On the primary Pedals page, I talked about the Zvex Box of Rock being the pedal that began my journal into the boutique world of pedals. There was just something about the sub-heavy crunch that it delivered that sat right in the core of my musical soul. It was right as rain.
I used the Box of Rock on the 2011 version of Zombies and really loved where it sat in the mix and how it sounded when isolated. The Box of Rock was an integral part of my movement towards more low and mid-gain sounds. Unfortunately, as things sometimes go, money was needed and the Box of Rock was one of the first, and easiest, things to go. I knew I’d miss it, but I could always buy another one later on down the road.
Somewhere along the line (at least 2011 according to the instruction manual), Zvex released a couple of pedals: the Distortron and the Mastotron, which were in plain pedal enclosures. I’ve never had the chance to play around with the Mastotron, but the Distortron definitely caught my attention. It is the distortion side of the Box of Rock, but with some modifications that adds some versatility to pedal.
For all the complaints the Box of Rock had regarding how bass-heavy it could be, the Distortron features a “SUBS” switch which allows you to dial in less bass. I generally keep mine set on 2, but occasionally set it to 3 to achieve full Box of Rock goodness. The other switch is a “GAIN” switch that can be flipped to “Hi” to give the available gain a bit of a boost.
Last year, I had the opportunity to pick up my Distortron for the awesome price of $54 at the Arlington, TX Guitar Center. I actually didn’t buy it the first time I saw it at that price, partially because it still had the police hold on it (used gear can’t be sold right away in the event that it’s been stolen), but went back a few days later when I realized it was a good deal.
The Distortron (and by extension the Box of Rock) are both considered to be “Marshall in a Box” (or MIAB) pedals, but are based on an older model Marshall with less gain on tap. The “Hi” setting of the Distrotron allows me to approach a bit of the higher gain areas that other MIAB pedals, like the JHS Angry Charlie v2 I have.
I’ve only recently moved the Distortron back to the Recording Board and it’s only featured on “Spin”. I enjoy playing it so much that I kept it on the Practice Board. Once I realized that the Angry Charlie on that board covers most of the same ground, it moved boards and replaced the Golden Plexi.
The Distortron will feature prominently on any future Cold the Winter or Lo-Fi Nice Try work.