ZW44 Zakk Wylde Overdrive review by MXR

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  • Sound: 9
  • Overall Impression: 10
  • Reliability & Durability: 10
  • Ease of Use: 10
  • Reviewer's score: 9.8 Superb
  • Users' score: 9.3 (14 votes)
MXR: ZW44 Zakk Wylde Overdrive
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Price paid: $ 120

Purchased from: Akkord Music

Sound — 9
Derived from the legendary MXR Distortion+, this effect definately represents the Classick Rock overdrive, but however has a significant difference in its tone feel. The effect itself gives a rather muddy and dark sounding diode Overdrive with some frayed ends on low gain setting. So plugging it into a clean amp just won`t make you happy. This pedal was designed for one and only purpose: to boost an overdriven amp. So crank your favourite mid-gain crunchy amp up, plug the beast in fronf of it and prepare to hear the concussion Wylde tone. Note the Tone control acts really smooth and in a rather narrow spectre giving you a rigid tone possibilities. Basically the Tone knob is being set once for a specific guitar + amplifier tandem, so we won't get back to it later. The first nice setting approach would be to dim the Gain knob to about minimum and set the Output to 12:00. This gets you to the era of Rock music monumented by the great Randy Rhoads. This setup suits really beautyful for some chords and classic soloing. Due to lack of really high gain, the tone can be controlled really nice with your picking accents and guitar tone and volume controls, which are delivered accurately all the way down to the speakers thus giving you a vast space to improvise and express. For the same reason this kind of setup is relaxingly polite so it won't overwhelm you with an elemental feedbacks and noises when played at higher volumes or onstage. The other thing this little boxie can do is crash down walls, shake some ground and blow some musicians off the stage! Just trust that little devil on your left shoulder and set the Gain control to about 14:00 depending on your guitar - throw more in if you have some strat or stay around 13:00 with your mahagony Les Paul. Then hit some power chord turning the Output knob all the way up and watch the tide of a rich, crushing, uncompromising and merciless sound rise above your head. This setting takes you to a whole new level of Heavy Metal. It doesn't matter whether you play some riffs, tune your guitar down a couple of steps or shred some pentatonics, your tone will be solid as a brick wall and it'll cut even through the most heavy band. The rich midrange just makes you feel some boiling oil dripping from your strings and spraying out of your cab keeping that unrelenting low end boom with every palm muted note. This tone sure resembles that of Black Label Society and gives you the power but still guiding your picking details through the amp. The only drawback from the box is its relatively high amount of hiss noise. And of course you'll have to strictly control all side sounds of your playing and work with your guitar volume knob in the pauses like on every high gain setting. For people who know what they want this pedal is very nice despite of its narrow field of use.

Overall Impression — 10
It has the character - none of many Overdrive pedals can sound like this one. The Bullseye across its top says it all: if you`re in to rock the crowd with your incendiary riffage, or blow their minds with incredibly solid and grown up solo tone, if you're there to make some badass heavy metal beer rivers flow - then this stompbox is your choice.

Reliability & Durability — 10
The small box is made of cast aluminium of a good thickness which in a sum with its small size makes it a tough nut to crack. The minimalistic approach to the design makes it operate perfectly for years. If you're a stage musician, don't be concerned about the battery life - a standard battery lasts for about a month of daily 3-4 hour use. To change the battery one needs to unscrew the bottom cover and put the battery in place, making a good and reliable surge no matter what.

Ease of Use — 10
This one here appears to be the signature Zakk Wylde Overdrive pedal, designed by MXR in conjunction with the musician. It has the standard input and output 1/4 inch jacks and a 9V standart outlet for a number of common adapter models. The controls on top consist of Gain, Tone and Output knobs and a stomp effect On/Off switch. It has an effect on LED next to the Switch which also operates as a battery charge indicator. The box ships with an MXR booklet and a nice manual briefly describing its operation and features. The manual also has some blank knob patches you can write down some of your favourite tone setups.

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