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Known for their experimental and “out-there” guitar pedal designs, EHX’s ethos has largely remained unchanged, even five decades later. In the 21st Century, the company continues to pioneer new circuits, regularly releasing fresh, innovative pedals to captivate guitarists that are seeking to expand their tonal palettes.
One of their most famous early users includes David Gilmour, who used the Big Muff Pi Fuzz and Electric Mistress Flanger to pioneer Pink Floyd’s groundbreaking rock sound in the 70s. Thousands of notorious guitarists and bassists have used EHX pedals since, and they continue to draw in modern players with their forward-thinking products.
History of Electro Harmonix
Founded in the late 1960s by Mike Matthews, this New York-based company has become one of the most established pedal brands in the guitar industry. Trail-blazers amongst their contemporaries, Electro Harmonix essentially invented the “stompbox” format, making it easier for guitarists to manipulate their sound and form pedalboards with multiple effect units.
Also affordable, Electro Harmonix found great success in its earlier days, popular with guitarists that were desperate to discover new sounds without resorting to expensive studio outboard gear.
Released in 1969, the Big Muff Pi was one the first pedals released by the company and is still a core part of their product catalogue. Used by progressive and hard rock bands of the era, the unit had a renaissance in the 90s, with Billy Corgan of The Smashing Pumpkins using the Big Muff Pi to form the thick, layered wall-of-sound fuzz tones heard on Siamese Dream (1993).
Another early EHX pedal included the Linear Power Booster (LPB-1). A clean boost, this unit could give guitarists an extra kick of volume for solos, also helping to drive their amplifiers into distorted territory.
The Electro Harmonix Range
There is huge diversity in Electro Harmonix’s product range, with their effects used by artists of multiple genres and styles. But in this next section, we’ll take a look at some of their staple units, many of which have become industry standards.
The Electric Mistress Flanger is a classic, with a super-sweet liquid-like sound that has been heard on many recordings. The Small Clone is another modulation essential, with an extremely deep and rich chorus tone. Kurt Cobain used this pedal to great effect across Nirvana’s back catalogue, on singles such as “Come As You Are” and “Lithium”.
The Electro Harmonix Memory Man was a game-changing delay pedal, allowing players to attain echo sounds from a compact pedal. Essentially bringing an end to the large, cumbersome Echoplex units, the Memory Man quickly became the go-to delay unit, with The Edge (U2) taking advantage of its crystal clear repeats.
Fuzz and Distortion
The Big Muff Pi has been subjected to many modifications over the years, and several iterations of this iconic pedal exist today. The Green Russian Big Muff is renowned for its smoother, more-engulfing sound, with boomier lows and a higher amount of headroom.
There’s also the Metal Muff, which is more akin to a high-gain distortion pedal. Sporting a 3-band EQ, the Metal Muff delivers an amp-like feel and tone, with a boost circuit tightening up its sound and providing some extra, gnarly saturation.
Electro Harmonix has practically cornered the octaver pedal market with its POG pedals. Available in multiple sizes and with different control sets, the POG units offer excellent tracking and convincing upper/lower octave translation. The full-fat POG2 offers control over 5 different octaves (including the dry signal), meaning that you can attain synth-esque tones.