While the Super Badass lives up to its name on the basis of the savage distortion and authoritative overdrive that’s on tap, it’s the powerful EQ that makes this pedal truly badass.

MXR isn’t shy about throwing its weight around in the high-gain game: The pedal-pioneering company has released a multitude of savage stompboxes that have helped metal heroes shape their signature tones—going as far back as Randy Rhoads and on up to Zakk Wylde, Dillinger Escape Plan, and My Chemical Romance. And though the company’s classic early distortions had minimal knobs for simpler control, MXR has of late proven that it isn’t afraid to break the mold: Its new generation of crunch machines tend to be bedecked with EQ controls, mid scoops, noise gates, and boost switches.

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In addition to its super-small footprint, the pedal features the new version of the PolyTune software with Capo Tuning and a massively requested Drop-D mode.

TC Electronic’s PolyTune polyphonic tuner is, in my opinion, one of the coolest tools out there for guitarists and bassists. Getting a good pedal tuner should take precedence over buying any other stompbox, and the PolyTune’s amazing accuracy, bright readout, and super-handy—and truly revolutionary—polyphonic tuning capabilities make it one of the clear winners in the pedal-tuner arena. But TC Electronic isn’t content to rest on their laurels, as evidenced by the company’s new PolyTune Mini—essentially a standard PolyTune model that’s shrunken for the space-conscious player.

Make no mistake: The PolyTune Mini is freaking tiny. Not so tiny that it’s difficult to see or use, but enough to turn a few heads when you break it out. It’s a hair shy of 4" long—noticeably smaller than the original PolyTune. Like its big brother, the Mini offers true bypass switching, but the switch has a smoother feel—gone is the clicking sound and feel of the switch in the first PolyTune.

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My $15 Arbor

It was around 6:30 a.m. and still dark, so I didn’t get a good look at the guitar, only what I could see with a flashlight.

1. Gold-plated tuners! 2. How about a triple-pickup guitar for about the cost of lunch? 3. Yup—that’s a big gouge. It looks like someone’s dog decided to take out its frustrations on this poor guitar. 4. The quilted maple “foto fl ame” isn’t what jazzes me about this guitar—it’s the sound and playability.  $0$0 $0 $0I love going to the flea market. There’s a pretty decent one about 15 minutes from my house and when I’m not out of town touring, I’m down there most weekends looking for interesting buys. I frequently see cheap guitars there and about six months ago this Arbor Strat copy caught my eye. It was around 6:30 a.m. and still dark, so I didn’t get a good look at the guitar, only what I could see with a flashlight. It didn’t have strings on it (usually a bad sign), so I had no way to tell about the action and neck alignment. The sellers wanted $20, but I talked them down to $15 on principle. I’m a bottom feeder.$0 $0When I got it home and examined the guitar, I discovered that the body had a nice, highly quilted maple pattern underneath a transparent cherry finish. Big deal. Probably a “foto flame” treatment that manufacturers frequently apply to Chinese guitars to make them look more expensive. Unfortunately I also noticed a huge gouge on the back, like a dog had chewed on it. Whoa! I figured I would just clean it up a little, slap on some strings, and sell it for a profit.$0 $0So I restrung it and made some minor adjustments on the bridge. Ready to go. But a funny thing happened when I started playing this guitar—I couldn’t put it down! After about an hour, I said to myself, “Will, what are you thinking? You can’t sell this. This thing plays great!”$0 $0I mean, it had a nice, super-lightweight body, killer comfortable rosewood neck with meaty frets, and gold-plated hardware. “Well,” I reasoned, “it’ll probably sound terrible through an amp.” But after plugging into several amps, it sounded every bit as good as it played. In fact, if I had to compare this to one of my Fenders, the closest one would be my old ’62 Strat, which was refinished wine red and refretted with jumbo wire. So after a weekend of playing it, I decided the Arbor had to stay and I made space for it in my guitar room, next to my G&Ls and Fenders.$0 $0There is one downside to this guitar: The ball ends from most guitar strings get stuck in the trem block when you want to remove them and install a new set. But I keep a really long-shafted screwdriver on hand to poke out any stubborn ball ends whenever I restring the guitar.$0 $0So is it a keeper? Yep, chew marks and all. And for $15 it simply can’t be beat.$0 $0 $0 $0$0 $0 $0Will Ray is a founding member of the Hellecasters guitar-twang trio. He also does guitar clinics promoting his namesake G&L signature model 6-string, and produces artists and bands at his studio in Asheville, North Carolina. You can contact Will on Facebook and at willray.biz. $0 $0