ZVex Custom Shop Woolly Mammoth Review

Those familiar with the work of Jack White – the lead singer and guitarist of The White Stripes – probably know just what kind of talent this guy has. When I say talent, it’s not only about his technical skill on a guitar. It’s more about making the tone of the guitar act as a perfect medium to deliver the message of a specific song. Take any album they have, listen to it top to bottom and you will see that each song is custom catered.

zvex-custom-shop-woolly-mammoth

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Even though this sounds rather normal, you’d be surprised how rare this approach to music actually is. All you have to do is pay attention to the tone color of your favorite band next time you pop a CD into your system. Jack is a master tone artist, but he wouldn’t be able to get much done without proper tools. One that really stands out is ZVex Custom Shop Woolly Mammoth. Today we’re going to discuss this fuzz box, and show you what makes it so impressive.

ZVex Custom Shop Woolly Mammoth Review

When it comes to guitar effects pedals, you can divide the entire market into three roughly defined categories. You have our older brands which attract their customers with reliable, no-thrills, low price units. Then you have brand new manufacturers who are trying to get into the business. Finally, there are those who are focused purely on pushing the limits of what can be done, or most importantly, should be done.

ZVex falls into this category. Their effects pedals were always special in more ways than one. Aside from their unique design, triple wide body and high-quality components, ZVex is known for pretty outlandish performance as well. Woolly Mammoth we’re looking at today is definitely on the edge of vulgar, but that is exactly what makes it so awesome. Let’s get over some of its most impressive features.

zvex mammoth review

Features

One of the less important details that many ZVex fans like is the fact that their pedals are every bit as beautiful as they are functional. Woolly Mammoth features a compact, yet wide housing that comes with a pretty old school graphic. The material used for the enclosure makes this thing as solid as a tank. ZVex knows what it means to use a pedal on stage in an environment where accidents happen. All of their pedals are built to withstand just about any kind of abuse you are capable of unleashing, and so is this one. If you’re wondering how come, the sole fact that each of these pedals is hand made and hand wired, should tell you enough.

The entire layout of the controls and I/O ports comes down to four knobs, one input, and one output. While pretty simple, these four controls are all you could ever need to dial in one of the furriest fuzz tones available at the moment. Going from left to right, we find the first knob that is labeled Output. As you can probably guess, this is your main level control. Next one is EQ, which acts just like a single point EQ. As you go from middle counterclockwise, the tone will start leaning towards heavier low-end response. Moving the knob clockwise takes you to more defined, treble rich territory.

Next knob is labeled Pinch. This one is where most of the action happens. Using Pinch, you can define the wave shape of the signal, thus directly impacting the color of the fuzz you’re after. Combined with the Wool knob which controls the intensity of the chosen fuzz, there is really not much you can’t do.

Last but not least, it’s worth mentioning that ZVex Custom Shop Woolly Mammoth can be powered using the standard battery solution, or plugging it into a power adapter/supply.

Performance

Although relatively popular, many have questioned just how different Woolly Mammoth is, and what makes it so special in the first place. The simple answer is that the world of fuzz effects has been pretty much defined by now and this particular model brings something slightly different. After so many years of use, it’s pretty hard to create a fuzz that has never been seen before. It all comes down to subtle differences. What most guitar players like about this ZVex edition, is just how raw it can sound.

You can dial in a tone that is barely a clean boost with some indications of signal distortion. On the other hand, the other extreme comes in form of what can only be described as organized chaos. If you like your tone fat and greasy right from the start, ZVex Custom Shop Woolly Mammoth delivers like only a handful pedals in this range can. It’s a perfect tool for those playing rock, blues or even metal. Applications are pretty much dependent on how far you are willing to go. The pedal itself keeps its pretty aggressive fuzz well under control. Even when you turn everything to the max, your notes will come out clear and defined. At the end of the day, that matters a lot. If you are a performing artist who is looking to put together a quality rig and you’re after a good fuzz, this pedal is something you should definitely add to your shortlist.

Final Thoughts

The world of boutique pedals is slowly but surely merging with what most consider to be the commercial sector. Even so, brands like ZVex remain focused on their policy. As long as thins don’t change, we can count on seeing a lot more awesome models such as the Woolly Mammoth. All the proof of quality you need are people like Jack White, who base a good portion of their very delicate tone on ZVex pedals. Out of all the stompboxes out there, him going with this particular one definitely happened for a reason. The only real downside of ZVex models is their steep price tag. However, these pedals are bought once in a lifetime, making them a pretty sound investment.

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