In different ways, these two new pedals sent me on a sonic trip to the 1970s. The Mu-FX Octave Divider is a rebirth of the original, mid-’70s Mu-tron pedal, and the SviSound Overzoid reminded of the days when many guitar stars simply adjusted their instrument’s Volume knobs to produce clean, gritty, and overdriven tones from their amps.
MU-FX OCTAVE DIVIDER
Led by Mike Beigel, the visonary inventor and co-founder of Musitronics in 1972, Mu-FX is now recreating and improving upon the ’70sera effects of the original company with the Tru-Tron 3X (an update of the venerated Mu-Tron III), Boostron 3 (a tonal stew of an Alembic Stratoblaster boost, a Dan Armstrong Orange Squeezer compressor, and a Pro Co RAT distortion), and the modernized Octave Divider reviewed here. All models are designed and manufactured in Encinitas, California.
The Octave Divider ($359 street) sounds like the ’70s in a box, producing the same monophonic, warm, synth-like tones that seduced guitarists such as Jerry Garcia and Frank Zappa. It takes a bit of messing about to get fully comfortable with operations, but there’s a lot of sonic power once you get there (and beware that the BASS control is not a low-frequency adjustment—it raises or lowers the level of the octave-down effect). You can solo either the octave-down or Dan Armstrong Green Ringer effects, set independent volume levels for each, and blend in your dry guitar level to taste. Colored LEDs alert you to where you are—once you remember what the different colors signify. The device tracks your notes very well—even without the Stabilize switch activated.
The Octave Divider can subtly funk-ify solos and riffs, or let you get way out there by increasing the Green Ringer’s fuzz/ring modulator textures and/or pumping up the octave-down level. It’s an awesome, dynamic, and expressive revival of a seminal sound with some modern tricks up its sleeve.
Kudos It’s the ’70s! Tough construction. Great tones.
SVISOUND OVERZOID OZ01
This handmade, boutique overdrive was brought to our attention by GP editor emeritus Tom Wheeler, who thought the Overzoid ($145 direct) sounded good enough to recommend it to the staff. The made-in-Bulgaria stompbox struts an industrial, steampunk aesthetic with its gold knobs and vintage Heathkit-inspired casing. But while its looks may scream for attention, its sound is exactly the opposite. This true-bypass and point-to-point wired pedal is sonically transparent, and it always puts the focus on your guitar and amp sound—even as it nudges your tone towards subtle grit and outright saturation. You also get a surprising hint of midrange articulation that lets notes ring with clarity without coloring your sound enough that an audience would notice. Your tone just seems to get more awesome. Even the Tone knob manages to enhance your sound, rather than significantly alter it. Mystical? The Bass Boost switch can be toggled by your foot, and I used it to add a little chunk to bridge-pickup tones. The Overzoid also reacts dynamically to your picking attack, as well as changes to your guitar’s Volume knob. With its natural, amp-like response and brilliantly subtle tonal enhancements, the Overzoid is now one of my favorite overdrives.
Kudos Transparent and organic tone. Good value.