I'm not sure how to draw it out as a circuit diagram but I'll try and explain...

basicly your guitar signal would get boosted up to a few thousand volts, but on the high volt side of the circuit there would be a gap. The gap would prevent current from flowing untill there is a sufficient voltage to arc. This new signal would then be put through a reducing transformer and then back into the amp.

Heres the clever bit , depending on how big the gap is on the high voltage circuit it will distort it different amounts with larger gaps creating bigger distortion because the limit would be higher.

This is just an idea... it may or may not work. I just thought it might be worth sharing because Z.vex machine pedals cost the earth and making what I have described would cost pennies
sweet, that sounds about right. Although some of that distortion is from the arc. If I got the arc and put it into an amp then that would be effectivly what I'm talking about.

Nice find anyway
well you can use a car's ignition coil instead of the tesla coil, which steps 12v up to an arc. The hardest part would be the powering of the thing. The way they do those tesla coil amps are just switching the coil on and off to the guitars signal's hz or whatever. so i think it'd end up being more complicated than regular distortion lol. But i really do want to do this.
Last edited by LeviMan_2001 at Dec 23, 2008,
Could you not just put the current from the pickups straight through two large transformers in parallel? Sure, you would have like 0.0000000000000001 amps but who cares?