The world of audio and musical equipment can be a tricky one to navigate at the best of times. With so many different products, conflicting opinions and confusing reviews, it’s hard to know what’s actually the best product for your needs. Luckily, the team at Mixdown have put in the legwork for you, sifting through the spec-sheets and putting the products through their paces to bring you Mixdown’s Picks - a new series of expansive, category defining product guides across our digital channels. Anything that has made the cut has rated highly across the board with the Mixdown staff, garnering a unanimous tick of approval from our staunch critics.
This time around, we're dissecting the huge range of essential effects out there for stage and studio, exploring everything from rugged multi-effects units through to boutique overdrives and vocal plug-ins.
Z.Vex Vexter Fuzz Factory
Key Features: Back in the 1990s, Zachary Vex blew the minds of the guitar world when he unveiled the formidable Fuzz Factory - a rowdy, unpredictable and ultimately irresistible effect that’s since gone down as one of the best fuzz boxes in history. Perhaps most famously heard on the sputtering, oscillating intro of Muse’s 2001 hit ‘Plug In Baby’, the original Fuzz Factory featured a simple five-knob design, with each unit being hand-built and hand-painted to make for a highly coveted, if not pricey, pedal.
With the rampant success of the pedal and the masses of cash-strapped players in mind, Z.Vex would commission a much more affordable made-in-Taiwan variant of the Fuzz Factory in 2004, and it’s this unit that we’re checking out today with the Vexter Series Fuzz Factory.
In contrast to Zachary’s handmade effects, the Vexter pedals feature a silkscreened chassis, which reduces the price-tag significantly, while an LED and DC power jack make them even friendlier for the modern guitarist’s rig. Other than that, the Vexter Fuzz Factory is almost identical to the original: there’s five knobs to control the pedal’s Volume, Gate, Compression, Drive and Stab parameters, and the classic horizontal chassis makes for a compact, quirky fit onto any pedalboard.
It’s also worth noting that the Vexter Fuzz Factory does come with a shorter warranty period than the hand-painted version, but given how sturdy and reliable these units are, I doubt you’ll need to worry about that - I’ve had one on my board for six years, and it’s never let me down.
Mixdown Says: Where to begin? This thing is an absolute monster! Whether you’re aiming for a warm, chunky fuzz for rhythm tones, creamy solo tones for Disraeli Gears-inspired leads or even just straight out sputtering madness, the Z.Vex Vexter Fuzz Factory delivers it all, plus some. These pedals do have a bit of a steep learning curve, and at times, they’re quite unpredictable - depending on where you’ve got the pedal in your signal chain and how you’ve got the Gate, Comp and Stab knobs set, you might experience some freaky space-age self-oscillation, but that’s all part of the fun.
Taming the Fuzz Factory is part of the entire experience of the pedal, and it’s this knob-twiddling aspect that’s helped assert the pedal as an icon in the minds of alternative and indie guitarists, so strap yourself in and enjoy the ride. As a side note, the Fuzz Factory is one of the best-sounding fuzz boxes to use with bass guitar, but we’ll let you figure that one out for yourself.
Overall: First it was the Fuzz Face, then came the Big Muff, and now, it’s the Z.Vex Vexter Fuzz Factory that rules the roost among fuzz hungry players. With a mass of tones on tap and an unpredictable freaky factor that makes it all the more fun, the Fuzz Factory is an undeniable classic, and the Vexter makes it available for more guitarists than ever before.
Snag yourself a Vexter Fuzz Factory from the team at Global Vintage today.