The Best Electro-Harmonix Pedals

Electro-Harmonix is one of the most famous companies ever to make the best guitar pedals. Founded in the 1960s by legendary engineer Mike Matthews, EHX has produced some of the most famous effects ever for the guitar. Pedals like the Deluxe Memory Man, Big Muff, and Small Stone have influenced generations of guitarists and created countless unique sounds.

But even today, EHX continues to innovate. Unlike many other famous pedal companies, who charge boutique level prices or rely on reissues of famous gear from past eras, EHX pedals are consistently outstanding, and often way outside the traditional “box.”

Most importantly, many EHX pedals are very affordable. This makes them a great choice for all types of guitar players. No matter which genres you like to play, or how much money you have in your budget, you’ll be able to check out a wide variety of EHX pedals.

This guide rounds up some of the best Electro-Harmonix pedals, which the company makes today. Some of these pedals are new designs, while some are reissues of classic gear. However, they’re all available for you to purchase today. Many of these pedals can be found new or used for less than $100, which is another great plus!

Big Muff Fuzz

The Big Muff is one of the earliest fuzz pedals in history. Released for the first time in 1969, it’s continued to sell in multiple different forms for over 50 years. The Muff contains a unique circuit with three different capacitors in different stages of the pedal.

This gives it a thick, punishing sound with plenty of harmonics and almost limitless sustain. It works great for heavy fuzz lead guitar tones, but it can also clean up when you turned your volume down. This adds versatility to the pedal across genres. On the other hand, some guitarists love to turn it up all the way and blast the fuzz. The Smashing Pumpkins, for example, popularized this style in the 1990s.

The Big Muff has also been used by dozens of famous guitarists, in nearly every genre imaginable. David Gilmour was one of the first famous users — he picked a Big Muff to use on Pink Floyd classics like the band’s Live From Pompeii set and albums like The Dark Side of the Moon.

Since then, players from Kurt Cobain and The Edge to John Frusciante and Jack White have loved the Big Muff. Alternate versions of the pedal, like the Op-Amp Big Muff released in the 1970s and 1980s, have also found users like Billy Corgan. Even bassists like Flea use the Big Muff. The pedal’s upfront attack and heavy harmonic overtones lend themselves well to the bass.

One of the main reasons the Big Muff Pi has become so popular is its different variations. Over the years, EHX has released versions of the Big Muff with various different components and internal EQ settings, which produce different sounds from each other. Smart listeners can distinguish the differences between the types of the pedal, and find the exact flavor they like for the perfect tone.

Big Muff Versions Available Today

If you want to pick up a Big Muff for yourself, you’ll need to understand the different versions. While they’re all within the same family, the minor differences can still create a significant change in your tone!

The classic Big Muff design is the “NYC” Big Muff, also referred to as the “standard” Big Muff or “black and red” Big Muff. This was the first Big Muff design, and it’s by far the most popular. If you hear an artist using a Big Muff on a record or live, chances are it’s this type of pedal.

The standard Big Muff also comes in “Little Big Muff” and “Nano Big Muff” versions. These provide the same tone as the larger design — the only differences are the size, price, and aesthetics. If you want to get the vintage feel and look, the standard Big Muff will work best. However, the Little Big Muff and Nano Big Muff are great ways to save money and space on your pedalboard.

Alternate Versions

However, the other versions of the Big Muff are also highly sought after. Collectors favor the rare original versions, but EHX has often reissued these pedals, to give everyday players the chance to access the same tones.

One of those famous alternate designs was the Op-Amp Big Muff. Used by Billy Corgan, among others, this pedal design is known for its amazing sustain and rich tonal harmonics. Listen to albums like the Smashing Pumpkins’ Siamese Dream to hear an Op-Amp Big Muff in action.

Today, EHX has reissued this pedal for the modern market. It comes with the standard volume, tone, and gain knobs. However, you can switch off the tone knob, which causes the pedal to bypass the tone circuit entirely. This is great for a classic, two-knob fuzz setup. If you want a budget option, you can also look for the similar Behringer Super Fuzz.

Another popular alternate version of the Big Muff is the Sovtek Green Russian Big Muff. These pedals were first produced in the 1970s, through Electro-Harmonix’s sister company Sovtek. They were housed in large olive green casings, with black “military style” font on the front. They’re known for their extra bass response, and lower gain levels than the classic Big Muff design.

Like the Op-Amp, Electro-Harmonix reissued the Green Russian Big Muff, with a standard stompbox housing rather than the extra-large enclosure. It features the classic three-knob setup, with volume, gain, and tone. The heavier bass response also means that bassists like to use this version of the Big Muff.

Electro-Harmonix has also designed a “tone wicker” version of the NYC Big Muff. This design is colored in white, green, and black. It runs with an identical circuit to the traditional Big Muff, but it also includes a “tone wicker” switch. This lets you boost the treble frequencies, which helps you cut through the mix and boosts the harmonic frequencies in your signal.

Finally, EHX also makes bass-specific versions of the Big Muff. These come in two sizes — one is a standard pedal format, while the other is a wider enclosure. These might be something to check out if you play bass. However, if you like the tone of a standard Big Muff, there’s no reason not to use those pedals on bass instead!

Deluxe Memory Man Delay

Along with the Big Muff, the Deluxe Memory Man is one of Electro-Harmonix’s most famous pedals. This unit has been around since the 1970s, and it’s one of the most loved delay pedals ever created. Artists like The Edge and Radiohead’s Ed O’Brien have used the Deluxe Memory man to fill out broad soundscapes.

The DMM is legendary for its warm, smooth repeats. The warmth and character are mostly due to the analog bucket brigade chips used in the pedal. Unlike digital delay pedals, each repeat in an analog delay is an echo of the previous repeat, rather than an echo of the original sound.

Vintage Deluxe Memory Man units are said to sound spacious, and can fill a room going straight into the amplifier. The pedal is also famous for the quality of its modulated delay. Some “big box” units (the name for Memory Man pedals released in the 1990s) even included vibrato along with echo and chorus.

Modern versions of the DMM provide modulated delays, with some adding on the vintage appointments of the originals. There are a wide variety of different Deluxe Memory Man pedals on the market today. No matter how much money you have to spend, or how much space you have on your pedalboard, you should be able to find a great Memory Man pedal to suit your needs.

Some are designed to replicate the tone of vintage pedals as accurately as possible. Others are smaller, more streamlined versions. These work great for players on a budget, or for guitarists who just want a quick, easy analog delay. The smaller pedals are also much easier to fit on a standard pedalboard.

Vintage Deluxe Memory Man Units

Vintage units of the Deluxe Memory Man are the most well-known models. Depending on the era and design of the pedal, some of these units can sell for hundreds of dollars — up to $500 or even more! Those high prices put them out of reach for most players, but plenty would still love to own a vintage Deluxe Memory Man.

What makes these pedals worth the astronomical prices is their famous warbling analog tone. Deluxe Memory Man units are known for being analog, which gives them a warm character. However, they’re not as dark and murky as some analog delays; they preserve the character of your sound and its treble and bass frequencies across a lot of different repeats.

One aspect of these vintage units that many players crave is their “big” sound. It’s difficult to explain, but a lot of people find that vintage Deluxe Memory Man pedals can fill a room with just their own sound, unlike most other delay pedals ever made. The chorus and vibrato modulation on these units is also exceptional. Many guitarists use a vintage DMM for both delay and modulation.

If you want to search for a vintage Deluxe Memory Man on your own, make sure to look for one of the “big box” editions. These come in an oversized housing, and they run on 24v power rather than the usual 9v pedals. They feature the “Deluxe Memory Man” name written on a slant across the face of the pedal, and the knobs arranged in a rough “D” shape along the right side of the housing.

These knobs control depth, feedback, delay time, modulation, and some other features like the effect blend, to give you the maximum amount of control over your delay.

3 expression pedalVersions of the DMM and DMB take expression pedals like this one, to alter your tone on the fly. 

Modern DMM Units: Recreations

In modern times, EHX has attempted to re-release the DMM units of the past, using as many of the same components as possible. One major obstacle towards getting a perfect recreation are the chips used in the vintage DMM pedals. These Panasonic 3005 “bucket brigade” chips were out of production for decades, which forced pedal companies to create workarounds to find similar tones.

The Deluxe Memory Man XO is one of Electro-Harmonix’s most faithful recreations of the prized 1990s Deluxe Memory Man pedals. This pedal also condenses the DMM vibe into a slightly smaller enclosure. While it’s still roughly as wide as two Boss or compact stompboxes, it takes up much less space than the vintage full-size DMM units that came before it.

The DMM XO offers the same controls as on the classic Deluxe Memory Man pedals; it’s a great way to get that sound if you don’t have quite as much money to spend. However, it doesn’t include any modern upgrades to the pedal’s circuit or structure. If you want a more modern-sounding analog delay, you might need to look to other pieces of the EHX DMM lineup.

Deluxe Memory Man 1100-TT and 550-TT and Hazarai

These two pedals might have names that are a mouthful to pronounce, but they’re some of the latest and greatest pedals to carry the Deluxe Memory Man name. The 1100-TT offers a shocking 1100 milliseconds of analog delay time, along with a tap tempo function to help you dial in the perfect beat no matter what you do.

While this unit is discontinued officially, it’s easy to find both new and used models floating around the internet. Fans of Electro-Harmonix think that the 1100-TT is one of the best DMM models ever made, apart from the original vintage pedals which inspired it.

The 550-TT is the current successor to the 1100-TT. It’s primarily the same, because it offers tap tempo and square-wave modulation along with chorus and dreamy delay, just like its bigger brother. However, it cuts the available delay time down to 550 milliseconds rather than 1100ms.

While this might seem like a big difference, in practical terms it doesn’t have a large effect on your sound. Analog delay pedals get very lo-fi beyond 550 milliseconds anyway, thanks to the construction of the sound and the style of the pedal.

The extra 550 milliseconds available on the 1100-TT weren’t as pristine as the first 550 — and they were way longer than the original DMM models, which only had around 400 milliseconds of delay time available.

If you want a crazier option with even more delay time and built-in effects, you might want to check out the EHX Deluxe Memory Man with Hazarai. This builds in a series of effects and tweaks the circuit to help you get weirder, more textural sounds out of the pedal. It’s not quite a “traditional” DMM, but it’s fantastic for the more sonically adventurous players out there.

Memory Boy and Memory Toy

If you don’t have the space or budget for a full-size DMM, you can also check out the Memory Boy and Memory Toy. The Deluxe Memory Boy is a very popular analog delay pedal, because it reproduces all of the knobs and most of the features of the modern DMM at a lower price. It even includes a tap tempo!

The main differences are the chips used in each model. The chips used within the DMB create a darker, warbler sound that sounds fantastic with modulation, but can get too dark for some players who want clearer, more precise repeats.

The standard Memory Boy operates similarly to this, but it also doesn’t have as many knobs to let you tweak your delay time, feedback, and modulation effects.

Finally, if you’re on a tight budget, but want fantastic DMM-style delay, the Memory Toy provides up to 550ms of delay time for an extremely affordable price. Unfortunately, this removes the DMM’s famous modulation circuit. However, you still get knobs to control feedback, blend, and delay time — and at this price point, it’s a great bargain considering the sounds that you can get out of the pedal.

Soul Food Overdrive

Unlike the Big Muff and Deluxe Memory Man, the Soul Food is a thoroughly modern pedal. It was designed to imitate another overdrive pedal, the Klon Centaur, and it accomplishes a great imitation of the Klon for a price that’s much more reasonable than the original pedal.

Instead of $3,000 or more for a Klon, you can often find the Soul Food for $75 or less used. That makes the soul food one of our top low cost drive pedals.

The Soul Food is a “transparent overdrive” — while this term has become a bit of a buzzword in many circles, it’s important to understand exactly what it means. Overdrive pedals are designed to imitate the sound of your amp, only if it was cranked to 10 and pushed into harmonic breakup.

“Colored” overdrives add a lot of their own EQ settings, which influence how the pedal reacts with your guitar and amp. This ends up affecting the final sound coming out of your guitar — sometimes, these overdrives can make an American-style amp sound like a British-style one, and vice versa.

4 fulltone ocdThe Soul Food sounds similar to a Fulltone OCD, but with less gain and more transparency.

On the other hand, “transparent” overdrives like the Klon and Soul Food aim to remove any “coloration,” and try not to add any influence to your final tone when using them. Ideally, playing your guitar through a completely transparent overdrive should sound the exact same as playing it with your amp turned up to overdrive naturally, without any pedal involved.

Of course, in the real world most “transparent” overdrives still add a bit of their own sound to your tone. What made the Klon so special — and so expensive on the used market — was its ability to mimic the exact sound of any amp you put it through. Many players claim it was one of the most transparent overdrives ever made. The Soul Food aims to capture that same sound at a low price.

The Soul Food contains three knobs: one to control the pedal’s volume, one to control the gain, and a third to control the treble frequencies in the pedal. The first two knobs work together like a standard overdrive circuit, while the treble knob helps you dial in the right amount of bite. With brighter amps, you can roll this dial off to prevent the highs from becoming shrill.

One of the great advantages about the Soul Food’s design is its flexibility. The gain knob is particularly useful, because it allows you to use the Soul Food as both a clean boost and an overdrive. By turning the gain down all the way, you can amp up your signal while adding just a touch of gain. This pushes your amp into natural overdrive, without needing a separate boost pedal.

If you do want to use the Soul Food for its drive, you’ve got a few different options at your fingertips. Many players like to set their amp to the edge of breakup, then dial in the Soul Food at a low gain or medium gain setting. This pushes your amp into breakup, but keeps it responsive to your playing and picking dynamics. You’ll get the perfect amount of gain without sacrificing articulation or clarity.

Some guitarists prefer to max out the gain for a smooth saturation. While the Soul Food isn’t a distortion pedal, it does have a fair amount of gain available if you push it hard. It’s just enough to play genres of music like blues, classic rock, rock and roll guitar, and indie guitar. If you want to play styles like punk rock guitar, you might want to look for pedals with more gain available.

Small Stone Phaser

Phaser sounds have been a mainstay in lots of different types of music. They were particularly prominent in funk music, though artists from David Gilmour in Pink Floyd to Jonny Greenwood of Radiohead have also employed them to great effect.

While phasers provide a simple effect to your sound, they can create a lot of impact if used correctly. The EHX Small Stone is one of the best phaser pedals on the market, and a classic design from the company’s history. It’s a great pick if you’re looking for a streamlined, affordable phaser for occasional use.

The Small Stone features just one knob on the pedal’s casing, along with a two-position switch. The knob controls the rate of the phaser effect, while the switch sets the “color” of the pedal’s phaser. You can either brighten the phaser for a sharper, clearer sound, or leave it darker to get a bit more warmth from your tone.

Pitch Fork Polyphonic Pitch Shifter

The Pitch Fork Polyphonic Pitch Shifter is another relatively new pedal for Electro-Harmonix. The concept of the pedal itself isn’t new — larger units like the Digitech Whammy have been doing polyphonic pitch shifting for plenty of years.

The Whammy is a particularly famous pedal. Bands like Radiohead, The White Stripes, and Rage Against the Machine have all used it heavily in their classic albums. The Whammy creates a lovely effect, combining the shifted pitches with your original tone for a smooth, balanced effect. However, the original pedals are expensive and very large — they include a full-size footswitch!

The Electro-Harmonix Pitch Fork is innovative because it compresses the core functions of pedals like the Whammy into a standard pedal enclosure. If you’re a fan of the sounds of bands which use the Whammy, but you can’t fit the full-size model on your board, the Pitch Fork is one of the best alternative options on the market.

5 ehx pog2The POG 2, pictured here, uses a lot of the same components of the Pitch Fork in a different chassis. 

The Pitch Fork works with a handful of controls, but together they give you a lot of precision to adjust your sound. The face of the pedal features two knobs: one handles the blend (in other words, how much of your final signal is the affected signal, and how much is your standard dry signal).

The right knob, meanwhile, controls the interval for the pitch shift. You can select from eleven different options to shift the pitch of your pedal. The range spans three octaves total, with the ability to pitch up or down two octaves and one octave in the other direction at the same time.

The Pitch Fork also includes a three-way switch, which lets you control where the effect pitches your sound. You can set this to pitch your tone up or down, or you can leave it in the middle for a “dual” position. In this spot, the Pitch Fork duplicates your sound and moves it both up and down at the same time. This is a great way to add color and texture to your sound.

You can also control the Pitch Fork with an expression pedal. This gives you greater control over the degree of the effect, how fast it latches onto your tone, and how loud the pedal is overall.

Finally, you can set the pedal to “latch” mode, or standard mode. In the normal mode, the Pitch Fork will only shift your tone as long as you keep your foot planted on the footswitch. Latch mode allows you to tap the footswitch, walk away, and have your effect continue. To turn it off, you tap the footswitch again.

Freeze Sustainer

The Freeze is one of the newer pedals from EHX, and it’s one of the more experimental effects as well. Its core function is to sustain a tiny snippet of your sound infinitely. It operates a bit like a looper pedal, except it only captures a few milliseconds of your sound. That means that it sustains only one note or chord, and it doesn’t extend it to have the natural decay of a looper pedal or delay.

The pedal itself has an extremely simple control layout. The face of the box features a stomp button, one knob to control the level of the effect, and a three-way position switch. The switch controls the pedal’s three different modes: “fast,” “slow,” and “latch.”

Fast mode means that the pedal immediately grabs your sound and preserves it, without any swell. As soon as you take your foot off of the footswitch, it releases the sound with no decay. This works well for shorter, choppy applications and to practice improvisation over.

Slow mode works the same way as fast mode, except the pedal builds in a swell and decay when you dial in the effect. This creates a softer, slightly less abrasive sound. It’s perfect for playing in songs, where you want to add another guitar part but don’t want to create obvious breaks in the piece.

Finally, latch mode allows you to press the footswitch down and take your foot off of the pedal. The effect continues until you press the footswitch again. Then, it switches to grab the current note or chord that you play. To turn the effect off, you press the footswitch twice.

This means that you can use the Freeze for a lot of experimental guitar work. It sounds great in ambient compositions, and it’s easy to dial in for volume swells and infinite sustain. At times, you can even make it sound like there’s another guitar player in the band!

However, it’s also great for practicing alone. The quick trigger time of the pedal lets you capture one chord and sustain it infinitely, while you can improvise or solo over that chord. With latch mode, you can even change chords and have the Freeze keep sustaining them forever.

Overall, this effect is super easy to get the hang of, and works well in a wide variety of different music styles. If you’re interested in filling out your sound, or you just want to lay down some ambient rhythm guitar underneath your solos, the Freeze is a simple and affordable way to get the job done.

6 fender vibroverbThe Oceans 11 works great when paired with reverb or tremolo from an amp like this Fender Vibroverb.

Oceans 11 Reverb

Finally, the Oceans 11 Reverb is another modern pedal that’s quickly become a fan favorite. This small pedal encloses eleven different reverb tones, to create one of the most versatile pedals on the market. With just this unit, you can easily dial in any form of reverb that you want: from spring and plate settings to hall and cathedral reverbs.

These aspects of the pedal work great for traditional users, who just want to add reverb that they can’t get from their amp. Even if your amp has a spring reverb tank built in, pedals like the Oceans 11 let you change up your sound track by track. If you want hall, room, or cathedral reverb rather than spring, the Oceans 11 lets you get those sounds just by twisting a dial.

But even though it nails the basic types of reverb, the Oceans 11 packs a whole lot more. In fact, some of the greatest features of this pedal are its more ambient, spacey reverb pedal types. These include reverse reverb tails and modulated reverb, as well as reverb trails with infinite sustain and dynamic reverb swells that encourage harmonics to bloom.

You can even create polyphonic reverb to shift the pitches of your sound in the reverb tails, or use the swells to create ambient reverb with nearly limitless sustain and decay. This is perfect for ambient and shoegaze music styles, as well as creating “soundscapes” and dense textures with just one guitar. Players like Radiohead’s Ed O’Brien are the most popular users of these music styles.

Overall, this is an outstandingly versatile reverb pedal, which has a lot more functionality than people typically associate with reverb pedals. If you’re bored of traditional “hall” and “spring” reverb pedals that only add a bit of decay to your sound, the Oceans 11 will be perfect for you. Beyond just letting your sound fade out slowly, it gives you the tools to actually change how the listener hears it.

1 Electro Harmonix