MXR’s new Randy Rhoads signature distortion pedal has been revealed and it looks very cool. The bad news? It’s been delayed until mid-spring

Randy Rhoads, live onstage in Chicago, 1982, playing his polka-dot 1979 Karl Sandoval custom V
(Image credit: Paul Natkin/WireImage)

NAMM 2024: MXR’s new signature distortion pedal for the late, great Randy Rhoads has been revealed, but fans of the metal guitar icon will have to wait just a little bit longer to add it to their pedalboards because it has been delayed to mid-spring.

There are no details of the circuit and spec of the Randy Rhoads Distortion+ but we do know that Jim Dunlop co-developed the pedal with the former Ozzy Osbourne guitarist’s sister, Kathy Rhoads D’Argenzio, with the guitar effects pedal specialist given access to Rhoads’ infamous ‘chip pan’ pedalboard to see exactly what was going on under the hood of the pedal.

Those details are all to be confirmed, but the hood itself is a talking point in its own right, with the pedal resplendent in a black-and-white polka dot finish to match Rhoads’ iconic custom 1979 Karl Sandoval V-style electric – a lovely touch on a pedal whose design has had Rhoads D’Argenzio’s input from the get-go.

“I personally got to design and choose every detail alongside Jimi Dunlop [Jimmy Dunlop],” wrote Rhoads D’Argenzio on Instagram. “I can honestly say how proud I am of the finished results!” 

There was hope – an expectation even – that we might see this pedal in time for NAMM 2024, but when posted a sneak preview of the prototype, Rhoads D’Argenzio, forwarded a statement from Jimmy Dunlop explaining that there was still a little work to be done before it was ready.

“Due to unforeseen circumstances the MXR Distribution+ [sic] is delayed until mid-spring,” said Dunlop. “We know a lot of you are excited about this release and wanted to keep you updated. We wanted to dial it in just right, and we appreciate your patience for just a bit longer.”

In the comments, Rhoads D’Argenzio was coy on the details of the pedal. Those could come in good time. But reading between the lines, what Dunlop said was telling, because it would appear to the be case that this new Rhoads signature pedal is more than just another Distortion+ with a fresh paint job. 

If the R&D department is burning the midnight oil dialling something in, it suggests that they are taking a forensic approach in replicating its circuit – just the thing you need to take your over the mountain with that super-hot Friday night metal tone that made Rhoads such an exhilarating player.

The controls, however, look reassuringly familiar. Part of the MXR Distortion+’s appeal is its plug-in-and-play setup, with just two dials for Output and Distortion. No need to dig out the manual. We can’t wait to give it a spin. Not long now.

MXR has already made a strong start to 2024 with the release of the Joshua Ambient Echo, a delay pedal that immediately makes us think U2 and the Edge, and one that’s described as “a tonal recipe expertly concocted for those who seek atmospheric perfection” and which in use sounds more than capable of handling all your quotidian delay needs, and for designing more outré ambient electric guitar sounds. See Jim Dunlop for more details.

Jonathan Horsley

Jonathan Horsley has been writing about guitars and guitar culture since 2005, playing them since 1990, and regularly contributes to MusicRadar, Total Guitar and Guitar World. He uses Jazz III nylon picks, 10s during the week, 9s at the weekend, and shamefully still struggles with rhythm figure one of Van Halen’s Panama.