ZVEX 59’ Sound
ZVEX 59′ Sound is the latest addition to the ZVEX line. It emulates a 1959 Fender Bassman. This pedal has two foot switches one for the overdrive and one for the boost. It has knobs for boost level, overdrive volume, tone and drive with a greenish-yellow LED for the boost and a red LED for the overdrive. The boost circuit follows the overdrive allowing the signal to hit the amp with greater output when engaged. It comes with a battery inside the enclosure but can also be powered by a standard 9V A DC power jack with a 3 mA draw. The specific model I have is the Vexter Series.
This pedal gets a wide variety of clean boost and overdriven tones. The tone knob is very responsive and goes from dark with little high-end presence to very bright. The drive knob goes from mild to thick overdriven tones without losing note definition or high-end clarity even when its maxed out. It enhances the inherent sound of your amp and guitar while adding touch sensitive dynamic and dirt. The boost is really lovely, it’s warm and transparent and does not darken the sound nor make the high-end pop but rather is very amp like in texture and feel.
The overdrive section is based on the famous 59’ Fender Bassman, which is an amp used by Eric Clapton among others and is commonly referred to as “the greatest guitar amp ever made”. Original Fender Bassman amps sell for $6500 and up when in good condition adding to their mystique. Marshall designed its early amplifiers like the Bluebreaker on this Fender circuit. ZVEX 59’ Sound is likely to go down as one of the best sounding pedals to emulate the 59’ Bassman.
What struck me immediately was how it preserved and even enhanced the dynamic of my playing and preserved the tonality of my guitar and amp while adding richness and sustain. Palm muting created rich ballsy low-end thump that I had never gotten out of my rig before. Soft and hard pick attacks were very responsive with enhanced sustain, presence, and beautiful touch sensitive break-up. Without turning any knobs the sound can vary greatly just by picking, pickup selection and the on-board guitar volume and tone. This is a huge compliment for skilled players and can even encourage the guitarist to develop better technique. It is also impressive how all 6 strings can come through clearly and beautifully when full chords are strummed even with the drive turned up.
The boost is great and makes my other boost pedals seem irrelevant. Zach at ZVEX describes the boost best. “The 59’ Sound also contains an extremely high-head room, unity-to-50X gain booster with 1 megohm input impedance and low hiss. It is similar to the SHO boost circuit with refinements to make it sound more like a standard amp input and less glassy.”
On stage it sounds great, many overdrive pedals will darken and heavily compress the tone setting the driven sections of the songs back in the mix. Not with the 59’ Sound, the presence and note clarity comes through in rich shining color and complexity even when it’s cracked up to maximum drive. When set to full drive the distortion is medium to high gain plenty for crunchy riffs, classic blues and rock. At lower setting is can be used for mild overdrive, Americana and to enhance clean tones. It will not cross-over into signal annihilation and gated fuzz tones, so for you folks looking for a maxed out Marshall sound or wild high gain it is best to look at the Box of Rock or a fuzz pedal.
The only trouble I have had with the pedal in a live setting is the small size and the close proximity of the foot switches to the knobs. I find myself accidentally clicking both foot switches or not activating the foot switch because I come down on the knobs. To make this easier I have left a bit of extra space between the 59’ Sound and the neighboring pedals so I can reach far left or far right to activate the desired foot switch. I also have a few songs where I intentionally click both foot switches simultaneously with one foot.
For recording it is indispensable. The 59’ Sound can zero in on the tone of your dreams, depending on your tastes. Even for clean sections, I find myself turning on the boost and overdrive rolling back the gain and adjusting the volume knob on the guitar. It opens up a wide spectrum of gorgeous tones and possibilities for you perfectionists, tone tweakers, and guitar lovers.
Online, many people are comparing this pedal with The Box Of Rock from ZVEX but a side by side comparison will immediately reveal how different these two pedals sound. The Box Of Rock is more compressed, higher gain, has less high-end brilliance, less clarity, and less dynamic sensitivity. The two share some of the same circuitry, the same enclosure, the range of the volume and tone knobs is similar, however, the fundamental tonal response and sound are easily distinguished between the two. The 59’ Sound does not sound like a variation of the Box Of Rock, it is clearly different.
In conclusion, if you want a great overdrive with dynamic, clarity and a beautiful break-up the 59’ Sound is waiting for you, assuming you can find one.
Article by: Temple Rose
I write about music, music gear, art, science, psychology, yoga and holistic health. See my other blogs at http://thepsychrock.com, https://psychgear.wordpress.com, https://transpersonalspirit.wordpress.com. I am a contributor to Sic Magazine (http://www.sicmagazine.net) and gigsoupmusic.com. I am a musician in the band Black Satori.