Earlier this year, Josh Scott, founder of JHS Pedals, released a video on his YouTube Channel making a comparison of the Bad Monkey Overdrive to a whole host of sought-after overdrive pedals—including the much-revered and highly-priced KLON overdrive. The result revealed Digitech's 2004 budget overdrive pedal to sound exactly like a full-fat, original KLON. With rumblings of a reissue in the works from the good people at Digitech, Nick Jennison takes a closer look at the original Bad Monkey Overdrive to find out just how good this pedal truly is.
So, because of the aforementioned viral video, the value of the (currently out of production) Digitech Bad Monkey temporarily shot up...way up—with people allegedly listening to them for up to £700 on sites like reverb.com. There's even a story about one of Gary Moore's Bad Monkey pedals being listed for somewhere between 5k-10k on the internet. You can do the searches yourself if you want to find the original source; allegedly, the guitar gear community went bananas for a few weeks. Tons of YouTubers took to their cameras as if this was the biggest controversy in the history of human society.
What this story does point to, however, is how susceptible we all are to hype, mythology and dogma around things like gear. Understandably so, most of us are aspiring to hone our tone. We want to find the right pedals and gear. We can find ourselves wanting the perfect answer. But that's just not possible. Most of these bits of gear become legendary because of the ears of the people who originally used them, not necessarily because of the gear themselves.
I have bought gear in the past, and I may also buy gear in the future based on recommendations. It helps cut out a lot of the noise. Gear companies know exactly what we musicians are like; they know we're seeking something, they know all the words, and they know the right people to tell us those words. This is not to necessarily bash the companies; they are trying to make their livelihood, and they support the music industry and musicians. But I feel this whole story and what Josh Scott has highlighted is to remember that ultimately, we are the instrument; our ears and taste ultimately should tell us what we like or don't like. It's easy to put off the practice in place of waiting for the 'perfect' pedal and never get around to making any sound.
My work here for Guitar Interactive Magazine is reviewing gear, and I hope that I help make people make their own decisions. It's not really possible to be 100% objective; I have my own experience, ears and playing style. You're also going to hear the gear used in a certain way, dependent on my interpretation of the gear, the studio set up and the weather outside. So this is a reminder to me and anyone who finds themselves on reverb.com after every new YouTube clip by some Gear Channel to just pause and look at all the lovely gear you have already. You get to write the book!
So with all this said, the Bad Monkey is a Tube Screamer-style overdrive. However, it's got a Bass and Treble control. It's also green. I personally remember first seeing one of these on Andy James's pedalboard on a LickLibrary video many years ago. It was a budget overdrive that did what it said on the tin. Andy made it work, and it seems lots of other professional and aspiring professional musicians alike have made it work.
In the video that accompanies this Retrospective look at the Bad Monkey, I take the pedal through several different pedal and amp situations that I'd personally use it in. And I'd hope you agree; it does what it says on the tin; it's a great pedal! Thankfully they've gone back down to a reasonable price, so you can check one out for yourself. If I'm totally honest, I didn't even watch any of the videos when they came out. Trust your nervous system. If you like it and it doesn't fall apart or fall below electrical regulation standards, then it works!
For more information, please visit: