You've Been A Bad Monkey

One of the best things about being a guitar player is having access to effects pedals. They're interesting, colorful, they open up lots of new sounds, and if you know how to turn the knobs just right, they can really help you sound better and more polished.

They also are inexpensive enough (usually, that is - more on that in a minute) that you can swap them in and out of your rig without spending the kind of money that you spend on guitars and amps. And with all these guitarists swapping them back and forth on the eBay, Craigslist and used gear markets, you can get lost in a whole world of awesome, dirt cheap entertainment!

As you move up the scale, however, from the garden variety (up to around $100) effects to the more pricey pedals (up to around $400), it gets harder to think that way. Those effects are usually either for the professionals, or for people with very specific and demanding needs, or for the “gear snobs”. Multi-effects units can get even pricier, but since they are combining various effects into one unit, the price per virtual effect is usually pretty low. Plus, they eliminate the need for all the interconnect cabling, power supplies, velcro, pedalboards, etc.

But then, there's the top tier. The ultra-hyped “effects of the rock stars” that go from trendy to ridiculously overpriced cult status in a matter of just weeks, days, and sometimes even hours.

I had one of those pedals once. A gray DOD Overdrive 250 that I was going to put out at the curb, literally, because I never cared for the way it sounded. But my son told me to look at eBay, because “You never know”. He was right, because in looking into it, it turns out that about 98% of those DOD pedals were canary yellow, but 2% were gray. The gray one had recently been endorsed by one of the shred-meister guitar gods, a guy named Yngwie Malmsteen. He considered it to be essential to get his tone. eBay was on fire, with all the Yngwie wannabes clamoring for the gray DOD 250. I got $350 for a pedal I paid 70 bucks for in 1985.

It gets better. An original Klon Centaur overdrive in good shape can get you up to $8000.  There are other high-dollar cult pedals too. Some fade out almost as fast as they get trendy. Others, like a first-generation Ibanez Tube Screamer (think Stevie Ray Vaughan) or a Dallas Arbiter Fuzz Face (Jimi Hendrix), a Solo Sound Tone Bender (probably the ugliest effects pedal ever made), can get you nearly there too.

And then there's the Digitech Bad Monkey. Hated by countless guitar players everywhere, and considered to be just a toy for noob players who didn't know any better, it was shown a few weeks ago in a video by Josh Scott, of JHS Effects, who is possibly the best authority on guitar effects in the world. Scott did a YouTube video which demonstrated how, with the right knob-turning and nothing else, he could make a Bad Monkey sound nearly identical to a Tube Screamer, a Fulltone OCD, and yes, even the vaunted Klon Centaur. He was so convincing that the prices for used Bad Monkeys shot up from around $30 to over $600. In a matter of MINUTES.

The hype didn't last long, but even now, 3 weeks later, the eBay “ask” prices are in the mid-$100 range, and the “sold” prices are around 70% of that. For a pedal that many guitarists called junk.

I'm gonna invent the P.T. Barnum Overdrive. It's gonna be a box with two connectors and a wire, and a switch that overlays your guitar's signal with the sound of a cash register.