Electro-Harmonix effects have been known for many things: great value, amazing tone and somewhat delicate cases.
Electro-Harmonix effects have been known for many things: great value, amazing tone and somewhat delicate cases. It has always been an accepted evil in the price/ performance equation, with some people going as far as using loopers to keep their favorite pedals away from threatening feet. Inexpensive, great sounding and sturdy. Until recently, the choice was pick any two.
Mike Mathews, the mastermind behind EH, whose name is synonymous with manufacturing tubes in the former Soviet Republic, subsequent run-ins with the Russian mob, as well as being a true innovator in general, addressed the issue of delicacy recently by shoe-horning a few single knob effects into some sturdier cases, and marketing them as the Nano line. These have been successful enough to warrant sourcing some larger, equally sturdy die-cast cases and giving some larger box effects the same treatment. Dubbed the XO series, the good people at EH were kind enough to send us a few to check out. They sent the Stereo Pulsar tremelo, the Stereo Polyphase phaser and the Clone Theory chorus. All three pedals feature sturdy-looking corrugated metal enclosures with retro silk screening and true-bypass switching.
The Stereo Pulsar
First we have the Stereo Pulsar (MSRP $110.00). In typical EH fashion, this pedal is quirky, but yields tons of chewy, organic tremolo. With some tweaking, it will get close to vintage Fender territory, but that is not its forte. Instead, think oddball vintage tremolo, like an old Supro or Selmer amp. It offers plenty of adjustment with Depth, Shape and Rate knobs and a switch that goes from triangle to square wave.
The controls are interactive enough that changing one appreciably will require tweaking at least one other. The Depth and Rate controls are self-explanatory. The Shape knob is where the fun begins. With the wave shape switch in triangle mode, the Shape knob adjusts from rising sawtooth, to triangle, to falling sawtooth. When in square wave mode it goes from small pulse, to square wave, to large pulse. The more extreme settings aren’t super useful in mono, with most of the good stuff in the middle. In stereo, however, they can create some really incredible sounds, with the pulse modulating useful in virtually all Shape settings across the stereo field.
Switching back-and-forth between square and triangle wave, the shapes produced covered everything from the aforementioned vintage weirdness to a more modern, chopper-blade on-off thing. The Pulsar was able to make unique sounds that could easily become integral to a riff or a song, especially in stereo.
The Stereo Polyphase
Next up was the Stereo Polyphase (MSRP $278.00 w/ 24V power supply). EH is famous for making pedals like this, which are almost overwhelming in what they can do. This thing isn’t set-all-the-knobs-at-noon and have at it, but with a little time a hot mess of really usable sounds are available.
Sonically speaking, the Feedback control behaves like a depth control, while Gain sets the input level in ENV mode. Mode selects between ENV (envelope), LFO (low frequency oscillator), and EXP (expression pedal). The Start and Stop knobs select the range of the sweep – very cool. The Rate knob then controls the oscillator speed in LFO mode. In the center there is a switch to go from slow to fast in ENV mode or triangle wave to square wave in LFO mode.
In LFO mode everything from ‘70s swirl to ‘vibe whirl is available, in addition to a passable slow Leslie sound. In envelope follower mode, I was able to get some nice vowel-ly sounds once the input gain was set properly. Envelope follower effects have always fallen flat for me in the past, due in no small part to them conjuring up images of jam bands twenty minutes past the interesting part of the third guitar solo; however, the Stereo Polyphase does its own thing quite nicely, thank you. I was able to oww oww myself into a virtual coma without once imagining dubious-smelling vegetarians whirling around me. Although the Stereo Polyphase sounded nice in stereo, it wasn’t quite as spiritual as the Pulsar plugged into two amps.
The Clone Theory
Finally, I plugged in the Clone Theory (MSRP $158.00). The arrival of this pedal coincided with my search for a nice, fat chorus pedal that was fast enough for a convincing Leslie sound. I popped the pedal out of the box, plugged it in, then moved the Mode knob to CHR 1, which sets the Clone Theory up like a Small Stone, with only Rate being active and Depth being set automatically. I moved the Rate knob to a fast setting, and boom, there it was. It was so obvious that my wife came flying into the room, exclaiming, “That’s it! That’s the sound you’ve been looking for, isn’t it?” She was correct in her assumption.
Further adjustments of the Rate knob offered up pretty much every ‘80s chorus sound one could hope for, from Nirvana to the Pretenders. Moving the Mode knob to CHR 2 allowed the Depth control to come into play. Cool seasick warbles and Japanese toy robot sounds live here. VIBR is vibrato mode, and while sounding best when used in stereo, wasn’t my favorite. And you know what? All the sounds – great, good, and marginal – were noisy. Really noisy.
The Final Mojo
Electro-Harmonix has done a fantastic job with the XO series, and has certainly taken care of any sturdiness issues. The Stereo Polyphase is a great pedal, and the Stereo Pulsar is amazing. It is definitely the star of this show, but I would have no qualms recommending either. The Clone Theory has some amazing sounds bottled up inside, but I would like to see the noise issue dealt with before I give it an enthusiastic thumbs up.
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This full-amp-stack-in-a-box pedal brings a new flavor to the Guitar Legend Tone Series of pedals, Missing Link Audio’s flagship product line.
Adding to the company’s line of premium-quality effects pedals, Missing Link Audio has unleashed the new AC/Overdrive pedal. This full-amp-stack-in-a-box pedal – the only Angus & Malcom all-in-one stompbox on the market – brings a new flavor to the Guitar Legend Tone Series of pedals, Missing Link Audio’s flagship product line.
The AC/OD layout has three knobs to control Volume, Gain and Tone. That user-friendly format is perfect for quickly getting your ideal tone, and it also offers a ton of versatility. MLA’s new AC/OD absolutely nails the Angus tone from the days of “High Voltage” to "Back in Black”. You can also easily dial inMalcom with the turn of a knob. The pedal covers a broad range of sonic terrain, from boost to hot overdrive to complete tube-like saturation. The pedal is designed to leave on all the time and is very touch responsive. You can get everything from fat rhythm tones to a perfect lead tone just by using your guitar’s volume knob and your right-hand attack.
- Three knobs to control Volume, Gain and Tone
- Die-cast aluminum cases for gig-worthy durability
- Limited lifetime warranty
- True bypass on/off switch
- 9-volt DC input
- Made in the USA
MLA Pedals AC/OD - Music & Demo by A. Barrero
Sporting custom artwork etched onto the covers, the Railhammer Billy Corgan Z-One Humcutters are designed to offer a fat midrange and a smooth top end.
Billy Corgan was looking for something for heavier Smashing Pumpkins songs, so Joe Naylor designed the Railhammer Billy Corgan Z-One pickup. Sporting custom artwork etched onto the covers, the Railhammer Billy Corgan Z-One Humcutters have a fat midrange and a smooth top end. This pickup combines the drive and sustain of a humbucker with the percussive attack and string clarity of a P90. Get beefy P90 tone plus amp-pummeling output with the Railhammer Billy Corgan Z-One.
Patented Railhammer Pickups take passive guitar pickups to a new level with rails under the wound strings lead to tighter lows, and poles under the plain strings offer fatter heights. With increased clarity, the passive pickup’s tone is never sterile.
Railhammer Billy Corgan Signature Z-One Pickup Demo
For more information, please visit railhammer.com.
Designed for utmost comfort and performance, the Vertigo Ultra Bass is Mono’s answer to those who seek the ultimate gigging experience.
Complete with a range of game-changing design features, such as the patent-pending attachable FREERIDE Wheel System, premium water-resistant and reflective materials, shockproof shell structure and improved ergonomic features, the Vertigo Ultra Bass takes gear protection to the next level.
The Vertigo Ultra Bass features:
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- Upgraded materials, including a water-resistant 1680D Ballistic Nylon outer shell, plush inner lining and new reflective trim for maximum backstage and night visibility
- Enhanced protection with a shockproof shell structure and heavy-duty water-resistant YKK zippers for protection from the elements
- Improved ergonomics and functionality including added back support and load-lifting detachable shoulder straps with side release buckles
- Flexible storage options with added space for touring essentials