Electro Tools of the Trade – ElectroHarmonix
Besides being built like trucks, ElectroHarmonix (EHX) pedals just sound great. They have the perfect combination of quality single purpose and multi-purpose built into each of their pedals, so no single pedal is a one trick pony. My current arsenal for electro performance and recording includes:
- Stereo Pulsar Tremolo (purchased with virtual currency from Second Life)
- Holy Stain (Tremolo, Fuzz, Reverb, Pitch Bend)
- Voice Box (Harmony with some vocoder functions)
- Stereo Memory Man Delay
- Cathedral Stereo Reverb
- Ravish Sitar
One of the things I like most about analog pedals (as opposed to effect plugins) is the tactile experience of using the knobs and – at times – the somewhat random results that can be obtained by various routing combinations. My latest configuration using these pedals is as follows:
Monitor Send to Cathedral Stereo Reverb (returning to two channels on mixer). On my small mixer this turns out to be a pre-fader send. Effect Send to Stereo Memory Man Delay (also returning to two channels on mixer). On my small mixer this turns out to be a post-fader send. The “pre” or “post” nature of the send is critical to setting levels and, in some cases, results in unique effects in their own right that are only possible with that particular configuration. As for the signals I’ve put through these pedals? You name it. Acoustic and electric guitar, voice, Kaoss pad, percussion, keyboard…. lots of flexibility, as heard on my Signals with Shivasongster radio program.
Stereo Pulsar sounds great on a Strat or hollow-body electric guitar. It seems to work best on its own, or maybe just a touch of distortion. I usually do not have the Pulsar as part of my larger pedal board due to space issues. If I want tremolo, I’ll put the Holy Stain into action as it is practically the same tremolo effect. The Holy Stain’s fuzz and drive options (bright, dark, warm) are very good for a wide range of styles, and approach the tone I like most. These can be used in combination with the tremolo. The pitch bend option is less likely to be useful for anyone outside of experimental genres, but as such it is a lot of fun. Connect an optical sensor to the expression jack and you can have even more fun. I tend not to use the reverb (room and hall) very much because it muddies the sound, preferring to add this effect elsewhere in the chain. For a time, the Holy Stain was the only pedal I really felt like using because it was just so versatile. I only recently took the Holy Stain out of my signal chain because while preparing for EM2011 I ran into feedback control issues (even with a dedicated noise gate). Still, it is a great pedal.
Voice Box runs well using an SM58 or similar mic, and the phantom power allows use of condensers as well. Using a CAD e100 worked well for some experiments, but I prefer a dynamic like Sennheiser e835. The Voice Box is a touchy pedal in terms of input levels and it is hard to produce the same results between a headphone mix and a PA mix. The sounds it produces (chipmunk through demon voice and much in between) are easily overdone, so it’s worth some experimentation to see where this pedal fits in best. The Voice Box only has one proper vocoder mode, which again is touchy and takes some time to master. Those searching for more actual vocoding capability are probably better off with the EHX V256. These days I tend to use the vocoding options in Reason, but for the tactile experience and live manipulation, you can’t beat a pedal.
The Ravish Sitar, which simulates the sound of sitar and instruments with sympathetic strings, is the latest edition to my collection. I resisted getting one of these for several months because I didn’t want to fall into the trap of another device. I lost that battle after watching several online videos. I really wish my tabla player was in town now! The Ravish has been a lot of fun to use, but it is definitely an acquired taste. I’d also advise reading the manual on this one. And it may be necessary to add an expression pedal to fully exploit the capability of this one. The Ravish pedal will definitely be featured on my 2012 electro collection, but the challenge will be reigning it in. That’s testament to well-made products that continue to inspire even after the first day they arrive.
This is by far my favorite promotional video for any product: