The ZT Amps Extortion Pedal is a clever combination of analog distortion, colorful tone control, and what ZT calls “spectral DSP.” In standard mode there is a vintage-style analog overdrive whose amount is set by the Drive control. With hot output pickups, distortion comes on quickly at about half-way up on the Drive control when playing full power chords. A Fender Strat’s lower output single coils allow for more of a range of distortion from slightly overdriven sounds to fairly fuzzy sustain for leads.
The Tone control is not simply a “more treble, less bass,” but a continuously variable control that sweeps through several different equalizer shapes. A mid-range scoop is found all the way CCW, while a thick mid-range boost is found CW—it’s flat or no EQ at the center position. I like the way this control works—simple and instantly gratifying.
Spectral DSP, when activated, connects in series before the analog section. Once engaged, it provides frequency-dependent distortion and it’s easy to get crazy “broken” guitar amp sounds reminiscent of an old Fuzz Face or a Lovetone Big Cheese pedal.
Set fully CCW, the Spectral DSP knob gets you added crunch on the low end—particularly good for drop tuned rhythm playing. Swing the Spectral DSP control CW and we get very static-like and fizzy high frequency distortion tones. Spectral DSP’s control knob can also be controlled hands-free with an external expression foot pedal plugged into the Control jack on the side.
We like the ZT Extortion pedal for its wide range of overdriven sounds using different combinations and settings of the analog and Spectral DSP sections. We found it “pedal board friendly”—when either section is switched off they are hardwired bypassed.
ZT Amps Extortion sells for $269 MSRP. For more, check out http://ztamplifiers.com/products/extortion.html.
By Barry Rudolph
miniBio: Barry Rudolph is a recording engineer/mixer with over 30 gold and platinum RIAA awards to his credit. He has recorded and/or mixed: Lynyrd Skynyrd, Hall & Oates, Pat Benatar, Rod Stewart, the Corrs and Robbie Nevil. Barry has his own futuristic music mixing facility and also teaches recording engineering at Musician’s Institute, Hollywood, CA. http://www.barryrudolph.