Session Guitar Review: EJC Custom Pedals and Guitarworks '41 Willys Distortion Pedal —Video

What is cooler than a hot rod? How about a distortion box built into a hot rod?

Well, that's exactly what EJC Custom Pedals and Guitarworks has been doing. I created a video review on YouTube you should watch, but I'd like to get a bit more specific on a few points not covered in the video.

The car looks fantastic. I chose a '41 Willys in the same color as the car I drive, metallic orange (I like Halloween). The car doesn't simply sit there and do nothing. To add to the cool factor, the engine lights up on either side when the pedal is engaged, along with the headlights. When the three-position voicing switch is in the front position, the blower lights up in direct intensity to your playing! When the switch is in the back position, the rear tail lights come on and off in direct intensity to your playing!

All this would be simply "cute" if the pedal did not sound amazing. It does. It has a boutique, mature quality to it. The pedal does not alter the tone that you begin with on your amp. It only morphs it into a distortion that feels like an old friend. I wouldn't call it an over-the-top distortion, like some that cascade two distortions into each other. It simply turns a clean sound into any variable of a great tube amp. Articulate, solid, warm and beefsteak tomatoey! But trust me, there's plenty of juice in this box.

Before you ask the next questions, Eric Clarke, the designer at EJC, has answered them for you. Who wants to step on a car? Can it take a crushing foot on stage? Well EJC has included a True Bypass Loop Pedal! This loop pedal can stay on the floor or on your pedal board, while the car/distortion box can stay on your amp for all to see! And easily adjust settings on the distortion box/car itself. The visual alone is worth the price of admission.

The pedal has volume, tone and drive knobs. They all work clean and even. The voicing switch gives different clipping settings to voice your distortion type to your liking. The voicing switch in the up/front gives asymmetrical clipping, or what you might consider a modern distortion. In the rear position it gives symmetrical clipping. This is more of a vintage voicing. The middle position produces a tighter bottom and bumped mid-range.

I am in love with the quality of the distortion tone produced with this pedal. The way it handles dynamics when I adjust my volume knob makes it a joy to use in the studio. It will be a secret weapon. One of my most difficult sounds to be happiest with in the studio is the semi-distorted sound. Not sure why, but none of my amps have given me what I was looking for in that regard. This pedal does. It cleans up so nicely when I lower my knob, even on the most radical settings. The most important thing I can say about this pedal is: It is musical.

After you watch the video, checkout EJC's website to view some other models and effects. You won't be sorry!

Ron Zabrocki is a session guitarist from New York, now living in Connecticut. Says Ron: "I started playing at age 6, sight reading right off the bat. That’s how I was taught, so I just thought everyone started that way. I could sight read anything within a few years, and that helped me become a session guy later in life. I took lessons from anyone I could find and had some wonderful instructors, including John Scofield, Joe Pass and Alan DeMausse. I’ve played several jingle sessions (and have written a few along the way). I’ve “ghosted” for a few people who shall remain nameless, but they get the credit and I get the money! I’ve played sessions in every style, from pop to jazz.

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