Electro Harmonix pedals (EHX) are some of the oldest and most respected effects for guitar and bass. Founder Mike Matthews is crazy in all the right ways and having come from a keyboard background he has a unique perspective on sound and music that normal guitarists might not think of.
Since EHX made their first release with the LPB-1 in 1969, they have continued to release distinct pedals with signature sounds.
So what’s the catch? EHX releases a LOT of pedals, and sometimes multiple versions with slight changes. I’ve done the work to sort through all that.
Below is my list of the MUST HAVE Electro Harmonix pedals.
These are my top “get ’em while their hot” pedals. This would make a killer pedal board too. Best of all, everything is designed and assembled in New York City. Amazingly, EHX pedals have some of the lowest prices for guitar effects making them an amazing deal.
1: Micro POG (check prices)
EHX rewrote the rules when the Micro POG was released. This is the smaller and simplified version of the larger POG2 and the huge HOG, both a crazy pair of powerful guitar synths, the Micro POG creates beautiful glitch free octave down and octave up versions of your guitar tone. This allows you to expand your sound in a way that was previously not attainable. From church organs and celestial choirs to dark metal riffs that burn a hole in your amp, the Micro POG does it all. Users include everyone from Jack White to Josh Homme from Queens of the Stone Age.
EHX also makes the Nano POG, an even smaller and less expensive version.
This technology has also been used in the recent series of EHX pedals designed to make your guitar sound like dedicated organ or keyboard such as the:
- B9 – Classic (Hammond) organ sounds
- C9 – Clavinet sounding tones
- KEY9 – All those electronic keyboard sounds we love.
- MEL9 – Mellotron tape style keyboard sounds (Think “Strawberry Fields Forever”)
2: Soul Food (check prices)
Have you heard of the Klon Centaur? If not, the Klon was/is a guitar overdrive pedal that Bill Finnegan developed and hand built between 1990 and 1994. The Centaur is characterized as a “transparent” overdrive, meaning it adds gain without significantly altering the tone of the guitar. Oh… And they sell on E-Bay for THOUSANDS of dollars.
Hundreds of third party manufactures have tried to clone the original. You often see these “Klones” running $200-$300.
In Classic Mike Mathews fashion, EHX released there own version of this pedal and priced it less that $100.
Oh… and people LOVE it. Enough said. Done. Get one. Enjoy.
And to make things even more fun, if you want a Soul Food and a Micro POG in one compact pedal, EHX now makes the Soul POG. It even has an effects loop so you can patch-in the rest of your rig in as needed. EHX, you crazy bastards! I love it.
3: Big Muff Pi with Tone Wicker (check prices)
The Big Muff is, without a doubt, one of the most famous guitar effects of all time. This dark fuzz with infinite sustain has become one of the signature fuzz tones along side other designs like the Fuzz Face and ToneBender. The most famous user has to be David Gilmore and his smooth never ending violin like sustain.
If you only buy one EHX pedal, most likely it’s going to be a Big Muff.
I have chosen to list the Big Muff with Tone Wicker as it’s a popular and versatile option. The Wicker switch helps to adjust frequencies, making the pedal cut in the mix more and giving you additional tone control without being overly complicated.
- Big Muff Pi – the big boy original.
- Little Big Muff Pi – The original, but smaller.
- Nano Big Muff Pi – The original, but micro sized and requiring a power supply.
- Big Muff Pi with Tone Wicker – as described above.
- Deluxe Big Muff Pi – The original reimagined with even more controls.
- Germanium Big Muff Pi – 4 Germanium transistors and the ability to divide the Big Muff into it’s distortion and Overdrive channels independently.
4: Stereo Electric Mistress (check prices)
I’ll keep this short… There are only a handful of flangers that have become “The one to own.” This is one of them. Besides some super classic tones it has this signature “freeze” feature where the flanger remains peaked and doesn’t move.
Available in various versions, you can find an Electric Mistress that suits your needs (and budget).
Check out this great video about flangers and hear why the Electric Mistress is so beloved:
5: Memory Man/Boy/toy (check prices)
Delay is one of those effects that guitar players love to hate. Everyone has a specific type of delay they like and countless versions they detest. Luckily for EHX they hit gold with the Memory Man. This pedal, and its many offshoots have become beloved among delay snobs.
I will admit that I am not a huge fan of the Memory Boy and the way the sound decays; for lack of a better explanation, I feel like it begins to sound like ring modulation. But, this is just my feeling and countless others love that pedal.
What I am a fan of is control and the Memory Man and Memory Boy give you a lot of options to control your sound.
In fact there are so many controls and versions of these pedals that it can be hard to pick the right one for you.
I’ll try to breakdown the main differences between the versions below.
Oh, and if you like to keep it simple, EHX sells a small and super inexpensive three knob version called the Memory Toy. More on that below.
It was time consuming, but I tried to break down all the Memory Man/Boy/Toy versions so you can get a straight forward idea of the differences.
Basically EHX made the Memory Man, those parts got crazy expensive so they created the Memory Boy. The Memory Toy is a simpler version of the Memory Boy.
The Stereo Memory Man is a whole new digital circuit designed to bring the Memory Man’s sound into the digital age.
- Deluxe Memory Man – Up to 550 milliseconds of vibrant echo that rivals tape delay; lush, spatial chorus and haunting vibrato are just a few of the extra treats this pedal does so well.
- Deluxe Memory Man 1100-TT – Hard to find. Equipped with Tap Tempo, up to 1100 milliseconds of delay, Expression Control and an Effects Loop. Choose from five Tap Divide subdivisions for rhythmic variation. The Expression Pedal Input provides real time control over Blend, Rate, Depth, Feedback and Delay. The Effects Loop lets you insert effects into your wet signal without changing your dry signal. The Deluxe Memory Man 1100-TT is only occasionally available due to the very rare NOS IC’s it requires. That’s why EHX created the….
- Deluxe Memory Man 550-TT – This pedal shares all the powerful features of the 1100mS unit, except for its longer delay time. 550 stands for its maximum delay time in milliseconds and that’s the same spec as the classic Deluxe Memory Man
- Memory Boy (with Chorus/Vibrato) – The Memory Man uses rare and expensive parts. As a result EHX set out the design a pedal using new analog IC’s. The focus was making the legendary Memory Man affordable to every musician while maintaining the character and artistic sounds everyone loves. Like the original Memory Man, the Memory Boy contains Chorus and Vibrato settings. If you want Tap Tempo….
- Deluxe Memory Boy w/ tap tempo – Warm and organic analog tones with a “tap tempo” switch so you can always be in sync with the groove. Choose five note divisions for metronomic variances. Modulations can be set while the expression pedal input gives you external control.
- Memory Toy – analog delay for musicians who covet thick sound from a thin wallet. The Memory Toy gives you up to 550ms of delay. The selectable chorus is a lush bonus harking back to the original. This is a great competitor to the MRX Carbon Copy.
- Stereo Memory Man with Hazarai – First up, this pedal is DIGITAL and contains up to 3 seconds of delay. Once you wrap your head around that, it’s time to take note that this pedal is also a 30 second looper, a multi-tap delay, and an echo with reverse… And all of that is in stereo. This might be the biggest departure from the original Memory Man, but it’s has a lot of character. What is Hazarai? Mike Mathews says, “It means all the extra stuff. You know, give me a frank with all the Hazarai.”
Okay, so that’s my list of the Five Must Have Electro Harmonix Pedals.
EHX makes a lot of stuff and sometimes they feel like crazy experiments. But, the good news is that the prices are often within reach and when they hit it out of the park they really nail it. We need more crazy ideas in the guitar world.