’t like.
One common complaint about the pedal is that it is not true bypass. Some feel that it dampens the tone a bit and reduces the sparkle of the highs. But really, who can tell, because this may depend on the amp you are running into, speakers and interplay with other pedals.
An interesting side note is Pete Thorn (a wonderful session guitarist who does great clips on YouTube) demoed a heap of samples showing the difference between true bypass, buffered pedals, long and short cables etc… and he was of a professional opinion (and he is a pro) that it is very hard to tell if there were any real noticeable differences between these variables.
Like a lot of things in the guitar world, we tend to make mountains out of mole hills and focus on the small tiny details and then go and pay $150 extra to give us that 5% extra in tone!
I played the Bad Monkey live for about 3 years, and it was great. It had Rich thick lead tones when pushed, it was as reliable as a Russian tank and it also sounded great on low OD as well as when it was pushed hard.
I think the pedal’s sweet spot is with the gain just under half way, the Low about half way and the High at about 3/4, as I like the lead / OD tone to cut through and compensate for any tone suck that this pedal is reported to have.
I also used a Behringer 7 band EQ pedal (another $50 pedal) to add in any of those extra frequencies I wanted, and I would also chuck on some reverb or delay, and I was very happy with my set up.
Personally I think that for the price, especially if you find one second-hand (you can get them for as low as $25), you just can’t go wrong, even if you use it as a booster pedal or low gain to help drive a Muff pedal or something.
I have had the most fun using some cheap gear, and the DigiTech Bad Monkey is one pedal I would definitely consider again!