Since the summer of 2009, Bill Ruppert has been surprising and impressing guitarists on the web with a series of Effectology videos that he created in conjunction with Electro-Harmonix. In the videos, Ruppert uses only Electro-Harmonix pedals to imitate different instruments, recreate classic songs, and mimic real-life sounds—a blues harmonica, the synth intro on The Who’s “Won’t Get Fooled Again,” and a jet taking off are just a few sound samples he’s conquered.

The videos consist of panes explaining what pedals Ruppert is using for which sounds and why. But he also shares his settings and techniques in detail on the company’s forums. Cynics might write the series off as a promotional tool for Electro-Harmonix—which it is—but we see it as a testament to what the guitar is capable of in the right hands, with the right tools, and with lots of time for experimentation.

And Ruppert definitely has capable hands. A studio musician in Chicago for 25 years, he has played on close to 10,000 album and TV-commercial sessions. He says he usually begins with a topic in mind, then hits his “mad scientist lab” to chase down the sounds with his arsenal of EHX pedals. The audio is recorded direct using a clean amp simulator.

Each video is a new challenge for Ruppert, and some come easier than others. For Vol. 1, Ruppert just found the harmonica sound while playing around with pedals and then built the video around it. Others take hours of experimentation. “Reproducing the sound of bubbling water was quite a task,” says Ruppert of the “babbling brook” sound in the “Envelope Oddities” video (Vol. 14). “A lot of time was spent just thinking about that sound before I started to work on it.” Ruppert says he has several ideas in the works for new installments of the series, but he’s keeping mum on the matter. “I wouldn’t want to spoil the surprise!”

The Videos
As of press time, Ruppert had just released his 14th installment. Here are some of the highlights:

Effectology Does The Who’s “Won’t Get Fooled Again”
In the video that started it all, Ruppert uses just an Electro-Harmonix HOG pedal to recreate the iconic opening to The Who classic.

Vol. 1: Electric Guitar Plays Blues Harmonica
In what is actually the second Effectology video, Ruppert convincingly mimics a blues club jam—complete with a riffing harmonica—using Electro-Harmonix HOG, Micro Synthesizer, Wiggler, and Holiest Grail pedals.

Vol. 2: Dark Side of the Moon
Tackling another classic, Ruppert loops and repeats his way to the synth effects heard on Pink Floyd’s “On the Run”—complete with chopper. Ruppert uses a Micro Synthesizer, Stereo Memory Man with Hazarai, Frequency Analyzer, Big Muff Pi, and Stereo Pulsar for this clip.

Vol. 4: Hammond B-3 Organ
Using just a HOG and a Soul Preacher, Ruppert brings the funk and soul of the classic Hammond B-3 organ.

The Series
Effectology Does The Who’s “Won’t Get
Fooled Again”
Vol. 1: Electric Guitar Plays Blues Harmonica
Vol. 2: Dark Side of the Moon
Vol. 3: Cello Concerto for Guitar and
Effects Pedals
Vol. 4: Hammond B-3 Organ
Vol. 5: “Autobahn”
Vol. 6: The Mellotron
Vol. 7: Reverb Tricks
Vol. 8: Telstar – The Clavioline
Vol. 9: Terrifying Effect Pedals
Vol. 10: Electric Piano Effect (Led Zeppelin
— “No Quarter”)
Vol. 11: Crystal Shimmer Effects
Vol. 12: The Uillean Pipes
Vol. 13: Pink Floyd Synth Effects (“Welcome
to the Machine”)
Vol. 14: Envelope Filter Oddities
Vol. 8: Telstar — The Clavioline
By the middle of the series, it’s clear that Ruppert is really hitting a stride with this ambitious video that demonstrates the Clavioline, an early tube synthesizer, as used on the ’60s hit “Telstar.” He gets bonus points for also simulating a rocket launch, Morse code, and radio frequencies using eight pedals: A Soul Preacher, a Stereo Memory Man, a Big Muff, a Pulsar, a Poly Phase, a Micro Synthesizer, a Cathedral, and a Poly Chorus.

Vol. 9: Terrifying Effect Pedals
In the most-watched video of the series, released on October 28, 2009, Ruppert produces a number of familiar horror sound effects and music—including the Twilight Zone theme, a stormy night, and vintage Theremin sounds—using different combinations of the Soul Preacher, Stereo Memory Man, MicroSynth, Cathedral, Tube EQ, Deluxe Memory Man, POG, POG2, Big Muff, Frequency Analyzer, and HOG Signal Pad.

Vol. 14: Envelope Filter Oddities
Effectology’s most recent offering shows off the ability of envelope filters to cop the sounds of canaries, a babbling brook, a scratchy vintage record and guitar tone, and an intense synth sound that uses feedback loops. Every new video brings a surprising new way to apply effects that is entertaining and fun to watch and listen to. The fact that Ruppert then logs on to the EHX forums to detail his settings and answer questions is the icing on the cake.