Hi everyone, Brian with World Music Supply here, and today I’m here to talk to you about some weird pedals from none other than our friends over at Electro Harmonix. Now we all know there are some pedals that guitarists just cant live without, some of us have more or less than others, but most of us atleast have the bare essentials laying around. You have your distortions, the chorus and wahs, some delays here and there, and that’s great, but sometimes you just need a sound that’s a little…more out there. That’s where companies like Electro Harmonix come in, supplying weird guitarists with weird sounds for more then fifty years now. Today I’m going to review three of what I consider their most out there pedals on the market right now.
First up is the talking machine, a strange little auto wah style effect that instead of producing the typical wah style quack, produces talk box and vocoder style vowel sounds. The best part about this pedal is that it is so versatile at doing weird things, you can have it as a “talking machine” making it sound like your guitar is some kind of singing robot, with tons of ow and ee sounds. You can have it as an atypical sounding auto wah, with super bright snappy filter sweeps which add a nice funk character to anything, and you can even have it controlled by a foot switch which allows for long, slow vowel swells , making your guitar sound like some kind of synth rather than a heavily effected guitar.
I found this last effect very musically useful, allowing me to do big washes of guitars without over powering the mix with weird noises. The weird noises part was useful too, but you have to be careful with it, over using it makes you sound a little odd, but using it for a solo here, a fill there, and it’s just as effective as a talk box. The auto wah is great, and controlling it with a foot controller is equally useful with big fun quacks just like any other wah, just with a lot more control. You even have one effect that is sort of a filter tremolo, which instead of cutting your sound out, filters it out, resulting in a familiar if somewhat bizarre sound. For its ability to be super odd and still have one foot in the realm of normality the talking machine gets a well voiced 10 out of 10.
Next up is a personal favorite, the Micro Synth, which is half way between a distortion pedal and an old Moog synthesizer, allowing you to have cool sharp sounding distortion, all the way to blistering keyboard sounding attacks. Sounding something like an old analog keyboard, the micro synth allows you have the ability to do everything from frequency sweep upper octave guitar stabs to deep full bass sounds.
The most useful aspect of the micro synth is as an octave pedal, or for its auto wah esc filter sweeps, but you dont by a pedal like this to do normal things, you get a pedal like this so you can play big fat synth tones on a guitar. The best part of this pedal is once you master it, you can sound like the synth in the song Frankenstein by the Edgar Winters group, which is an amazing feeling to hear that zing out of a guitar amp. It takes some getting used to, having to learn the sweep time and frequency peak of the different sliders, but once you’ve got it, this pedal will open a whole world of fun 70s synth style tones to you. For its ability to let the guitarist feel like he’s playing a mini moog rather than his guitar, the Micro Synth gets a well deserved 9 out of 10.
Last up in the review is the now legendary HOG. The HOG was dreamed up as the “obvious” successor to the ocavia on steroids that is the POG. By taking you out of the realm of parallel octaves, and into the realm of harmonic additive synthesizing, the HOG sure did a lot more than they had planned on it doing. The HOG is one of those pedals that you just have to play to fully understand, but I’ll try and do my best.
The HOG’s pitch sliders will feel familiar to anyone who has ever had the experience of playing a Hammond organ, with its range being -2 octaves, -1 octave, Original note, +5th, +1 octave, +1 octave +5th, +2 octaves, +2 octaves + 3rd, +3 octaves, +4 octaves. This means you can sound like a vintage organ, but oh no, they didn’t just give you an organ for your guitar, they also threw in features like a “freeze glissando”, a foot pedal controlled pitch bend, and a feature that allows you to sweep through the different octave ranges with a foot pedal, meaning this pedal is the equivalent of giving a piano player a brand new synthesizer, this takes your guitar to levels that are difficult even to imagine.
Using the HOG I was able to transform my sound to that of a big B3 style organ, to church bell, to a guitar and a combo organ, I was able to use the HOG like a whammy pedal, sliding around like I was a pedal steel guitarist, I was even able to make my guitar sound like some kind of sci-fi monster. The HOG is by far the weirdest and most versatile pedals I have ever encountered, although odds are it will change the way you play guitar entirely, making you think almost more like a keyboard player than a guitarist, it receives a well deserved 10 out of 10.
So there you have it guys, three pedals that sound like no other pedal on the market. They might not get as much track time as say your favorite distortion pedal, or your wah, but they will defiantly add some new and exciting textures to any guitarists arsenal, and you can get them right now at Worldmusicsupply.com!