Plenty of cool guitar sounds have come from non-guitar-y things. Bows that were intended for violins, Leslie speakers that were designed for keyboards, etc. Why not rip off our bass-playing friends too? The Zeus Bass Fuzz Suboctave ($299) is obviously designed for bass, but it has a ton of awesome, vibey sounds for guitar as well.
Like all Red Witch pedals, the Zeus looks gorgeous in its chrome housing. It has separate switches for Octave and Fuzz (both true bypass), and those two effects can be used individually or combined. The four knobs govern Octave Mix, Fuzz Mix, Sputter, and Fuzz, and the minitoggles are for Gain and high-frequency roll-off. Interestingly, the controls for Fuzz master volume and Octave master volume are located inside the pedal, but I found the factory settings to be perfect for my uses.
I engaged the Octave function with a PRS McCarty Soapbar into a clean Kemper profile and instantly heard a warm, full, massive tone that tracked beautifully. Whether I blended in just a little or went completely wet, the sounds were super musical. With the Octave off and the Fuzz on, I got a delightfully angry distorted sound that could scream like a Jimmy Page outburst. The Sputter knob can take you from sing-y and sustain-y to stutter-y and spitty, all of which are cool.
The real fun begins when you kick on both the Octave and the Fuzz. This gives rise to a range of humongous sounds that will take you right out of your normal guitar trip. Otherworldly synth tones, prehistoric mastodon mating calls, Deep Purple-style bass lines, and lead tones that are a mile wide were all right there. Layering simple lines on a recording produced amazing beds and pads that no one would guess were created on guitar. Inspiring!
The Zeus works well with other effects and amp sounds. I switched the Octave on and ran it into an MXR EVH Overdrive and it sounded great. Into a slightly dirty amp the Fuzz took on even more girth and power, and into a very distorted amp it went tear-your-head-off crazy. Yes sir!
Red Witch has always been a company you can go to for effects that will set you apart, and the Zeus continues that tradition with flair. If you’re looking for a stompbox that will fuel your creativity and turn heads in the process, check out Zeus. God of thunder!
Kudos Lush tone. Inspiring effects. Great flexibility.
FROM THE DESIGNER
Ben Fulton is both the brains and the brawn behind New Zealand’s Red Witch Pedals. Here he explains what he was going for with the Zeus.
“I wanted to elaborate on the theme that we started with the Factotum Bass Suboctave Overdrive,” he says, “a pedal specifically designed for bass featuring a full frequency response and the option to blend the wet and dry signals together. Bass players have been asking me for years to release a bass version of the Fuzz God II, so I reworked it and the Zeus features that as its fuzz engine. Once the prototype had been completed, a guitarist friend of mine was over and asked ‘How does it sound on guitar?’ I had no idea, but we proceeded to plug in a Tele and schabloom! Octafuzz 6-string guitar heaven. That’s where the catchphrase ‘The Bass Pedal Your Guitarist Wants to Steal’ came from. My buddy loved it so much he wanted to pilfer my prototype!
“Our two current bass pedals—the Factotum and the Zeus—both sound great for guitar. Most guitar pedals have a low frequency rolloff to tighten the sound, but our bass pedals don’t, so you’ll find that the low end of your guitar is more present. The all-analog suboctave circuit in both the Zeus and the Factotum tracks guitar really well, whilst retaining the spongy, analog elasticity that’s missing from digital octave devices.”