Z.Vex unveils world's first candle-powered effects pedal, the Candela Vibrophase

One of our effects highlights of this year's NAMM was undoubtedly Z.Vex's mechanically ingenious Candela Vibrophase - the world's first candle-powered guitar effects pedal, no less - and now Zachary Vex has offered his madcap creation up for sale.

Vex estimates that a hand-crafted Candela will set you back $6,000 - but don't hold your breath for a Vexter version of this phaser/vibrato just yet; get a load of how this steampunk stompbox operates…

From our very basic knowledge of 1800s machinery (and Zachary's very helpful explanation), here's a rough approximation of the Candela's inner workings: a single candle illuminates two solar cells to provide nine volts at 0.33mA; simultaneously, the candle heats the Stirling engine, which turns an optical disk.

The speed of the flywheel can be altered by swinging a magnet toward its edge, while the Vibrophase effect itself is located in a black tube on its own stand - the light from the candle passes through the partially blacked-out optical disk and shines on the circuit's photocells, and this is what modulates the vibrato/phaser circuit.

There are many more adjustments that can be made, but that's about the gist of it. Mr Vex claims the Candela's inner workings have a great effect on the sound, too.

"Until the Candela, I've never made a modulation effect that makes the amp sound like it's floating around spinning," he says. "It's honestly the first time I've heard a mono source that sounds stereo through a single speaker. It must be because it has a physically spinning modulation source but I can't really explain it."

Now, we can't be sure that we'll get this one in for review, but it would sure look good spinning away in the MusicRadar offices. Anyone got $6,000 going spare?

Michael Astley-Brown

Mike is Editor-in-Chief of GuitarWorld.com, in addition to being an offset fiend and recovering pedal addict. He has a master's degree in journalism, and has spent the past decade writing and editing for guitar publications including MusicRadar, Total Guitar and Guitarist, as well as a decade-and-a-half performing in bands of variable genre (and quality). In his free time, you'll find him making progressive instrumental rock under the nom de plume Maebe.