Factory Tour: Inside Electro-Harmonix by Jordan Usatch
What do David Gilmour, Carlos Santana, Billy Corgan, The Edge, Kurt Cobain, J. Mascis, and Jack White all have in common? They’ve all crafted some of their most well-known tones out of pedals made by Electro-Harmonix. From Gilmour and Corgan’s use of the Big Muff for searing sustain and super-saturated fuzz to Kurt Cobain’s watery chorus tones provided by a Small Clone, I’ve been hearing Electro-Harmonix’s products since before I even knew what a guitar pedal was. It was a total blast for me to be able to visit the birthplace of some of my favorite tones on behalf of the Music Zoo, not to mention right here where they’re made in New York City.
These aren’t props off of Doc’s lab in Back to the Future, these are tube-testing machines. The tech’s at EHX check out incoming tubes for any faults, or troubleshoot any returned tubes from customers, making sure all tubes function 100%.
These are engineers hard at work, brainstorming the newest ideas for pedals. The two most recent products to come out of these madmen are the Super Ego Synth Pedal and Crying Tone Wah, which is a wah pedal with no moving parts that will ever break down from over-use. Very cool!
With the man himself, the founder of Electro Harmonix – Mike Matthews.
This is no joke! A palette of Cathedral Stereo Reverb pedals being tested one at a time. A great trick here was the tech using an EHX Looper to play a riff through each pedal, instead of taking the time to plug in a guitar and play a riff. Talk about efficiency.
Electro Harmonix also uses an in-house silkscreen setup to hand print each of the paint jobs on their pedals, to ensure that the colors will be long-lasting and vibrant as possible.
What a view! The roof of the EHX office offers a killer panorama of the Skyline, and it also houses newly installed solar panels that assist in their power needs.
Walking around the EHX building is enough to get any gearhead excited, but catching glimpses of these rare products were real gems. These are a Mini Synthesizer touch keyboard from the ‘70s…
…and a Mike Matthews Soul Kiss from the 80’s, which is a mouth operated filter effect like a Talk Box, but more of a low-pass filter.
Last but not least is this gamut of fully assembled and boxed Electro-Harmonix pedals, waiting to be shipped out to dealers and players around the world who will use them to create their own new signature sounds with these fantastic devices. Thanks to Owen and Mike Matthews for their time in showing me around EHX, and to all the engineers and workers who put their minds together to create the pedals. Keep making ‘em, and I’ll keep playing.