Finally, the $6,000 guitar pedal that runs on a candle and looks like a Rube Goldberg machine.
Zachary Vex is the founder of ZVEX Effects, an effects pedal company based in Minnesota. The innovator’s unique approach to pedal construction has won him “mad scientist” status from Fretboard Journal, and some of the world’s best-known guitar players own his pedals. Malcolm Young (AC/DC), Trent Reznor (Nine Inch Nails), Billy Corgan (Smashing Pumpkins), and Annie Clark (St. Vincent) all rock a ZVEX. Vex has produced 29 pedals over the years, but none have been so impractical, exorbitantly priced, or badass as his latest creation.
The Candela Vibrophase is the world’s first candle-powered guitar effect. Yeah, this thing runs on tea lights. Most pedals, most electronic things everywhere, are either run on batteries or via external power supply, but not the Vibrophase. Vex has pioneered an incredibly elaborate machine that looks like an original Rube Goldberg. Actually, the crux of Vex’s pedal outdates Goldberg himself.
The candle’s energy is captured in a couple different ways. First, its heat is turned into mechanical motion and used to drive a piston in a Stirling Engine, a 200-year-old contraption designed as an alternative to the steam engine. The piston powers a flywheel, which spins an optical disc that sits between the candle and a photocell bank. As the candle’s light filters through the disc intermittently, a tremolo effect is created.
And the best part of this pedal is that it can be customized. An electronics package, powered by two solar cells running on the candle’s light, includes an adjustable knob and filter, and the optical disc can be altered infinitely—simply put: change the disc, change the sound. Vex explains the mechanics more thoroughly in the video above.
The Candela Vibrophase is completely handmade, hence the estimated asking price of six grand. But if you have the dough and want to reduce your guitar’s carbon footprint, this one’s for you. Let us know what you think of the pedal in the comments below.
IMAGE: Youtube/Z VEX