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Malden Bad Karma review

A new single-cut from Malden, offering a slightly tweaked take on a classic design

  • £599
The Bad Karma is a subtle twist on the classic single-cut outline

Our Verdict

Yet another brand name enters the single-cut fray with style. If you're into rock and need a versatile, well-made axe, add the Bad Karma to your list.


  • A credible take on a guitar icon. Beefy classic rock voice.


  • Despite the altered shape, it's still highly derivative.

Single-cuts rule at the moment, and this is one of the smartest ‘it´s a Les Paul but not as we know it´ types we´ve seen in a while. Could it be something special?

There´s more than a touch of a modern rock ESP vibe to the matt black finish, gold parts and vintage-style binding, but the shape of the arched all-mahogany body - slightly squatter and boasting squarer angles when compared to the good old Les Paul - is all Malden´s own.

Electrics come courtesy of a pair of Malden´s own custom wound humbuckers loaded with spanky Alnico V magnets, and each is splittable via the associated push-pull tone pot of the four knob control layout.

The 24.75-inch scale, 22-fret neck is flat and wide, not dissimilar to a Les Paul Classic 1960, which enables you to set a low action should you require. Indeed the Bad Karma offers very decent playability out of the box.


The bridge pickup´s tone is slightly darker than that of a Les Paul but not unattractively so - we´d suggest that, for classic rock at the harder end of the spectrum, the guitar is tonally spot on. Splitting either humbucker offers the usual choice of more subdued tones and combining the full bridge pickup with the split neck, for example, offers a tone that could pass for a beefed up Strat. Nice.