A sure-fire winner if you’re looking to add some serious
grunt to your effects arsenal….

Of all the boutique pedal makers, one name that seems to generate more kudos and reverence than many others is Zachary Vex, the man who gave us Z.Vex Effects. Though many of his creations were barely out of their prototype nappies, they were sonically breathtaking feats of electronic engineering. Designed with the help of Chuck Zwicky, his evolution of the Woolly Mammoth is what really made us bassists sit up and take notice. Not only did it achieve all the neccesary grunge and sustain, it went way beyond, and did so while still retaining that all-important low end. Combining fabulous products with some of the best pedal names ever, it seems, in this instance, that all the fuss may well be justified.

Design

The fact we see very few original takes on the distortion pedal is in part due to the unwillingness of the musician to accept new fuzzes. Thankfully, some boutique manufacturers are keen to show us what we are missing and Z.Vex are just such a company. The Woolly Mammoth is a totally different breed of drive pedal, and with a name like that, who doesn’t need one of them?! Its tough hand-painted case is enough to suggest that the box is housing something rather special. It feels robust, but comfortably light and at first glance seems to possess the usual controls that we see on most distortion stomps. The front panel sports four controls: ‘output’ to select the amount of fuzz, from gentle grind to face-ripping, fully clipped, square-wave fuzz; ‘eq’, which smoothly selects between more bass and treble; ‘pinch’, which adjusts the pulse width of the waveform; and the Mammoth’s trademark ‘wool’, changing the amount of fuzz around the note. Overall, the build quality is excellent – it’ll last you a lifetime of abuse. Also, the Woolly Mammoth draws just 0.4 milliamps, giving this pedal as high a battery life as you can find. In fact, if you use an alkaline battery and always unplug the input lead between sessions, you may never have to change it at all. All Z.Vex pedals can also be powered using a 9V DC adapter.

Sounds

We’ve all played through fuzz pedals that remove your bottom end at the flick of a switch. Not so with the Woolly Mammoth: there’s no discernible loss of bass, which leads to a massive sound. It really is a joy to wallow in the filthy mire of vulgar fuzz that the Woolly Mammoth produces. It is, for all intents and purposes, a Big Muff on some seriously performance-enhancing steroids. It retains all that we know and love about its older cousin, but is a deeper, much more extreme, over-the-top version. It stretches at times to the farthest reaches of what is sensible, sometimes to the point of comical. The experience is, however, always great. Fuzz is a great effect for us bassists, and if you are in search of the heaviest flesh-tearing fuzz tones that could be built into a stompbox, it’s difficult to fault this offering from Z.Vex. Its intuitive controls and cheeky moniker make it a sure-fire winner for any bassists looking to add some doom to their effects arsenal. The EQ, Pinch and Wool knobs all work interactively together to give a whole palate of oscillating fuzz – all quite random but amazingly musical. It’s not cheap, but it was the first boutique ‘bass guitar’ pedal to really add some ‘whaoopfh’ to our lives. Today it is justifiably a highly sought-after classic pedal that is a true tweaker’s delight.

Spec Points

Made in: USA
Power requirements: 9 V battery or 9 V DC mains adaptor
Current draw @ 9V DC: 0.4 mA
Features: Output, EQ, pinch & wool controls
External connectors: Input jack, output jack, 9 V DC jack
Dimensions: 57(d) x 114(w) x 30(h) mm