Zvex pedals are among the most interesting musical toys. Zvex effects are innovative, wacky and weird. In the right hands, they can bring a quirky guitarist to the level of genius.
Models such as the Box of Rock and Fuzz Factory can provide some familiar tones, yet also some very unique tones as well. More odd effects such as the Fuzz Probe, Machine and Lo Fi Loop Junky provide the imagination with a creative spark. The Johnny Octave, Super Hard-On, Super Duper 2 in 1, Ooh Wah, Ringtone, Octane, Seek Wah, Seek Trem, Tremorama, Wah probe and Tremolo probe are favorites as well.
Popular Zvex Effects
Zvex Fuzz Factory
Whether you pick up a Vexter (affordable) or hand-painted (more pricey) Fuzz Factory, this five-knob monster of a fuzz uses two N.O.S. 1960’s germanium transistors (just like a Fuzz Face). But, the comparisons stop there…the circuit is not modeled after any classic or vintage fuzz pedal design. The controls (Volume, Gate, Compression, Drive & Stab) control various operating levels and biases (although don’t put too much stock into the names). What the Zvex is best at is helping you shape a personalized avant-garde fuzz tone. Guitarists after more classic tones should shy away, however more adventurous guitarists like Nels Cline (of Wilco) absolutely swear by the pedal’s unique tones.
Bottoms up! The Mastotron a freakin’ fuzz monster focsed on your low end. Some interesting features include an input impedance control (for use with passive pickups, active pickups, and producing a line-level signal for re-amping). Additional controls include a three-position “sub” switch, Tone, Pulse Width (offering square to narrow pulsations), and Fuzz (a depth control). Last but not least, it’s true bypass. Look at that thick blue paint!
Zvex Box of Rock
For Zachary Vex’s first real “distortion” pedal, he went after one of the highly sought after tones: a Marshall ® JTM45 non-master-volume amplifier cranked to 10 (or 11…if you’re a Spinal Tap fan). While Mike Fuller may advise the Plimsoul be used with small combo amps, Zachary advises you try the Box of Rock through a Marshall at least once. The guitar’s volume control can be used to adjust the amount of distortion, and an extremely high-headroom, quiet boost is available for kicking things up a notch (think of a warmer version of the SHO boost). Truly a modern classic.
Zvex Woolly Mammoth (not “Wooly”)
The ZVex Woolly Mammoth is a super fat bass fuzz effect pedal that sounds blisteringly touch sensitive with a guitar. With its ability to radically alter the harmonic structure, the Pinch knob is this pedal’s secret weapon…adjusting the pulse width of the waveform to provide loads of versatility. To the left, the waveshape is symmetrical (smooth tones). To the right (clockwise), the waveshape is narrowed into asymmetrical pulses, making the tone more abrasive and horn-like. Oh, and listen for the ghostly gating effects with this knob (you’ll know it when you try one). Other knobs include “Wool” (fuzz), EQ (tilts frequency response by increasing highs & mids, reducing lows as it’s turned up), and Output (volume).
Like the Mastrotron, The Zvex Distortron is also a Vextron pedal (thick paint, single silkscreen). As a direct descendent of the Box of Rock, this pedal also uses the Distortron Engine. Unique features include a Lo/Hi GAIN boost toggle for extra gain + a SUB toggle which oozes the original Box of Rock lower levels on setting 3, less subs at 2, and even more at 1. This helps to avoid flubby tones when using amps that are already bass-heavy. Zachary loves this pedal (thinks it’s one of his best), and suggests you try it last in your chain, feeding it everything and anything you can dream of since it stacks so well.
Zvex SHO (Super Hard On)
As a personal favorite of Six String Soul, and so many respected guitar players around the world, we’re proud to say that the Super Hard On is the perfect preamp pedal for guitar. The funky “Crackle Okay” knob is a volume knob dosed with secret sauce (a classic 1960’s “recording console” style negative-feedback control). Don’t worry when this knob crackles (that’s normal). The original purpose of this pedal was to revive the tone of deteriorated magnets in vintage guitar pickups (the SHO’s input impedance is so high and retains the optimal magnetic field around each string), the SHO has become a “always on” style tone conditioner/optimizer that guitarists use for a base tone. Whether you’re after a clean, crunchy, or distorted base tone…the Zvex SHO will make it more punchy, present and clear. One of the simplest, but greatest pedals on the planet.
What the hell is the Machine, you might ask? Good question. The scientific explanation is that it’s a “dual frequency-tripler circuit that uses crossover distortion” that generates distortion on the sloped portion of the signal wave The layman’s explanation is that it distorts your tone in the most unpleasant possible way…unless used with another gain pedal, and then its secrets are revealed. Used in conjunction with other overdrive/distortion/fuzz pedal, the Zvex Machine will give your tone more of an energetic grind that cuts through any obstacle in its way. Tip: Use Machine with higher gain distortions and fuzz pedals to get more usable tones. If you use this pedal by itself, it will make your ears bleed.
Essential Zvex Effects Pedal Links
Keep exploring back at the Guitar Effects Directory.