The Lo-Fi Loop Junky remains among the most unique pedals in Zachary Vex’s pedal
line, which is saying a lot. It didn’t fill many
common needs when it debuted, even by
the adventurous standards of loopers. But it
produced one of the most distinctive ranges of
tones you could ever use for looping—a mixture of compression and vibrato-warble that
gave loops the character of warped records,
warbling tape, and other very lo-fidelity treats.
And while its merits weren’t as obvious to
straight-ahead players, looping players that
wanted to add a little more character—well,
in this case a lot more character—to their
loops without tap dancing around three other
pedals fell in love with the Lo-Fi Loop Junky.
With the Instant Lo-Fi Junky, Z.Vex
adapts the effects that make the Loop
Junky’s loops so, well, junky and puts them
in a stomp box without the looper. The
result is a tone-tweaking tool that very happily strays from the ordinary.
Junky uses a different set of components with
a combination of compression and vibrato
effects to replicate the tones you get using the
original Loop Junky’s recorded tone.
While the effects can be radical, the pedal
is among the simplest to operate in the Z.Vex
product line—with a set of knobs for Volume,
Tone, Vibrato Speed, Vibrato Depth, and a
Mix control for moving between full-com-pression and full-vibrato. There’s also a tiny,
3-way switch at the top of the pedal’s face that
changes the vibrato shape from sine to triangle or square waves. Either a 9V battery or
a standard Boss-style power supply, drawing
less than a miniscule 20 mA of power, powers
the analog, true-bypass circuit.
Engineer Joel Korte designed the Instant
Lo-Fi Junky by reverse-engineering Vex’s orig-
inal Lo-Fi Loop Junky circuit. But the Instant
Junky isn’t just the Lo-Fi Looper’s circuit
minus the looper. Instead, the Instant Lo-Fi
Clean Up This Junk!
For all intents and purposes, the Instant
Lo-Fi Junky houses some of the wackiest
tones in the entire Z.Vex line. But there
are also very usable and more conventional
sounds within. Rest assured, the Loop Junky’s
strange, vibrato-laden murk is perfectly preserved here, along with the option of mixing
in some out-of-this-world compression.
Before I delved into the lo-fi emulation
aspects of the pedal, I plugged it in between
a Fender Blacktop Telecaster and Fender ’ 65
you’re looking to experiment with new
textures in your guitar tone.
you’re perfectly happy with keeping
your tone’s high fidelity.
Street $219 (Vexter version);
$349 (handpainted version)
CLICKHere… or scan this QR code with a mobile device to hear audio clips of this pedal at premierguitar.com/nov2011.
Twin Reverb reissue, and turned the Comp/
Lo-Fi knob all the way to the left. Playing the
opening passage to “The Wind Cries Mary”
had me twitching in my seat—the compression is staggeringly good—reminiscent of
Z.Vex’s brightly-voiced Super Hard-On
booster, but with an unbelievable amount
of sustain and smoother response. It’s nearly
worth the price of admission alone.
Moving the Comp/Lo-Fi control clockwise brings the pedal’s lo-fi processing into
play. With the mix full-on, the tone is just as
gloomy and warbly as the Z.Vex’s looper, with
the added bonus of being able to drastically
change the waveform from smooth rises and
falls to sudden, immediate pitch-changes.
Pulling the Mix control back gave me a warm,
heavenly chorus that was reminiscent of a
beloved vintage Boss CE- 1 that I once owned,
but with more clarity and a wider scope.
Chorus may be one of the more conventional
and familiar effects out there, but Z.Vex managed to put their own stamp on it in this case.
Those aching to apply the Lo-Fi Loop Junky’s
granular tonal-qualities to their direct guitar-sounds will be extremely satisfied with the
Instant Lo-Fi Junky. The Instant Lo-Fi Junky’s
tone sounds much like its looper counterpart,
and has an incredible compression tone for
cleaner playing to boot, in addition to some
of the coolest chorus tones available on the
market. A lo-fi star to be sure, but one you
can use in proper company too.