Zachary Vex designed the Distortron ($149 retail/street price N/A) to sound and respond like a vintage Marshall JTM45 amplifier with all of its controls maxed—and damned if it doesn’t. Sporting the same distortion circuit as the hand-painted and somewhat more expensive Box of Rock, but adding a mini-toggle Gain switch for a Tufnel-approved saturation boost, a 3-way Subs switch that lets you optimize the low frequencies to match your amp’s bottom end (setting 3 produces the same subs as the Box of Rock), and highly versatile Tone and Drive controls, the Distortron is one mean classic rock machine. True-bypass switching and simple-but-elegant silkscreen graphics enhance the package.
This little pedal impressed me from the first note, and no matter how I tweaked the knobs and switches it never sounded bad. The Volume control offers a massive boost if desired, Tone sweeps a sonically pleasing range from dark and muffled to ultra-bright, and even incremental changes to the Drive control result in different flavors of plexi-inspired goodness. But what really blew me away was how the Distortron responded to playing dynamics and adjustments to my guitar’s volume control. Slight pressure and angle changes in picking were immediately reflected in the sound, individual note definition within chords was superb, and even with the Gain set to Hi and the Drive control at three o’clock, I could go from full-on ’60s crunch to edgy midrange grind to slightly crispy clean tones by simply rolling back the guitar volume.
If you play rock, blues, or any other style of music that would benefit from old-school Marshall mojo—especially if you can’t afford an original or reissue JTM45—the Distortron may be your ticket to Tone Town.
KUDOS Packs a plethora of plexi-inspired tones into a pint-sized pedal.
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