Nowadays it is not surprising when our beloved musicians put their names of various units. Be it amplifiers of effects pedals, it is rather easy to come across signatures that draw your attention right away. Many purists look at such devices with mistrust and skepticism, but more often than not such an attitude is wrong. When effects pedals are designed by the guitar virtuosos themselves, the chances are they capture their desires and are judged strictly. Putting your own name on something is a great responsibility and those, who have worked hard to gain such fame, would not do risk everything if they were not completely sure of the quality.
As I am writing this article and Zakk Wylde is playing in the background, I am diving into the capabilities of his signature pedal. MXR ZW44 Berzerker Overdrive is a unique and distinctive piece of musical equipment, which sets a high bar among its rivals. Do not jump to conclusions and assume that it will make you sound like Zakk himself. It will not, but that does not degrade it even a bit. Let’s cut to the chase and see, what this fella has up its sleeve.
Everything about ZW44 Berzerker Overdrive is designed to accommodate the needs of a musician. Its simplicity forces you to just set everything in place and start jamming right away. The less time you spend tweaking, the more room you have for playing and experimenting. Its straightforward character will fill you up with desire to search and explore since that process is rather enjoyable. ZW44 Berzerker Overdrive is housed in sturdy, durable enclosure. Its surface is light yellow and looks pretty vintage with scratched labels and writings. The distinctive name script and Zakk’s signature top off the design beautifully.
It is compact and will take up small amount of space on your pedalboard (and may even evict some of the residents). The exterior sports three controls that are all you will need for nailing everything according to your deepest desires. This bad boy can be powered with a single 9V battery or an adaptor. The battery compartment is located on the bottom and can be exposed by loosening 4 screws.
To make sure that it will not slip and slide on stage, it has rubber feet that secure it in place. ZW44 Berzerker Overdrive has typical input and output jacks, as well as a socket for AC adaptor. This way you can easily connect it to your chain and get down to business in little to no time. Though this pedal does not have any bells and whistles, it offers a wide variety of ethereal sounds. And sometimes that is all you need.
As I have already mentioned, ZW44 Berzerker Overdrive is rather user-friendly and easy to understand. If you have utilized a pedal before, you will know what to do with this one. There is nothing new or extraordinary in the control section. Instead, we have all the essential controls that shape and tweak various parameters in your sound. If you start slow and listen to the results you get, trust me, you will find your sweet spot in a matter of seconds. But if you still do not know where to start, the manual has some sample settings, including Zakk’s favorites. Even though everything here is self-explanatory, let’s still take some time and discuss the encoders in depth.
The first control here is Output, which sets the level of the effect and makes sure that you do not have any uneven volumes in your performance. Next, we have Tone, which acts as an equalizer and balances out bass and treble in your sound. Turning it clockwise will accentuate the high-end response and brighten everything up. Then comes the Gain, which manages the amount of distortion and provides you with the ability to choose between different levels of overdrive. It goes without saying that this pedal has a footswitch that activates the effect. Pretty damn easy, am I right?
MXR Zakk Wylde Overdrive Sound
Before I jump into the sonic specifics, I want to underline once again that ZW44 Berzerker Overdrive does not sound like Zakk himself. It is not one of those pedals that turn you into your beloved musicians once plugged in. Rather, this is a subtle overdrive stompbox that will drive harder your amplifier and enhance its gain that way. That is exactly how Wylde uses it, so do not expect to receive really heavy sounds out of this bad boy.
Keeping in minds its capabilities, ZW44 Berzerker Overdrive is a true tonal wonder. With just a twist of Gain knob, you can achieve various flavors of overdrive. You can easily start with a bluesy breakup, move on to the distinctive MXR crunch and finish up with full-on saturated overdriven sounds. And if you pair it with the gain channel on your amp, you will end up with warm and refined results. The Tone changes the characteristics of your sound easily and adds harmonics to your cranked-up performance. The only con of ZW44 Berzerker Overdrive is that it can develop some feedback, a.k.a. hiss, so it will not be a bad idea to shove a noise gate with it. Keep that in mind and you will be perfectly fine.
ZW44 Berzerker Overdrive is not something we have not seen before, but it does not claim to be either. It is a typical overdrive pedal that has spectacular quality both in terms of sound and construction. It will saturate your sound with the effect without sucking or overpowering the nature of your original signal. If you are looking for a simple unit that knows how to get the job done and sports the signature of Zakk Wylde as a nice addition, then ZW44 Berzerker Overdrive is the way to go. But you will never know unless you try, will you? Good luck!
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