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Electro-Harmonix Neo Mistress Pedal Review

Electro-Harmonix Neo Mistress Pedal Review

Electro-Harmonix has packed much of the punch of the original into the company’s Nano-sized package for guitarists with limited pedalboard real estate.

Like delay, flanging was born through creative use of magnetic tape machines. Applied to vocals and guitar, the unmistakable swirling effect of flanging helped define the sound of the psychedelic ’60s. And though the effect was originally only obtainable in the studio by manipulating the speed of spinning tape reels, companies like A/DA, Electro-Harmonix, and Univox were building stompbox versions by the ’70s. Electro-Harmonix’s Electric Mistress remains among the most renowned of these units and remains in production to this day. With the release of the Neo Mistress, Electro-Harmonix has packed much of the punch of the original into the company’s Nano-sized package for guitarists with limited pedalboard real estate.

Guaranteed to Blow Your Mind
With two knobs, an LED, and a footswitch, the Neo Mistress appears exceedingly simple. But like so many Electro- Harmonix stompboxes, there’s more going on than meets the eye. Rate and Feedback controls enable adjustments of speed and intensity, but there’s also a Filter Matrix Mode, similar to that found in the Electric Mistress, that enables you to create more unusual tones outside the realm of typical flanging.

With the Neo Mistress between my Gibson SG and a vintage Fender Bassman, I set both controls to 12 o’clock. The first thing I noticed was the slowly changing color of the status LED. At the lowest point in the flange sweep, the LED glows green. It then blends from orange to red at the highest point in the flange sweep. This handy feature gives you visual feedback on the pedal’s rate. With both controls at noon, the flange effect is quite slow, evoking the sci-fi image of my guitar being scanned by some sort of ominous robot eye in the sky. A full cycle of the flange wave takes about six seconds at this setting.

Turning the Feedback control up to about 3 o’clock increases the intensity of the wave and lends a more focused, resonant, and metallic tone, while adding a sinister touch to the sound. Setting the Rate knob at about 2 o’clock shortens the scan cycle to about once every second. With the Rate nearly maxed, the sweeps flutter with almost imperceptible speed that sound like convulsions of your consciousness as it’s assimilated into the fabric of space and time. Yes, the Neo Mistress can sound very weird, as well as musical.

Filter Matrix Mode
counterclockwise from this position, the pedal enters its Filter Matrix Mode (a function that’s activated with a switch on the Deluxe Electric Mistress). In this setting, you can effectively freeze the position of the flange at a fixed point on the wave, and then use the Feedback control to increase the resonance. Depending on where you set the Feedback, you can get chiming but metallic-tinged tones that sound almost synth-like. With my Fender Stratocaster and a high Feedback setting, the Neo Mistress transformed the brighter tones of the Fender single-coils into something like a steel drum. But careful tweaking of the Feedback knob will also bring out more natural-sounding frequencies that can make your tone more distinctive for breaks and solos.

The Verdict
For some players, one of the real drawbacks of the Electric Mistress and Deluxe Electric Mistress is their large footprint. The Neo Mistress addresses that concern in a major way by fitting much of the modulation horsepower of the original Mistress and Deluxe into a box the size of an MXR pedal. You sacrifice some of the tone coloration potential you get from a Deluxe’s Color control, for instance, but with the onboard Filter Matrix Mode, the Neo is still a great tool for staking out some very distinctive—and unusual— sonic ground in a band mix.
Buy if...
you’re looking for a compact, yet versatile and cool-sounding flange.
Skip if...
you need stereo functionality or require more tone-shaping control.

Street $89 - Electro-Harmoix -

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