Vox Satchurator Joe Satriani Signature Distortion Pedal
Vox Amplification Ltd., voxamps.co.uk
Originally printed in Guitar World, November 2008
Joe Satriani has every imaginable high-gain amp at his disposal, including his own award-winning Peavey JSX signature amp. Still, he prefers to create his fat, mid-range-thick and harmonically rich tone by punishing the front end of clean or slightly dirty amp with a distortion pedal. A confessed pedal junkie, Joe has relied on numerous vintage pedals to craft his recognizable brand of extreme saturation. But as everyone knows, vintage pedals are noisy, unreliable and often impossible to repair.
Satriani’s quest for the ultimate distortion pedal led him to a partnership with Vox. The result is the new Satchurator Joe Satriani signature distortion pedal. Satriani was instrumental in every aspect of the pedal’s design, which included more than 20 revisions. Satch likes it so much that he’s now using it as his primary source of preamp gain in front of his JSX’s clean channel.
Vox and Satriani aimed for boutique quality with Satchurator, and they got it right. Satch’s favorite candy-red paint tastefully covers the sturdy chassis, and all the components are board mounted. The pad switch solves a problem Satriani discovered of vintage distortion pedals clipping when front-ended with some of today’s high-energy wahs and dynamic effects. The More switch essentially doubles moderate gain levels and takes the gain to a spinal-tapping “11” when the gain control is dimed.
In addition, Satch chose to use a specially designed input buffer, rather than true bypass, so there is no change in signal strength and tonal character when the pedal is on or off. The Satchurator runs off a nine-volt battery or with an optional adaptor.
The Satchurator really nails Satriani’s incredibly detailed and precise high-energy tone. (Reportedly, the pedal has assisted him with skyrocketing his trademark reverse-dive harmonic launches to new ear-shattering heights.) Some careful tweaking of the trebleladen tone control made it possible for me to achieve the gut-busting midrange punch, low-end sustain and ridiculous screams that characterize Satch’s tone. Less dramatic crunch tones are certainly possible with lower gain settings, and the pedal cleans up with no treble loss when you roll down the guitar’s volume.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Joe Satriani and Vox have managed to stuff his complex tone into a stomp box. In doing so, they’ve created one of the most nuanced and quietest high-gain rocker boxes available today.
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