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Z.Vex Distortron & Mastotron Pedal Review



Download Example 1
Vol 10:30, Tone 10 o'clock, PW max, Fuzz 4, Relax/Push max push; Subs 3 o'cl;
Download Example 2
Vol. 10 o'clock, Tone 1 o'cl, PW 12 o'cl, Fuzz 11 o'cl, Relax/Push 11 o'cl; Subs 2;
Egnater Tourmaster ch. 2 through Egnater 4x12" with Celestion Vintage 30s; Fender Road Worn Tele, bridge then neck pups; recorded in Sound Studio on an iMac using Digidesign
Mastotron
Stampeding through the speakers like the prehistoric animal its namesake implies is the aptly-titled Mastotron, Z.Vex’s powerful and rowdy silicon fuzz generator. The Mastotron has more in common with some of Vex’s classic creations, such as the Fuzz Factory and Wooly Mammoth, in that the tones it can produce range from a monstrous wall-of-fuzz to the soundtrack of a favorite 8-bit video game of yesteryear. A total of six controls shape the output of this beast: Volume, Subs (like the Distortron), PW (Pulse Width), Fuzz, and Relax/Push (source impedance). The three-way Subs control runs the gamut from huge, window-rattling low-end to a thin, reedy chirp. It’s a very dramatic difference.

Unusual and creative controls are one thing that has made Z.Vex’s products stand out in the past, and it’s nice to see that the Mastotron continues this tradition with two unique additions to its front panel. The first of these is a Pulse Width knob: a twist of this control allows the player to smoothly change the waveform from a full square wave (on the left) to narrow pulses (on the right). The last knob is labeled Relax/Push, and it adjusts the source impedance. Players with active pickups in their instruments often run into problems with over-compressed and unresponsive tones when using distortion and fuzz pedals. This is sometimes caused by active pickups producing a much hotter signal or a flatter frequency response than a passive pickup, which can lead to dull, squashed sounds. The Relax/Push control lowers the impedance as it is turned left, which Z.Vex says “softens” the input for active pickups. Those using the Mastotron with passive pickups are encouraged to max this control all the way to the right. With bass, this pedal is a certifiable monster. The low end stays super-tight and focused, and is somewhat reminiscent of Z.Vex’s bass creation, the Woolly Mammoth. Z.Vex also suggests that players try putting some odd effects in front of the Mastotron and playing around with the Relax/Push control to get unique sounds.
Buy if...
an inexpensive, tight fuzz with signature tone and lots of control is the name of the game. Bass players looking for a big fuzz tone should give it a whirl, too.
Skip if...
you need a more subtle, classic fuzz tone.
Rating...
4.5

MSRP $149.99 - Z.Vex Effects - zvex.com

The Final Mojo
As the introductory members of the new Vextron Series from Z.Vex Effects, the Distortron and Mastotron offer plenty of tonal options. For players who’ve been craving Z.Vex’s Woolly Mammoth bass fuzz, the Mastotron should provide more than enough punch, power and versatility for either bass or guitar players. For those leaning towards the classic rock side, the Distortron is an extraordinary tool for shaping the more articulate, nuanced guitar tones that genre commands, and it’s easy on the wallet at the same time.