The Tone King Finds His Tone with Z.Vex Pedals

Z.Vex Pedals Shoot-Out

by Marc Johnson for 

To Zachary Vex of Z.Vex Effects pedals, every pedal is a work of art, and each pedal sounds as good as it looks. Offering many of their pedals in either the original hand painted enclosures or the Vexter Series versions, as well as the newer Vextron Series pedals, Z.Vex goes beyond esthetics with eclectic twists put to some of our favorite sounds.

After hearing about these guys, we here at The Tone King brought in some of their premier distortion pedals for a Shoot-Out.

The Box of Rock is Z.Vex’s first “distortion” pedal. It was created to recreate the sound of a JTM45 with everything pushed to 10. Most of the controls on the pedal aren’t anything unusual, but what is unusual is that, unlike many other distortion pedals where the knobs just seem to be eye-candy, the controls in the Box of Rock actually work. Any subtle manipulation of any of the controls really has a big effect on the sound. The big bonus on the Box of Rock, though, is that it contains a unity-to-50X gain booster with nominal input impedance and low hiss.

The Distortron is described as the “little sister” to the Box of Rock. It’s basically the same deal as the Box of Rock, except broken down a bit. It omits the Boost feature of its big brother and instead replaces it with a Sub-Switch and a Hi/Lo Gain switch.  The Sub-Switch lets you choose between a setting of (3), the same as on the Box of Rock, and two other lower levels of subs depending on the needs of your amp.

On its surface, we thought the Mastotron was a simple fuzz pedal, but then we saw all these crazy controls and knew we were wrong. Like the Distortron, the Mastotron has a Sub-Switch, but it also has a Relax/Push knob that lets you control weather your signal goes in to the pedal raw or whether there is an impedance to soften it. This is killer for people with active pickups that sound too harsh. The coolest thing is a Pulse Width control gives you control over a square wave to more of a narrow pulse. 

The Box of Metal is simply a beast. Like its namesake states, it’s an aggressive high-gain pedal with a true bypass switch. Probably the best feature is the switchable gate, which has its own settings that can be changed with the turn of a knob.

In addition to pedals, Z.Vex has one of the worlds smallest tube amps. Stay tuned for more from The Tone King on that one! From what we’ve seen so far, Z.Vex definitely knows what they are doing with pedals. With original controls, every pedal has its own character that is as unique as each hand-painted cover. 

Watch The Tone King’s ZVex Sound Sample by clicking here, or, click PLAY to watch below : 

TTK finding his tone at the ZVex booth at NAMM 2010 :

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Filed Under: ReviewsPedals


About the Author: Marc published his first novel Becoming in 2010. It’s a kick-ass book with monsters and dreams and stuff, and you should buy it. Since then, he’s written thousands of articles for, many of which have been picked up for circulation by manufacturers and other news outlets. His next book, Drugs and Pancakes, should be available early 2014 if his alcoholic editor can find time to work on it in-between destroying his liver and screaming about punctuation. He graduated from Roosevelt University with honors, which means that he’s not as dumb as he looks. He’s been playing guitar for over 25 years, which is almost twice as long as most of his students have been alive.

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