Mastotron review by Zvex

logo Ultimate Guitar
  • Sound: 10
  • Overall Impression: 9
  • Reliability & Durability: 10
  • Ease of Use: 8
  • Reviewer's score: 9.3 Superb
  • Users' score: 9.3 (3 votes)
Zvex: Mastotron

Price paid: £ 100

Purchased from: Andertons UK

Sound — 10
I use this pedal as the basis of my sound in the band I'm in, which is a sort of mix of QOTSA, Mastodon and stuff like Fugazi. For that my signal chain goes: Fender Blacktop Jaguar -> Boss OS-2 Overdrive -> Electro-Harmonix Small Clone -> Boss DD-2 Digital Delay -> Boss TU-2 Tuner -> Blackstar HT Stage 100. I also use it for my Jack White-esque side project with a Mexican Fender Telecaster through the same setup, with single coils it sounds less beefy but more lo-fi and buzzy which is great. I usually have the Sub set to 2 (middle setting for bass), level set to around half, tone set to just before 12, PW and just after 12, Fuzz on full and Relax/Push at half. It was not a case of me turning everything to 12 and playing away, small tweaks on this pedal make big differences, and it is incredibly responsive to different guitars and amps. It can nail Jack White tones, QOTSA tones, some of the newer Mastodon sounds, Sonic Youth, Mudhoney, Smashing Pumpkins but I found it was great at playing with and finding my own sound. Recommend using an Overdrive to boost the pedal, it sounds great without it, but boosting it gives it a bit more crunch and a nasty edge that I love (with the tone jacked up think "Touch Me I'm Sick"). Works great with reverb and delay to create a wall of sound vibe (think My Bloody Valentine or Husker Du, not quite the same but comparable) but again it delivers your own unique sound more than anything.

Overall Impression — 9
It's a great match for the style of music I play and it also had a big part in shaping how I play and the style we ended up with as a band. Like I've said, for me it was great in finding my own sound and then working within that. I've been playing for about 10 years and I still may buy a big muff just for that awesome sound, but this pedal is versatile affordable for a boutique fuzz and just plain brilliant. If it was stolen I would buy another in a heartbeat, but I think due to the size this thing would be easier to lose then be nicked. Plus the blue colour is a bit off-putting for thieves I've found. Love most things, some of the sounds are a bit un-usable but they're still fun and lots of them are. Which is something for Z-Vex. I wish the sub switch was bigger or easier to get to, and the manual had been slightly more informative. Favourite feature is definitely the pulse width control, really enables you to morph and manipulate your sound. Spent a week A/Bing this at home with a Big Muff and returned it, this just won out. Nothing really I wish it had apart from a feature to get another one free.

Reliability & Durability — 10
Built like a brick ****house, small unit same size as the Fuzz Factory (about an inch longer across than a packet of fags)the inputs are solid to the point of needing a bit of elbow-grease to remove and plug in patch leads, but it means it's secure. I can totally depend on it, the white lines on top of the knobs to show you what your settings are are starting to wear off but thats it. I gig with it without a backup plugged into a power brick and I can be 99% sure it will be fine.

Ease of Use — 8
First off the bat, this is a fuzz pedal from Mr. Vex which I picked up on recommendation over a Big Muff, and at twice the price it is definitely more than twice as good! Getting a good sound of it is easy. The controls are from left to right: Level, Tone (a treble control) then a 3 way sub switch for the bass frequency, Pulse Width, Fuzz, and Relax/Push. Endless fiddling is possible with this pedal and it's always fun. Manual was pretty bad but made experimenting more interesting and enjoyable. Overall 8 because figuring out how some controls work with each other can be a bit tricky.

3 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Don't knock the muff, if you wanna impregnate your girlfirend with the antichrist just whack one of those out and crank it upto ten.