MXR ZW-44 Wylde Overdrive

Say what you will about Zakk Wylde, but between swigs of beer, myriad F-bombs, and assorted destructive hijinx, the dude found the time to lend his ears to a mighty fine distortion pedal.
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The ZW-44 Wylde Overdrive ($130 retail/street price N/A), sports simple Gain, Tone, and Output controls, and it kicks serious ass with its bold, in-your-face tones. With the Gain at nine o’clock and the Output cranked, the Wylde’s midrange hits your skull like a laser beam. And with humbuckers or single-coils, it flaunts a natural sounding low-end (i.e. no big bass bump), and spicy top-end detail. Even with its formidable roar—think of a torqued-up Marshall JCM 800 on the verge of meltdown—the Wylde’s string-to-string clarity is astounding. The Tone knob has the juice to wrangle the hurtful stuff from my somewhat prickly Stratocaster, yet bring out all of the sweet, tinkly junk my Gibson SG has to offer.

The Wylde’s cleaner settings were just as impressive when pumped through my Fender Deluxe. Dialed for maximum output with the Gain barely tapped, the Wylde made my Telecaster snarl like a pit-bull in a butcher shop. But a brilliant clean tone with rich harmonic response was always there when I rolled back my guitar’s volume.