Vox Satchurator Distortion Pedal Review

As most of you already know, the guitar as an instrument and guitar playing as a craft and a form of art changed drastically throughout the 1980s. 

This means that the tone changed as well, going from the pretty bluesy and hard rock oriented 70s to the shred metal drenched 80s. And we all got some great musicians and great pieces of music from this era.

For instance, a guy like Joe Satriani, who was not only a guitar teacher to a whole bunch of other great players but has made a very successful career of its own.

Aside from his teaching, amazing songwriting, and very recognizable improvising, he also became famous for his unique guitar sound.

And just like his music and technique, Joe Satriani has set some high standards with his tone. One of the pedals he often used was the famous Boss DS-1.

But just a bit over one decade ago, Satriani got together with Vox to create his own distortion pedal, which is essentially an upgraded version of the DS-1 – the almighty Satchurator.

This piece of gear is now an essential part of his rig. So let’s get into this pedal and its main properties, shall we?


Features

The Vox Saturator (also called Vox JS-DS) is very well built, featuring a strong metal casing and quality knobs, switches, and LED lights. At first glance, you can clearly see that it is a pretty straightforward pedal with some additional features. The main controls here are volume, tone, and gain.

The volume is located on the right and, of course, is pretty self-explanatory. While the pedal of this size could fit a 3-band EQ, there’s only one tone switch for any kind of equalization, located in the middle. The gain knob is located on the left side, near the output jack.

This being a distortion pedal, there is a regular on and off foot-controlled switch on the bottom left side. However, there’s another interesting feature that helps make this pedal more versatile. The “more” footswitch, which is located on the right side, gives an additional drive boost.

Another feature that’s also interesting is the pad switch. This function is intended to reduce unwanted noise if you have any kind of high gain pedals or wahs placed before the Satchurator in your signal chain. This small switch is located between the gain and tone knobs.

There are two LED light indicators, one for the on and off switch and the other one for the “more” feature.


Design

Aside from the amazing build quality, the pedal looks pretty attractive with its simple design and metallic red color.

The shape is a simple rectangular one, and the white writings on it don’t take too much space so most of the pedal is just one empty red surface.

Nonetheless, it’s still good-looking, so it most likely won’t be an issue for guitar players who care about aesthetics. Unless you really like crazy and colorful gear.

Although slightly larger than a standard pedal, you don’t have to worry about Satchurator taking up that much space on your pedalboard since it has a pretty compact and ordinary shape.

As for the LED lights, they are pretty visible and you won’t be having any issues checking the indicators in live situations.


Performance

One pretty obvious thing that you can notice even after just looking at the pedal, it’s pretty straightforward. That does not mean that it’s a bad one, quite the contrary. The simplicity is one of the things that makes it great.

But despite that, the knobs are responsive and you can actually get a decent amount of tones from this pedal. Add the “more” switch to the equation, and it all makes this pedal worthwhile.

This “more” feature is pretty practical since it adds a drive boost without bringing your volume up.

It’s most certainly good for solo situations where you need to add more drive going into a lead part or going to a specific part of your solo. Definitely adds more dynamic diversity to it, and even boosts your sustain.

There are a few downsides that we just can’t help but mention. Bringing the gain somewhere up higher compresses the tone too much and does not make it into that much of a pleasurable experience.

Also, it seems as if the pad switch doesn’t do much, at least in any of the situations that we’ve tried. And, maybe we’re being too picky, but there could have been a few more knobs placed on a pedal of this size that would help you shape the tone.


Conclusion

But not to be that negative, the pedal sounds really good and is definitely worth checking it out.

The Satchurator is, in some ways, an upgraded version of the legendary DS-1, giving it a new twist with the “more” switch and the new improved tone. It can work on a clean channel of an amp as well as a boost to the overdriven tube amp, although you have to be careful not to add too much gain.

As mentioned, there is some versatility to it. However, it has somewhat of a limitation when it comes to genres. It suits the rock, prog rock, hard rock, and classic metal stuff.

But just don’t expect it to work well in some modern metal situations, as the higher gain setting won’t give the desired results. Pushing the Satchurator’s gain to its limits sounds a bit too fuzzy for that kind of stuff.

But, of course, guitar players can be a bit picky when it comes to distortions and overdrives so it would be best if you tried it out yourself.

Now, don’t think that it will make you completely sound like Satriani as that will require years and years of practice and buying some very expensive gear, but it does add somewhat of his vibe to the tone.


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