Ease of Use: The Deus Ex Machina is a fuzz pedal made by Blakemore Effects. As it says on the website, "the Deus Ex Machina is not a subtle fuzz. This thing is thick, and that's the way I like it". I couldn't agree more. My first impression was about how cool the pedal looks. And it looks really cool. It looks kinda fat, with 9 cm wide x 11, 5 cm deep and 4 cm tall (not counting with knob height), which is a look that suits it perfectly. The paint job is awesome, it makes the enclosure look like it's made of brushed copper.
Also, I'm very fond of the black graphics; the "Deus Ex Machina" logo (the center swirl with big wings), the "kamikaze-style" background... I like it very much. As far as features go, it has a DC9V in, center negative. I'm using a Boss PSA-230P adapter, daisy-chained, to supply power. (No battery adapter inside, which I wouldn't use anyway.) It has very secure input and output jacks, not easy to accidentally unplug cables from it. It has your standard Volume, Tone and Gain knobs that you would find in most fuzz pedals, and it also has a couple of additions: a Clean Blend knob, that lets you mix your input signal with the fuzz (more about this ahead), and a Mid Boost knob, whose name is self-explanatory (more about this ahead).
So, it's really simple to use it straightaway, but in case you need it, it comes with an instruction sheet. Using it for the first time, you quickly realize how easy it is to make this pedal sound amazing without any effort. And in time, you realize that's because you simply can't get a bad sound out of this thing. Straight out of the box, it roars. It absolutely and literally ROARS. // 10
Sound: I use the Deus Ex Machina Fuzz with a Squier Affinity Series Stratocaster and a Paul Reed Smith SE Singlecut through a Laney LV300H amp head, connected to a Crate G412ST cab. So far, I've also tested the pedal through an Orange Tiny Terror, a Marshall ValveState and a DSL, a Fender Frontman 212R and a Twin Reverb, and a Roland Cube.
Many fuzzes don't work well with solid-state and hybrid amps, but the Deus Ex Machina sounds incredible with any kind of amp. The consistency of this pedal's sound is admirable. Most of the time I have it set up for a classic kind of fuzz. Volume knob at 60%, Tone knob at 0%, Gain knob somewhere between 30 and 60%, Clean Blend knob at 100% (100% fuzz signal) and Mid Boost knob at 0%. This gives you a rich tone, with tons of harmonic depth when playing chords, arpeggios, etc., and personally, I can play for hours without changing settings. Pushing the Volume up while turning down the Gain really "opens up" your sound, giving you a lighter fuzz that is great for The Black Keys' stuff. The Tone knob is very sensitive, turning it up brings lots and lots of treble. I prefer to keep it completely down at most times.
Now, about the Clean Blend knob: what a genious idea to add it to a fuzz pedal. It opens many interesting possibilities. You can have some clean signal going through, along with a bit of fuzz in the background, for example. Or you can use other effects BEFORE the Deus Ex Machina in the chain, and give them more emphasis while keeping some fuzz behind to add some texture to your sound. My favourite use of the Clean Blend knob is to mix 50% Overdrive (signal going in) with 50% fuzz. The result is a tight but vintage-sounding kind of distortion. The Mid Boost knob is quite fun to play with, since you can get "parked wah" tones with it. Some sort of nasal-sounding fuzz, that is reminiscent of The White Stripes' octaved distortion tones. Works great for soloing. Also worth to note is the Deus Ex Machina handles other pedals perfectly well, even without using the Clean Blend. I personally like to add some chorus to it, and it gets all "Allison's Halo" on me.
I bought the Deus Ex Machina because I was looking for a nice, thick fuzz, versatile enough to get me in the ballpark of different tones like the '90s Dinosaur Jr. and the Smashing Pumpkins' tones, but also The Black Keys', Jack White's and Silversun Pickups' tones, for example. And it delivers beautifully. It maintains your own sound identity, without masking different guitars' and amps' characters into the exact same tone, but you can easily dial in settings to get you that fuzz tone you've heard on a certain song. // 10
Reliability & Durability: I've only had it for 2 months, so I'm not able to assure its reliability and durability yet. That said, the enclosure is extremely solid. Boss-like solid. I can't see anything happening to it during regular use (and abuse). The knobs are pretty standard, plastic knobs, that could potentially break under great stress; but again, they seem more than strong enough to endure the normal wear & tear. As I mentioned before, the input and output jacks are very secure. It's extremely hard to accidentally unplug cables from the pedal.
Inside the pedal, like outside, the build quality is top-notch. Everything is clean and tidy, the wiring is securely zip-tied... Really beautiful work. Considering all this, I most definitely feel I can depend on the Deus Ex Machina, and I've already used it on a couple of gigs without a backup. // 9
Overall Impression: I've had the Deus Ex Machina for almost 2 months now, and I love this pedal so much that I didn't want to review it in a rush. I wanted to be certain of its capabilities. And I've tested it through a couple of different rigs, I took my time to get to know it, I played a couple of gigs with it and... My first impressions stand.
Are there no negative things about this pedal? Sure. The green LED is too bright. So bright that many times it obfuscates me and I can't see the pointers on the knobs. I have to adjust them relying solely on my ears. Big whoop. But it's also nice because it creates a smooth green lighting in the darkest places, and is reflected on your guitar, clothes, etc. Also, it doesn't have rubber feet, so you can easily scratch the paint job on the bottom. But I've already applied a set of rubber feet and will apply velcro too (to stick to the pedalboard), so problem solved.
Should something happen to the Deus Ex Machina, I would buy another one in a heartbeat. This is "THE" fuzz I've been looking for, and is, IMHO, the best fuzz pedal on the market right now. If you want a fuzz, definitely send Blakemore Effects an e-mail and ask about the Deus Ex Machina Fuzz. Blake was a pleasure to deal with. Lots of patience and kindness, everything went smooth purchasing the pedal from him. // 9